Author Topic: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review  (Read 29578 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline amyk

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 6403
Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #25 on: June 28, 2013, 12:49:24 pm »
They could have added a GPS and automatically set up the localization based on where you are.   :-DD

Maybe for something that costs 20 times as much...
Test equipment with a reasonably powerful computer, LAN, and GPS would be getting uncomfortably close to triggering a "my multimeter is phoning home to Agilent and telling them where it is" paranoia in some people...
 

Offline madires

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 4705
  • Country: de
  • A qualified hobbyist ;)
Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #26 on: June 28, 2013, 01:01:41 pm »
Since the 34461A has a nice LAN interface I'd like to know if it supports just IPv4 or also IPv6. There's nothing about that in the datasheet.
 

Offline Rufus

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 2094
Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #27 on: June 28, 2013, 01:14:21 pm »
When I saw those ridiculous ranges on the limits (GV etc.) I assumed this was because you could add a maths function to allow use of external shunts, dividers & amplifiers to display actual values taking the scaling into account, which would be really useful, but looking through the Maths menu it appears you can't  - this seems a bit of a silly limitation.

That is one of the first things I wanted and didn't find on the meter, how hard is a simple Ax + B maths function?
 

Offline John Coloccia

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 1199
  • Country: us
Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #28 on: June 28, 2013, 01:25:01 pm »
I went back to the video and timed the actual boot-up time, and it was 12 seconds.  Was the video in fast forward for the boot sequence?
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 11967
  • Country: gb
    • Mike's Electric Stuff
Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #29 on: June 28, 2013, 01:33:26 pm »
Something else I noticed - for frequency you can only have a log scale for trend plot etc.  :-//
Youtube channel:Taking wierd stuff apart. Very apart.
Mike's Electric Stuff: High voltage, vintage electronics etc.
Day Job: Mostly LEDs
 

Offline EEVblog

  • Administrator
  • *****
  • Posts: 29469
  • Country: au
    • EEVblog
Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #30 on: June 28, 2013, 01:48:11 pm »
I doubt there's any difference in lifetime or production longevity

Maybe, maybe not. The point is that there are several reasons why this type of industrial test equipment does not use the latest consumer displays.
Supply confidence in the manufacturer, previous approved usage, driver availability, testing, and possible characterisation of similar models from the manufacturer etc.
You'd be foolish to go chase the latest and greatest display for every new bit of industrial test gear. It would add zero upside to marketing for this industry. You'd stick with a proven manufacturer using whatever technology provides an adequate job at the lowest price with the least risk and hassle and greatest longevity.
 

Offline EEVblog

  • Administrator
  • *****
  • Posts: 29469
  • Country: au
    • EEVblog
Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #31 on: June 28, 2013, 01:49:09 pm »
I went back to the video and timed the actual boot-up time, and it was 12 seconds.  Was the video in fast forward for the boot sequence?

Yes, x4 speed.
 

Offline TimNJ

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 766
  • Country: us
Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #32 on: June 28, 2013, 01:54:36 pm »
Maybe I just like my CRTs and VFDs, but I just think the interface is just too cluttered and bloated. Of course, it should be more about how it performs, not how it looks, but personally I think they could have done much better.
 

Offline John Coloccia

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 1199
  • Country: us
Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #33 on: June 28, 2013, 02:06:34 pm »
I doubt there's any difference in lifetime or production longevity

Maybe, maybe not. The point is that there are several reasons why this type of industrial test equipment does not use the latest consumer displays.
Supply confidence in the manufacturer, previous approved usage, driver availability, testing, and possible characterisation of similar models from the manufacturer etc.
You'd be foolish to go chase the latest and greatest display for every new bit of industrial test gear. It would add zero upside to marketing for this industry. You'd stick with a proven manufacturer using whatever technology provides an adequate job at the lowest price with the least risk and hassle and greatest longevity.

Exactly.  Honestly, as far as I'm concerned, a meter like this could have a segmented LED display for all I care.  All the features, graphs, popup messages, etc are cute, but I've never used anything like that in a lab situation.  If I need that sort of functionality, my instruments get paired up with a computer.  I like the huge display, though.  Great feature to be able to popup a label.  Then I can have three or four of these stacked up, and you can tell from across the room who's doing what.  Much better than putting stickies all over the place.
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 11967
  • Country: gb
    • Mike's Electric Stuff
Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #34 on: June 28, 2013, 02:19:26 pm »
I doubt there's any difference in lifetime or production longevity

Maybe, maybe not. The point is that there are several reasons why this type of industrial test equipment does not use the latest consumer displays.
Supply confidence in the manufacturer, previous approved usage, driver availability, testing, and possible characterisation of similar models from the manufacturer etc.
Definitely, but my point was there's probably little difference between what they are using and an IPS display. If you are likely to be selling thousands, as opposed to the tens to hundreds of more obscure industrial stuff, then the cost of dealing with future redesign is likely to be less than the increased unit cost of products aimed at the longer-term market.
If you're making ten a year then absolutely go buy an expensive display that comes with production life guarantees.


Quote
As far as I'm concerned, a meter like this could have a segmented LED display for all I care.  All the features, graphs, popup messages, etc are cute, but I've never used anything like that in a lab situation.  If I need that sort of functionality, my instruments get paired up with a computer.  I like the huge display, though.  Great feature to be able to popup a label.  Then I can have three or four of these stacked up, and you can tell from across the room who's doing what.  Much better than putting stickies all over the place.
The display does add geniune usefulness, if only to have a nice UI for selecting options. I recently used this and a 34401 together, and even basic things like selecting input impedance on the 34401 were painful as I was not very familiar with the menu structure.
I also think standalone trend plot and logging are very useful and worthwhile, especially for longer term use (e.g. battery discharge, temperature logging), as connecting to a computer can be a hassle if it's something you don't need often, and you can lose data if someone turns the PC off or it crashes due to something else it was being used for.
Youtube channel:Taking wierd stuff apart. Very apart.
Mike's Electric Stuff: High voltage, vintage electronics etc.
Day Job: Mostly LEDs
 

Offline Rasz

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 2265
  • Country: 00
    • My random blog.
Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #35 on: June 28, 2013, 02:33:05 pm »
@9:20
No dave, this is not a "very good display let me tell ya". This was a good display in 2004 when Sony PSP came out.
This is the CHEAPEST TN screen they could find. In Tablets this is considered garbage bin quality. Difference between weak 480x272 TN screen and 1024x600 IPS is about $15. Agilent decided they like $15 better than perfect viewing angles. How much do you value proper (no discoloration/negative colors) viewing angles? :)

Is your wizz-bang hi-res consumer IPS display still going to work in 20 years time?

Oh Dave, this it the cheapest TN consumer LCD. This isnt some magic military grade stuff. They just picked older cheaper module to save cost.
Calling IPS/MVA wizz-bang is a little dishonest, they are 20 years old technology :). 1024x600 MVA/1280×720 IPS is industry standard, I dont know if anyone manufactures smaller resolution IPS/MVA.
Open up the meter and look it up yourself, you will find something like ZBH043GT, best case scenario they went for Chimei/AUO. No LG/Samsung/Sharp in there.
Alter all its Malaysia, not made in Japan.

This is a piece of quality industrial test gear, it is not a consumer phone designed to be replaced after a couple of years.
Do you really need that high a view angle. The one supplied is more then good enough for it's intended purpose.

its a $1K box, I would like good screen, not good enough if you dont mind negative colors at an angle.
This actually is a good argument for strong IPad/Android support for bench tools. Even that PC software was nicer to work with than the meter itself - you had all the options on one screen under the mouse, no need to click multiple times digging into UI.
Who logs in to gdm? Not I, said the duck.
My fireplace is on fire, but in all the wrong places.
 

Offline Hypernova

  • Supporter
  • ****
  • Posts: 654
  • Country: tw
Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #36 on: June 28, 2013, 04:19:46 pm »
Since they are locking the FW update with a password, how are they going to do it for end users in the field?
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 11967
  • Country: gb
    • Mike's Electric Stuff
Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #37 on: June 28, 2013, 04:47:30 pm »
Since they are locking the FW update with a password, how are they going to do it for end users in the field?
The default codes for cal, FW update etc. are  in the manual.
You can change them, and if you change and forget, you can open the lid and short a header to restore to factory setting.
It's just to stop the production line monkeys breaking anything.
Youtube channel:Taking wierd stuff apart. Very apart.
Mike's Electric Stuff: High voltage, vintage electronics etc.
Day Job: Mostly LEDs
 

Offline John Coloccia

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 1199
  • Country: us
Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #38 on: June 28, 2013, 05:03:27 pm »
It's just to stop the production line monkeys breaking anything.

We used to call them "program managers".

"Customer's coming!! Customer's Coming!!   :scared:  Can't we make the numbers any bigger??  What does this button do??  :-/O".

re: the continuity test
It's just one of those annoyances.  I always whip out the Fluke when I'm dragging pins or doing the slam your fist on the bench test looking for the intermittent.  Lately, I've been doing something that may be even more sensitive.  I turned an LED into a probe and I go searching around with that for the really difficult to find ones, assuming I have a circuit that can handle it.  With that, I can tell you exactly which fret a guitar string is rattling against, and that stymies even the Fluke believe it or not.
 

alm

  • Guest
Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #39 on: June 28, 2013, 06:20:13 pm »
You'd be foolish to go chase the latest and greatest display for every new bit of industrial test gear. It would add zero upside to marketing for this industry. You'd stick with a proven manufacturer using whatever technology provides an adequate job at the lowest price with the least risk and hassle and greatest longevity.
The predecessors used VFDs. VFDs have excellent viewing angles, so a TN LCD is a step back as far as viewing angle is concerned. A less crappy LCD technique would have been closer to VFD viewing angles while still offering the advantages of an LCD like better UI and plots. This is more of an issue with bench equipment in my opinion, since you can't move it as easily as handheld stuff, and it may even be stacked or rack mounted.
 

Offline Alexei.Polkhanov

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 683
  • Country: ca
Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #40 on: June 28, 2013, 06:33:08 pm »
They could have added a GPS and automatically set up the localization based on where you are.   :-DD

Maybe for something that costs 20 times as much...

Yeah! Even my cheap EUR 250 radio scanner supports GPS. Any smartphone has also one built in. And it would give you a nice frequency standard for measuring frequencies. Actually that idea is not so bad at all :-)
Bad idea,it is near impossible to get good GPS signal indoors anywhere, I tried. So unless you pull an antenna out it won't work. Having to pull another cable from my DMM to window so that I can get my localization settings that would be silly.
 

alm

  • Guest
Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #41 on: June 28, 2013, 06:36:56 pm »
Localization based on location is a stupid idea. Just because I may be in another country does not mean I suddenly want my equipment to change to a different language or decimal separator. It would add a lot of complexity without any gain. A more common technique is to just ship the instruments set for the locale of the region they are shipped to.
 

Offline Rufus

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 2094
Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #42 on: June 28, 2013, 06:58:48 pm »
The predecessors used VFDs. VFDs have excellent viewing angles, so a TN LCD is a step back as far as viewing angle is concerned. A less crappy LCD technique would have been closer to VFD viewing angles while still offering the advantages of an LCD like better UI and plots.

I have one sitting on top of the other on a bench shelf. Side to side both become unreadable at about the same angle. Top down the 34401A display disappears completely (because it is more recessed) before the 34461A becomes unreadable. Bottom up the 34461A starts loosing color at about 30 degrees and contrast when you go further. It is still just about readable at an angle where half the 34401A display has disappeared.
 

Offline M. András

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 1020
  • Country: hu
Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #43 on: June 28, 2013, 07:33:02 pm »
@9:20
No dave, this is not a "very good display let me tell ya". This was a good display in 2004 when Sony PSP came out.
This is the CHEAPEST TN screen they could find. In Tablets this is considered garbage bin quality. Difference between weak 480x272 TN screen and 1024x600 IPS is about $15. Agilent decided they like $15 better than perfect viewing angles. How much do you value proper (no discoloration/negative colors) viewing angles? :)
This smells like a bean counter decision, or no boots on the ground in Asian parts supplier market.
Yes, one can argue this is the best display available in bench meters, but its like saying sand flavored ice cream is the best ice cream in Sahara Desert because its way better than camel shit ice cream.

Win CE booting 50 seconds - you can see it is going through detecting hardware phase - this is most retarded on fixed hardware design. Its not like its going to boot up one day on a different motherboard with less ram and bigger screen. Shows how lazy person doing Windows integration was. Firmware like this should boot same way suspend to disc works, with preselected batch of drivers and plug&play disabled.

Other than that great meter.


btw: Chris was right once again - IPad app for bench instruments :D Oscilloscopes are next :P
care to share the source for those ips panels apart from buy a cheap tablet and tear it down for the screen?
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 11967
  • Country: gb
    • Mike's Electric Stuff
Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #44 on: June 28, 2013, 08:14:50 pm »
Localization based on location is a stupid idea. Just because I may be in another country does not mean I suddenly want my equipment to change to a different language or decimal separator. It would add a lot of complexity without any gain. A more common technique is to just ship the instruments set for the locale of the region they are shipped to.
...on which subject, mine (in UK) came with the voltage selector set to 110V. OK there was a big red sticker over the inlet, and their biggest market is probably USA, however wouldn't it be more sensible to default to a setting that isn't going to blow any fuses?
 
Youtube channel:Taking wierd stuff apart. Very apart.
Mike's Electric Stuff: High voltage, vintage electronics etc.
Day Job: Mostly LEDs
 

Offline Rasz

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 2265
  • Country: 00
    • My random blog.
Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #45 on: June 28, 2013, 08:19:18 pm »
care to share the source for those ips panels apart from buy a cheap tablet and tear it down for the screen?

those are prices for Chinese factories at >5k moq.
Who logs in to gdm? Not I, said the duck.
My fireplace is on fire, but in all the wrong places.
 

Offline madires

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 4705
  • Country: de
  • A qualified hobbyist ;)
Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #46 on: June 28, 2013, 08:34:38 pm »
Yeah! Even my cheap EUR 250 radio scanner supports GPS. Any smartphone has also one built in. And it would give you a nice frequency standard for measuring frequencies. Actually that idea is not so bad at all :-)
Bad idea,it is near impossible to get good GPS signal indoors anywhere, I tried. So unless you pull an antenna out it won't work. Having to pull another cable from my DMM to window so that I can get my localization settings that would be silly.

Of course it would require an outdoor antenna but the idea is to use the GPS as time/frequency source. Anyway, I prefer to set the localization manually. A common problem with managing several devices with clocks is to keep them synchronized. If you got an automated test setup and get data/measurements with timestamps from the T&M devices it's really annoying if they are several seconds or even minutes apart. In that case it would be great to have support for NTP (current T&M got LAN interfaces and IP stacks) to synchronize the clocks.
 

Offline c4757p

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 7805
  • Country: us
  • adieu
Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #47 on: June 28, 2013, 08:35:06 pm »
...on which subject, mine (in UK) came with the voltage selector set to 110V

How hard can it possibly be for that to be automatic? I know it's not a switcher, but it wouldn't take much circuitry to switch between two output taps depending on the input voltage...
No longer active here - try the IRC channel if you just can't be without me :)
 

Offline SeanB

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 15067
  • Country: za
Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #48 on: June 28, 2013, 09:31:04 pm »
Those automatic voltage switches are more trouble than what they are worth. Expensive bits of silicon and hybrid substrates that just use 5W of power for nothing. A switch and label along with a MOV or three on the secondary side are both cheaper, more reliable and lower power.
 

Offline EEVblog

  • Administrator
  • *****
  • Posts: 29469
  • Country: au
    • EEVblog
Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #49 on: June 28, 2013, 10:59:34 pm »
This is more of an issue with bench equipment in my opinion, since you can't move it as easily as handheld stuff, and it may even be stacked or rack mounted.

Bare in mind that I tested a pretty extreme low angle on that thing. Rarely would it be viewed at that sort of angle.
Sure, it's not a perfect display, but is far from being bad.
I really can't see anyone not buying this unit because of the display angle.
 


Share me

Digg  Facebook  SlashDot  Delicious  Technorati  Twitter  Google  Yahoo
Smf