Author Topic: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review  (Read 29575 times)

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Offline c4757p

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2013, 05:16:53 am »
I was rather confused for a moment (OK, stupefied - it's after midnight here and I'm tired as all hell...) to see my desktop background in a YouTube video.

Oh. Right. I got that photo from you. :-DD
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Offline Mike Warren

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2013, 06:01:40 am »
No, Dave stole your computer when you weren't looking.

Just shows how deep this meter is that even after 1.5 hours showing it there are still things not covered.

Actually, I was disappointed, but not really surprised that the software was not as well thought out as the hardware. This seems to be so common in modern equipment, no matter how expensive or well made.

Still, a very nice meter.
 

Offline Smokey

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2013, 06:12:08 am »
Hmmmmmm.... I wonder why the 34461A showed a lower voltage measurement when the HP and the Keithley pretty much agreed.... Maybe because it wasn't re-calibrated after someone took the shielding can off during the teardown even after they were warned not to... twice...  :)

I'm just messing around.  I'm actually curious though, since it sounds like you've been in contact with the Agilent guys since you did the teardown because of some software stuff, if anyone commented about you removing the shield.  Do they ever have anything to say about your teardowns of brand new gear (that you can tell us about at least)?
 

Offline retiredcaps

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2013, 06:13:10 am »
Hmm, possible give-a-way prize for eevblog #500?  Everyone must have at least 25 "useful" posts?  ;)

Excellent review so far and I'm only 33 minutes into it.
 

Offline c4757p

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2013, 06:14:24 am »
I'm quite accustomed to using older test equipment. Actually, excluding a couple cheap-ass eBay specials and one $120 multimeter, nothing currently on my bench was made this decade. So, I typically don't get too excited about new equipment. But holy crap do I want one of those. Sadly, I'm not so skilled at mental gymnastics to justify a $1000 multimeter for a home workbench...
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Offline casper.bang

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2013, 06:30:30 am »
For those who don't know (Dave had to read up on it?), whether a comma or a dot is used as a decimal point (and what's used for digit grouping) is entirely a localization issue - Europe, South America, Greenland etc. observes comma; Asia, North America and Australia observes dot. Good on Agilent to cater to both camps.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2013, 06:41:40 am by casper.bang »
 

duskglow

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #7 on: June 28, 2013, 06:54:57 am »
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...
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #8 on: June 28, 2013, 06:55:09 am »
Hmmmmmm.... I wonder why the 34461A showed a lower voltage measurement when the HP and the Keithley pretty much agreed....

Coincidence most likely.
I'd rather trust a brand new Agilent meter than an unknown Keithley from ebay and an old 3457A, albeit one that one cal checked in 2010.
The cal cert reading for the 34461A (forgot to show it) shows a measured error of -0.0001% for a 10V DC on the 10V range.


Quote
I'm just messing around.  I'm actually curious though, since it sounds like you've been in contact with the Agilent guys since you did the teardown because of some software stuff, if anyone commented about you removing the shield.  Do they ever have anything to say about your teardowns of brand new gear (that you can tell us about at least)?

They haven't mentioned it.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #9 on: June 28, 2013, 06:56:18 am »
For those who don't know (Dave had to read up on it?), whether a comma or a dot is used as a decimal point (and what's used for digit grouping) is entirely a localization issue - Europe, South America, Greenland etc. observes comma; Asia, North America and Australia observes dot. Good on Agilent to cater to both camps.

No I didn't have to read up on it, I knew some countries used the comma, but I didn't know which ones or how many.
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #10 on: June 28, 2013, 08:47:34 am »
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.
 
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Offline lewis

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #11 on: June 28, 2013, 09:36:59 am »
How does the AC measurement range work at such high bandwidth? It uses digital RMS, so it must(?) capture and store many millions of samples per second to get reliable measurements at high crest factors. That seems pretty damn hard to do with an integrating ADC at 6-digit resolution which is inherently relatively slow. Even equivalent time sampling seems like it would be to slow.

I must be missing really something simple here...

EDIT - found this: http://cp.literature.agilent.com/litweb/pdf/5988-6916EN.pdf

Awesome review, gonna order one. Dave, you've cost me a fortune. I hope they release updated firmware soon, there do seem to be some small niggles, and I hope they make the firmware user updateable. Mike - have you tried updating yours?
« Last Edit: June 28, 2013, 09:42:04 am by lewis »
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Offline John Coloccia

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #12 on: June 28, 2013, 10:03:49 am »
For those who don't know (Dave had to read up on it?), whether a comma or a dot is used as a decimal point (and what's used for digit grouping) is entirely a localization issue - Europe, South America, Greenland etc. observes comma; Asia, North America and Australia observes dot. Good on Agilent to cater to both camps.

No I didn't have to read up on it, I knew some countries used the comma, but I didn't know which ones or how many.

Pretty much Europe (except the UK) and South American use a comma.  Everyone else uses a dot.

The continuity test on the Agilent was seriously disappointing.  Fluke's been getting it right for decades.  I don't understand why this seems to be so difficult for everyone else.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2013, 10:07:51 am by John Coloccia »
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #13 on: June 28, 2013, 10:23:24 am »
The continuity test on the Agilent was seriously disappointing.

I wouldn't say that, it was quite usable.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #14 on: June 28, 2013, 10:27:08 am »
EDIT - found this: http://cp.literature.agilent.com/litweb/pdf/5988-6916EN.pdf

IIRC at one point you can see in the video the "rolling average" like display change in the RMS measurement which shows it collecting data over a long time period.
 

Offline AlfBaz

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #15 on: June 28, 2013, 10:58:32 am »
I wonder if the continuity tester would miss a hit if you decreased NPLC?
 

Offline laborratte

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #16 on: June 28, 2013, 11:03:22 am »
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.
I think it could be useful when doing measurements on thunders on planet Jupiter, but the leads are too short. And for nearfield measurements during atomic bombs explosions the beeper is not loud enough...
 

Offline ttp

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #17 on: June 28, 2013, 11:18:19 am »
Battery voltage measurement - auto range vs manual range. I suspect in manual 34461A displays average of last 10 (or whatever the setting is) samples, when you connect the battery it may have sampled few samples close to 0V then some samples of battery volts and first displayed average is low, next is correct as all samples are of battery voltage. In auto range it ranges first and it knows to discard the samples as useless, once it is in the right range then it takes required number of samples and averages those, because all samples are battery voltage so the first reading is spot on.
 

Offline Rasz

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #18 on: June 28, 2013, 12:04:23 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.


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Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #19 on: June 28, 2013, 12:20:08 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?
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.

Quote
This smells like a bean counter decision, or no boots on the ground in Asian parts supplier market.

No, there could be very good technical engineering reasons for choosing this display over a consumer IPS type display.

Quote
Yes, one can argue this is the best display available in bench meters

Bingo. It is a nice display, end of story.

Quote
btw: Chris was right once again - IPad app for bench instruments :D Oscilloscopes are next :P

99% of users of this meter will never use a tablet to view the display.
Chris loses again  :P
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #20 on: June 28, 2013, 12:24:56 pm »
The continuity test on the Agilent was seriously disappointing.

I wouldn't say that, it was quite usable.
..but as it _can_ sample much faster it seems silly not to give the option. Also silly not to be able to set teh threshold.
However you could probably set up limit test on the ohms range to get a more flexible continuity, though you really shouldn't have to.
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Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #21 on: June 28, 2013, 12:28:42 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.

I'd slightly agree with this - If the meter is on a shelf, sitting on top of something else, so you're looking up at it, you do get some colour distortion, and it's not far away from being harder to read. However angling it downwards improves things a lot. An IPS display may be slight overkill...
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Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #22 on: June 28, 2013, 12:33:33 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?
I doubt there's any difference in lifetime or production longevity - I'd be surprised if the display is any different from a typical consumer one, except maybe specced for long backlight life using better LEDs, or under-running them.
Agilent are big enough that they will be able to get displays made to their spec for continuity of supply.
Even if they do hit a supply problem, worst-case  it would be a minor redesign of the front panel PCB, which wouldn't be that a big a deal.
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Offline moemoe

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #23 on: June 28, 2013, 12:37:45 pm »
You're criticizing the trend chart space @0:39:xx, but I'm pretty sure the graph has to keep it's width.

You can only make the display (readings/min) pixels wider, as long as you want to keep them equally wide. So there's just space for some additional bargraph of the current value or sth like that, but  I can't figure out anything really usefull.
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Offline madires

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #24 on: June 28, 2013, 12:40:47 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 :-)
 

Offline amyk

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.  :-//
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Offline EEVblog

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.
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Offline Rasz

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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.
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Offline Hypernova

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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

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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.
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Offline John Coloccia

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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.
 

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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?
 
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Offline Rasz

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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.
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Offline madires

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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

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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...
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Offline SeanB

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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

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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.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #50 on: June 28, 2013, 11:07:46 pm »
It's a shame because if there was an easy way to actually use the 10,000 samples/sec at 6.5 digits it would be a fantastic tool for logging and characterizing things. Unlike an oscilloscope the readings are calibrated to a much higher standard and have much more resolution and dynamic range.

You'll never get 10,000 sps at 6.5 digits, the top speeds are rated for lower resolution like 4.5 digit.
 

Offline orin

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #51 on: June 29, 2013, 03:26:40 am »
After Dave's teardown last week, I said I just got to get me one of them...  After a fight with MetricTest's web site/order system/email misconfiguration (sending email from an IP with no reverse DNS), it arrived Tuesday - 10% discount, but got it back and more in taxes and shipping costs to boot.

Anyway, I've been monitoring a Fluke 731B that I'm fixing up.  See picture if it makes it... 

Like Dave in the review at about 1:00:00, I have a trend chart showing 9.999 9 10.000 0 and 10 for the voltage axis!  The 10.000 0 should be 9.999 95, but it has been rounded up.  The 10 is really 10.000 0, but I guess that since it is 'exact', they don't show the fractional part.  They need to rethink this labeling IMO - sometimes it gets too cute - all labels should show the same number of digits.  I'm with Dave when I see the 10... WTF?

The stats functions seem to quit at 24730 samples.  I didn't get the screenshot and the number of samples reset when I returned the DMM to local from the web interface so I can't attach a picture, but it got stuck at 24730 samples.  I took the snapshot when I got home and it stopped at 24730 soon thereafter.

The 10,000 samples in memory must be a minimum.  When I took the screenshot, the web interface reported over 10,200 samples in memory and I could read them with the web interface.

FWIW, an in-cal 3456A is reading 10.000 07 connected in parallel with the 34461A.  All well within spec.

I've got to say the web interface is neat.  I can monitor it from the other side of the house.  If I were to open the right ports on the router, I could monitor it from work.  I've yet to install Agilent's IO library and DMM monitor software...

Yes, the UI needs some work, but not bad for a 1.0.

Another FWIW, when it first arrived, I powered it up at work and monitored a power supply with the trend chart.  A few hours later, we had a power glitch/brownout.  The 34461A stopped triggering and stopped updating the display.  I did not have to power it off to recover.  I must say that the 5370A that I had monitoring an oscillator and transmitting results over a Prologix GPIB ethernet adapter also came to a screeching halt, so it was a pretty gnarly glitch.  However, it should have reset if it couldn't handle the brownout or even if the brownout was a potential problem.  Sitting looking stupid isn't the right answer.  My PCs on a UPS didn't even notice the glitch.

Now does anyone, preferably in the NW USA want to buy two 3455A DMMs (rhetorical question - test equipment follows the N + 1 rule)?  Something has to go now according to the powers that be.

Orin.
 

duskglow

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #52 on: June 29, 2013, 03:31:44 am »
Where in NW USA and what do you want for one?
 

Offline Alexei.Polkhanov

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #53 on: June 29, 2013, 03:48:01 am »
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.
This is what Data Logging / Data acquisition systems are for. For example this one from Keithley http://www.keithley.com/products/data/datalogger/?mn=2700, National Instruments has whole range of gear for that. Also there is external trigger input/trigger output on almost all equipment.
If you look at this DMM (34461A) it has <1us (microsecond)  for external triggering even if it only capable of 1ms period between readings. I would not just get readings from different devices and then try to match them together by timestamps.
 

Offline orin

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #54 on: June 29, 2013, 03:59:36 am »
Where in NW USA and what do you want for one?

I sent a PM.
 

Offline casinada

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #55 on: June 29, 2013, 06:21:59 am »
Besides cosmetics and looks that everybody seem to be complaining about, how about performance compared to the 34401?
The 34401 had some problems measuring low AC voltage but it used an off the shelf true RMS converter chip. Newer Agilent multimeters use different techniques to measure RMS voltage.
The low voltage problem is described here:
http://www.gellerlabs.com/34401A%20AC%20zero.htm
Can anybody with both devices run some comparative tests?
Thank you
 

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Offline casinada

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #57 on: June 29, 2013, 06:45:59 am »
:)
Yes, I found that out before I could re-post. I just remembered the limitation on the 34401, I didn't know he run a test on the 34461 as well.
Thanks Dave
 

Offline ElectroIrradiator

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #58 on: June 29, 2013, 10:54:58 pm »
Does anyone know why Agilent chose to use WinCE for their newest lines of test gear over a RTOS like for instance QNX?

Not everybody keep their test equipment under power 24/7, and I cannot get used to the idea of having to wait nearly a minute after power on. Imagine if your car, home appliance or medical device took that long to power up... :scared:
 

Online Monkeh

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #59 on: June 29, 2013, 11:01:47 pm »
Does anyone know why Agilent chose to use WinCE for their newest lines of test gear over a RTOS like for instance QNX?

WinCE is an RTOS.

Quote
Not everybody keep their test equipment under power 24/7, and I cannot get used to the idea of having to wait nearly a minute after power on.

Then you may as well not bother with precision equipment.

It's only a minute, people. This is not a handheld DMM. Cope.
 

Offline baljemmett

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #60 on: June 29, 2013, 11:25:21 pm »
Not everybody keep their test equipment under power 24/7, and I cannot get used to the idea of having to wait nearly a minute after power on. Imagine if your car, home appliance or medical device took that long to power up... :scared:

My television - a two-year-old Sony - takes about 40 seconds to boot to the point where it can actually be controlled.  It's a pain in the arse, really.  Mind you, what it's booting during that time is Linux-based so I guess the moral is that it's not the OS that makes it slow, just whoever set out the boot sequence when building it.
 

Offline John Coloccia

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #61 on: June 29, 2013, 11:51:36 pm »
It's always been a complete non-issue for me.  I walk into the lab, turn on power supplies, power meters, OSAs, spectrum analyzers, whatever....I sip my coffee for a minute, complain a bit with the nearest co-worker about the latest idiot who's clueless, and get to work.  This is pro equipment designed for pros, and things like boot time, screen angle and things like that are pretty irrelevant.  Stuff that annoys me is performing out of spec, strange GPIB lockups in the middle of the night so all my testing is garbage, etc etc.

I'm not saying that it wouldn't be BETTER in some sense if this other stuff was better, but it's really not even on the radar when I'm selecting equipment.  Shoot, it takes me longer to remember where I was from yesterday than it does for any of this stuff to boot up.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #62 on: June 30, 2013, 12:16:21 am »
Shoot, it takes me longer to remember where I was from yesterday than it does for any of this stuff to boot up.

That sums it up nicely!
 

Offline c4757p

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #63 on: June 30, 2013, 12:23:40 am »
You know, I take back my complaint about the boot time. I thought it'd be annoying, but it just occurred to me that my old Tek analog scope (with digital controller and a very long POST) takes about the same amount of time to boot, and I still prefer it to the newer DSO that's almost instant-on. Would I prefer that it started faster? Yes. Does it affect whether or not I like it? Not one bit.
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Offline SeanB

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #64 on: June 30, 2013, 07:07:29 am »
WinCE because they already have the test procedures, the build libraries and the firmware in use on other devices, so it is not a big cost and learning curve to use another OS. The cost for them is essentially zero to use it, anything else will have a bigger cost in time or development.
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #65 on: June 30, 2013, 09:52:24 am »
Just found a hidden function!
In any help screen, press the second function key. This enters a mode that lets you browse through all help messages.
And if you hold the button for help on this function....
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Offline amyk

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #66 on: June 30, 2013, 10:22:24 am »
Then you may as well not bother with precision equipment.

It's only a minute, people. This is not a handheld DMM. Cope.
...and maybe you should be pleased that it lets you use it after only a minute, when it takes an hour to warm up to specified precision.
 

Offline ElectroIrradiator

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #67 on: June 30, 2013, 10:26:17 am »
It's always been a complete non-issue for me.  I walk into the lab, turn on power supplies, power meters, OSAs, spectrum analyzers, whatever....I sip my coffee for a minute, complain a bit with the nearest co-worker about the latest idiot who's clueless, and get to work.  This is pro equipment designed for pros, and things like boot time, screen angle and things like that are pretty irrelevant.  Stuff that annoys me is performing out of spec, strange GPIB lockups in the middle of the night so all my testing is garbage, etc etc.

I'm not saying that it wouldn't be BETTER in some sense if this other stuff was better, but it's really not even on the radar when I'm selecting equipment.  Shoot, it takes me longer to remember where I was from yesterday than it does for any of this stuff to boot up.

Several issues comes to mind here:

*) In many cases with top shelf equipment you have physical limitations on the power on delay, like ovens needing to warm up etc. Here there is often little point in having the UI operational after a few seconds. If you actually need the precision, then you gotta wait for things to warm up correctly (assuming you actually do turn off your frequency standards and the likes, of course). In this case the UI boot delay is not an usability problem.

*) However, many people actually do move their test equipment around on the shop floor, wheeling it around down in the cellar next to the particle accelerator etc. That is why many of the smaller pieces of test gear from Agilent have rubber corners and a handle. In these situations you frequently do power cycle the equipment several - or even many - times a day. If you work in product calibration, then your test setup may consist of, say, a bunch of power supplies, DMMs, counters and more, all wheeled around on a cart. Here the boot delay frequently doesn't serve a physical purpose, and it gets to be a real pain in the rear, for a whole bunch of reasons.

*) My home lab is probably not a good example to go by. However, most labs I have worked in, seem to have been temporary affairs (for some suitable definition of 'temporary'), frequently being both fairly small and with questionable A/C - where it exists at all. In these situations you tend not keep your whole collection of stuff powered up all day long due to heat build up, and potentially noise as well. Thus, when you realize you need the DMM, you get to wait for it to boot.

WinCE because they already have the test procedures, the build libraries and the firmware in use on other devices, so it is not a big cost and learning curve to use another OS. The cost for them is essentially zero to use it, anything else will have a bigger cost in time or development.

I suspect few would question Agilent's wisdom in focusing on a single OS across their product range. What I am asking is whether people have heard or seen Agilent mention that WinCE has technical merits, which warrants the UI boot delay? If Agilent had chosen, say, QNX instead of WinCE, then a fast UI boot would have been an option. So our DMMs could be ready in seconds, and the 'scope with the complex power-on chaining and self calibration routines will be ready when the hardware is ready.

To put it differently, then I personally prefer instruments with LED, VFD and CRT readouts, compared to LCD screens. This due to the higher illumination intensity and increased contrast, which is available when using these technologies. However, upgrading to a full color LCD screen as seen with the 34461A is a valid design choice IMHO. By doing so you get the possibility of making an UI both more complex/powerful yet still easier to use/operate, compared to being limited by, say, the VFD readouts.
 

Offline SeanB

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #68 on: June 30, 2013, 10:58:24 am »
They could cut boot time a lot by having a ready to run frozen image that is decompressed to ram, registers in expected stuff set up and then control is transferred to it from a small basic bootloader. You can get this to go in less time than it takes for the LCD controller to come out of reset from power on. It works well for embedded stuff that only sends data out but you need extra if you want to have an ethernet stack, as you need to set it up.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #69 on: June 30, 2013, 11:13:43 am »
*) However, many people actually do move their test equipment around on the shop floor, wheeling it around down in the cellar next to the particle accelerator etc. That is why many of the smaller pieces of test gear from Agilent have rubber corners and a handle. In these situations you frequently do power cycle the equipment several - or even many - times a day. If you work in product calibration, then your test setup may consist of, say, a bunch of power supplies, DMMs, counters and more, all wheeled around on a cart. Here the boot delay frequently doesn't serve a physical purpose, and it gets to be a real pain in the rear, for a whole bunch of reasons.

I've built countless mobile production and service test jigs. Most of them that require gear such as this (i.e. high end/high precision) will inevitably have a PC based control and logging system on the trolley as well. So the boot time of the PC and program usually dominates.

Quote
*) My home lab is probably not a good example to go by. However, most labs I have worked in, seem to have been temporary affairs (for some suitable definition of 'temporary'), frequently being both fairly small and with questionable A/C - where it exists at all. In these situations you tend not keep your whole collection of stuff powered up all day long due to heat build up, and potentially noise as well. Thus, when you realize you need the DMM, you get to wait for it to boot.

That's what hand held meters are for. Or a bench meter without such high end system functionality that is instant-on.

And that's the kicker. This a complex system multimeter with oodles of power and functionality, it is not designed for the push-on and take a simple measurement crowd.
If any buys it for that and them proceeds to complain about the boot up time, then they are being rather silly.
 

Offline John Coloccia

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #70 on: June 30, 2013, 11:59:05 am »
Dave nailed it with the PC requirement too.  Anyhow, we used to do stuff like this all the time.  I wasn't doing testing and calibration, but the nature of my work required moving setups around and things like that.  I went to the store up the street and bought a $50 UPS.  All this stuff should be protected somehow anyway.  Then I can unplug the setup and wheel it anywhere I want with no drama.

So I hear what you're saying, but as a practical matter it's still a non-issue.  Maybe there's that one guy in a million whose job it is to walk around all day long, on 3 different floors, and do nothing but take a measurement on 30 different test stations.  I would suggest that a bench meter is maybe not the right tool for the job.  Maybe something like a Fluke 726 would be a better choice.
 

alm

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #71 on: June 30, 2013, 12:12:55 pm »
It's positioned as a replacement for the 34401A, which had a much faster boot time. The 34401A was also the entry level bench meter in the HP/Agilent range for a significant amount of time (before the Escort-designed meters and 34405A/34450A came along). It was not a high-end/high-precision meter within the HP/Agilent line. The 34401A was and is common as basic bench meter in many labs, and I can certainly see people putting it on a cart without sophisticated analysis software.

You may argue that the 34461A is not a good replacement in this application, but I don't think Agilent is positioning this meter purely as a system meter with all the fancy plotting features. In my opinion, the long boot time is a sign of lack of attention to detail, especially given the CPU power available compared to the 34401A. All the time-outs that are expiring (which are presumably still there in the production firmware since it takes almost as long to boot) show that they did a poor job on configuring WinCE. If we complain about the boot time of low-end Chinese scopes, then it would be unfair to hold Agilent to lower standards.
 

Offline Bob S

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #72 on: June 30, 2013, 02:32:39 pm »
There has been much said on the topic. I am not a fan of anything Windows but....
If you are in need of such a precision meter, you should let it warm up before you use it. In this way the boot time is of no concern. I have this meter and can only say that using it so far has been worth the wait.
 

Offline AlfBaz

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #73 on: June 30, 2013, 03:20:11 pm »
Considering that having trending, histograms, and other such features that normally require a pc running software to do, I think the boot time is an improvement!  :box:
 

Offline robrenz

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #74 on: June 30, 2013, 03:58:37 pm »
A nice use of Trend Plot is to identify your meters actual warm up time by shorting the inputs and turning the meter on and instantly turning on trend plot in DCV. The chart will show the Logaritmic? warm up curve and you can determine visualy what your meters actual warm up time is instead of using the manuals generic time. On my 8846A I find it is about 30 minutes instead of the stated 1 hour. I would guess the 34461A would be similar.

Offline c4757p

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #75 on: June 30, 2013, 04:00:46 pm »
Well, you get the warm-up time of the ADC, but aren't you neglecting the reference by doing it at zero?
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Offline AlfBaz

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #76 on: June 30, 2013, 04:16:52 pm »
according to lm399 data sheet, it take 3 seconds to warm up. I always though the warm up time was to get "everything" up to operating temp were the tempco's of all passive and active devices have had time to plateau and any thermoelectric differences have reached some sort of stable point, as its at this point that calibration was done
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #77 on: June 30, 2013, 05:05:25 pm »
A nice use of Trend Plot is to identify your meters actual warm up time by shorting the inputs and turning the meter on and instantly turning on trend plot in DCV. The chart will show the Logaritmic? warm up curve and you can determine visualy what your meters actual warm up time is instead of using the manuals generic time. On my 8846A I find it is about 30 minutes instead of the stated 1 hour. I would guess the 34461A would be similar.
surely all that will tell you is zero drift, not absolute voltage reference stability
 
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duskglow

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #78 on: June 30, 2013, 05:22:29 pm »
surely all that will tell you is zero drift, not absolute voltage reference stability

How would you tell absolute voltage reference stability?  And don't call him Shirley.
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #79 on: June 30, 2013, 05:31:02 pm »
surely all that will tell you is zero drift, not absolute voltage reference stability

How would you tell absolute voltage reference stability?  And don't call him Shirley.
With a stable external reference.
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Offline free_electron

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #80 on: June 30, 2013, 06:45:54 pm »
Why wince over others ? Because they ru. ST' spear processor.
Agilent made a win ce port for that cpu. They use it in their scopes. So they have a huge ecosystem inside the company already...
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Offline robrenz

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #81 on: June 30, 2013, 11:45:02 pm »
Well, you get the warm-up time of the ADC, but aren't you neglecting the reference by doing it at zero?

That sounds right, but I don't know, I'm a machinist not an EE :-//

surely all that will tell you is zero drift, not absolute voltage reference stability

How would you tell absolute voltage reference stability?  And don't call him Shirley.

It's OK, I have been called surely before :D

With a stable external reference.

I never implied anything about reference stability just when does my meter trend plot go zero slope with a invariant input meaning things have settled down and I will now get consistent readings that don't have warmup artifacts.  Whats more stable than a shorting bar?  I don't have anything to give a 10V signal that varies less than 1µV, who does?

Just a few captures showing what I was talking about and how nice it is to have trend plot on a meter.  8846A with shorting bar in inputs, DCV auto range, 100NPLC, digital filter, trend plot as soon as it boots. 6 min. 20 sec has passed. 1.2172µV droop including noise.


Same setup at total elapsed time of 28 mins. 1.7184µV droop including noise.


Same setup at total elapsed time of 1 hour 18 mins. 1.7542µV droop including noise. Only 36nv additional droop/noise. Obvious that the 28 minutes is enough time that the meter is stable.


Same setup but meter is now zeroed after the 1 hour 18 mins. and back into trend plot to see general noise.  465.4nV total span of all readings over 6 minutes. This correlates well with the noise level seen in the 1hr 18 min plot above.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2013, 11:47:45 pm by robrenz »
 

Offline ElectroIrradiator

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #82 on: July 01, 2013, 04:00:38 pm »
I've built countless mobile production and service test jigs. Most of them that require gear such as this (i.e. high end/high precision) will inevitably have a PC based control and logging system on the trolley as well. So the boot time of the PC and program usually dominates.

Not an expert, have just seen what others have built. Those I've seen has used laptops to get around the rebooting and setup problem. Though I am aware that a laptop will not cut it in every situation (if you absolutely need PCI cards etc.), and the UPS idea may also have merit.

That's what hand held meters are for. Or a bench meter without such high end system functionality that is instant-on.

And that's the kicker. This a complex system multimeter with oodles of power and functionality, it is not designed for the push-on and take a simple measurement crowd.
If any buys it for that and them proceeds to complain about the boot up time, then they are being rather silly.

Several years ago, while I was still active in my particular field, a colleague once asked an Agilent rep if the general kind of activity we engaged in was important to Agilent from a business perspective. The answer we got at the time was a strong affirmative.

As alm mentioned, then the 34461A is positioned to be the successor to the venerable 34401A, which I used regularly back then. I would expect it to be able to perform all the duties of the 34401A if this is so, and some of the basic needs we had to a 'field' DMM were:

*) Mains powered, with no batteries to run out. We frequently ran our DMMs for half a day or more at a time, sometimes with no say in the matter!
*) One man portable, relatively quickly if possible. We'd have hauled 19" rack gear around if that is what it took, but the smaller size of the 34401A was great.
*) Easy to stack physically, both vertically and horizontally.
*) High visibility display. In this regard I personally much prefer the VFD displays to, say, the 7 segment LCD display on my Fluke 189 (Mk I).
*) High relative accuracy, 5 digits didn't always cut it. Whenever possible our test/monitor points were designed such that absolute accuracy wasn't needed. By this I mean we only needed to see whether we could hit a null through adjustment, or quickly be able to check if a test voltage drifted and if so, gauge the speed and direction of drift. [1] My colleagues and I are acutely aware of the problems involved in obtaining measurements with an absolute accuracy in the uV range, so we mostly didn't even try.
*) Remote control and data acquisition was occasionally useful.

While we obviously didn't need all of these points fulfilled simultaneously, we did need them all at one point or another. My colleagues still do, as far as I know.

Additionally, our electronics labs mostly have a support function, they are not the center of activities. By this I mean that the test gear within are tools, which we fetch at need. Sometimes we are able to bring a piece of electronics there to troubleshoot, or we may develop a custom solution to a particular problem, though either didn't happen too often.

I'm terribly sorry if this bothers you but yes, my colleagues absolutely use the 34401A DMMs and their likes as portable devices to be used in the 'field'. They do not stay within the confines of the comfy laboratory.

Care to take a guess at what we do? By your words we cannot possibly have a valid reason to use these DMMs outside the confines of a proper lab, so clearly what we do is utterly pointless. ;)

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[1] "Oooohhh, the 34461A has drift mode! Aww chucks... Takes forever to boot, so no more quickly running around, locating the source of drift...  :'( "
 

Offline SeanB

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #83 on: July 01, 2013, 05:33:33 pm »
I saw a cart at CNA ( local bookseller, but mostly a few magazines, cards and romance pulp these days) they use to do stocktake. Has a PC, monitor, keyboard, mouse, mousepad, barcode scanner and a thermal printer all on it. Connected to a 50m long extension cord and a 50m long ethernet cable for the data connection. Reason fo this is Head office says they must take the stock to the computer to stocktake, and with 10 000 items in the store, often in quantities from 1 to 100 it would otherwise take weeks. With this it just takes a day every month.
 

Offline ElectroIrradiator

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #84 on: July 01, 2013, 09:17:59 pm »
Why wince over others ? Because they ru. ST' spear processor.
Agilent made a win ce port for that cpu. They use it in their scopes. So they have a huge ecosystem inside the company already...

Then my question reduces to why Agilent chose WinCE for the 2000X/3000X/4000X scopes? ARM, the CPU core in the Spear, is also a supported architecture for QNX. From what I am being told, then, when compared to WinCE, it is a fair bit more comfortable porting QNX to new hardware. Particularly writing drivers should be a better experience, as a buggy driver won't crash the microkernel. Admittedly I haven't tried this myself though.

I saw a cart at CNA ( local bookseller, but mostly a few magazines, cards and romance pulp these days) they use to do stocktake. Has a PC, monitor, keyboard, mouse, mousepad, barcode scanner and a thermal printer all on it. Connected to a 50m long extension cord and a 50m long ethernet cable for the data connection. Reason fo this is Head office says they must take the stock to the computer to stocktake, and with 10 000 items in the store, often in quantities from 1 to 100 it would otherwise take weeks. With this it just takes a day every month.

A plain extension cord may very well end up being the chosen solution to my use case, at least for the smaller installations.
 

Offline KedasProbe

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #85 on: July 05, 2013, 06:03:28 pm »
I'm comparing with the DM3068 from Rigol.

Does someone know if Rigol is planning a new/updated version of their multimeter in the near future?
I would like a bigger screen on it, more like this Agilent, not a deal breaker but it would be nice.
or they can keep it 'small' but provide a tablet app UI.(over the network)

I don't want to buy a DM3068 and see the new one coming out soon after.

edit: Rigol Sales don't know about any new one with bigger screen so it may be a while before the next one is ready.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2013, 02:59:07 pm by KedasProbe »
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Offline ddavidebor

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EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #86 on: July 05, 2013, 06:08:39 pm »
Should be great!
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Offline KedasProbe

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #87 on: July 06, 2013, 04:23:29 pm »
About the Rigol 'wrong calculated' Vrms I checked it with my DG4102 and it's simple, it doesn't calculate it wrong, it doesn't calculate it at all, all arb are assumed to be square waves. so 1Vrms is just 1Vp  ::)

Dave, will you also review the other multimeters you compared it with? (especially DM3068)
I liked the simple battery voltage tests.
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Offline victor

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #88 on: July 11, 2013, 12:50:31 am »
They should have implemented a hold to clear button. UI on these scopes is pretty lame.

My clear button solution simulation -> http://fiddle.jshell.net/Victornpb/HmRA4/show/
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Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #89 on: July 11, 2013, 03:11:55 am »
Does someone know if Rigol is planning a new/updated version of their multimeter in the near future?
I would like a bigger screen on it, more like this Agilent, not a deal breaker but it would be nice.
or they can keep it 'small' but provide a tablet app UI.(over the network)

I doubt it. It's a pretty new model already.
Only now that Agilent have a big screen meter would the competition likely think about it.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #489 - Agilent 34461A Multimeter Review
« Reply #90 on: July 11, 2013, 03:12:42 am »
Dave, will you also review the other multimeters you compared it with? (especially DM3068)
I liked the simple battery voltage tests.

No plans, I don't have them for starters.
 


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