Author Topic: Multimeter recommendations  (Read 23727 times)

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Offline eeshock

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Multimeter recommendations
« on: November 20, 2012, 04:52:31 am »
Hi,
    My old meter is broken so I'm in the market to look for a new one. My budget is around $100.

    My first choice was a second hand Fluke 177, almost bought it, then found it does not even have uA range! This is so ridiculous since even a $10 meter has one. You need to climb all the way to 87 to have uA. Shocking.

    So now I'm looking for alternatives. I'm just a hobby user but am a bit picky. Here are the requirements:

1) Must have uA - Everyone has it except the damn Fluke.
2) <0.5% accuracy, ideally <0.1%.
3) At least 4000 counts, the more the better.
4) Good analog bar with >=30hz refreshing rate.
5) Good, uniform backlight.
6) Capacitance range up to 4,000 uF.
7) True RMS
8) Quick continuity test, ideally latched - I only know Fluke fits this bill. Who else?
9) Fast measurement, ideally <1sec to obtain a stable reading from touching the probe.
10) Not too big.
11) Ideally have temperature, but not essential.

    I have considered several meters:

Amprobe AM-270: All good but backlight is not good, also too big. 32cm long!
Amprobe AM-530: Not that accurate, also heard the measuring speed is slow
Klein Tools MM2000: Not sure about measuring speed and continuity latching
UNI-T UT60H: No backlight
UNI-T UT61E: No backlight
Hioki 3804-50: Fast measuring speed but no backlight and no RMS

   Am I asking too much? I hope not! Can you please make some recommendations?

Thanks!
« Last Edit: November 20, 2012, 04:56:38 am by eeshock »
 

Online iloveelectronics

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Re: Multimeter recommendations
« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2012, 05:19:14 am »
I did some mini reviews on 3 Mastech multimeters in another thread: https://www.eevblog.com/forum/product-reviews-photos-and-discussion/mastech-ms-8233e-ms-8240d-and-ms-8250c/

Out of the 3 the MS8250C is my favourite and it actually fits your requirements quite well. It's quoted at 0.5% DCV accuracy but my unit is a fair bit more accurate than that. DealExtreme has it for sale at $56.8 with free shipping.
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Offline T4P

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Re: Multimeter recommendations
« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2012, 05:19:46 am »
The UT61E is a good one if you don't need backlight but the thing is ... do you do electronics in the dark?
i never needed the backlight even in areas with 20lm (Yes my ceiling lights gone awry) because of the excellent contrast you get with UNI-T
I see none of the problems you are having though, the +/- 10 counts might seem like it's going to be out of the box but WAIT, it's spec'd by UNI-T for 1 year drift. Frankly, 10 counts doesn't mean the last 10 counts are useless
BUT WAIT! That's on the AC voltage range.
A dear 87v is +/- 1 counts from 6V onwards (not sure about the "high-res" mode), this is 0.1% +/- 2 counts from 2 to 220V rated.
Quote
Many things UNI-T got right with the meter itself,
Solid, doesn't creak when you turn it, some meters creak badly especially the BK 2709.
Doesn't slip around on a laminated surface when placed flat, i have a laminated surface right here so i promise it won't be as slipper as a used car salesman
You can turn the rotary switch around without the meter rocking left and right, a big plus
Well ... the LCD has oddly better contrast than the 87v, as well as a huge display
when you do open it up, you can notice the design that went into the battery slot, as well how tightly it mates up with the body
as well when you look at how the shell on the bottom part goes right in between the front part, making a good blast shielding
They mount the LCD and it stays on the board and i have seen 50$ meters with the LCD gingerly hanging off the board
Solid feeling soft buttons, instills confidence
Fantastic rotary switch, frankly the only reason to love this meter is for the wonderful rotary switch, nice satisfying CLACK when you turn it off or the Amps range
and only a click on the other ranges
Lightning fast autoranging
Very fast continuity, same.
Beeper is always on BUT the frequency is just about right.
Fast (even up to 10,000uF) capacitance measurement, trust me, most 4000 count meters get this VERY wrong

I just feel like the physical design team are 1000 times more competent than the design team of the electronics ...
Decent probes! They only cost 2-3 bucks back in china ... Only need to clean it when new but watch out, in a humid environment a layer of oxide can grow, i've seen even on my Wavetek (Very high quality!) probes
Also to note, the wall of the meter is pretty thick, as with the thickness of the back itself, physically this thing is a beast, sort of.
But i have seen flukes with worser physical qualities, did they hire building designers or what?
I'll say the integrated holster is a nice thing (easier to access battery and fuses), as with the battery + tilting bail
And ... this is the first meter i had that smells VERY nice, the plastic's smell if both of mine do fade away, i am tempted to buy another one ... just for the smell

And I shall copypasta what i wrote before

Quote
So i got down to do some tests on power consumption (naturally with a almost identical twin)
9V (Batteries start fresh at 10V but that's unloaded)
1.5mA on capacitance even while measuring a 10mF cap... Big i know
1-2mA on voltage Actually i was pretty shocked it only draws that much at this price point and best part is that the screen is actually more viewable than the 87v As in better contrast and brightness(This is a true reply, my friend uses the 87V at his college, well i mean everyone there uses it)
Didn't really test the rest but when it's in continuity mode with beeper sounding it's about 4-5mA

Okay, here's the most important part some might want to know.
Low voltage performance? Measured at PSU but it doesn't matter, my psu is pretty accurate but i still used it's twin i got from DD to measure the PSU voltage
Battery LV warning? Starts at 5.35V and stops at 5.45V
Voltage where the measurement starts to drift? Doesn't seem to drift above 3.5V but i can't really tell. Even my ET-845 seems to drift way more with fresh batteries, the UT61E doesn't seem to drift before it turns off! I was a little worried when i saw it happening yesterday then i forgot i wasn't using banana plugs
Voltage where it turns on? 2.1 Seems to be right, the datasheet says -2.5 to -3.5 so i'm seeing witchcraft here or is it a buck-boost converter?
I'm seeing ±5V on the AD737J so i'm pretty sure the UT-61E has a buck-boost converter

So my testing is complete, if you do need anymore measurements i'm glad to provide
(This lodestar 8202/8203 psu is freaking impressive, 33 year old caps and they hardly drift or have hardly any noise at all!)
Oh yes i forgot, i intentionally added a 330ohm resistor on the supply to mimic a battery's internal resistance

About the fuse, you can install HRC fuse sockets because the footprints are there
The fuse is indeed HRC at 6kA being a mains fuse! But it's only rated to 250VAC and not DC
My recommendation is to try out the same 10A 30kA 10x38 siba fuses agilent uses, 10x38 will fit in the 1A fuse socket with a bit of fuse holder bending or you can use a 500mA 1000V 6.3x32mm 30kA-50kA fuse, just remember to silicone the exposed holes, might lead to arc overs
"Sparkgaps" Go ahead and install a MOV there of some reasonable rating

Needs a bit of fiddling to be safe but it's alright considering this meter only costs 50$ (roughly)
« Last Edit: November 20, 2012, 05:23:20 am by T4P »
 

Offline Lightages

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Re: Multimeter recommendations
« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2012, 05:20:31 am »
Of all you have listed, the AM-270 is the best buy. It is big, but it is capable and has the right parts inside for safety. The only complaint you have about it are size, and possibly poor back light. I have not seen one in person but these seem like rather little gripes compared to all the other benefits it has.
 

Offline Lightages

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Re: Multimeter recommendations
« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2012, 05:26:24 am »
As far as T4P liking the UT61E, I agree it is a good buy. But if you want back light, and not have to modify a new meter to bring it up to higher safety standards, and and and...

Do not assume that adding a voltage limiting device inside the UT61E of some random value and design is going to be safe. It might be what they left out on purpose to meet the CAT rating. It is possible that the MOV or sparkgap blew up during testing and caused a hazard. Adding some random part of your choosing could be a recipe for a catastrophic failure should things go wrong.

And really T4P, you are beginning to look like a fanatic with your UT61E  ;)
« Last Edit: November 20, 2012, 05:28:09 am by Lightages »
 

Offline Wytnucls

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Re: Multimeter recommendations
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2012, 05:45:34 am »
If you're not worried about input protection, have a look at the Uni-T UT71B, although it might be too big for you.
Continuity is latched, but a bit slow. For the rest, it should meet your requirements.
20,000 count, Caps up to 200mF and internal data logging.
The screen and backlight are good and it does temperature too.

http://www.uni-trend.com/UT71B.html
« Last Edit: November 20, 2012, 06:49:42 am by Wytnucls »
 

Offline Wytnucls

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Re: Multimeter recommendations
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2012, 05:54:15 am »
Extech makes some smaller meters, like the EX430, but cap measurement is limited to 100uF.
http://www.extech.com/instruments/resources/datasheets/EX400series.pdf

« Last Edit: November 20, 2012, 06:38:31 am by Wytnucls »
 

Offline T4P

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Re: Multimeter recommendations
« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2012, 06:01:45 am »

And really T4P, you are beginning to look like a fanatic with your UT61E  ;)
Yeah i am, but there's a GS-approved version floating around with a sparkgap but only rated to CATIII 600V mainly because of a 690V-only capable fuse they fit. But i will test it's high voltage isolation at 1kV
The reason i'm not confident about amprobe is
https://www.eevblog.com/forum/product-reviews-photos-and-discussion/teardown-amprobe-am-270-digital-multimeter/msg71654/#msg71654
Bad backlight and worsened by a lack of a diffuser.

AM-530 : Slow continuity but tilting bail looks like the UT61's tilting bail

The biggest issue with the UNI-T is that AC should only be AC, any AC superimposed on DC will screw it up on the AC range
I'm not sure about DC but a bridge rectifier with 1 failed diode made it go wonky
So i know for sure the filtering on it is kaput
« Last Edit: November 20, 2012, 06:20:36 am by T4P »
 

Offline Wytnucls

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Re: Multimeter recommendations
« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2012, 06:24:35 am »
« Last Edit: November 20, 2012, 06:26:45 am by Wytnucls »
 

Offline eeshock

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Re: Multimeter recommendations
« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2012, 07:09:31 am »
Out of the 3 the MS8250C is my favourite and it actually fits your requirements quite well. It's quoted at 0.5% DCV accuracy but my unit is a fair bit more accurate than that. DealExtreme has it for sale at $56.8 with free shipping.

Thanks. How did you find its speed, both measure and bar refresh? And where can you buy 8250D?
 

Offline eeshock

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Re: Multimeter recommendations
« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2012, 07:16:17 am »
The UT61E is a good one if you don't need backlight but the thing is ... do you do electronics in the dark?

I can certainly live without the backlight, as none of my crappy meters have one. But it just feels good as a nice feature of a new meter lol!
 

Offline eeshock

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Re: Multimeter recommendations
« Reply #11 on: November 20, 2012, 07:21:01 am »
Of all you have listed, the AM-270 is the best buy. It is big, but it is capable and has the right parts inside for safety. The only complaint you have about it are size, and possibly poor back light.

Agreed. The AM270 is my second choice (after Fluke), but the size is really horrible. It is 30cm long, just like a brick!

Yes it almost fit all the bills. It's even got a cheap price for the best accuracy. But so sad that it was let down by the size and the poorly designed backlight. I am willing to pay an extra $20 if they fix these 2 cons.
 

Offline eeshock

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Re: Multimeter recommendations
« Reply #12 on: November 20, 2012, 07:28:51 am »
If you're not worried about input protection, have a look at the Uni-T UT71B, although it might be too big for you.
Continuity is latched, but a bit slow. For the rest, it should meet your requirements.
20,000 count, Caps up to 200mF and internal data logging.
The screen and backlight are good and it does temperature too.

http://www.uni-trend.com/UT71B.html

Yes I'm not too fuss about safety, as I don't take it out for electrical work.

Also the size is good. It is only 20cm so much smaller than the AM-270.

Yes it is almost good but, there is always a but. The bar refresh is only 10hz. Why there is always something let it down?
 

Offline eeshock

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Re: Multimeter recommendations
« Reply #13 on: November 20, 2012, 07:29:41 am »
Extech makes some smaller meters, like the EX430, but cap measurement is limited to 100uF.

That's a show stopper, unfortunately.
 

Offline eeshock

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Re: Multimeter recommendations
« Reply #14 on: November 20, 2012, 07:37:04 am »
So now do you feel I'm too picky? There's always something that ruined an otherwise very good product.

And the reason why I'm so serious about bar refresh rate is that the scum who designed the VC99 is a con artist. It looks like has a nice analog bar, but the value is directly linked to the main digit, and refresh at the same time! That's completely defeated the purpose of an analog bar.

So for a $100 meter, a fast measure and fast refreshing bar is a must have. I am always wary of a meter that has a bar but doesn't specify refresh rate.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2012, 07:38:42 am by eeshock »
 

Offline Wytnucls

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Re: Multimeter recommendations
« Reply #15 on: November 20, 2012, 07:45:07 am »
30Hz bar graph refresh is quite a requirement for a 100$ meter. You're in Agilent territory there, I think.
An interesting feature of the 71B bar graph, is that one can move the zero to the middle of the screen for a display of +/- voltages and currents.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2012, 07:58:50 am by Wytnucls »
 

Offline T4P

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Re: Multimeter recommendations
« Reply #16 on: November 20, 2012, 08:05:16 am »
UT61E's bar graph is about 20Hz and that's not too fast i think the others should be able to go faster
Maybe franky can help us find the CEM DT-9938 which should cost less than a DT-9919 that is about 100$
It's also a ES51922 based DMM that is full of all the features and comes with HRC fuses supposedly but CEM is one of the OEMs of most Extechs
and has got temperature! I think it's got Relative but no pictures  |O

And the DT-9919. Why do i mention it?
About the price of a UT71A but has HRC fuses. But roughly better i think

There's one issue with CEM meters, being extech's OEM the spongy switch exists
Step up to 200+$ category
DT-9929 these are the interesting ones
Current loop + dual display and logging capability and so much more over the DT-9919) Around the price of an UT71E
DT-9939
Over the DT-9929 you get what they call "Wireless USB" I have no idea what that means

Best part? They are all IP67!
 

Online iloveelectronics

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Re: Multimeter recommendations
« Reply #17 on: November 20, 2012, 09:00:28 am »
Out of the 3 the MS8250C is my favourite and it actually fits your requirements quite well. It's quoted at 0.5% DCV accuracy but my unit is a fair bit more accurate than that. DealExtreme has it for sale at $56.8 with free shipping.

Thanks. How did you find its speed, both measure and bar refresh? And where can you buy 8250D?

Display update rate is a decent 3 times per second, faster than the 61E, bar graph I'll have to check again when I'm home, i didn't pay much attention to that. Continuity and auto ranging are lightning fast. You can find it at dx.com.
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Offline eeshock

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Re: Multimeter recommendations
« Reply #18 on: November 20, 2012, 09:27:40 am »
30Hz bar graph refresh is quite a requirement for a 100$ meter. You're in Agilent territory there, I think.

No. The Amprobe has it

Amprobe AM-270: 60hz!
Amprobe AM-520: 30hz. This is a $40 meter!

The Fluke 177 is 40hz. I used to admire Fluke, now hate it for delibrately omitting the uA range. I put the 177 at the same level of a $100 meter. They are over priced.
 

Offline eeshock

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Re: Multimeter recommendations
« Reply #19 on: November 20, 2012, 09:34:43 am »
UT61E's bar graph is about 20Hz and that's not too fast i think the others should be able to go faster
Maybe franky can help us find the CEM DT-9938 which should cost less than a DT-9919 that is about 100$

CEM's spec sheet is so sparse. Where can you download a full spec? Even their official site has only a few lines of spec (both Chinese and English version)
 

Online iloveelectronics

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Re: Multimeter recommendations
« Reply #20 on: November 20, 2012, 09:50:05 am »

Agreed. The AM270 is my second choice (after Fluke), but the size is really horrible. It is 30cm long, just like a brick!

30cm can't be right, that's the length of a forearm!! Are you sure?
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Offline T4P

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Re: Multimeter recommendations
« Reply #21 on: November 20, 2012, 09:51:53 am »
Not that i have any idea ...   :'(


Agreed. The AM270 is my second choice (after Fluke), but the size is really horrible. It is 30cm long, just like a brick!

30cm can't be right, that's the length of a forearm!! Are you sure?
He's not joking  :o http://www.tequipment.net/AmprobeAM-270.html 317mm length WTF
 

Online iloveelectronics

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Re: Multimeter recommendations
« Reply #22 on: November 20, 2012, 10:00:33 am »
He's not joking  :o http://www.tequipment.net/AmprobeAM-270.html 317mm length WTF

Unless that guy in the video holding the meter is a real giant I can't see how the meter could possibly be 317mm long!!
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Offline eeshock

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Re: Multimeter recommendations
« Reply #23 on: November 20, 2012, 10:10:30 am »
He's not joking  :o http://www.tequipment.net/AmprobeAM-270.html 317mm length WTF

Unless that guy in the video holding the meter is a real giant I can't see how the meter could possibly be 317mm long!!

How I wish I was joking. Check the official datasheet yourself.
http://www.amprobe.com/Amprobe/usen/Multimeters/Industrial-Multimeters-/AM-270.htm?PID=73125
 

Online iloveelectronics

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Re: Multimeter recommendations
« Reply #24 on: November 20, 2012, 10:20:36 am »
Out of the 3 the MS8250C is my favourite and it actually fits your requirements quite well. It's quoted at 0.5% DCV accuracy but my unit is a fair bit more accurate than that. DealExtreme has it for sale at $56.8 with free shipping.

Thanks. How did you find its speed, both measure and bar refresh? And where can you buy 8250D?

Display update rate is a decent 3 times per second, faster than the 61E, bar graph I'll have to check again when I'm home, i didn't pay much attention to that. Continuity and auto ranging are lightning fast. You can find it at dx.com.

Just checked the MS8250D manual again. It says digital display is updated 2.5 times per second, but I timed 85 updates in a 30 second period, which is close to 3 times/sec, in V, R and AC current ranges. DC Current measurement is only undated once per second. Analog display is claimed to be updated 25 times per second, I don't know how to verify but it looks smooth enough for me.
My email address: franky @ 99centHobbies . com
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