Author Topic: Vichy VC99 Multimeter Teardown  (Read 29039 times)

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humble_hoser

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Vichy VC99 Multimeter Teardown
« on: February 04, 2010, 11:48:59 pm »
Hello all!

I just discovered the blog a week or so ago and I'm hooked. Your enthusiasm is infectious Dave!

I'm a software guy, but I've been getting more and more into hardware over the last 6 months or so. Money's tight these days, but I needed a new multimeter to finish a project (the Radioshack cheapie I've been using for years just wasn't enough anymore). I'd rather have waited and saved up for a quality meter, but time was a factor.

Trawling through eBay I kept running into the Vichy VC99 (seriously, they're like a plague), usually being touted as a clone of the Fluke 17B. They're dirt cheap and often include free shipping, so I took the bait.

It finally arrived a few days ago, and in the spirit of the blog (and since I saw some questions about it in the "how good a multimeter does a hobbyist need?" thread) I took it apart and took some photos.

See the specs and teardown photos here: http://spn-dev.net/VC99.html

My mini review:



Is the VC99 a decent meter? Finger-puppet Friedrich Nietzsche looks skeptical.

Pros:
- cheap
- lots of functions
- nice big display
- fairly sturdy for a cheap Chinese item
Cons:
- slow auto-ranging
- uses AAA batteries
- measurement confidence... not so great.
- dodgy internal construction
- dubious compliance to marked safety ratings

It's a cheap Chinese multimeter, and you get what you pay for. However, it's been working well so far and the readings agree with my other meter and expectations, so fingers crossed.

One thing to note: I tried Dave's continuity test and noticed some odd behaviour. Just touching the probes together won't always trigger the buzzer immediately, there can be a significant delay, but if you touch the probes to traces/wires it buzzes straight away every time. Not quite sure what to say about that.

Anyway, I hope that was informative/entertaining for some of you. Cheers!
 

Online EEVblog

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Re: Vichy VC99 Multimeter Teardown
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2010, 06:29:29 am »
Thanks for the tear-down.
Yeah, typical internal construction of an el-cheapo meter.
It almost certainly won't pass actual compliance testing.
As with all these cheap meters, I wouldn't use them on anything mains or high energy related.

Dave.
 

humble_hoser

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Re: Vichy VC99 Multimeter Teardown
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2010, 08:15:03 am »
Oh don't worry, I'm not sticking that thing anywhere near the mains.

Hopefully it'll be replaced by an 87V once the pay cheques start rolling in again.
 

Offline Dan Frederiksen

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Re: Vichy VC99 Multimeter Teardown
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2011, 08:21:29 pm »
if you look at the measurements in the 50$ shootout video it is actually head and shoulders above the extech in accuracy. it may not be rugged but measurement accuracy is the primary function and it looks excellent in that department. I wouldn't be surprised if it was more accurate than the 500$ fluke.
and you can get it for 21$ on ebay
 

alm

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Re: Vichy VC99 Multimeter Teardown
« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2011, 09:45:37 pm »
You can't determine accuracy from a few measurements repeated only once, on a single sample of the multimeter, at only one set of environmental conditions (temperature, humidity, pressure), at only one point in time (accuracy is often specified for up to one year after calibration). The only thing you might conclude is that the results are consistent with the meter meeting its specs.
 

Offline Kiriakos-GR

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Re: Vichy VC99 Multimeter Teardown
« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2011, 12:19:03 am »
so I took the bait.

I always move away from the bait ...  I will advice you to do the same from now and on.  :)

The Vichy uses 20 years old technology.
 

Offline img

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Re: Vichy VC99 Multimeter Teardown
« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2011, 06:15:48 am »
so I took the bait.

I always move away from the bait ...  I will advice you to do the same from now and on.  :)


Spoken like a wise man.  :)
Vichy isn't trustworthy.
 

Offline Kiriakos-GR

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Re: Vichy VC99 Multimeter Teardown
« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2011, 11:04:22 am »
so I took the bait.

I always move away from the bait ...  I will advice you to do the same from now and on.  :)


Spoken like a wise man.  :)
Vichy isn't trustworthy.

I can not tell about the trustworthy part.
But today it is so easy to build an almost accurate unit on the DC range, Ohms it is easy too.
This DMM was build with CAT I in mind, and so other than old technology ( slow in operations) they follow an ancient CAT rating too.
I would not be afraid to use this in Mains , speaking about in door home use, so to verify 220V on the Mains plug.
But the major problem with those, are that if they hit the floor for some reason, you can not tell if they do operate correctly after that.

Dave offers one major contribution in the world by performing live the "1 meter drop test ".
But he should test the operation at 220V AC after the drop.   
The most risky part is to measure mains, the DMM to not show anything because it has some sort of damage,
but the Mains socket to be  live ( active) with 220V on it !!

The golden rule is to double  check every mains source with a volt-stick too.  ;)
 The UNI-T 15C it is the safest made volt-stick up to date, in the most friendly price.

And if I could offer one suggestion to every one who gets an low priced DMM,
it would be to get and the UNI-T 15C volt-stick so to have them as pair.   
The volt-stick it will lead the attack at the mains plug, and the cheap DMM will follow, as soon there is no danger around.  ;)
 

alm

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Re: Vichy VC99 Multimeter Teardown
« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2011, 08:24:25 pm »
I would not be afraid to use this in Mains , speaking about in door home use, so to verify 220V on the Mains plug.
So you actually go beyond trusting the manufacturers spec, but assume it's better than rated? CAT I is not sufficient for mains voltage in residential areas, so even Vichy doesn't claim that it expects it to do this safely. What information do you posses that Vichy don't?

The golden rule is to double  check every mains source with a volt-stick too.  ;)
 The UNI-T 15C it is the safest made volt-stick up to date, in the most friendly price.
This way you just bet on two cheap pieces of equipment not breaking down. A better way IMO is to first check a known live circuit, then the circuit under test, then a known live circuit again. I believe this is standard procedure for many electricians. If both the first and last test are correct, it's very unlikely that the intermediate one is wrong. This doesn't force you to spend any more money either, so it's a cheap solution.

Do you have any facts to support your statement that the Uni-T is the safest volt stick, or is this just your usual Uni-T fanboyism?
 

Offline Kiriakos-GR

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Re: Vichy VC99 Multimeter Teardown
« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2011, 09:23:15 pm »
Hey alm, just spent 17$ to find out of how safe is this volt stick.

You can even do a video review of it .. and become famous if you manage to destroy it !! 

If you are talking to me about fanboyism, it translates that you are clueless about with who you are talking with.
And in this case I prefer to not speak to me again . 

In my part of the world even the worst DMM it can measure safely 380V AC.
And as risky considered any measurement above the 600V AC.

About the Vichy specifications it claims 1000V Max.
And so yes it can do even the half safely.



« Last Edit: July 29, 2011, 09:29:26 pm by Kiriakos-GR »
 

alm

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Re: Vichy VC99 Multimeter Teardown
« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2011, 09:44:48 pm »
Hey alm, just spent 17$ to find out of how safe is this volt stick.
You're the one making the claim, I asked for something supporting this claim, and got none. I don't feel like spending $17 to do your homework, and I would also have to spend even more $$$ to buy a Fluke VoltAlert to compare it to. Plus some pulse generators that can do 8kV pulses with an output impedance of 1 ohm or so.

You can even do a video review of it .. and become famous if you manage to destroy it !! 
Easy, don't you guys have hammers in Greece? ;)

And in this case I prefer to not speak to me again . 
I don't usually talk to myself either.

In my part of the world even the worst DMM it can measure safely 380V AC.
And as risky considered any measurement above the 600V AC.

About the Vichy specifications it claims 1000V Max.
And so yes it can do even the half safely.
Try reading about CAT rating (IEC61010) and transient voltages. CAT I is not an older version of CAT III, but for lower energy circuits, like behind a small transformer that can only deliver a limited amount of power. The fact that it can measure 1000V on a circuit that's not able to deliver much energy doesn't mean that it can do the same safely on a CAT II (or CAT III depending on the wiring) circuit, let alone a three-phase circuit. The amount of energy that your average mains circuit can deliver, and the transients it can transmit, are much higher than a small power supply that may generate 1kV.

The fact that Vichy only claims that it it's safe for CAT I indicates that they don't guarantee that it's safe for CAT II, otherwise they would have printed 'CAT II' on it, since this sells better. Marketing rarely understates these kinds of specs, they usually try to put the most optimistic spin on it (eg. battery life two years, if you only turn it on once a month and never use the back light).
 

Offline Kiriakos-GR

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Re: Vichy VC99 Multimeter Teardown
« Reply #11 on: July 30, 2011, 12:40:46 am »
Yea ok, if this 8KV generator jumps on you , I will come to save you too.  :P

Check this out .. https://www.eevblog.com/forum/index.php?topic=4323.0
 

Offline Bored@Work

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Re: Vichy VC99 Multimeter Teardown
« Reply #12 on: July 30, 2011, 08:04:16 am »
Alm, don't waste time with him. He is again seeking attention and trying to style himself as THE multimeter expert, while in reality he has no clue.
I delete PMs unread. If you have something to say, say it in public.
For all else: Profile->[Modify Profile]Buddies/Ignore List->Edit Ignore List
 

Offline Simon

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Re: Vichy VC99 Multimeter Teardown
« Reply #13 on: July 30, 2011, 09:03:45 am »
oh why, oh why, the VC99 is a piece of garbage, mine has not worked properly ever since i bought it. Just put it in the trash can and get a real multimeter, for the same money you can get an Amprobe220 which has the the same feasible functions and non of the crap
https://www.simonselectronics.co.uk/shop
Varied stock of test instruments and components including EEVblog gear and Wurth Elektronik Books.
Also, if you want to get ripped off: https://www.ebay.co.uk/usr/simons_electronics?_trksid=p2047675.l2559
 

Offline img

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Re: Vichy VC99 Multimeter Teardown
« Reply #14 on: July 30, 2011, 07:31:32 pm »
Quote

I can not tell about the trustworthy part.
But today it is so easy to build an almost accurate unit on the DC range, Ohms it is easy too.
This DMM was build with CAT I in mind, and so other than old technology ( slow in operations) they follow an ancient CAT rating too.
I would not be afraid to use this in Mains , speaking about in door home use, so to verify 220V on the Mains plug.
But the major problem with those, are that if they hit the floor for some reason, you can not tell if they do operate correctly after that.

Dave offers one major contribution in the world by performing live the "1 meter drop test ".
But he should test the operation at 220V AC after the drop.   
The most risky part is to measure mains, the DMM to not show anything because it has some sort of damage,
but the Mains socket to be  live ( active) with 220V on it !!

The golden rule is to double  check every mains source with a volt-stick too.  ;)
 The UNI-T 15C it is the safest made volt-stick up to date, in the most friendly price.

And if I could offer one suggestion to every one who gets an low priced DMM,
it would be to get and the UNI-T 15C volt-stick so to have them as pair.   
The volt-stick it will lead the attack at the mains plug, and the cheap DMM will follow, as soon there is no danger around.  ;)

True. It's not a bad multimeter overall, but a bit too fragile. As for super-duper mains stuff, I don't do it.
Speaking of low-priced DMM, who knows a cheap and cheerful (but nice) pocket DMM they'd recommend? No, I am not looking for pocket-sized version of Fluke 87V, but don't want to get rubbish either. Something like Uni-T or Extech would suit me nicely.
 

Offline Kiriakos-GR

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Re: Vichy VC99 Multimeter Teardown
« Reply #15 on: July 30, 2011, 08:09:37 pm »
Quote

I can not tell about the trustworthy part.
But today it is so easy to build an almost accurate unit on the DC range, Ohms it is easy too.
This DMM was build with CAT I in mind, and so other than old technology ( slow in operations) they follow an ancient CAT rating too.
I would not be afraid to use this in Mains , speaking about in door home use, so to verify 220V on the Mains plug.
But the major problem with those, are that if they hit the floor for some reason, you can not tell if they do operate correctly after that.

Dave offers one major contribution in the world by performing live the "1 meter drop test ".
But he should test the operation at 220V AC after the drop.   
The most risky part is to measure mains, the DMM to not show anything because it has some sort of damage,
but the Mains socket to be  live ( active) with 220V on it !!

The golden rule is to double  check every mains source with a volt-stick too.  ;)
 The UNI-T 15C it is the safest made volt-stick up to date, in the most friendly price.

And if I could offer one suggestion to every one who gets an low priced DMM,
it would be to get and the UNI-T 15C volt-stick so to have them as pair.   
The volt-stick it will lead the attack at the mains plug, and the cheap DMM will follow, as soon there is no danger around.  ;)

True. It's not a bad multimeter overall, but a bit too fragile. As for super-duper mains stuff, I don't do it.
Speaking of low-priced DMM, who knows a cheap and cheerful (but nice) pocket DMM they'd recommend? No, I am not looking for pocket-sized version of Fluke 87V, but don't want to get rubbish either. Something like Uni-T or Extech would suit me nicely.

Hi img,
I am more than happy that you translated correctly the key points in my text.

Every one ask for suggestions, and the point is that what matters is who is giving them.
I evaluate my tools by working with them, and I am a professional technician.
My suggestion even for the smallest DMM it will exclude many models from many brands,
due the fact that they are fragile.

I have admit publicly before few weeks, due the robustness tests that I did on Agilent U1272A,
that the latest Agilent orange models looks more than good.

Their new small ones ( series U1230), looks to share the same successful DNA.

I have the latest hard copy of the complete Agilent catalog printed 12 May 2011.
( came to me before three days ago from Germany)

The U1232A looks nice, and the U1233A ( Perfect) it is one U1232A Plus V-sense = non contact detection of voltages.
The retail price looks to be at 130$.
And I think that this DMM plays alone in the market with no competition,
it is second to none.

Before you get a DMM try to find a store that haves it, and just touch it.
And come back and tells what you think.   ;)


 


 
« Last Edit: July 30, 2011, 10:24:02 pm by Kiriakos-GR »
 

Offline img

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Re: Vichy VC99 Multimeter Teardown
« Reply #16 on: July 31, 2011, 06:45:43 am »

I have the latest hard copy of the complete Agilent catalog printed 12 May 2011.
( came to me before three days ago from Germany)

The U1232A looks nice, and the U1233A ( Perfect) it is one U1232A Plus V-sense = non contact detection of voltages.
The retail price looks to be at 130$.
And I think that this DMM plays alone in the market with no competition,
it is second to none.

Before you get a DMM try to find a store that haves it, and just touch it.
And come back and tells what you think.   ;)


Thanks for the advice, Kiriakos.
I'll try to find a store that has the little Agilents and see them in person.
It's slightly big (89x169x50ish) for a pocket meter, but the smaller ones I saw on the net yesterday were UniT 10 or 20 and not much else.
By the way, nice photo - orange is definitely your colour. :)
 

Offline ciccio

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Re: Vichy VC99 Multimeter Teardown
« Reply #17 on: July 31, 2011, 11:48:54 am »
Regarding pocket multimeters, I'm using a Meterman PM53, now available with the Amprobe label:
http://amprobe.com/cgi-bin/pdc/viewprod.cgi?pid=2164&tid=1&type=elec
It's really small, actually a "shirt pocket" multimeter, and I owned it for more than 5 years, without problems.
It incorporates a non contact voltage detector, that senses even low voltages,  an automatic mode, and can measure volts (ac and dc), ohms, frequency,  capacitance, with full autorange.

The only dislike are the non removable test cables, but it's so small that there is no room for sockets.
RS sells it for 49 euros + VAT, but maybe you can pay it less.



« Last Edit: July 31, 2011, 11:50:25 am by ciccio »
Ciccio

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Offline img

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Re: Vichy VC99 Multimeter Teardown
« Reply #18 on: July 31, 2011, 12:09:20 pm »
Regarding pocket multimeters, I'm using a Meterman PM53, now available with the Amprobe label:
http://amprobe.com/cgi-bin/pdc/viewprod.cgi?pid=2164&tid=1&type=elec
It's really small, actually a "shirt pocket" multimeter, and I owned it for more than 5 years, without problems.
It incorporates a non contact voltage detector, that senses even low voltages,  an automatic mode, and can measure volts (ac and dc), ohms, frequency,  capacitance, with full autorange.

The only dislike are the non removable test cables, but it's so small that there is no room for sockets.
RS sells it for 49 euros + VAT, but maybe you can pay it less.

GREAT advice, thanks! I am getting this one if I can find one in the UK.
 

Offline Kiriakos-GR

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Re: Vichy VC99 Multimeter Teardown
« Reply #19 on: July 31, 2011, 10:29:31 pm »
It's slightly big (89x169x50ish) for a pocket meter, but the smaller ones I saw on the net yesterday were UniT 10 or 20 and not much else.
By the way, nice photo - orange is definitely your colour. :)

Well the industrial cloths have large pockets.  :)

About the picture, yes I look almost good, it was a quick test,
I am playing with my photographic  gear so to get true professional results, I am close enough.  :D
 


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