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DMM : An attempt to chart down the uncharted Chinese - manufacturing circle


The last month due my attempt to investigate and find the source who had made before 24 years my first DMM (Taiwan) ,  I had discovered lots of information , about marketing channels, who deals with all those old type multimeters even today.

I got my unit at 1988 just before I move away for a year so to serve my Army time in the Greek Air force. ( January 89 – January 90)

My old DMM  has Mastech PCB  and only branded IC’s from know manufactures like:
UMC from Taiwan .. ST electronics .. GoldStar Korea … JRC (Japan Radio Co)
And it looks to was in production in this original form until 2005.
Nice device, accurate, and does not overshoot.

From 2005 and after, something happened in the mainland of China,
and new faces started to replicate these old DMM units, which actually are about 50 different designs.  (Known designs to every one who had live about 20 years working with electronics up to date.)

They had copy the PCB and even use similar IC’s made from know but different manufacturers.
For example the main IC about the LCD display original design of UMC,
It was started to be produced by Intersil also at 2005, from the date on their data-sheet.

And yes this resurrection of old models from new companies who likes to assembly those old units its fine with me, some  areas on this planet have different cost of life, and the low pricing of this old technology could be a benefit to them.
By owning one of those even today (but not the cheapest one of them),
It turns to be even today useful but not comparable with the latest models of our last decade, speaking about True RMS and CAT .

What bothers me mostly is something that I had just discovered and this is the sampling speed.
My own 24 years old DMM unit has a sampling rate of 2-3 times per second.
And I thought that this was the major negative point about owning one so old unit,
But no, it is not.

I researched, most specifications of Mastech products released in the last decade,
And those look to have also this slow sampling rate.
When the competition like Fluke at 6000 counts works at 5 samples per second,
And Agilent at 30.000 counts goes with 7 samples per second.

About UNI-T, there is even today similar complains related to their sampling speed.

And up to a point they were looking to be different companies, with their own corporate flag, that they was doing the best that they could.

And this could be the story 10 years back, but today ?  Well here is how confused this mater can become, by speaking about the today, and I need some help so to understand the new picture.
The new chart …

Story No1
There is a fresh company called as sinometer , this one hosts all the very old models in their product list , plus almost all the Mastech series re-badged,  all almost all the UNI-T models again as re-badged.

Story No2
Mastech looks to have many active models on their product list ( Green color ),
And keeping alive very few of their first ones.
But the brand name Mastech looks to cooperate on another web site with a company called as V&A .

V&A promotes Mastech, plus a new line of products, that looks fresh but unfortunately under the hood are poor sampling rates, poor accuracy … or accuracy  compared to 20 years old DMM.
And  from a total of 20 new models only three haves just a bit of resolution like 10K 20K and 50K counts.
Accidentally found that their 50.000 counts unit can do just 2,5 samples/S.
And their most of the 6000 counts DMM can do 3 samples /S the most.

Story No3
Independent marketing channels are able to get any Mastech or UNI-T or V&A products rebadged  with the name that they wish.
The most fascinating is the low pricing.
Example:  34$ DMM retail -   6$  per unit the carton box with 100 units.

For some one like me, who belongs at the old school,
Who appreciates brand names – Quality products – innovating products – spreads the good word about them, all this mixed up marketing and manufacturing that happens down in China made me loose any faith and brand loyalty about all of them.

And today that I had concentrate all my thoughts on the paper, after the research that I did,  It’s more than obvious to me, the reason that those manufacturers – distributors - Or what ever they called.

Even at 2011 they do not have true competitive products in their hands, and this is the answer of why they do not get challenged or challenges others by pushing their products for product reviews.

How productive or useful will be to test one fully featured DMM at the 200$ price range, and under review to show that is a slow donkey with shinny costume.

Bottom line, lots of questions on the table, and the primary reason of this thread it to chart down or record, the current cooperation’s of those companies, So that any one who reads this thread to feel less confused after reading it,
If you are aware about the dates of those partnerships, add them too.


Hi Kiriakos-GR,

Thanks a lot for the info, I'm looking for a DMM and I'm visiting a lot of webs, and it's what you said, 50 different brands cloning the models of the other brands, it's incredible. Here (Spain) you can not find a Mastech, Xiole or another chinese DMM's, but you can find those designs at (higher prices) under brands like "Velleman" or Noru. All DMM's you can see are mostly named as "DVM XXX" (the same name Velleman uses with its models) so clones of the clones...

Thanks a lot for the info.

Hi Genin, and welcome at the EEV.

By discovering the "clone of the clones" industry, I did lost my enthusiasm for the most Chinese companies for good.
My research about this subject lasted almost three weeks, I had send lots of emails and visited many web pages.

Even so , its good that there is availability even for those low end products,
mostly for young kids, as example: students who are interested to explore battery operated devices.
occasional hobbyists ( remote controlled toys).

But I can not hide my disappointment about the "clone of the clones" industry.
Even so it looks that Taiwan, the old giant about healthy in quality electronics its not dead as I thought !!

And so there is still hope, for the people who need medium priced but good quality tools.  :)


Kiriakos, your English is a little rough but I got two great take away lines from your post: "slow donkey in shiny clothes" and "clone of a clone". These are right up there with Dave's "One Hung Low" (1HL) brand.  :)

My performance at writing in English is not always stable. 
But if I can establish some basic level of communication I am happy.  :)


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