Author Topic: Blog suggestion: bench multimeters  (Read 9064 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline toddisbn

  • Newbie
  • Posts: 3
Blog suggestion: bench multimeters
« on: March 12, 2012, 12:18:04 am »
Review opportunity.

I am looking at purchasing a bench multimeter.
After watching a number of your product reviews, I have wondered whether bench multimeter would actually be a cheaper option.
My reasoning for this is the basic premise that you need two multimeters to measure power consumption and both the Agilent and Fluke bench multimeters have dual display capability.

Now before people jump in and say that bench multimeters don't have things like capacitance meters, or whatever, I will point out that I don't think I have seen a review of Dave's where he is impressed with the performance of inbuilt secondary functions of multimeters compared to dedicated units like LCR meters

The other area people my jump up and down is the cost factor, however, the cost of one bench meter is basically double the cost of two hand held units (think fluke 87v), and remember that a bench multimeter takes the place of two due to the dual display functionality. Secondly don't assume that I am totally against handhelds, as this unit would be only for the bench and I have a fluke 112 which I currently use, it is great for working away from the bench.

Now for my biggest reasonings behind a bench multimeter.
Crisp VFD or LCD display, when working on a bench, I don't want to have to keep hitting backlit to get a visible display
Fast update speeds
Minimum 4.5 digit display small cost to move to 5.5 digit.
4wire resistance
No more freaking batteries to go flat when I really don't need them to
More compact on the bench, and no worrying about getting the display at the correct angle.
 

alm

  • Guest
Re: Blog suggestion: bench multimeters
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2012, 01:18:53 am »
I agree with some of your points, like display, update rate, batteries and form factor. I'm not sure if I agree that one dual display removes the need for multiple meters, although I guess you would have the small Fluke 112 as backup. I disagree about the costs, at least when buying new. The lowest Fluke/Agilent DMMs that I would personally consider are $800, that's more than I'd spend on two handhelds. Not much point in buying two 87V meters in my opinion, I would choose the second meter to have other strengths, for example a cheaper Agilent meter with more features but less battery life/robustness. Bench meters (you would need two) are cheaper than handhelds when you buy used, however. It's not too hard to find a used bench meter on eBay for < $100. The older 3.5-4.5 digit ones for even less. A used Fluke 87 or similar usually costs more.

Don't expect Dave to agree with you, however, he clearly prefers handhelds. How much screen time has his HP 3478A gotten compared to the Gossen, Fluke and Agilent handhelds? Even when measuring the resistors, where the extra resolution and automation features of the 3478A would have been useful, he still couldn't be bothered to hook up GPIB but used an Agilent handheld with its flawless datalogging feature.
 

Offline robrenz

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3035
  • Country: us
  • Real Machinist, Wannabe EE
Re: Blog suggestion: bench multimeters
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2012, 01:22:50 am »
My reasoning for this is the basic premise that you need two multimeters to measure power consumption and both the Agilent and Fluke bench multimeters have dual display capability.

The other area people my jump up and down is the cost factor, however, the cost of one bench meter is basically double the cost of two hand held units (think fluke 87v), and remember that a bench multimeter takes the place of two due to the dual display functionality. Secondly don't assume that I am totally against handhelds, as this unit would be only for the bench and I have a fluke 112 which I currently use, it is great for working away from the bench.


I have a Fluke 8846A and I love it and highly reccomend it, but you have a misconception about dual display. You can't measure power and it is not like having two meters. I suggest you do what I did before I bought a meter. Download the full manuals of all meters you are considering and read them cover to cover until you could use every function on the meter if it was in front of you. Then you can make an educated decision on what meter is for you.

Offline EEVblog

  • Administrator
  • *****
  • Posts: 31522
  • Country: au
    • EEVblog
Re: Blog suggestion: bench multimeters
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2012, 01:45:13 am »
Several comments:
- Dual display capability does not mean it can measure voltage and current at the same time, very few meters of any type can do that. Even the Gossen that does that has limitation of a sared common terminal. Two meters is vastly more versatile.
- Since when have bench meters had better LCD displays than handheld meters? If anything, it's worse, because you have to look up off the bench while probing. I've virtually never had to use the backlight on handheld meter to read it. Yes, VFD can be nice though.
- The Battery life issue is a bit overrated for any decent meter. It will still give you some usable hours when the low battery warning comes on. Rarely would a meter simply just work one day, and then fail to turn on the next day, unless it's a very high consumption model. The typical 300hr hand held does not really have an issue here.
- A bench meter more compact on the bench??

IMO a handheld is vastly more versatile than a bench meter because you can move it anywhere, and position the display close to the job so you can probe more easily without having to tilt your head up and look at a bench display on the shelf. And you can't generally bring bench meter "to the job", you have to bring the job to the meter. That can suck on a crowded bench.

Dave.
 

Offline robrenz

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3035
  • Country: us
  • Real Machinist, Wannabe EE
Re: Blog suggestion: bench multimeters
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2012, 02:05:27 am »
As you can see by my profile pic I am a unashamed 8846A fanboy.  But one feature that I find extremely useful on the 8846A is the Trend plot.  It is like having osciloscope with autoranging on both timebase and amplitude. You can see when readings settle, are rising or falling and how fast. Very useful for temp readings for the same reasons. Probably 50% of the time I am using tend plot on readings.

Offline chrome

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 189
  • Country: be
Re: Blog suggestion: bench multimeters
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2012, 06:34:26 pm »
words words words

Those are all valid points except that, that's not what bench meters are used for.
Sure handhelds are more portable, tip: they are designed to be just that, portable...

It's like comparing a truck and a regular car, sure they can both drive on the road but they don't have the same function.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2012, 06:39:10 pm by chrome »
 

Offline olsenn

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 993
Re: Blog suggestion: bench multimeters
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2012, 07:12:59 pm »
My vote is for the Rigol DM3068
 

Offline T4P

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3706
  • Country: sg
    • T4P
Re: Blog suggestion: bench multimeters
« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2012, 07:34:08 pm »
Accuracy , accuracy , low TC , counts counts counts ....
 

Offline Bored@Work

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3932
  • Country: 00
Re: Blog suggestion: bench multimeters
« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2012, 07:50:24 pm »
We had that discussion before. As a friend of bench meters I can just say that one can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink.
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 chrome

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 189
  • Country: be
Re: Blog suggestion: bench multimeters
« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2012, 09:34:33 pm »
Another great post from our very own "BoredAtWork", applause people.
 

alm

  • Guest
Re: Blog suggestion: bench multimeters
« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2012, 10:07:13 pm »
I seem to remember that there was a dual display bench DMM by Fluke(?) that could measure both current and voltage at the same time, though it couldn't calculate the instantaneous or average product for some reason. Still, two DMM's are much more versatile, what if you want to use an external shunt and measure two voltages, for example?
 

Offline EEVblog

  • Administrator
  • *****
  • Posts: 31522
  • Country: au
    • EEVblog
Re: Blog suggestion: bench multimeters
« Reply #11 on: March 12, 2012, 10:15:34 pm »
Those are all valid points except that, that's not what bench meters are used for.
Sure handhelds are more portable, tip: they are designed to be just that, portable...

And portable also means being used all over your bench with ease too.
If handheld scopes could get 300 hours battery life and be just as (or almost as) good, the market for bench scopes would be as niche as bench meters too.
I'm always going "crap, where's my multimeter", which is of course an advantage of bench meters, because they always in the same place. But it also highlights the fact that the handheld multimeter gets routinely used all over the lab, and that's the point. If you only have a bench meter, you are at a massive disadvantage.

Dave.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2012, 10:18:03 pm by EEVblog »
 

alm

  • Guest
Re: Blog suggestion: bench multimeters
« Reply #12 on: March 12, 2012, 10:32:24 pm »
And portable also means being used all over your bench with ease too.
If handheld scopes could get 300 hours battery life and be just as (or almost as) good, the market for bench scopes would be as niche as bench meters too.
Indeed. Large, high-resolution, full-color backlit displays are overkill. Softkeys and joypads are much nicer than knobs. Those isolated probes and BNC connectors required to safely measure mains voltages with floating instruments are very robust, convenient and cheap. More than two inputs are useless, who needs four channels, trigger in/out or digital inputs? Having pods and flying leads with fragile clips clipped on thin component leads connected to a portable instrument would work out great. The experiences I've heard with Fluke Scopemeters mostly consisted of swearing at them, as opposed to swearing by them.

There are some serious limitations in the handheld form factor that limit the versatility and usability of scopes. This is the same with advanced features on multimeters, but the common applications of DMMs are simpler. If everyone required statistics, advanced math and ratio measurements, they would also either have very complex handhelds (how many levels of menus would you like?) or bench instruments.
 

Offline Spawn

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 510
  • Country: nl
  • ³²µ º'ºººº³²
Re: Blog suggestion: bench multimeters
« Reply #13 on: March 12, 2012, 11:12:01 pm »
I know this is an electronics forum, but in my opinion as an Electrical engineer and hobbyist in electronics bench multimeter can be a good addition to your labs if you have too much money laying around.

Having 2 or more good handheld multimeters will beat a bench meter any day, especially when you have to measure somewhere else than your lab. Like when your friends want you to look their TV or anything else.

About battery life, I was on the field engineer for almost 20 years last year and half I am not anymore but still use a multimeter time to time, in those years (almost 22 years) I only had once that I grabbed my multimeter and the battery was dead and there was a reason for, I was on long term vacation.

toddisbn, I have couple Flukes and one of them is a 112 and indeed it is a great meter on the field, very compact and does the job (I use it most compared to other meters I have), but it’s a electricians multimeter, if you want to do more electronics I would suggest a higher end multimeter in Fluke range, hell it doesn’t even have to be a Fluke, see Dave’s reviews about $100 meters and I am pretty sure you will find one which fits your needs.

That was my 2 cents but it still doesn’t mean I won’t get a bench multimeter (I hope this is not confusing you) If I find a good bench multimeter for right price I would get one, but then I got enough hand held multimeters, so it would be only nice addition to my bench but not a necessary one.


Share me

Digg  Facebook  SlashDot  Delicious  Technorati  Twitter  Google  Yahoo
Smf