Author Topic: Budget-friendly talking multimeter?  (Read 10742 times)

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Offline siggi

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Budget-friendly talking multimeter?
« on: September 30, 2014, 05:15:32 pm »
Hey y'all,

I have a blind friend who is getting more and more seriously into hobby electronics. He's at the stage where he could use a multimeter, but has a rather limited budget. From searching the interwebs, it looks like there used to be a ~$30 talking multimeter, but I can't find anything in that sort of price range these days.
I've seen DIY solutions where a budget multimeter with serial output is hooked up to something that voices the measurement. This might be an option, but clearly that's a bit of a project, and now there are two things to schlepp around instead of one.

Does anyone here know of good, current budget options, say < $100 or so?

Siggi
 

Offline mswhin63

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Re: Budget-friendly talking multimeter?
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2014, 02:30:57 am »
I deal with the Deaf and Budget friendly is going to be a difficult solution for the blind, similar if not more so than the Deaf, in that there are lot more deaf and blind. Due to the low market the costs sky-rocket.

I have a multimeter I believe can be adapted for talking using the serial interface, I think it would be a keen project to provide maybe an open source solution to convert the serial data to a audio output. - http://www.captek.net/Captek/Talking_Calculator.html this one shown in the link is the same multimeter have used for ages,  I bought it 20 years ago for $179.00 and is still available today.

Apart from that I don't think you are going to locate one easily, the only other possibility is to see if it can be funded in some way but will be difficult if just a hobby.

Malcolm
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Offline tld

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Re: Budget-friendly talking multimeter?
« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2014, 08:32:17 am »
Does anyone here know of good, current budget options, say < $100 or so?

Do you have any linux-savvy friends?  It seems to me like it should be fairly simple to use UT61E (as an example) connected to a raspberry pi (again, just example) to effectively give you a talking multimeter.

Shouldn't be an intense amount of work.

tld
 

Offline timb

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Re: Budget-friendly talking multimeter?
« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2014, 10:22:39 am »
Here's a nice $30~ meter with serial output: http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B000OPDFLM/

It's also available under a different brand on eBay. Frankie has them in his store I think.

Anyway, I've written some Mac OS X software to communicate with them. Does your friend by chance use a Mac? (I know a lot of blind people do because of the advanced Accessibility Features.) If so I could add TTS output to my software with very little extra code. All he needs is that meter and a usb to serial dongle. (The meter includes a serial cable. Some of the versions on eBay include a USB version of the adapter already.)

If he wants portable, I could easily rig up something for him with a small microprocessor and VoiceJet chip.

In fact, if you want to put him in contact with me, I'd be willing to build it for him for free (including parts). (For no other reason than I enjoy a challenging and helping people.)

Here's my email: sysop AT timb DOT us


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Offline Flenser

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Re: Budget-friendly talking multimeter?
« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2014, 12:04:03 pm »
The US National Federation of the Blind website https://nfb.org// has a product page https://nfb.org/independence-market with a 2011-2012 Independence Market Catalog document https://nfb.org/images/nfb/documents/word/2011independencemarketcatalog.doc that lists a talking multimeter for US$49

MULTIMETER--DIGITAL, TALKING:
This unit has nine functions and thirty-three auto-range levels and features voice prompts and adjustable volume. It measures AC and DC current, voltage, resistance, capacitance, frequency, and continuity. It has auto-polarity adjustment and power off. Pressing a button on the red (positive) test lead or on the face of the instrument causes the device to tell the range and value being measured. It comes with a rubberized case, desk stand, lighted test leads, and carrying case. Dimensions: 6 1/4 x 3 3/8 x 1 1/2 inches. Uses three AA batteries (included).   AIG67M   $49.00

This document also has lots of contact details to find out whether this info is still current.
 

Offline amyk

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Re: Budget-friendly talking multimeter?
« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2014, 12:18:36 pm »
He can't see the multimeter, so he can hear what it says.
He can't see the probes, so... I can't imagine this going well. :o
 

Offline Fraser

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Re: Budget-friendly talking multimeter?
« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2014, 12:27:33 pm »
Radio Shack used to sell a self contained talking multimeter. It was OK but teh response was very slow. Sadly that was many years ago so the only chance of getting that model would be via ebay searches. I take teh point about probe positioning but suspect that this has already been considered by the person ?
 

Offline Fungus

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Re: Budget-friendly talking multimeter?
« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2014, 12:32:24 pm »
He can't see the multimeter, so he can hear what it says.
He can't see the probes, so... I can't imagine this going well. :o

I wondered about that, too.  How exactly does a blind person probe mains cables, hook up power supplies, etc.? How do they know when their LEDs are flashing?

Also... they make special multimeters for the deaf?  ???


PS: Yeah, I know, you probably meant to say "partially sighted", but the image is irresistible.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2014, 12:55:43 pm by Fungus »
 

Offline Fraser

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Re: Budget-friendly talking multimeter?
« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2014, 12:34:11 pm »
Omega used to do one but note the warning on the page about use by visually impaired persons. Manufacturer protecting itself from litigation ?

http://www.omega.co.uk/pptst/HHM2.html

Datatsheet and price here:

http://www.omega.com/pressure/pdf/hhm2.pdf

http://www.tuner.tw/omega%20cd/Pressure/pdf/HHM2.pdf

You may find one around on the secondary market or contact Omega to see if they have residual stock.

http://www.tuner.tw/omega%20cd/toc/subTQ05.htm

UPDATE: Just found a review of another meter that talks and was imported by the NFB for just such a need as you state:

http://active-elements.org/2012/12/19/lk10-talking-multi-meter/

OR how about an Open Source model:

http://www.mastrogippo.it/2014/03/a-talking-multimeter/


Aurora
« Last Edit: October 07, 2014, 12:52:09 pm by Aurora »
 

Offline siggi

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Re: Budget-friendly talking multimeter?
« Reply #9 on: October 07, 2014, 12:55:09 pm »
PS: Yeah, I know, you probably mean "partially sighted", but the image is irresistible.

No, my friend is totally blind, not partially sighted.
From seeing him in action, you're seriously short-selling the blind. He noodles with woodworking in addition to electronics, as a case in point. AFAICS he still has a full complement of fingers and other limbs after using power tools in his garage to build furniture...

As to how he knows where to put the probes, he goes from data sheets to counting out IC pins and connectors. That's also what I do, only he does it by feel, not by sight.

I don't think he plays with mains very much - there's plenty of interesting stuff to do from the near end of a PSU. Arguably PSUs are all the same, and so all the fun is to be had from the near end of one :).
 
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Offline siggi

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Re: Budget-friendly talking multimeter?
« Reply #10 on: October 07, 2014, 12:59:21 pm »
He can't see the multimeter, so he can hear what it says.
He can't see the probes, so... I can't imagine this going well. :o

All levity aside, the blind can "see" anything they can safely put a fingertip to.
I'm sure he makes mistakes, but I've also fried power supplies, blown fuses, smoked transistors, etc. How are you going to learn if not by the *BANG* and the acrid smell of magic smoke escaping?
 

Offline Fraser

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Re: Budget-friendly talking multimeter?
« Reply #11 on: October 07, 2014, 01:00:46 pm »
As you can see from the links I provided, such meters do appear to still exist but are not easy to find. I noted that the National Federation for the Blind imported 20 into the UK, but that was in 2012 ? Have you tried contacting your national blind support organisations as they may have a lead on such equipment. If approaching a manufacturer direct, I strongly advise against mentioning that the user will be blind as that will make them baulk and not supply to you. Odd but true. They fear litigation etc.

Aurora
 

Offline siggi

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Re: Budget-friendly talking multimeter?
« Reply #12 on: October 07, 2014, 01:03:31 pm »
In fact, if you want to put him in contact with me, I'd be willing to build it for him for free (including parts). (For no other reason than I enjoy a challenging and helping people.)

Thanks Tim(?), that's very generously offered. Ideally, I'd like to find something purpose-made, if only because there are fewer moving parts and points of failure. His life is already sufficiently complicated that way :).
 

Offline Fungus

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Re: Budget-friendly talking multimeter?
« Reply #13 on: October 07, 2014, 01:13:23 pm »
From seeing him in action, you're seriously short-selling the blind.

Probably. It was just a funny mental image.

(And I didn't even get to soldering ... I still burn my fingers after 20 years and I can see what's going on)

 

Offline siggi

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Re: Budget-friendly talking multimeter?
« Reply #14 on: October 07, 2014, 01:34:01 pm »
Omega used to do one but note the warning on the page about use by visually impaired persons. Manufacturer protecting itself from litigation ?

http://www.omega.co.uk/pptst/HHM2.html

Datatsheet and price here:

http://www.omega.com/pressure/pdf/hhm2.pdf

http://www.tuner.tw/omega%20cd/Pressure/pdf/HHM2.pdf
Hey Aurora,

thanks for your suggestions. It appears that HHM1 is a current product, see e.g. http://www.newport.ca/Products/Envnmntl/HHM1.htm, though it's a little bit outside the he "budget" range at $349. Still a possibility though.

I've contacted NFB for current availability of the meter they offered, though from pictures it appears to be the same meter offered by RS/The Source a few years back. It appears the OEM has gone out of business, alas, so I'm not too hopeful that these can still be had.

Quote
You may find one around on the secondary market or contact Omega to see if they have residual stock.

http://www.tuner.tw/omega%20cd/toc/subTQ05.htm

UPDATE: Just found a review of another meter that talks and was imported by the NFB for just such a need as you state:

http://active-elements.org/2012/12/19/lk10-talking-multi-meter/

OR how about an Open Source model:

http://www.mastrogippo.it/2014/03/a-talking-multimeter/

Aurora

Yeah, I saw that. My friend's a software whiz, so would have no problem hooking up something to a serial port. I'd much rather want to have a single-piece, portable piece of gear though. Nothing more annoying than having to debug the myriad failure modes of a multi-piece system when you just want to do a quick measurement :).
 

Offline nowlan

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Re: Budget-friendly talking multimeter?
« Reply #15 on: October 07, 2014, 02:52:50 pm »
I am wondering if any of the data logging multimeters could be adapted.
Uni-t, Brymen, Agilent have data cables via IR leds.
Text to speech using a computer, or if microcontroller w/ text to speech ic.

Might be easier to hunt down the talking ones mentioned before.

---
It does have me thinking a device to read battery life might be more practical to more vision impaired people.
eg, a AA battery charger, that says the voltage or life or even beeps charge level. 1,2,3,4.

---
In other news, Vision Australia have a texpo in Melb & Sydney soon. I think is mostly android apps however.

 

Offline Fungus

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Re: Budget-friendly talking multimeter?
« Reply #16 on: October 07, 2014, 04:03:43 pm »
I am wondering if any of the data logging multimeters could be adapted.

I was just messing around on google and I saw this:

http://www.specialneedscomputers.ca/index.php?l=product_detail&p=841

To me that looks like some sort of data logging multimeter with a box to convert the RS232 output to speech.

I'm pretty sure there's no such thing as a cheap multimeter with RS232 though.

It's kinda hard to believe these things don't exist. Speech is useful even for sighted people who are working in awkward places where they can't see the screen.

Then again, Fluke's answer to that problem was to make a multimeter with detachable screen. I guess some places are awkward *and* noisy.
 

Offline timb

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Re: Budget-friendly talking multimeter?
« Reply #17 on: October 07, 2014, 09:01:19 pm »

I am wondering if any of the data logging multimeters could be adapted.

I was just messing around on google and I saw this:

http://www.specialneedscomputers.ca/index.php?l=product_detail&p=841

To me that looks like some sort of data logging multimeter with a box to convert the RS232 output to speech.

I'm pretty sure there's no such thing as a cheap multimeter with RS232 though.

$30USD with Prime Shipping: http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B000OPDFLM/

I've got 3 of them. Wonderful for data logging.


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Offline timb

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Re: Budget-friendly talking multimeter?
« Reply #18 on: October 07, 2014, 09:05:42 pm »

In fact, if you want to put him in contact with me, I'd be willing to build it for him for free (including parts). (For no other reason than I enjoy a challenging and helping people.)

Thanks Tim(?), that's very generously offered. Ideally, I'd like to find something purpose-made, if only because there are fewer moving parts and points of failure. His life is already sufficiently complicated that way :).

No worries. I doubt you'll find anything under $100 off the shelf though.

The cheapest option will be to get an inexpensive RS232 meter (like above) and use a computer with it.

I am actually going to add speech functions to the initial release of my OS X software for that meter now. This has kind of inspired me. 


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Offline Fraser

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Re: Budget-friendly talking multimeter?
« Reply #19 on: October 07, 2014, 09:54:57 pm »
For info, IIRC the Radio Shack talking multimeter had a button on the positive probe that the user pressed to make the meter talk. Otherwise you would get a stream of verbal diarrhea coming out of it when ever a sample was taken by it. Worth considering. The down side of that design was that the positive probe was unique to the meter.

Aurora
 

Offline Bored@Work

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Re: Budget-friendly talking multimeter?
« Reply #20 on: October 07, 2014, 10:31:11 pm »
For info, IIRC the Radio Shack talking multimeter had a button on the positive probe that the user pressed to make the meter talk. Otherwise you would get a stream of verbal diarrhea coming out of it when ever a sample was taken by it. Worth considering. The down side of that design was that the positive probe was unique to the meter.

Aurora

Well, it shouldn't be too difficult to add a strap-on kind of switch to an existing probe. But it would probably look ugly and be inconvenient. Or use a wearable switch or foot pedal. But I understand why the OP doesn't want a DIY solution.
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Offline aargee

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Re: Budget-friendly talking multimeter?
« Reply #21 on: October 08, 2014, 12:41:47 am »
I have the Micronta 22-164 'Autorange Voice Meter' here.
Standard banana probes (non-protected) can be used, but yes the positive probe has the speak switch built in.
The termination of this 'special' lead is to a standard banana plug for the metering part and a 3.5mm mono headphone plug for the switch.

The voice is human, although monotone, and works quite well for eyes down work.

Keep looking for one of these as it will be by far the easiest and simplest setup to use for hobbiest level work.

Apart from extra cost, I don't know why voice is not a more common feature option on meters, even fully functional humans would find it useful.
Not easy, not hard, just need to be incentivised.
 

Offline siggi

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Re: Budget-friendly talking multimeter?
« Reply #22 on: October 08, 2014, 03:48:40 pm »
thanks for your suggestions. It appears that HHM1 is a current product, see e.g. http://www.newport.ca/Products/Envnmntl/HHM1.htm, though it's a little bit outside the he "budget" range at $349. Still a possibility though.
Turns out the only current offering is this little <redacted> http://www.omega.ca/shop/pptsc.asp?ref=UV1000.

Quote
I've contacted NFB for current availability of the meter they offered, though from pictures it appears to be the same meter offered by RS/The Source a few years back. It appears the OEM has gone out of business, alas, so I'm not too hopeful that these can still be had.

NFB tell me they currently have nothing to offer :(.
 

Offline 0xsam

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Re: Budget-friendly talking multimeter?
« Reply #23 on: May 15, 2016, 01:45:34 pm »
Hey guys...

I know this is an old post, but I really wanted the thread to include a link to the project I've modified from Mastro Gippo.

Essentially same project but in English

https://forum.arduino.cc/index.php?topic=395457.0

Cheers

0xSam

This is my first post.
 

Offline AonMaster

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Re: Budget-friendly talking multimeter?
« Reply #24 on: August 23, 2016, 12:44:58 pm »
Dear friends!

About a year ago I also was in the process of searching a Talking multimeter for my friend. Unable to find it, I developed this device myself.

Now I can say that if you need one, you can purchase it from my company.
The Talking multimeter is based on S-line M890F, and also the benefit is that it drives not run on 9V battery (not long to go), but from a Li-Ion 3,6V cell, with charging board inside. It is very convenient.

The price is $50. If anyone is interested, you're welcome to write me a letter at maxim@sinor.ru
and I will send you detailed description.

Best wishes!
« Last Edit: August 23, 2016, 12:50:13 pm by AonMaster »
 


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