Author Topic: Looking for a DMM - add to my pros/cons list and add your experience  (Read 4484 times)

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Offline ajssbp

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Hi everyone,

I've been looking for a good multimeter for a bit now, and have read a ton of stuff here, watched a lot of videos (both from Dave and Martin Lorton) but am at the point where I need some input.  I originally didn't want to spend more than $100, but it seemed like most meters at that level had a significant fault (or two), but by stepping up to the $130-150 range there are several good meters.  I'm mainly a tinkerer, so versatility is important to me since I will be using this on main voltage as well as doing audio equipment testing/repair and I dabble in some electronics too.  I would love to step up to a Fluke 87 or Brymen 869 or the like, but I just can't justify spending $175-200+ on something I'm not going to use on a daily/weekly basis.  I've got a list of quick pros and cons for the meters I've seriously considered, and I mainly want to see if I'm missing anything or if anyone has additional input or things I should be thinking about on these meters.


Fluke 115 ($139)
 - It's a Fluke
 - easy to use

 - missing microamps range


Agilent/Keysight U1232A ($138)
 - reputable brand like Fluke
 - Lots (and lots) of features
 - may not be as easy to use due to all the features

 - strange gap in amperage measurement - measures up to 600 microamps, but then next range starts at 1 milliamp? -   Looking at the manual online, it appears you can enable a milliamp range, but lose capacitance and it only measures up to 600 milliamps before jumping to the amp range.  Not sure what to think about that one......
 - smoothing may/may not work well? 


Amprobe 37XR-A ($149)
 - reputable brand, probably 2nd tier?
 - inductance measurement (not sure how useful this is though)

 - Slower continuity tester
 - higher burden voltage


Brymen BM257S/Greenlee DM-510A ($138)
 - good quality from what I understand, but maybe not up to par with Fluke/Agilent
 - input alert beeper if plug in leads wrong

 - continuity tester may be a little slow
 - may be harder to get a hold of than others
 - have to push select button several times to cycle through resistance, diode test, capacitance, and continuity tester - may be annoying, don't know yet


At this point I'm kind of leaning toward the Brymen/Greenlee.  It seems weird both the Fluke and Agilent/Keysight are either missing milliamps or have to give up something else to get it.  I don't think there is anything really wrong with the Amprobe or the Brymen that is big, just little things.

So, what have I missed in my assessment?  Any personal experience or additional thoughts I should take into consideration?  Thanks.


*Edited to include the best prices I could find
« Last Edit: November 24, 2014, 03:14:17 am by ajssbp »
 

Offline SkyMaster

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Re: Looking for a DMM - add to my pros/cons list and add your experience
« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2014, 02:54:01 am »
Maybe Fluke and Agilent (now Keysight) are targeting the high end market.

I think that a Brymen BM257 will be more expensive than a Fluke 115. The Brymen BM257 offers better specifications than the Fluke 115.

The Brymen BM257 remembers the last selection that was made through the Select button, this is something that even the Fluke 87 V does not do.

I do have a Brymen BM319, which is an automotive DMM based on the 257. I ordered it from http://www.tme.eu . The 319 and the 257 share the same housing, and large display.

The only shorting the BM319 has, when compared to the Fluke 27/FM I have, is that the rotary knob on the BM319 is smaller than on the Fluke 27/FM, but the BM319 housing is way smaller than the Fluke 27/FM.


I would buy a Brymen BM257 without giving a second thought  :-+





 

Offline retiredcaps

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Re: Looking for a DMM - add to my pros/cons list and add your experience
« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2014, 03:13:41 am »
I would love to step up to a Fluke 87 or Brymen 869 or the like, but I just can't justify spending $175-200+ on something I'm not going to use on a daily/weekly basis.
If you are not opposed to buying used, you can get an used Fluke 83/85/87 III in the $100USD price range with some patience.  Obviously, you won't get any warranty, but it has mA and uA range.

Quote
Amprobe 37XR-A
 - reputable brand, probably 2nd tier?
 - inductance measurement (not sure how useful this is though)
The Amprobe 37XR-A is a rebadged Meterman 37XR.  Dave did a review way back in eevblog #6 (six).

http://www.eevblog.com/2009/04/29/eevblog-6-part-1-of-2-meterman-37xr-multimeter-review/

Some other Amprobes are made by Brymen and some Amprobe HD versions are rebadged Wavetek/Beckman.

Quote
Brymen BM257S/Greenlee DM-510A
 - good quality from what I understand, but maybe not up to par with Fluke/Agilent

 - continuity tester may be a little slow
Brymen has good build quality and good input protection.  What we don't know is how well it holds up over the long term.

The BM257 continuity tester is fast not slow.

As you already discovered, Brymen are resold under brand names.  If you don't need a warranty, you can buy NIB Greenlee/Brymen multimeters for < $100 USD on ebay.  Examples ...

http://www.ebay.com/itm/131352701436

http://www.ebay.com/itm/221593075061
« Last Edit: November 24, 2014, 03:19:13 am by retiredcaps »
 

Offline andrija

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Re: Looking for a DMM - add to my pros/cons list and add your experience
« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2014, 03:26:33 am »
I have Fluke 115 and a few others, and I love it. It's the right size, perfectly fits (my) hand, feels solid, look and feel of materials are top notch and oozes class like no other meter I have. It may only have 6000 counts but those digits it does display are spot on in all ranges I tried. It is just a joy to use daily. It doesn't have mA but if you use Dave's uCurrent then you can do that too. The mV range only has 100uV precision though.

I'd probably give Brymen 257 a serious thought, though, since Fluke is really expensive unless you can find a deal. I have top of the line Brymen 869 and it was difficult to buy (only one place in Europe) but the build quality and protection seem top notch, and from videos I've seen 257 is also good. Higher end DMM have a lot of features but they are bulky, so bulky that unless you need portability, I'd just get a bench meter instead plus a midrange unit like 257 or Fluke 115.

I wouldn't lust for a Fluke V. I started electronics in mid 80's, did it on and off, and built and debugged many projects, all using two hung lo $20 cheapies. I only bought fancy meters this year, in fact. I imagine a midrange instrument like 257 will not only do everything you need (and be as safe as it needs to be) but due to its size it is going to be much more enjoyable to use than bulky top of the line meters.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2014, 03:32:00 am by andrija »
 

Offline Lightages

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Re: Looking for a DMM - add to my pros/cons list and add your experience
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2014, 05:49:02 am »
The DM820A that retiredcaps linked to is the equivalent of the Brymen BM827. A Greenlee DM830A is a Brymen BM829. The BM257S is probably one of the handiest multimeters that Brymen makes.From your description of your needs I can highly recommend it. (Please read my disclaimer below).

I do see another alternative though. Uni-T has been stepping things up lately and I am in the process of reviewing a couple of meters. From what I can say so far from my experience is that you should also consider a Uni-T UT139C. It is built very well and has good input protection. It has a nice latched and fast continuity tester, fast update rate of at least 3 times per second, NCV detector, and basically most functions you could want. It doesn't have a bar graph nor PC connection option but you could buy two of these for around $100 and have much better capability. I would recommend this meter for almost anyone who is asking for what you are.
 


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