Author Topic: What are - for you - the 3 biggest disadvantages of your benchtop DMM(s)?  (Read 5044 times)

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Offline PushUp

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As I - and probably some others - plan to buy a benchtop DMM or further benchtop DMMs, this probably helps, to filter and watch out for your own needs just by elimination?!



You don't need to mention three disadvantages, when there is only one for you...just put it in a nutshell.

Here are some examples - I hope they are right:  ^-^

Although the price can be a disadvantage, it is better to skip this point, to focus on your personal preferences, for example:

Keysight 34465A
1. price   no "AC+DC" true RMS value
2. ...
3. ...

Rigol DM3068
1. a green (and blue) LED lights up, but does not show the voltage drop in diode mode

The SnapShot is out of this video, which is 8 years old: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eR0TM3eitNk
2. too small Display for trend chart
3. ...

Rohde & Schwarz HMC8012
1. maximum current load above 5A only for 30 sec., followed by a pause of 30 sec.
2. ...
3. ...

Keithley DMM6500
1. quite long dimensions like an old analogue Scope
2. mainly touchscreen (might be a benefit for others)
3. ...

If someone is very disappointed from very old and known firmware bugs, it is probably useful to name them, but all under its own category "FW-Bug".

Siglent SDM3055
1. a blue LED lights up, but does not show the voltage drop in diode mode

The SnapShot is out of this video, which is 5 years old: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmTP-aR3CxQ

Correction: As mentioned by tautech, it is solved: https://www.eevblog.com/forum/testgear/siglent-new-bench-dmm-sdm3055/msg3028294/#msg3028294

2. ...
3. ...
FW-Bug: ..., ..., ...

It is useful to mention a missing option, although it is known from the beginning, but reveals that it would have been nice to have with hindsight, for example:

Keysight 34460A
1. no trend chart
2. DCI & ACI measurements only up to 3A
3. ...


ThanX & Cheers!  :-+
« Last Edit: September 03, 2020, 02:12:53 am by PushUp »
Due to the massive "EEVblog forum attachement bug", I am now using an external picture hoster, till it is solved...
 

Offline rvalente

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Re: What are - for you - the 3 biggest disadvantages of your benchtop DMM(s)?
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2020, 01:47:47 am »
No bip in continuity mode, like fluke 8012a. Why fluke, why?
 

Offline Electro Fan

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Re: What are - for you - the 3 biggest disadvantages of your benchtop DMM(s)?
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2020, 02:40:35 am »
After 7 years with only handheld DMMs and now having a bench DMM I’d say other than not being portable there aren’t many (any?) disadvantages to a bench DMM other than cost.  You can’t buy a bench DMM for $25 (like an Aneng 8008) but if your budget can justify a Siglent 3055 it might be hard to justify a Fluke 87V for a similar price (unless you need portable).  I think a Siglent 3055 and a good (enough) handheld would be a good first two DMMs (everyone who wants to learn/do electronics should have at least two DMMs).  So the entry is two 8008s and where you go from there is up to the you - but one handheld DMM and one bench DMM might be a good objective.
 

Offline coromonadalix

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Re: What are - for you - the 3 biggest disadvantages of your benchtop DMM(s)?
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2020, 06:27:54 am »
1  totally  hate any vfd display based meter ---- if they have unobtanium parts
2  lack of a simple acquisition software  if they have a serial / lan / gpib or usb port ...  unless someone has done a great job of building one   :-+
3  repairability / schematics

4  At least a good diode test around 5 volts would be perfect loll     unless you have an eevblog 121gw  who could do a 15v diode test ??



But the list would go on and on  loll           

My dream would be a nice meter say at leat a 5 1/2 digits  with an added lcr meter in it like an De-5000, franken meter  loll

My problems is :  i have the Fluke 189 habits, totally love the way they work, display resolution, good accuracy, some data logging, and i have their bp-189 battery pack, sure they get old  and some parts are hard to get, and i loooove the fuses acess if needed.

I have the same fun with  An Amprobe am-140  but i hate the fact, i have to open the meter if i blow a fuse (wich never happened)

For my 34401a,  well  they get old, but are rock solid, schematics are available,   now you have some vfd clones available, you can extend their lives ... i did it for one of my meter, aaannnd  no fans  :-+
« Last Edit: September 01, 2020, 06:43:20 am by coromonadalix »
 
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Offline Electro Fan

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Offline tautech

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Re: What are - for you - the 3 biggest disadvantages of your benchtop DMM(s)?
« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2020, 08:49:36 am »
..................
Siglent SDM3055
1. a blue LED lights up, but does not show the voltage drop in diode mode

Oh yes it does !!!
White diode test from this post:
https://www.eevblog.com/forum/testgear/siglent-new-bench-dmm-sdm3055/msg3028294/#msg3028294

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Offline rvalente

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Re: What are - for you - the 3 biggest disadvantages of your benchtop DMM(s)?
« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2020, 09:34:04 am »
Reduced input protection when compared with a industrial class handheld can be a pain, specially if you're from development or repair of power electronics.
The diode measurement is really a thing, no reason why ir could not be as high as 40v, so many zeners could be tested
 

Online Kleinstein

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Re: What are - for you - the 3 biggest disadvantages of your benchtop DMM(s)?
« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2020, 10:03:11 am »
I currently have not Bench meter.  For use at work :

HP3457:  only up to 3 V with high impedance, relatively low contrast LCD, limited current ranges
Prema5000: relatively noisy, some visible DNL, only limited current ranges

With both meters I liked the internal scanner.
 

Offline coromonadalix

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Re: What are - for you - the 3 biggest disadvantages of your benchtop DMM(s)?
« Reply #8 on: September 01, 2020, 10:21:14 am »
5   Damn forgot this one,  having  giga ohm impedance input(s) up to 20v  like some meters ...
 

Online HKJ

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Re: What are - for you - the 3 biggest disadvantages of your benchtop DMM(s)?
« Reply #9 on: September 01, 2020, 11:28:00 am »
Disadvantage with bench meters are often high voltage in ohm range and no AC+DC reading. Continuity may also be as fast a fastest handheld.
I have 34470A, 34465A and DMM6500 on my bench. The Keysight wins for AC, but the Keithley wins for fast sampling/charting.
For logging I mostly use 34461A, I also have a DM3068, but do not like the display on it and when I got it, I could not get logging to work (After some software update I believe it works fine, but I have not needed it for logging).
I do also have a couple of cheaper bench meters, I have done reviews of them (https://lygte-info.dk/info/DMMReviews.html ), but are not using them much.
 

Online joeqsmith

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Re: What are - for you - the 3 biggest disadvantages of your benchtop DMM(s)?
« Reply #10 on: September 01, 2020, 12:23:42 pm »
I bought the HP34401A because I had no way to control the HP3468A (HPIL) with a standard PC.  For my hobby, both have served me very well. 

The HP34401A's fuse is located in the rear.  Other equipment is stacked on it, it has a thick HPIB cable going to it. 

Not too long ago, we had a tree in the front yard that was struck by lightning which then coupled into the home through the coax, the phone lines, the sprinkler system and the mains.  It caused enough common mode voltage in the lab that it damaged some of my equipment that uses GPIB.   I recently went full in porting my old XP code to Windows 10 and when working with the VNA, was reminded just how slow that bus is.    I would like to have Ethernet integrated on all my test equipment.   Smaller cables, unlimited devices, faster, much high common mode immunity....   
How electrically robust is your meter?? https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsK99WXk9VhcghnAauTBsbg
 

Online Wytnucls

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Re: What are - for you - the 3 biggest disadvantages of your benchtop DMM(s)?
« Reply #11 on: September 01, 2020, 01:03:12 pm »
Keithley 2000 and Rigol DM3058E.

Very happy with both meters.
Minor gripes:

Keithley:
DC nA accuracy should have been better for a 6 1/2 digit meter. (10mA range)
No capacitance measurement
No USB

Rigol:
No uOhm resolution for 4 wire measurement
Continuity beeper faint
No auto hold
 
« Last Edit: September 01, 2020, 07:46:31 pm by Wytnucls »
 

Online bd139

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Re: What are - for you - the 3 biggest disadvantages of your benchtop DMM(s)?
« Reply #12 on: September 01, 2020, 01:33:53 pm »
3478A:

1. Horridly bad LCD display
2. No continuity / feeper
3. Terrible front panel legend meaning I always stick my probes in the wrong holes.

That’s about it.
 

Online maginnovision

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Re: What are - for you - the 3 biggest disadvantages of your benchtop DMM(s)?
« Reply #13 on: September 01, 2020, 07:40:25 pm »
Prema 5017:

1. Somewhat slow for highest accuracy (min 2s for 7.5 digit)
2. Despite not having a fan/internal airflow it's fairly sensitive to temperature changes.
3. Parts can be tough to get.

For the most part though it's been working really well for me and it uses rs232 which I prefer over most alternatives.
 

Online bdunham7

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Re: What are - for you - the 3 biggest disadvantages of your benchtop DMM(s)?
« Reply #14 on: September 01, 2020, 09:37:25 pm »
Fluke Bench DMMs from 8840A to 8846A (which are otherwise outstanding meters) have terrible current measurement implementations.  Just give up and get external shunts.  If I had to measure current very accurately on a frequent basis and didn't want to use shunts, my 8846A would be gone in a flash.

And, of course, the later "6.5 digit" meters are 1.2M count instead of 2.0xM counts, which is very common but still something to grumble about.  I really would like my 10V high-impedance range to go to 20V instead of just 12. 
A 3.5 digit 4.5 digit 5 digit 5.5 digit 6.5 digit DMM is good enough for most people.
 

Offline floobydust

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Re: What are - for you - the 3 biggest disadvantages of your benchtop DMM(s)?
« Reply #15 on: September 02, 2020, 01:06:56 am »
Agilent 34461a
1. Cooling Fan
WTF it has a Cray or ENIAC inside? Even a RPi does not need a cooling fan. The fan is noisy, howls like a coyote. Myself and others find large temperature swings/reference drifts from the room A/C temperature changes. Deal breaker for me.

2. 6-1/2 digits but only shows 3sd on diode-test (5V).

3. Kill me with zeros
000.0005  the leading zeros are bad practice and contain no information.

4. Unknown capacitance to earth-ground, sometimes bench DMM's have large Y-caps.
You can get strange side-effects when connecting probes to gear referenced to earth-ground.

I went back to the 34401a's - silent with no boot time, no F/W bugs, no SMPS hash it has a linear power supply so it's just CPU EMI, no wailing fan, and just a smoother drive.
edit: removed bashing of the power supply EMI
« Last Edit: September 03, 2020, 07:26:00 am by floobydust »
 
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Offline EEVblog

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Re: What are - for you - the 3 biggest disadvantages of your benchtop DMM(s)?
« Reply #16 on: September 02, 2020, 01:44:18 am »
4. Unknown capacitance to earth-ground, sometimes bench DMM's have large Y-caps.
You can get strange side-effects when connecting probes to gear referenced to earth-ground.

Yep, I've seen that, particularly on fussy low current systems.
 

Offline wizard69

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Re: What are - for you - the 3 biggest disadvantages of your benchtop DMM(s)?
« Reply #17 on: September 02, 2020, 02:13:39 pm »
It is pretty easy to come up with 3:
  • No Cat rating or CAT ratings that don't reflect needs on a repair bench.   The reality is that even rather small servo drives run at 500 VDC sometimes 650 VDC bus voltages.   There is enough happening on repair benches that having the higher safety ratings would be of real value.
  • No buzzer or one that is effectively silent.   Frankly I'd rather see a knob on the front panel for volume adjustment of the buzzer.It would probably be too much to ask for multiple tones for example a high frequency buzz for exceeding the upper limit and a low frequency buzz for the low limit.
  • You have to pay way too much to get RTD and thermocouple interfacing.

Other things that drive me crazy in a multimeter.   for one they seem to want to replace a scope with some of the functions, Id rather that a multimeter to multimeter things instead of trying to be a scope.   For example some multimeters have capacitance functions but why not go a step further and offer more LCR functionality?    The same goes for inductors.    It should be possible to put some basic LCR functionality, testing up to 100kHz.

Another feature that should be built into a bench meter is a real frequency / counter subsystem with a real BNC input and at least 10 MHz input range, {nothing fancy here}.   This should run completely independent of the DVM inputs and frankly with modern silicon should cost a few cents.   In a nut shell put some real meat into the "multi".

For the most part modern multimeters have not shrunk much at all compared to a modern scope.    So in simple terms modern multimeters need to go on a diet, especially with respect to meter depth .   I'd prefer a higher profile to be honest.

Why not a built in programming language like MicroPython or even a Swift implementation.   You need a programming langauge that makes it simple to automate tests directly on the meter.   This kinda implies a keyboard / mouse input, USB or a decent interface over Ethernet.

Meter handles that don't break!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Add some digital I/O so that you can use MicroPython or Swift to automate your test.   Again we have a lot of CPU horsepower available these days, why not do as much as possible locally.   Todays meters have some I/O but it is dedicated in most cases.    Even if we only have a dozen or so of I/O, it could make for a far more flexible meter.

How about synchronized clock calendars for data time stamping.

Why are these meters battery free.   A snap on battery option would be nice for field work, generally calibration.   Sometimes a bench meter makes sense in the field.   Further even scopes come in battery powered version so why not????

After all these years why are we stuck with one input channel.   Two channels that can sample in a synchronized manner, should be a snap with todays tech.   Maybe even three.   They don't need to be 4 wire capable either.

Finally (I could go on forever), I'd rather see a 4.5 or 5 digit meter that works well and is fast, than to have a bunch of useless digits on the meter.   So is this a disadvantage?   Well yeah excessive resolution in the meter can be a problem if it creates a high cost device that doesn't support other features that would be nice to have in a meter.
 

Offline KaneTW

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Re: What are - for you - the 3 biggest disadvantages of your benchtop DMM(s)?
« Reply #18 on: September 02, 2020, 02:21:40 pm »
Agilent 34461a
3. Kill me with zeros
000.0005  the leading zeros are bad practice and contain no information.

The leading zeros are likely on purpose to indicate the range.
 
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Offline tautech

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Re: What are - for you - the 3 biggest disadvantages of your benchtop DMM(s)?
« Reply #19 on: September 02, 2020, 02:29:23 pm »
It is pretty easy to come up with 3:
  • No Cat rating or CAT ratings that don't reflect needs on a repair bench.   The reality is that even rather small servo drives run at 500 VDC sometimes 650 VDC bus voltages.   There is enough happening on repair benches that having the higher safety ratings would be of real value.
  • No buzzer or one that is effectively silent.   Frankly I'd rather see a knob on the front panel for volume adjustment of the buzzer.It would probably be too much to ask for multiple tones for example a high frequency buzz for exceeding the upper limit and a low frequency buzz for the low limit.
  • You have to pay way too much to get RTD and thermocouple interfacing.

Other things that drive me crazy in a multimeter.   for one they seem to want to replace a scope with some of the functions, Id rather that a multimeter to multimeter things instead of trying to be a scope.   For example some multimeters have capacitance functions but why not go a step further and offer more LCR functionality?    The same goes for inductors.    It should be possible to put some basic LCR functionality, testing up to 100kHz.

Another feature that should be built into a bench meter is a real frequency / counter subsystem with a real BNC input and at least 10 MHz input range, {nothing fancy here}.   This should run completely independent of the DVM inputs and frankly with modern silicon should cost a few cents.   In a nut shell put some real meat into the "multi".

For the most part modern multimeters have not shrunk much at all compared to a modern scope.    So in simple terms modern multimeters need to go on a diet, especially with respect to meter depth .   I'd prefer a higher profile to be honest.

Why not a built in programming language like MicroPython or even a Swift implementation.   You need a programming langauge that makes it simple to automate tests directly on the meter.   This kinda implies a keyboard / mouse input, USB or a decent interface over Ethernet.

Meter handles that don't break!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Add some digital I/O so that you can use MicroPython or Swift to automate your test.   Again we have a lot of CPU horsepower available these days, why not do as much as possible locally.   Todays meters have some I/O but it is dedicated in most cases.    Even if we only have a dozen or so of I/O, it could make for a far more flexible meter.

How about synchronized clock calendars for data time stamping.

Why are these meters battery free.   A snap on battery option would be nice for field work, generally calibration.   Sometimes a bench meter makes sense in the field.   Further even scopes come in battery powered version so why not????

After all these years why are we stuck with one input channel.   Two channels that can sample in a synchronized manner, should be a snap with todays tech.   Maybe even three.   They don't need to be 4 wire capable either.

Finally (I could go on forever), I'd rather see a 4.5 or 5 digit meter that works well and is fast, than to have a bunch of useless digits on the meter.   So is this a disadvantage?   Well yeah excessive resolution in the meter can be a problem if it creates a high cost device that doesn't support other features that would be nice to have in a meter.
:blah:
You need look harder at modern offerings.
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Offline AVGresponding

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Re: What are - for you - the 3 biggest disadvantages of your benchtop DMM(s)?
« Reply #20 on: September 02, 2020, 02:34:53 pm »
3478A:

1. Horridly bad LCD display
2. No continuity / feeper
3. Terrible front panel legend meaning I always stick my probes in the wrong holes.

That’s about it.

Ooer missus!   :-DD



For me, it's size (just can't get away from those double entendres),   ::)

The ones that aren't exactly full or half rack width,   :wtf:

The LCD display ones with no/poor backlighting.   :palm:
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Online joeqsmith

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Re: What are - for you - the 3 biggest disadvantages of your benchtop DMM(s)?
« Reply #21 on: September 02, 2020, 03:24:55 pm »
It is pretty easy to come up with 3:
  • No Cat rating or CAT ratings that don't reflect needs on a repair bench.   The reality is that even rather small servo drives run at 500 VDC sometimes 650 VDC bus voltages.   There is enough happening on repair benches that having the higher safety ratings would be of real value.

I would imagine most bench repair work is CATI/II.   If the safety standards are only there to keep the operator safe and not prevent damage to the meter, then the CAT ratings would seem to have little value.  If the intent of the safety standard is only to keep the operator safe, which is what many here suggest (I don't know personally)  there is little need for MOVs, GDTs, PTCs, surge rated resistors, high speed clamps and such. 

Even some of the larger supplies I have worked on don't have enough storage to pose much of a risk if a meter were to breakdown.  I'm not suggesting there are no safety risks, but that the meter would have little to do with it.  If we understand the risks and how to mitigate them (remove rings, one hand rule...) then to me what becomes a real value is meters that are robust enough to survive some low energy transients that you may see on the bench (repair, experimenting....).    This is where the EMC standards come in to play and there should be little doubt the need for added protection circuits to allow the meter to survive.   

How do you quantify how robust a meter is?  Who knows.  I've presented my test methods and the data I have collected.  I would say the actual data carries less weight than opinions.   If your goal is to sell meters and the products you sell perform well against my tests, you may praise the results.   If they do poorly, you may talk about how the tests don't represent real world conditions.   It becomes more about the culture we have today where everyone's an expert after a quick browse of wiki.   

I'm currently reading a pretty good book on this topic titled "The Death of Expertise: The Campaign against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters"
https://www.amazon.com/Death-Expertise-Campaign-Established-Knowledge/dp/0190469412

Sorry for the long post.  If you were trying to make a different point with your comment, if you would'nt mind explaining further, I would like to understand it.

****
first post of the day.  cleaned up some of the wording.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2020, 07:03:46 pm by joeqsmith »
How electrically robust is your meter?? https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsK99WXk9VhcghnAauTBsbg
 
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Offline Fungus

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Re: What are - for you - the 3 biggest disadvantages of your benchtop DMM(s)?
« Reply #22 on: September 02, 2020, 03:56:02 pm »
It is pretty easy to come up with 3:
  • No Cat rating or CAT ratings that don't reflect needs on a repair bench.   The reality is that even rather small servo drives run at 500 VDC sometimes 650 VDC bus voltages.   There is enough happening on repair benches that having the higher safety ratings would be of real value.

CAT ratings have very little to do with voltage, they're to do with energy. I doubt your repair bench can supply enough energy to create/sustain a decent arc flash.

(and you should probably be upgrading your fuse box if it can)
 

Online bdunham7

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Re: What are - for you - the 3 biggest disadvantages of your benchtop DMM(s)?
« Reply #23 on: September 02, 2020, 04:04:07 pm »

I would imagine most bench repair work is CATI/II.   If the safety standards are only there to keep the operator safe and not prevent damage to the meter, then the CAT ratings would seem to have little value.  If the intent of the safety standard is only to keep the operator safe, which is what many here suggest (I don't know personally)  there is little need for MOVs, GDTs, PTCs, surge rated resistors, high speed clamps and such. 

I'd speculate that some people may have lost sight of exactly what those CAT ratings are actually intended to protect us from.  I work on some fairly high voltage and moderately high energy systems, on the bench, but the typical bench meter that is rated CAT 1/1000V and CAT II/300V (or more in some cases) is more than adequate, IMO.  Unless  you have a service panel in the middle of your bench, those are the actual levels of exposure you have.
   
Quote
How you quantify how robust a meter is, who knows.

I just took apart an old 8842A that apparently was connected to excessive voltage--at least 1500V---with some power to back it up.  The entire front end protection--4 MOVs and 2 fusible resistors--were incinerated.  I removed the burnt parts and subbed in 2 regular 1K resistors (to be repaired properly later, of course) and the meter works properly and is in cal.  No evidence of any external damage, the circuit board is unharmed (but sooty)  and I'm sure nobody died.  I'd say that is 'robust' although I can't quantify that. 
A 3.5 digit 4.5 digit 5 digit 5.5 digit 6.5 digit DMM is good enough for most people.
 

Offline ferdieCX

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Re: What are - for you - the 3 biggest disadvantages of your benchtop DMM(s)?
« Reply #24 on: September 02, 2020, 06:05:30 pm »
My dream would be a Fluke 8050 with LED Display and:

1) Service documentation
2) No unobtanium parts
3) 4-wire resistance measurement would be a plus.
 


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