# Looking For Usable Multimeter - Cheap

P

#### (PeteCresswell)

Jan 1, 1970
0
I've got a Micronta that's getting weird on me. Thing must be
30 years old, but it always did what little I needed of it:

- Checking automobile battery voltages

- Checking various other batteries' voltages

- Looking for shorts

Can anybody recommend a replacement that doesn't cost an arm and
a leg?

I'm thinking hardware-store quality is going tb adequate, but
don't know the ins and outs.

W

Jan 1, 1970
0
Harbor Freight has a digital meter for $3 -- but I don't know how sturdy it is. R #### Rich Webb Jan 1, 1970 0 I've got a Micronta that's getting weird on me. Thing must be 30 years old, but it always did what little I needed of it: - Checking automobile battery voltages - Checking various other batteries' voltages - Looking for shorts Can anybody recommend a replacement that doesn't cost an arm and a leg? I'm thinking hardware-store quality is going tb adequate, but don't know the ins and outs. The little US$27 (at Lowes) Extech model DM110 is a nice "tool bag"
meter. Small, handles the basic functions, includes a case. Downside is
no backlight and the leads are permanently attached.

In general: Autoranging is nice but increases the time between probing
something and getting a stable reading. Autoranging plus a "range hold"
function is a nice compromise. Having a continuity beeper is handy for
checking for shorts/opens without having to keep looking back at the
meter. Backlighted displays are nice. Don't get too wrapped up in
"counts"; the world is mostly three significant figures, so 0-1999 is
okay for the vast majority of situations for a general-purpose meter.

S

#### Sjouke Burry

Jan 1, 1970
0
(PeteCresswell) said:
I've got a Micronta that's getting weird on me. Thing must be
30 years old, but it always did what little I needed of it:

- Checking automobile battery voltages

- Checking various other batteries' voltages

- Looking for shorts

Can anybody recommend a replacement that doesn't cost an arm and
a leg?

I'm thinking hardware-store quality is going tb adequate, but
don't know the ins and outs

300000 hits.

The above link shows the one our local gasstation uses.

J

Jan 1, 1970
0
William said:
Harbor Freight has a digital meter for $3 -- but I don't know how sturdy it is. The unit itself is sturdy enough for occasional use (I keep one in the car and a couple near the workbench), but the leads are about the cheapest I have seen, especially the banana plugs. Still, for a couple of bucks they are good enough to have a few laying about for when you need an extra meter. Jon D #### David Nebenzahl Jan 1, 1970 0 Harbor Freight has a digital meter for$3 -- but I don't know how sturdy it
is.

Plenty sturdy. The weak point of these meters (I've bought several of
them) seems to be the leads, the wires of which pull out pretty easily.
Other than that, they seem as good as any other hardware-store DMM.

D

#### Dave Plowman (News)

Jan 1, 1970
0
I've got a Micronta that's getting weird on me. Thing must be
30 years old, but it always did what little I needed of it:
- Checking automobile battery voltages
- Checking various other batteries' voltages
- Looking for shorts

Can anybody recommend a replacement that doesn't cost an arm and
a leg?
I'm thinking hardware-store quality is going tb adequate, but
don't know the ins and outs.

The very cheap ones sort of work ok. But pay a bit more - perhaps around
\$25 dollars from Ebay - and you can get quite a decent one.

P

#### Peabody

Jan 1, 1970
0
JeffM says...
There's a bi-monthly swap meet near me for computer
stuff, etc. that has old voltmeters (analog too!). They
are mostly returns that somebody blew the fuse in and
returned. Watching a needle move *can* give useful
information that a digital readout doesn't easily
communicate.

I agree. I use mine all the time, but the contacts inside
are wearing out. Where would you find an inexpensive new
analog meter? Do they even make them anymore?

D

#### Dave Plowman (News)

Jan 1, 1970
0
I agree. I use mine all the time, but the contacts inside
are wearing out. Where would you find an inexpensive new
analog meter? Do they even make them anymore?

A half decent DVM will have a a bargraph to mimic a needle movement.

W

#### William Sommerwerck

Jan 1, 1970
0
Where would you find an inexpensive new analog
meter? Do they even make them anymore?

Yes. Try MCM or any other large parts distributor.

W

#### William Sommerwerck

Jan 1, 1970
0
A decent DVM won't have a bargraph to annoy you.

That must make my Fluke 87 indecent.

J

#### Jeffrey Angus

Jan 1, 1970
0
I prefer a good bench meter, and always found meters with bargraphs
to be very annoying. They don't have enough resolution for the work I
need a DVM for. For some jobs I've had to use a 5&3/4 digit DVM.

For a simple "Is it more or less?" Nothing beats a DC
coupled scope. If you're tuning for a maximum (or
minimum) you can easily see that out of the corner of
fingers or the end of the tool you're adjusting things
with.

Jeff

W

#### William Sommerwerck

Jan 1, 1970
0
A decent DVM won't have a bargraph to annoy you.
I prefer a good bench meter, and always found meters with
bargraphs to be very annoying. They don't have enough
resolution for the work I need a DVM for. For some jobs I've
had to use a 5&3/4 digit DVM.

If you're working at a bench, it makes sense to use a meter that sits at eye
level, rather than having to fiddle with what is basically a hand-held meter
(such as my 87).

Ad for the bar graph... I don't notice it unless I have a need for it.

D

#### Dave Plowman (News)

Jan 1, 1970
0
A decent DVM won't have a bargraph to annoy you.

It's there to inform. Of course information may well annoy you. And I
consider my Fluke quite decent.

J

#### Jeffrey Angus

Jan 1, 1970
0
As long as you don't have to set something to an exact value. Too
many years in TV Broadcast& Aerospace where you had to be able to set
something to less than a 1 mV error at 15 V.

Well, that's what the FLuke bench DMMs are for. ;-)

Jeff

D

#### Dave Plowman (News)

Jan 1, 1970
0
Michael A. Terrell said:
When you're at a bench with over 30 pieces of test equipment,
including four or more identical DVMs the bargraph is just more visual
noise.

Thought the question was about the spec for a basic DVM?

As regards a bargraph being 'visual noise' that's the whole point. It
draws your attention to the direction and rate of change. If you're using
'30 pieces of test equipment' at once, you can't possibly read them all
accurately at any one point in time - so a bargraph sounds to me even more
useful here.

W

#### William Sommerwerck

Jan 1, 1970
0
This discussion reminds me of the article on digital voltmeters in
"Electronics World" about 50 years ago.

Back then, they were huge, taking up (if I recall correctly) a 3U or 4U
space. The meter they described was a Non-Linear Systems model. Its ADC was
electromechanical, (!) using a relay-controlled voltage divider on a
highly-accurate voltage source to create successively closer approximations
to the input voltage.

There were no commercial LED displays, of course, so the results were
displayed using incandescent lamps to side-illuminate numbers cut into
polycarbonate blocks! (I don't know why NLS didn't use Nixie tubes.)

W

#### William Sommerwerck

Jan 1, 1970
0
Tell me of ANY bargraph that will give useful indication
when the change is in millivolts, where the voltage being
measured is 5 to 15 volts. The bargraph would be 2 volts
per division.

I think it's rather finer than that. (My Fluke 87 has 51 points.) But no one
(that I know of) makes a DVM with that can display millivolt changes when
the input is hundreds of millivolts.

The purpose of the bargraph is to give the tech an easily interpreted
indication of which way the measurement is tending, without having to
"interpret" the numbers. And it responds much more quickly than the display
can settle.

I have little need for the bargraph display. But it adds little to the cost
of the meter, and it's there when I do.

W

#### William Sommerwerck

Jan 1, 1970
0
There were no commercial LED displays, of course, so the
HP made a voltmeter plugin for their 5245L frequency counter.
That was mid '60s vintage.

Interesting. I had an SWTP modular unit, though that was a lot later.

The NLS appeared earlier, I believe. George Kay (as in Kaypro) is given
credit for the first digital voltmeter.

S

#### Shaun

Jan 1, 1970
0
Michael A. Terrell said:
A decent DVM won't have a bargraph to annoy you.

Fluke meters have a bar graph and I find it usefull.

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