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 Post subject: Best digital multimeter
PostPosted: Mar Thu 08, 2012 8:41 pm 
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Location: Bethel Springs,TN
My digital multimeter is giving me a few problems(Micronta by Radio Shack) and I am thinking of replacing it. I have heard lots of talk about Fluke as being the best or one of the best. The problem I have is knowing what to really look for to compare price and value. I would like to have a meter that would be very accurate on the ohms scale as well as voltage and in addition possibly have a capacitance checker. What are my options and what would I need to spend for something like that?
Thanks,
Frank


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 Post subject: Re: Best digital multimeter
PostPosted: Mar Thu 08, 2012 8:58 pm 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 1065
Location: Dallas, Texas USA
Sears sells a really pretty good quality, all-round DVM that matches what you indicate you want.

http://www.craftsman.com
search for Model: 82344

I think this is even a new version of what I bought about 3 months ago.
Also has a basic Frequency counter, Capacitance, and (if you buy the separate thermocouple) F an C measurements.

Now that's a basic DVM, you can get today in a Sears store. And it's $30! (...and I think it's on sale now for $27...)
Flukes are much better quality, I think, but you'd pay much, much more new.

OR: Search eBay for 'fluke 27fm'.
There are quite a number of these still around. They're ex-Military and very good quality. They're either 'overstock / surplus' or taken out of service. I think I can find one scratch on mine, seems to not have been abused.

They're larger than the usual DVM - a bit blocky, but work great. Some come with cases, some don't.
I think I paid about $70 for one of these and I negotiated a discount for them to keep the case.
They're heavy duty, and True-RMS. This is the GREY ones, not the YELLOW models marked '27fm'. There's a huge thread on this from last June, in this Topic Category, I believe.

(Wish I could find the seller I bought one from last year, but they don't save 'Buy-It-Now's, I think, just auctions.)

Mike Y

francois8890 wrote:
My digital multimeter is giving me a few problems(Micronta by Radio Shack) and I am thinking of replacing it. I have heard lots of talk about Fluke as being the best or one of the best. The problem I have is knowing what to really look for to compare price and value. I would like to have a meter that would be very accurate on the ohms scale as well as voltage and in addition possibly have a capacitance checker. What are my options and what would I need to spend for something like that?
Thanks,
Frank


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 Post subject: Re: Best digital multimeter
PostPosted: Mar Thu 08, 2012 9:11 pm 
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Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
I recommend that you buy a Fluke brand meter. Among hand-held meters they are the undisputed leader. "If it works, it must be a Fluke!" As for models, you could get a 77-series meter, but I recommend the Fluke 115 since it has more features (including measuring capacitance) for less money. I have a Fluke 112 (the predecessor to the 115) and despite using (and sometimes abusing) it for ten years it still works like new and is accurate. Better still, I only had to replace the leads recently - they too lasted almost ten years. You can get one new on eBay for $115 which is a really good deal (no association with the seller, but I have previously bought three of his meters with no problems).

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Fluke-115-Digit ... 4cff283924

-Matthew

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 Post subject: Re: Best digital multimeter
PostPosted: Mar Thu 08, 2012 10:54 pm 
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Location: Erie, PA
As a general rule with new handheld multimeters, the more you pay the better the accuracy will be, and often better the quality.

With handhelds, there are perhaps a few exceptions but virtually all of them under $150 are going to be a .5% DC accuracy meter with a corresponding level of accuracy across all the functions. This ranges from your cheapest few buck jobbers from Harbor Freight to the lower end $100 range Flukes, Extechs, Agilents, etc. Here the higher price buys a meter made to remain accurate longer with better quality components and they usually have sturdier cases. Is .5% accuracy on DC good enough? For most applications yes. Is it anything great? No, not considering there were many bench digital multimeters made as far back as the early ‘60’s with accuracy to .02% or better. But hey, they are inexpensive handhelds made to be thrown around on the bench, in the toolbox, in the field, etc. Better ones like Flukes will last a very long time, and they remain accurate over the course of their lifetime.

When you go to the next level of over $150.00 for an “advanced” multimeter, you’ll see the accuracy usually gets much better, often between .03-.1% on DC. These types of meters typically have features more geared for actual electronics use rather than being for electricians or just general use.

If you want excellent accuracy for the bench at a good price and don’t need something portable, look for a used bench multimeter. Even several decades ago most of them had accuracy that eclipses lower priced new handhelds today, and the better makes like Fluke and HP if kept in good shape retain their accuracy over time to an excellent degree.

-Mark-

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 Post subject: Re: Best digital multimeter
PostPosted: Mar Thu 08, 2012 11:24 pm 
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My personal DMM is a Fluke 8060A, and oldie, and still is accurate since I bought it in 1993.

I check it with occasionally with some 0.5% and 1% resistors I have in my shop and the programmable DC supply and a freq counter.

I use it to check the calibration on my Simpson Series 7A VOM to keep it honest.

Chuck

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 Post subject: Re: Best digital multimeter
PostPosted: Mar Thu 08, 2012 11:45 pm 
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I purchased a used Fluke 27FM from the guy on eBay. Military surplus. It came with HV probes, a bunch of tips, user manual DVD, etc. Very nice set. An oldie, but a goodie, I love it. A little more expensive than some around, but worth every penny. I've found he has the best deal. Total under $100.

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 Post subject: Re: Best digital multimeter
PostPosted: Mar Fri 09, 2012 12:24 am 
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Location: Pocasset, Cape Cod, MA
I've had a Fluke 79 for 20 years at least, and it works well. It has been said that most of the extra money for a Fluke goes into the protection circuitry. I once put several kV on the ohmmeter which didn't faze it.

However: if you've been happy with the Radio Shack, and only need it for radio repair, one of the cheap imports should work just fine. As to the ohmmeter, you can check it easily enough by measuring a .01% resistor. I can send you one or two.


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 Post subject: Re: Best digital multimeter
PostPosted: Mar Fri 09, 2012 12:57 am 
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Location: Advance, NC USA
I like the Protek D981:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Protek-D981-3-3 ... 4ab46f3861

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Protek-D981-3-3 ... 231a1e4c19

Carl


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 Post subject: Re: Best digital multimeter
PostPosted: Mar Fri 09, 2012 1:17 am 
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Location: Erie, PA
I also got one of the used Fluke 27/FM's a while back and can attest to what a bargain they are. These are the military version of the 27, one of Fluke's most rugged handhelds made to date. They are ideal for working around tube equipment or other things with HV as they are so well protected. One of the most common multimeter mistakes is forgetting to switch back to voltage function after using ohms. (This is something I personally do very frequently!) With a cheapie meter giving it several hundred volts or more on the ohms function often destroys it. With a 27/FM, it isn't even fazed. I have a collection of around 40 multimeters of all makes/models/ages, and I have to say the 27/FM is at the top of my list of favorite handheld meters.

-Mark-

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 Post subject: Re: Best digital multimeter
PostPosted: Mar Fri 09, 2012 2:12 am 
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Joined: Oct Mon 25, 2010 3:42 am
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Location: Bethel Springs,TN
Thanks for all the comments guys. I was already leaning towards buying a Fluke and your comments have reinforced that opinion for me. I just need to decide whether to go with the military surplus 27FM or the new 115 Model. Is the size of the 27FM much larger than the 115?
Frank


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 Post subject: Re: Best digital multimeter
PostPosted: Mar Fri 09, 2012 3:15 am 
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Joined: Oct Mon 25, 2010 3:42 am
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Location: Bethel Springs,TN
MarkPalmer wrote:
I also got one of the used Fluke 27/FM's a while back and can attest to what a bargain they are. These are the military version of the 27, one of Fluke's most rugged handhelds made to date. They are ideal for working around tube equipment or other things with HV as they are so well protected. One of the most common multimeter mistakes is forgetting to switch back to voltage function after using ohms. (This is something I personally do very frequently!) With a cheapie meter giving it several hundred volts or more on the ohms function often destroys it. With a 27/FM, it isn't even fazed. I have a collection of around 40 multimeters of all makes/models/ages, and I have to say the 27/FM is at the top of my list of favorite handheld meters.

-Mark-


Mark, I like what you are saying because I have done that myself (maybe that's what is wrong with my current meter) but I really wanted something that has capacitance measuring capability. Which Fluke would have that and still have the ruggedness?
Thanks,
Frank


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 Post subject: Re: Best digital multimeter
PostPosted: Mar Fri 09, 2012 4:00 am 
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Location: Minneapolis, MN USA
Please clarify your requirement for "very accurate on the ohms scale".

Are you having trouble getting the Micronta to read 0.0 Ohms when shorting the leads together ?
Are you trying to read a couple Ohms or less and don't trust what the meter reads ?

Many meters can not be made to read 0.0 Ohms with the leads shorted. The meter will read the resistance of the test leads.
The Fluke 27/FM discussed here will read 0.0 Ohms. I have two that do.
I have a Fluke 73 that will read 0.1 Ohms with leads shorted.

Or do you want accuracy and precison on low Ohms such as x.xx Ohms or xx.x Ohms ?


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 Post subject: Re: Best digital multimeter
PostPosted: Mar Fri 09, 2012 4:26 am 
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"Best" is a pretty loose term, but for general workbench fixin' you can't do much better then the Fluke 27/77 series - amlmost indestructable but doesn't have the bells and whistles.

Best? Where's my H-P 3458A gone..... :D

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 Post subject: Re: Best digital multimeter
PostPosted: Mar Fri 09, 2012 5:21 am 
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Joined: Oct Mon 25, 2010 3:42 am
Posts: 794
Location: Bethel Springs,TN
Dale Saukerson wrote:
Please clarify your requirement for "very accurate on the ohms scale".

Are you having trouble getting the Micronta to read 0.0 Ohms when shorting the leads together ?
Are you trying to read a couple Ohms or less and don't trust what the meter reads ?

Many meters can not be made to read 0.0 Ohms with the leads shorted. The meter will read the resistance of the test leads.
The Fluke 27/FM discussed here will read 0.0 Ohms. I have two that do.
I have a Fluke 73 that will read 0.1 Ohms with leads shorted.

Or do you want accuracy and precison on low Ohms such as x.xx Ohms or xx.x Ohms ?


Dale,that is one of the problems I am having. Leads shorted together I am reading sdomething like 14 ohms and that makes me not trust it on low ohms reading components like coils etc. I think the 27FM might be great except that I was hoping to get something that would also have capacitance.

Frank


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 Post subject: Re: Best digital multimeter
PostPosted: Mar Fri 09, 2012 8:37 am 
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I have a Fluke 73 that I bought 25 or so years ago.

I've had to change the battery a few times, and got a new set of test leads last year, but O/W it's been great. And speaking of great, I am a great one for leaving it on ohms when I go to measure voltage; doesn't faze it whatsoever.

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 Post subject: Re: Best digital multimeter
PostPosted: Mar Fri 09, 2012 4:09 pm 
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Joined: Oct Mon 25, 2010 3:42 am
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Location: Bethel Springs,TN
What about the Fluke 77iv. It looks like it would have capacitance. Would it be as rugged and accurate as the 27FM? I have seen a few on ebay in the $100 range used.


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 Post subject: Re: Best digital multimeter
PostPosted: Mar Fri 09, 2012 4:30 pm 
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The 77 IV would be a good choice. It is a go-between from the lower priced models and the high end handhelds with .03% +/- 1 count on DC and .5% +1 on ohms, and it has capacitance function. It probably doesn't have quite the ruggedness of the 27/FM, but should be very close and it is better featured/higher accuarcy.

-Mark-

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 Post subject: Re: Best digital multimeter
PostPosted: Mar Fri 09, 2012 9:58 pm 
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I have a Fluke benchtop that is beyond this discussion, but I have an old Fluke 79 that I got new, years ago. It is unfailingly excellent. I check the cal about once a year with a certified calibrator now. It stays dead nutz on, when it is cal'd. It can also null out the test lead resistance for low resistance checks. The only thing that ever broke was the stop pin on the range select knob, after I apparently turned it too far to the left? Or something. Fixed that easily enough. I would not mind buying used if you can see it work. And make sure the LCD display is working 100%. Sometimes the contact strips get bad or need cleaned and the display can fade or even get bad segments, or have black spots on the LCD screen from shock or abuse. I have a cheapo DMM for checking stuff at hamfests, or wherever I would not care to risk my priceless Fluke. Here are my previously determined bests- Fluke, for DMM's. Simpson or Triplett, for VOM's. Tek for scopes. HP for freq. counters and signal generators. If you stick with that formula you are least likely to go wrong. Not to say others are not any good. That is just the no-brainers that used to be known by us techs.


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 Post subject: Re: Best digital multimeter
PostPosted: Mar Fri 09, 2012 10:07 pm 
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Posts: 794
Location: Bethel Springs,TN
I found a Fluke 77series 2 on epay. It has only $20 bid on it so far with 2 days to go. I know that a 77series 4 does measure capacitance,does anyone know if the series 2 will also? This might be a good one to bid on if so.
Thanks,
Frank

http://www.ebay.com/itm/140716663666?ss ... 1438.l2649


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 Post subject: Re: Best digital multimeter
PostPosted: Mar Fri 09, 2012 10:56 pm 
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Posts: 22
Location: Myrtle Beach, SC
I know this will raise a few feathers, but you asked! I have not had the results that all the guys have
responded with the Fluke DVMs. Around our shop, the joke was: "If it works it must be a fluke... They
just do not add up. I like my Beckman DVM DM-100, in the yellow case. You can put the probes on ANY thing and
turn the range switch all the way around. NO SMOKE. The ad for the thing shows it reading 115vac
while it sets in a bucket of water. Try that with a Fluke!

The only thing I have found to kill a Beckman is the RF from an arc welder.

Clayton N4EV

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