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Multimeters - The Complete Guide

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(@dronebot-workshop)
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Joined: 5 years ago
Posts: 1073
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How to select and use a multimeter (and why you really need two of them!). Are the expensive ones really worth the money?

Today, we will be working with the most essential piece of electronic test equipment—the multimeter. We will learn how to use a multimeter and how to choose one. We’ll compare the accuracy between expensive and inexpensive meters. And I’ll try to convince you that you really need at least two multimeters on your workbench!

Multimeters are test instruments for measuring AC and DC Voltage, Current, and Resistance. Modern multimeters can measure many more parameters, including Frequency, Capacitance, Continuity, and Diode Checking. Some meters also have non-contact AC current and voltage features.

There are two objectives in this video:

1 - To learn how to use a multimeter to make various measurements.
2 - To learn how to shop for a meter and get the best value for your money.

We’ll do this by comparing five multimeters, each with a unique set of features. We'll learn how to use them, and we'll test their readings against calibrated test sources.

Here is the Table of Contents for today’s video:

00:00 - Introduction
01:55 - Multimeters Intro
04:14 - Look at Multimeters
08:13 - Look at Multimeter accessories
11:12 - Basic Multimeter Operation
13:00 - Measuring Resistance, Continuity & Diodes
15:53 - Measuring AC & DC Voltage & Current
24:02 - Non- Contact Measurement
27:55 - Measuring Capacitance
31:31 - Measuring Frequency
34:07 - Measuring Temperature
36:14 - Multimeter Specs
40:19 - Multimeter Features
45:48 - Multimeter Showdown - Resistance
47:50 - Multimeter Showdown - DC Voltage
53:03 - Multimeter Showdown - Capacitance
56:57 - Conclusion

If you can only afford one piece of electronic test gear, make it a multimeter. It’s an inexpensive investment that will pay for itself quickly, both in your workshop and around your home.

I hope you enjoy the video!

Bill

"Never trust a computer you can’t throw out a window." — Steve Wozniak


   
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Ron
 Ron
(@zander)
Father of a miniature Wookie
Joined: 3 years ago
Posts: 6827
 

When I was looking for a small USB type Scope, the name FNIRSI came up but the reviews were almost all negative. It sounds as though they have upped their game. That is a very interesting instrument but that would be #6 since I just learned about the LCR meters and ordered one today. I think I will hold off on it for a bit to give you some time to evaluate it.

First computer 1959. Retired from my own computer company 2004.
Hardware - Expert in 1401, and 360, fairly knowledge in PC plus numerous MPU's and MCU's
Major Languages - Machine language, 360 Macro Assembler, Intel Assembler, PL/I and PL1, Pascal, Basic, C plus numerous job control and scripting languages.
Sure you can learn to be a programmer, it will take the same amount of time for me to learn to be a Doctor.


   
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(@dronebot-workshop)
Workshop Guru Admin
Joined: 5 years ago
Posts: 1073
Topic starter  

@zander My "evaluation" so far is that the meter's Scope and Signal Generator aspects are both pretty limited. 

The scope is nice in that it is dual-channel, uses proper BNC connectors, and even comes with a fairly standard probe (only one channel was included). However, its functions are limited, and its frequency response is only 10MHz. And, of course, the screen is very tiny for my old eyes!

The signal generator is also limited. I was going to use it in the frequency-counting demo, but it can only produce a maximum of 3.3 volts peak-to-peak, which wasn't enough. But for someone who only needs a signal generator occasionally, it would be fine.

Both would be OK for audio work, which is where this instrument might really shine. It's the only multimeter I own (and I have four others that didn't make the video) that can have firmware updates. Being rechargeable with USB-C is nice, too.

I believe they make a multimeter-only version of the same instrument, which is what I would recommend.

As for portable scopes, I really have no need for a "pocket-size" one, although I realize many people would find that useful. With the price of scopes as low as they are now and with the new style of "flat" scopes that are not as bulky on the workbench, I would go for a small, full-sized unit with all the bells and whistles and a screen I can actually see.

😎

Bill

 

 

 

"Never trust a computer you can’t throw out a window." — Steve Wozniak


   
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Ron
 Ron
(@zander)
Father of a miniature Wookie
Joined: 3 years ago
Posts: 6827
 

@dronebot-workshop Thanks Bill. I was pretty sure it would be limited, especially for those of us who have benches and bench instruments (I did buy the Rigol DHO802 you recommended)

That FNIRSI might be of interest if I was still a field tech, but I suspect I could get better especially if the company is paying for it. When I was an IBM Field Engineer all the large accounts had a Tektronix on a cart. If we needed a scope at one of the smaller installations we knew where we could borrow one from plus the office had one or more as well. Since we got paid mileage and overtime back then, we didn't mind the drive.

I did get the LCR meter as I didn't know they existed and the price is low (I got a newer model for an extra $10)

First computer 1959. Retired from my own computer company 2004.
Hardware - Expert in 1401, and 360, fairly knowledge in PC plus numerous MPU's and MCU's
Major Languages - Machine language, 360 Macro Assembler, Intel Assembler, PL/I and PL1, Pascal, Basic, C plus numerous job control and scripting languages.
Sure you can learn to be a programmer, it will take the same amount of time for me to learn to be a Doctor.


   
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(@rebeljd)
Member
Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 16
 

Bill, I recently watched your video on multimeters and found it very interesting.  I'm a retired GE Field Engineer and had many trips dragging a Tektronix 465 through airports.  I also had the obligatory Fluke meters as well.  Now that I'm retired and tinker in my basement shop (not as neat as yours) I still use a scope and meter often.  I retired the old 465 many years ago and bought an inexpensive Hantek scope, which works ok for what I do and takes up much less space on the bench.  I've been using a fluke multimeter but when I saw your OWON XDM1041 I decided to buy one.  Amazon delivered it the next morning, love those guys.  I've already used it a lot and really like it.  And it doesn't keep falling over like the old fluke did.  Although I have a nice electronics bench in my shop, I like to sit in my cozy desk chair to do coding.  And of course, the Arduino or ESP32 breadboards are there as well.  I recently picked up a Hanmatek HO52 handheld scope and it has found a home on my desk.  Very handy for looking at things like serial ports, etc on the breadboard and takes up very little space.  Keep up the good work.  Jim

 


   
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