Choosing a multimeter

Images-46 Ask Metafilter has a good discussion on choosing a multimeter. I’m ready to make the plunge into electronics repair/circuit building but I’m wondering what I should look for in a multimeter and electronics tool kit? Aside from auto-ranging, I’m not sure what features to look for in the multimeter, and are there any particularly good reasonably priced tool kits? Link.

0 thoughts on “Choosing a multimeter

  1. Bleah, metafilter makes you “donate” $5 in order to post.

    lots of comments suggested getting an autoranging multimeter. Don’t — it takes significantly longer to do take a sample with autoranging. You usually know the voltage range you are sampling anyway so autoranging isn’t as important or useful as you may think.

  2. Speaking from close to 30 years of geeking & using test equipment (like, since age 14): If you only want one meter, go analog. Seriously.

    Analog meters let you see things that get lost in the “noise” that causes digital meters to keep flipping numbers if the characteristic of the thing you’re measuring is changing.

    A digital meter is good as a second meter, but in my opinion not as a primary meter.

    Look for ranges that are relevant to what you’re doing. For example if you’re doing anything with analog audio, including telephony, you probably want low-range AC voltage and current. In most cases you want more sensitivity at the low end, rather than high-end ranges you can’t use (e.g. the typical 1,000 volt and 10 amp ranges).

    I have a BBC Goerz/Metrawatt MA3E” meter. Got it about 15 years ago from Al Lasher’s Electronics in Berkeley, which is the geek’s place to go for all those things you can’t find any more at Radio Snack. I don’t know if the meter I have is still being made.

    Triplett still makes a line of analog meters that haven’t changed in years (perhaps decades). One of these is general-purpose, another is designed for telephone techs in the field (telecom-relevant ranges), and there are others.

    Prices for a decent analog meter can be anywhere from $50 on up. Generally you can get quite a good one for a little under $100. I paid $250 for mine, but I needed the versatility and accuracy you get at that price, and of course you can pay plenty more if you need the functions that come at even higher price tags. In any case, consider it an investment that will last at least a decade, possibly a lifetime if you take good care of it.

  3. I found myself a few weeks ago in need of a new multimeter for the first time in more than 15 years. I first bought and tried a cheapo meter from Harbor Freight. It was terrible. (poor stability, readability, accuracy)

    So then I began doing more research. I knew I couldn’t afford a Fluke, as much as I liked them back when I used to use one on a daily basis as part of my job.

    I finally decided I liked the brand “Mastech” and narrowed the choice down to one of several meters manufactured by them.

    In the end I purchased the ‘Analog/Digital’ meter – http://www.multimeterwarehouse.com/7040f.htm

    I just got it today. :-)

    I love it. It seems to be the best of both worlds – analog and digital. It seems well made, the readings appear accurate and stable. It is easy to use, and easy to read.

    I thought I’d share this feedback to this blog in case any one else is in the market for a new meter in the near future. :-)

    (I am in no way affiliated with Mastech or Multimeter Warehouse.)

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