MAKE Presents: The Multimeter

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Get acquainted with the Digital Multimeter – an engineer’s best friend!

The ability to test resistance, voltage, current & continuity are vital to any electronics maker – even the freshest of newbies. In fact, having a reliable multimeter on hand is a huge help when learning the basics. Even before understanding what each value means, you’ll be able to establish reference points for applying each new concepts and troubleshooting experiments.

For those curious, the big blue meter I use in the video is a Protek 6300 (Mastech MS8229 seems to be a similar model). While you can find functional multimeters for under $10, I do recommend getting yourself a higher quality device. Increased accuracy, build quality, display backlight, and expanded measurement options are all very welcome features at my workbench.

If you find yourself getting a bit frustrated using the pointy-stylus stock multimeter test probes, I highly recommend picking up a pair of ‘Minigrabber Test Clip to Banana Plug’ leads (they make a brief cameo early on in the above vid). I keep a set of Pamona brand minigrabbers on hand for connecting to IC pins & through-hole part leads. Alligator clip leads would likely work as well.

Happy Testing!

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18 thoughts on “MAKE Presents: The Multimeter

  1. John Cabrer says:

    The interview for my first job out of college was in a small Georgia D.O.T. office shared by two systems administrators. The one conducting the interview took me through the gauntlet of questions about my future plans and abilities, while the other muttered curses under his breath about some problem he was having with the VAX Cluster.

    After about 20 minutes of this, the interviewer opened his little green tool bag, pulled something out, and asked me if I knew what it was. I said, “Sure. It’s a digital multimeter”.

    At this, the muttering sys admin jumped out of his seat, yelling “Yes! Yes! That’s EXACTLY right!”, and pointing at me with his fingers in wild excitement.

    Apparently, out of 23 candidates, I was the only one who knew what it was, or how to use one. Needless to say, I got the job!

    1. Collin Cunningham says:

      ha – excellent!

      More evidence of the vital role multimeters play in our modern lives ;)

    2. Becky Stern says:

      Hah, awesome!

  2. Sierra Slim says:

    I agree with your comment to get a reasonably good quality DMM, as some cheap ones do not have adequate input protection. These meters can cause severe harm if your holding one when they go “snap, crackle and pop”.

  3. wwench says:

    I just got my first multimeter – thanks for the tutorial!

  4. Kris Lee says:

    Now already years ago I somehow broke the cable of my Thinkpads power supply. Lucky for me there was a local electronic/pc/electric shop nearby so I bought one universal power supplies they were able to offer.

    Unfortunatelly this had a fan hidden inside that rendered it completelly unusable for me so I wanted to return it.

    They agreed to take it back but refused to make a cash refund. Instead I was given a voucher.

    After couple of months I settled on nice multimeter. That was the only product that I saw to have at least some potential – other stuff seamed quite useless (dated motherboards, overpriced harddrives, electrical cable etc.).

    It has served me very well.

    Unfortunatelly I had done something wrong because the current reading does not function anymore.

    1. Collin Cunningham says:

      The current terminal is normally protected by a fuse – you may have exceeded the max current it could handle and just need to replace that fuse

  5. MadRat says:

    I love Collin videos. I’m also envious of the way his multimeter will flash a light by the plug you’re expected to put the probe into.

  6. rubythewiz says:

    Love this Collin, all thumbs up, super informative!

  7. James Bryant says:

    There is a good, printable, summary about how to use a multimeter at

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