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Thread: Buying a Meter

  1. #1
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    Default Buying a Meter

    I was at FRY's near LAX over the weekend to pick up some S/W. When browsing the aisle that had meters, I saw and bought a $60 BK2704B meter on impulse. I already had a couple of digital meters, a Sperry DSA-400 clamp-on and an early Fluke that has a Min/Max hold function, but both meters had limited ranges.

    I am OK with my new BK although I found that I could have bought it from Amazon for $54. I did not do any search to look for comparative features but bought the BK on Impulse. What kind of meters are you guys using?

    I also found a real cheapo at HF

    The BK http://www.tequipment.net/BK2704B.ht...FRwbagodkxtXpw
    The HF el cheapo:http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/cta...emnumber=90899
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    Last edited by PaliBob; 03-26-2008 at 02:33 PM.
    ....Bob Lavery
    "One should not make more assumptions than the minimum needed."
    William of Occam quote

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Buying a Meter

    For everyday use, I think Fluke is the absolute best. For occasional use, it doesn't matter much. JMHO

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Buying a Meter

    When I was heavy into Amateur Radio I had an analog Triplet. Anyone remember those? I have a digital Radio Shack which is fine for the money and is acceptable for my present needs, but If I wanted a serious meter I’d plan to spend upwards of $300+ and go with a Fluke.

    99% of the time I reach for my wiggy.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Buying a Meter

    Quote Originally Posted by GaryJR View Post
    When I was heavy into Amateur Radio I had an analog Triplet. Anyone remember those? I have a digital Radio Shack which is fine for the money and is acceptable for my present needs, but If I wanted a serious meter I’d plan to spend upwards of $300+ and go with a Fluke.

    99% of the time I reach for my wiggy.
    The last meter I bought was close to $400.00 and someone else liked it also. Lucky I hadn't tossed my old one. I now buy cheap, cheap cheap.

    roger

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Buying a Meter

    Quote Originally Posted by GaryJR View Post
    When I was heavy into Amateur Radio I had an analog Triplet. Anyone remember those?
    I had the small size Triplett in the 70's. My favorite VOM was the Simpson 260 series 3 from 1960. Simpson is still in business after it was purchased by the LacDuFlambeau Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa Indians in 1985
    http://www.tequipment.net/Simpson260-8P.asp



    Quote Originally Posted by GaryJR View Post
    99% of the time I reach for my wiggy.
    Same here on AC circuits. The wiggy is immune from those 'Ghost' reading on a digital meter.
    ....Bob Lavery
    "One should not make more assumptions than the minimum needed."
    William of Occam quote

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Buying a Meter

    Bob,

    Yes I do remember the Simpson 260, that was the old work horse meter. It was a great meter. I wonder how the quality is now, but with good digitals why go back to an analog.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Buying a Meter

    I have several meters, but I like my Fluke 80 series.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Buying a Meter

    I think my electrician has one of those meter things.

    That's good enough for me. :)

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Buying a Meter

    Greg,

    With that said, Step away from the toaster!

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Buying a Meter

    Quote Originally Posted by jeffmur View Post
    For everyday use, I think Fluke is the absolute best. For occasional use, it doesn't matter much. JMHO
    I second that wholeheartedly. In my previous career I had a 25 yr background in engineering and always bought Flukes for the companies I worked for.

    My primary meters are Fluke ie if I am doing an electrical or telecom job I grab one of my Flukes.

    BTW: You can buy a fluke clamp meter #322 for less than $100. If you just want a decent Fluke for voltage and resistance a T5-600 is also less than $100. You dont need to spend $300 for a basic Fluke. When you know the reason for spending $300 on a fluke, you may be ready for one, but unless you are an electrician the <$100-$200 Flukes are fine.

    Secondary meters (briefcase, estimating kits, office) are varied brands. Cost from about $20 - $50. Used for occasional AC, mostly used to check batteries and bulbs. I have no problem with cheaper digital meters for occasional light use. The biggest problem with cheaper meters is the test lead quality. My briefcase meter is a $20 credit card type meter with tiny leads and probes. I can't say I have never checked an AC source with it, but is not something I would do regularly. It is very useful for checking mouse batteries etc.

    I am VERY ANTI-Analog (and I was "brought up" on analog!) from an experience in the Navy. I had to take a series of student workstations out and I grabbed a Simpson 260 to check the AC to the workstations. I got no voltage. I started taking out the stations and noticed a pilot light on at one of the stations. I checked with a different meter and got a 120 VAC reading. Remember the old trick of tapping the meter face? That was to free sticky needles - the needles pivot on bearings and/or jeweled pivots and occasionally they stick or break. I tried the original Simpson again and tapped the face and the needle swung up to 120 vac. Dangerous to say the least! Analogs are subject to Mechanical damage, reverse polarity (DC circuits) and over voltage damage. Any decent digital is largely immune to all these items if you are checking home 120/220 v circuits. and not using it as a hammer or door stop.
    Last edited by Dave-A1; 03-27-2008 at 09:29 AM.
    -> Dave

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Buying a Meter

    Drop a 260 on a concrete floor and you need a dustpan and brush to pick it up. Drop a Fluke with a rubber case, just pick it up and use it.

    The Fluke 115 is a good general purpose instrument and it's true RMS.
    http://www.amazon.com/Fluke-115-Comp...6629679&sr=8-1
    Last edited by jeffmur; 03-27-2008 at 10:02 AM.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Buying a Meter

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave-A1 View Post
    I second that wholeheartedly. In my previous career I had a 25 yr background in engineering and always bought Flukes for the companies I worked for........
    Dave, I had a similar 25 year experience when I built PWB Test Equipment for the big copier company. I was always such a tool geek that after my first year my group let me pick out the majority of equipment for the Lab. Fluke was high on my list, although most of my picks were non-DVM tools from Hp and Tektronix.
    On all the dedicated production testers that I built, there was never an analog meter. For analog circuit testers I used relay trees to sequentially connect test points to panel mounted digital meters whose BCD outputs were connected to automatic Pass/Fail circuits.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave-A1 View Post
    I am VERY ANTI-Analog (and I was "brought up" on analog!) from an experience in the Navy.
    Dave, I can see where the ANTI comes from. I was surprised from my web search to learn that Simpson is still making model 260 VOMs They are up to series 9 while earlier series are still in production. It looks like most of the changes are for protection and to make them more rugged, but they will never be able to design a solid-state meter movement. I don't think we'll ever hear of one on the space shuttle.

    http://www.simpsonelectric.com/
    Last edited by PaliBob; 03-27-2008 at 12:17 PM. Reason: Added Link
    ....Bob Lavery
    "One should not make more assumptions than the minimum needed."
    William of Occam quote

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Buying a Meter

    Quote Originally Posted by GaryJR View Post
    Greg,

    With that said, Step away from the toaster!
    Way back Greg

    Fluke has my vote too from my days in communication electronics

    I remember the days of working my hands into the final PA on a transmitter; it took three to five seconds to get into the tube without cutting or nicking yourself on the sharp screws. It took only half a second to come back out when you realized you were the path to discharge for the 25kv plate capacitor.

    The nicks and cuts took a lot longer to get over than the initial shock
    Mark Parlee
    BESI(building envelope science institute) Envelope Inspector
    EDI Certified EIFS Inspector/Moisture Analyst/Quality Control/Building Envelope II
    Level one thermagrapher (Snell Training)
    www.thebuildingconsultant.com
    www.parleebuilders.com
    You build to code, code is the minimum to pass this test. Congratulations your grade is a D-

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Buying a Meter

    wow good timing on this thread.
    Does anyone have suggestions for good read up books for entry level Meter use and PC boards/ component testing.

    I just bought my second meter and first I ever used a few weeks ago to use in my Hobby treadmill repair business. I've been picking up DOA's and bringing them back to life. Up to this point, I've been making mechanical repairs though I've found the Motor Control boards are sometimes the culprit too.

    I've been able to find the problems and make the fixes though I'm more than likely not using the meter the way it's intended and possibly using a bit of luck too. I've been finding a setting on the meter that I can get a reading from when contacting a component to use as a base reading and then I look to compare like component readings and find readings that are off to discern good from failed. I've found failed triacs, diodes and 0 ohm resistors however I would rather skill up with corrrect methods.

    The local electronics store owner has been helpful and he taught me that components can give differing readings due to thier connected parts and I've found he is correct.

    fwiw my new meter's booklet had instructions for connecting the leads to the meter.
    Last edited by StephenS; 03-28-2008 at 10:41 PM.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Buying a Meter

    Quote Originally Posted by StephenS View Post
    components can give differing readings due to thier connected parts and I've found he is correct.
    I cant recommened any books, but the only way you will get reliable readings on components is out of circuit - in circuit it will depend on what else is connected. In the days when we still used transistors you had to lift 2 of 3 legs to read them reliably.

    You may want to look at a basic night school class at a community college to get some foundational training. Testing electronics is more complicated that just just connecting the leads and getting some kind of reading. Basic electrical (AC / house wiring is pretty straight forward if you learn and apply ohms law.

    Even DC wiring in a modern car can be fairly complicated because of the shortcut auto mfgs use to save money. Put a DC volt meter on your dome light with one end on ground and it will always measure 12V with the light off - why? Because it always has 12 v in relation to ground! They don't switch the power lead to turn it on - they switch the GROUND lead. (one side will go to ground when the light is on) Its these kind of tecniques that drive you crazy.

    Electronics can be / is much more complicated.

    I Wish I could be more help, but this is a big area to cover in a forum.
    Last edited by Dave-A1; 03-28-2008 at 09:20 PM.
    -> Dave

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