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Equipment. Curious about experiences.

Discussion in 'General Electronics Discussion' started by boyd, Nov 19, 2016.

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  1. boyd


    Oct 7, 2016
    I spend good money on tooling being an engineer, carpenter, machinist and basic electrical/electronic hobby kind of guy.

    I have a Milwaukee multimeter which is excellent for basic trouble shooting and proving etc.

    I have a Digitech multimeter that I bought for about $25. Its ok but I dont know how to use a lot of the functions. Worstly it does not auto-off which can ruin a $9 9vdc battery.

    I have been playing around with electronics the last few months and am tired of the gear I have except for the Milwaukee.

    I would be very keen to hear about peoples experiences with what they have bought for cheap to check capacitors. Transistors. And a good, cheap robust multimetre without paying for Fluke!
  2. cjdelphi


    Oct 26, 2011
    A transistor tester off of evay for about $15 they tell you the pin out, measure capacitance and inductance, so worth the money for testing components with

    Atmega transistor tester
  3. Doug3004


    Sep 5, 2014
    The auto-off features are a double-edge sword: when you want them to stay on, they don't....

    The Mega328 transistor testers are cheap and useful. They tell you more about semiconductor devices than a typical multimeter will, and they can show ESR for electrolytic capacitors (something most multimeters don't do). They also measure inductors and resistors too. They're not as good as an RCL bridge, but they do tell you something.

    As for cheap multimeters, you can almost get anything and it will work well enough. Most will be within 1% or so of a good meter.... The problem with cheap multimeters is not usually the accuracy, it's the high-voltage and high-current protection--but if you will never use it at very high voltages, that's not really much of a concern.

    A lot of people (even professionals!) blow up fuses and meters by making common setting/probe connection mistakes. The best way to avoid those is to get a meter that has jack shutters. HoldPeak is one cheaper China brand that has that. I think most of their upper-end models are auto-shut-off also.

    Others with wrong-hookup-protection: Mastech has one with lighted jacks (MS8268); some of the Uni-T models have an LCD display that shows how they should be connected (UT58, UT107). Flukes beep at you, but I dunno if the China clones do that bit.

    A pen-style meter is nice if you do a lot of electronics projects... The problem with a normal meter is that you have to always look 'away' from the circuit to see what the meter display value is. With a pen meter the display is right in your hand, right near where you're already looking. The cheap ones work fine for low voltage, continuity and resistance testing.

    If you regularly need to measure high amps, it's MUCH safer to just buy a cheap clamp meter for that than it is to use any normal multimeter with probes.

    They pack a lot of features onto most multimeters these days, but much of that you don't use. At least, I don't.
    Mainly I use volts, ohms and the continuity beeper.... occasionally I measure amps, but not often.
    For testing capacitors, inductors or transistor-type devices I use a Mega328 meter.
    Other things like Hz and duty cycle are nice, if you need them...
    I bought another meter ~8 years ago because I had one single use where I had to measure Hz.... And since then, I've not ever needed to measure Hz.

    If you wish to be "fully equipped", then it may be useful to have at least one analog multimeter on hand.
    The reason is because if you have a constantly-changing value, many (cheaper) digital meters can't handle it well--especially the cheap auto-ranging meters.
    The "rules" for using analog meters are a bit different, so you should read up on that matter....
    -And don't leave the batteries in the analog meter, because if you're like me, you'll rarely ever use it. ;)
    bushtech likes this.
  4. cjdelphi


    Oct 26, 2011
    Analog meters have batteries? I used them on a course but never checked, i figured the coil creating a magnetic field just from the current flowing through it was enough...

    What role does the battery play in an analog meter?
  5. duke37


    Jan 9, 2011
    The batteries drive the meter only when measuring resistance.
    Digital meters use batteries for all readings.
  6. Doug3004


    Sep 5, 2014
    I dunno exactly, but the one I have has two sets of batteries--a 9v and a pair of AA's.
    This is one sold as "Tekpower TP7040" on Amazon (US) for $20. It appears to be a Sinometer SM-7040.


    If you want to browse cheap meters (or are just really bored) many of the inexpensive China meters that you find sold anywhere are made by either Sinometer or All-Sun.
    Sinometer lists 179 different digital meters and 12 analog ones. .... (slow website!)
    All-Sun lists 116 different digital DMM models and 26 different analog ones. ....

    These are both OEM manufacturers, so they only sell wholesale. Sometimes if you search for the model numbers (or just the digits of the model numbers) you can find retail places selling particular meters, but they may not be near to you and may not be willing to ship internationally. A couple I was curious about are only sold by a place in Japan, that won't ship to USA. :>\

    Some common types are made by both companies. Of the cheap little "830" models, Sinometer makes 3 variants and All-Sun makes 15 variants*. These meters wholesale for as little as 50 cents each if you buy 10,000 or so of them. Alibaba has wholesale listings for some of these meters, from both companies.

    *(,,,Plus,,, I've seen other variants of the cheapo "830X" meters on Alibaba that neither of these companies makes, and its something of a commodity item (it wouldn't be profitable for a small company to make small numbers of them) so there may be a third big China multimeter OEM manufacturer out there that I have not yet found-)
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2016
  7. cjdelphi


    Oct 26, 2011
    Makes sense... i still prefer digital ones as i'm too lazy lol
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