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high end multimeters, part II

Discussion in 'Electronic Design' started by Michael, Apr 20, 2007.

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  1. Michael

    Michael Guest

    Hi there - a while ago I made a thread about recommendations for high
    end multimeters. I ended up deciding to get the Fluke 189/FVF2. I put
    in my order for it last week, and just heard back from Fluke (I am
    buying direct through them) that it is no longer being made!!!
    Apparently, the 189 needs some special custom IC that they have run
    out of stock of, and for whatever reason cannot get more stock of. So
    they're just killing the line.

    I can still order from a distributor that has stock - but it worries
    me. I mean - I certainly suspect this means that there will be a
    replacement for the 189 soon.

    So, fine people of SED, what do you think? Get a 189? Wait for a new
    model? Any other models I should be looking at?

    Also - I asked them if there was a new one coming out, and they said
    they couldn't tell me because they don't want to let their competition
    know anything. Fluke has competition in the high end handheld
    multimeter market? I had always thought that they were the only player
    in town.

    Anyways though - I think it's a fairly sure thing that a new one will
    come out - but I just wonder when. I'd rather not spend $500 on a
    multimeter just to have it be outdated in a month...

    Thoughts?

    Thanks,

    -Michael
     
  2. Eeyore

    Eeyore Guest

    I've just been using a 189 actually and I'd get one. Nice meter. Look on ebay
    for a bargain one.

    Graham
     
  3. SFC

    SFC Guest

    What will happen if that special custom made chip blows?

    SFC
     
  4. Michael

    Michael Guest

    They said they're keeping extra stock on hand for repairs.

    But they will run out at some point - so it is a worry.

    -Michael
     
  5. Michael

    Michael Guest

    It is a great meter. I stole my buddy's for a couple months and loved
    it. And the FVF2 package is awesome - has a ton of great accessories
    as well as the software and cable to read values in from the meter to
    the computer.

    But this whole thing has me really worried.

    -Michael
     
  6. Eeyore

    Eeyore Guest

    Fluke's warranties are very good.

    Don't worry.

    Graham
     
  7. Yeah, that doesn't sound too cool, but they'll probably have repair stock
    for years. New models will come out anyway and hasn't the 189 been around
    for a while now? There's allways an Extech 560 like I recently got.
    http://www.extech.com/instrument/products/alpha/MM560_570.html
    For about $200, I'm happy so far. Of course they want $80 for the interface
    and the logging features aren't as nice as the Fluke. I just bought a 10K
    ..01% resistor and measured it. The display reads 9999 Ohms, I'm happy with
    that accuracy. But then my 15 year old beater rat-shack meter shows it at
    9990 Ohms which floored me. No affiliations yada yada, just a happy user of
    one.
     
  8. Michael

    Michael Guest

    They said they'd have parts for it for a couple years. But the word
    "couple" seemed a little ominous to me... It would have a 10 year
    warranty on it which is decent, but when spending this much on a
    multimeter I expect it to be around for a long, long time...

    Problem is - I don't see what other options I have. This situation
    just plain sucks.

    -Michael
     
  9. Joel Kolstad

    Joel Kolstad Guest

    That's probably a farily good bet, although depending on whether Fluke still
    viewed the 189 as "leading edge" vs. just an "old school solid performer,"
    their recommended replacement might not be as close of a math to the 189 as
    you'd like.
    I'd be tempted to get a 189 now, and if they do come up with something so
    much better you can't live without it, sell the 189 on eBay. :)
    It's likely just a company policy. Although arguably there isn't *that much*
    direct competition to the 189, HP has been releasing a lot of
    "scopemeter"-like devices lately, and Keithley and HP and others all have
    benchtop meters that compete. B&K Precision competes too.
    It won't be outdated anyway: The Fluke 189 has the same basic accuracy specs
    as the Fluke 89 IV that was released something like a decade ago -- they'd
    just added a few useful additional features and made data logging (a lot)
    easier.

    ---Joel
     
  10. Joel Kolstad

    Joel Kolstad Guest

    Since it has a "lifetime" warranty, at some point they'd give you some
    "comparable" replacement from the models available at the time that it fails.
     
  11. Eeyore

    Eeyore Guest

    Fluke's warranties are superb.

    I got a client's 70 series DMM fixed for free even though they had no record of
    its purchase. Fluke simply accepted the serial number as evidence of eligibility.

    Graham
     
  12. GregS

    GregS Guest

    Lifetme? Is my 189 lifetimed??

    greg
     
  13. Mike Monett

    Mike Monett Guest

    Michael, over the years, I have spent a fortune on HP, Fluke, Tek
    etc. lab equipment. All of it eventually died and became impossible
    to repair.

    I now have a policy of designing and building my own lab equipment.
    The ic's available these days are inexpensive and probably supply
    more than enough capability for anything you may wish to measure.

    For example, the AD7794 is a low power, low noise, complete analog
    front end for high precision measurement applications. It contains a
    low noise 24Bit sigma-delta ADC with six differential inputs:

    http://www.mct.net/download/ad/ad7794_95.pdf

    A few precision resistors and a stable voltage reference will give
    you basic DC voltage and 4-wire ohms capability. Depending on your
    requirements, true rms or log capability are available from ADI up
    to several GHz. A simple program in Basic or whatever language you
    choose can provide data logging. When newer is'c arrive, you can
    simply redesign the circuit to incorporate the new chip and gain
    advantage of the increased performance.

    You can easily add other interfaces to measure inductance and
    capacitance to a resolution that would be difficult to purchase. Or
    you can simply buy the AADE (sp?) meter for less than several
    hundred dollars.

    This applies across the board. There are very excellent designs for
    wideband precision signal generators, Vector Network Analyzers, and
    just about anything else you could possibly want. This newsgroup is
    an excellent source of info on precision measurements. Just search
    for any of Win's posts for information on precision current sources,
    bridges, and many other topics.

    I'm sure you would find many people willing to help with any design
    and debug issues you run into.

    When it comes time for an inexpensive sampling scope that will take
    you to about 10GHz, check the Noise-Rejecting Wideband Sampler on my
    web site:

    http://www3.sympatico.ca/add.automation/sampler/intro.htm

    All it needs is a pretty good time base:)

    Regards,

    Mike Monett
     
  14. Joel Kolstad

    Joel Kolstad Guest

  15. Hi there - a while ago I made a thread about recommendations for high
    Does this apply to the 187? (187 = 198 without logging)
     
  16. Steve

    Steve Guest


    If you need the capabilities of a 189, you're not going to duplicate that in
    your own shop for under $500 - unless your time is free and you have no
    deadlines. And you still have to face the obsolescence question - its just
    been moved to somewhere else. If your DIY equipment fails (it always fails
    while you are trying to accomplish some other task, otherwise you wouldn't
    know it had failed), you suggest you might have to redesign it to use some
    other chip that's available at the time. I don't see how that's any more
    cost effective than throwing out a dead/unrepairable DMM and buying a newer
    model. Either way, there is a secondary investment at an inopportune time,
    to replace equipment that you expected to last longer than it did. If its a
    DIY device, the investment may be primarily time, instead of cash. But its
    still real money, and real schedule time.

    Overall, I am very happy with the 189. I wouldn't let impending obsolescence
    keep me from buying another one. Most of the time, DMM's last long enough
    that they don't owe us anything by the time they die. (My Heath DMM is 30
    yrs old and works fine, but I needed true RMS and logging so I bought the
    189. I still use both, plus several old HP bench DMM's).

    Buy what you need from a reputable brand, and assume that either the
    warranty will cover problems, or else it will last long enough that you
    aren't pissed off when it becomes necessary to replace it. And the third
    possibility, that its unrepairable in a short time due to some part supply
    problem that the manufacturer didn't adequately plan for, becomes a very low
    probability risk that you should be able to live with. As someone else
    suggested, in that case you should still be able to buy replacement parts on
    ebay.

    Steve
     
  17. Mike Monett

    Mike Monett Guest

    Your estimate is way too high. I got a small 3 1/2 digit from
    Walmart. It's fine for general troubleshooting.

    For other applications like process control, you don't need much.
    The ADI chip is great.
    Very few people need the capability of the ADI chip. It won't go
    obsolete for a very long time.
    Why would it fail? Plenty of people here have designed products that
    are still in service 20 or 30 years later.
    The modules are so cheap I usually make a bunch. They are so simple
    the reliability is very high. If something happens to one, I just
    put another on-line.

    A general-purpose dvm has a lot in a small package. For some reason,
    all the ones I got from Fluke, Radio Shack, and others died in the
    humid Canadian summers.

    The more expensive equipment had a higher failure rate due to the
    complexity. I could not afford to have multiple copies, so when they
    went down, it was a major panic trying to find someone who could
    repair them, ship them across country, then find them broken due to
    shipping damage on the return trip.

    Enough of that. I now make $25 to $50 modules that do anything I
    need. Very rarely is there any reason to go more expensive, then not
    by much. Certainly for the price of a used piece of test equipment,
    I can make a whole lab of useful modules all ready to link together
    on an opto-isolated bus and control processes or simply take data.
    If you make your own modules, you can easily afford multiple copies.
    This is very useful for complex projects, since you can afford to do
    much more than you could when buying commercial equipment.
    You can have greater performance for less cost, don't have to lug 19
    inch rack equipment around, no need to pay for all the duplicate
    displays, power supplies, keyboard entry, internal cabling, and
    separate chassis big enough and strong enough to support all that
    wasted redundancy.

    When you control your own software, you can make the modules do
    anything you want. Just try that with most commercial equipment.

    Which, by the way, is now running on some version of Windows. The
    reliability, or lack thereof, is sufficient reason alone to make
    your own equipment.
    A simple dmm is not a big deal. It probably will give you some good
    use, then die.
    See? A well-designed piece of equipment can last a long time.

    For some reason, more recent equipment doesn't have the same
    longevity. See my next comment.
    Long ago, I paid over $50,000 for a brand-new HP 8505 network
    analyzer just released. One year later, they took it off the market
    because it was so badly designed.

    When it died a short while later, the repair cost was so exorbitant,
    that after I wasted so much time trying to fix it myself, I threw it
    in the garbage.

    Too bad. It had a nice YIG oscillator. But that was the part that
    died.
    Regards,

    Mike Monett
     
  18. DaveC

    DaveC Guest

    Does this apply to the 187? (187 = 198 without logging)

    In the "for what it's worth" category, my local Grainger outlet (huge
    industrial parts and tools supplier "business-to-business" chain of stores,
    for you non-US types) used to place the Fluke 187 & 189 meters on the wall
    behind the counter, I presume because of the expensive price tags that they
    have. They have recently been moved to the displays out on the floor. Maybe
    they're hoping they'll be lifted? (c;
     
  19. GregS

    GregS Guest

    For the average tech, its overkill. Its a little large to carry around. Still, at the Fluke survey I attended,
    the majority like them like the Fluke. Not the overkilled one, but the simpler ones. I think
    i was the only one that had one out of about a group of a dozen of various industries.
    For Grainger, I would not think its a big seller.

    greg
     
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