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Purchasing a new high end multimeter

Discussion in 'Electronic Design' started by Mike, Feb 20, 2007.

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  1. Mike

    Mike Guest

    Hi - I've been using a fairly low end digital multimeter (Meterman
    16XL) for many years now. It works fine - and gets the job done most
    of the time. But it just isn't as accurate as I would like, and I
    really wish it was auto ranging. Recently, I have been given some
    money to spend on equipment. So - I have $500 to spend on a new
    multimeter for myself.

    Right now - I'm thinking Fluke 189:

    Any opinions? I feel like Fluke is pretty much the ultimate when it
    comes to multimeters - but then again, it's been a while since I've
    bought any test equipment, and I've never purchased anything quite
    this high end.

    I'm not sure if I'd get the computer connection for it or not -
    depends on how much extra that costs. It looks like without it the 189
    goes for $400 or so. Not sure how much it goes for with it. Anyways -
    where would I buy such a beast? I'm in Champaign, Illinois, USA.

    Well, thanks for any advice you can lend me!

  2. artie

    artie Guest

    If you don't need handheld, you can pick up used HP 3456a, 3457a, and
    the occasional 3458a multimeter on eBay. The 57 and 58 have more
    self-check and self-cal in them, but on any of them, if they turn on
    and say that they're okay, they're okay! 4-wire ohms, programmable,
    IEEE-1488 interface. The manuals are available for free on the web.

    I'd also look at IDEAL INDUSTRIES, INC. If the boss is paying, what the
    hell. If you are paying, look for a deal.


  4. John Fields

    John Fields Guest

  5. Eeyore

    Eeyore Guest

    What are your actual requirements ? Do you need true RMS for example ? Is the 189 overkill for your
    requirements ?

    Flukes are good but don't overspend on what you don't need.

  6. Eeyore

    Eeyore Guest

    Rigid budgets that can't be allocated to other requirements encourage that style
    of thinking unfortunately.

  7. John Fields

    John Fields Guest

  8. Eeyore

    Eeyore Guest

    Thank you kindly !

    You've obviously never been in the situation where it's seen as a failure not to
    spend your budget allocation.

    For my own part I *always* seek out best value for my boss / client (and myself of
    course) even when if means purchasing 'shop-soiled' or 2nd user equipment.

  9. Mike

    Mike Guest

    Hi - as far as numerical requirements - I don't really have any. I
    would *love* for my multimeter to be more accurate than it is, though.
    The accuracy of the 189 is my biggest attraction to it. I would really
    like to be able to read in a sample at an exact moment and hold that
    sample. I really want it to be handheld, too. Truth be told - most
    everything I do is with DC, so AC features are not a priority. I like
    the computer interface of the 189, though a feature like that is not a
    priority, only a convenience.

    Essentially I just want a really, really versatile multimeter that can
    handle whatever I throw at it for the next 100 years. I figure the
    time I would save from not having to second guess my multimeter (which
    I do fairly often with my current one) is well worth the expense, no
    matter how great. But I only have $500 to spend - so I gotta keep it
    within that.

  10. Mike

    Mike Guest

    Ah - I've used those before. Good meters, though for me I'd really
    like them to be handheld. I just don't want to give up that much bench

  11. Mike

    Mike Guest

  12. I've had an Extech scopemeter for years now and I love it. It has
    sample-and-hold, offset, logging, good accuracy, etc. and are
    reasonably priced. You can get a really nice Extech meter for under

    Shawn Holland
  13. Pretty much. I remember when we were 'helping' a government agency burn
    through its end of year cash surplus by selling them a quarter of a
    computers at a time to get past budget restrictions. Then they found some
    more money and thought, "Pizza!"

    At the moment I'm working on a project that should have been very doable for
    less than $20,000. But then the board took over, ignored my advice, and now
    we're over $100,000 and still going. And I still can't help haggling to get
    $20 off a printer here and there for them. Go figure.



  14. Klaus Bahner

    Klaus Bahner Guest

    Well, this is not exactly a very precise specification, but for what it
    is worth I can tell you that I'm very satisfied with the Fluke 189. I'm
    using one at work, and it is precise (not as precise as a bench
    mulimeter, but excellent for a handheld). It is robust - I didn't manage
    to kill it yet :). It is versatile, i.e. there isn't much I'm missing
    desperately and it is easy to use.
    In my opinion there are only two drawbacks, it is a bit power hungry
    (batteries last not very long) and in order to select diode test, you
    have to press the "alternate" button, because the main switch selects
    capacitance measurement as default.
    I use the logging functionality a lot and hence I'd recommend to invest
    into the serial cable and the FlukeViewForms software (which might not
    be the most straightforward software, but it is useful!)

  15. Some random thoughts on the 189:

    Autoranging is a bit slow. I don't have figures, but my recollection is
    that previous generation Flukes did better. You can end up in a
    situation where a signal is changing at just the right speed that it
    spends almost all its time ranging back and forth and you don't get to
    see a reading unless you range it manually. I know Fluke is capable of
    getting this right, and has done in their other products, so it's
    disappointing that they dropped the ball on the 189.

    There's just one setting for beep, and it's deep in a setup menu. I end
    up turning it on when I want continuity testing and off otherwise. It's
    a bit frustrating that the continuity beep isn't selectable separately
    from the button-press beep or more easily toggled.

    For temperature, realize it's going to be a few degrees off, because its
    internal cold junction compensation thermistor is inside the box, and
    the actual junction is outside. It's not a precision temperature

    It does draw more power than other meters - less runtime on 4 AAs than
    they get on 9Vs, as I recall. I use rechargeables and that works fine.

    It does not offer four-wire resistance measurement, which bench meters
    generally do, but I am not aware of any competing handhelds which offer
    it either.

    Logging is well implemented and they clearly put a lot of work into it
    (heuristics to break periods into smaller onces when rapid changes are
    detected, etc). Nonetheless the applications of a one channel data
    logger are limited, at least in my work.

    The min/max/avg setting is very useful for me in applications such as
    measuring power consumption of a circuit; I just used it this afternoon,
    in fact. I was measuring across a high-side shunt resistor so a
    floating meter like the Fluke is easier than the scope. The duty cycle
    measurement is another of the more esoteric features which I often
    actually use (for checking PWM outputs).

    I haven't abused it much as yet so I cannot comment on how well it holds
    up, either electrically or mechanically.

    Other than the few issues mentioned above it's worked well for me
    overall. I think I paid about $350 for it mail order without
    any extra accessories. It's not perfect but I think it was a reasonable
    value. If you do want the cable/software, buy it up front - you can get
    a package deal for less than the combined cost of buying the meter then
    buying the software later.
  16. MassiveProng

    MassiveProng Guest

    If you want high accuracy, and do not absolutely have to have a
    handheld, an HP bench meter is the best bet on E-bay at around $150
    each. Good out to 5.5 digits, and you can STILL buy a good handheld
    as well!

    The model that has this accuracy is:


    There are a bunch on ebay right now. You could buy three, and spend
    the $50 on a nice set of test leads, and your lab would really be set
    up then.
  17. MassiveProng

    MassiveProng Guest

    They do not "self cal". That is silly. They ALL self test though.

    You could place 3 right next to each other and get the exact same
    reading on all three. Not due to a self cal, just do to it being that
    good. Even when calibrated, the cal tech merely verifies the
    calibration the device already has.
  18. MassiveProng

    MassiveProng Guest

    Quality? You still can't beat the HP bench meters.
  19. MassiveProng

    MassiveProng Guest

    Except that he asked for high accuracy, not lo res LCD scope traces.

    That thing is likely no better than a 3.5 digit MM.
  20. Michael

    Michael Guest

    I am so with John on this one!!!
    Coming from former USSR where nobody gave a s...t about anybody's
    else's interests but his/her own, I am surprised to see same attitude
    in the US.
    It's so simple: I (as an employee) save a buck for the company
    (providing my paycheck), the company is more likely to prosper, I am
    less likely to get a pink slip. How come so few people understand it?!
    Why be wasteful???
    I have made quite a few ebay purchases for work (working for big
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