Emperor's Child
Isn't It?
Join date: Mar 2008
2,486 IQ
#1
Hi guys, In my third year of Elec Engineering at uni and I'm designing a valve preamp for guitar as my final year project. Obviously, this will invlove high voltages/currents and I'm a bit weary of blowing el cheapo multimeters (or even worse myself). As a student it comes a matter of price vs quality, so I ask, which multimeters are any good on a budget.

I've been thing of ordering one of these:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Aidetek-VC97-multimeter-Capacitor-compared/dp/B006DRKN3I/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1381252595&sr=8-2&keywords=fluke+multimeter#productDetails
A Fluke copycat, gets decent reviews and looks better than some of the really cheap models.

Any other suggestions/advice?
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bustapr
Marty's loyal follower
Join date: Apr 2010
2,857 IQ
#2
that multimeter has a voltage rating of 1000vdc and has fairly good reviews on reliability, so I would just go with that. big factors on pricing of multimeters is the dial/how the multimeter is read and extra features. this one in particular can read capacitance, temperature, frequency, and test transistors. these are not all common features in cheapo DMMs which usually have a lower voltage rating, low reliability, and just read continuity, voltage, current, and resistance.

this DMM seems like a good buy. its also very convenient because the you just set the dial to Volts and the DMM tells you whether its mV or V, which can be a pain in the ass figuring out with cheapo DMMs. Also the capacitance meter is necessary for reading capacitors on a board that arent readable(faded font or letters out of sight).

£24.49 seems pretty good.
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Invader Jim
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Join date: Aug 2005
971 IQ
#3
I can't offer any suggestions for brands of quality budget meters but here's my two cents:

Look for a meter with features you'll actually use. Otherwise you are paying more for what you WILL use. All the manufacturing cost goes into bells and whistles and the important stuff is lower quality because of it.

You'll probably never really need a temperature function and if you really need to measure frequency you should get an oscilloscope. Old Teks go for very cheap, usually around 50 bucks, and Tektronix is the Fluke of oscilloscopes.

Capacitance could be handy for measuring unknown or aged caps but a dedicated capacitor tester would be ALOT better (read up on the EICO 950B, Heathkit IT-11/IT-28, and Sprague Tel-Ohmike for info on their myriad of uses).

A transistor test function is basically useless on a DMM. They almost always lump gain and leakage together, giving a higher Hfe than what it actually is (read this for more info). While modern parts have extremely low leakage, you may run onto a bum part and not realize it. A meter you can't trust is worse than useless. The only useful transistor test function I've seen was on an an old expensive Radio Shack meter (iirc it was 60 bucks in 1998) that tells pinout, polarity, and "Hfe". That was actually very handy just because it displayed the CBE pinout and PNP/NPN polarity. The Hfe reading was no different than any other.

Having said all that I bought a $25 10Meg digital meter from walmart several years ago and it's still going strong.

Anyway that's my opinion. That and a dollar will buy you a soda.
Last edited by Invader Jim at Oct 9, 2013,