Digital multimeters DMM: which one to buy?

Frequently asked questions about tools and instruments used in stompbox development.

Re: Good multimeter?

Postby Hides-His-Eyes » 20 Dec 2011, 21:59

Wow, does that do capacitance too? I see a symbol on the photo but it's not listed.
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Re: Good multimeter?

Postby JVanDe7 » 20 Dec 2011, 22:43

Hides-His-Eyes wrote:Wow, does that do capacitance too? I see a symbol on the photo but it's not listed.


A user review at that link states it does capacitance up to 2000 uF
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Re: Good multimeter?

Postby deltafred » 20 Dec 2011, 23:09

rocklander wrote:for less than that you can get autoranging
http://www.dealextreme.com/p/3-0-lcd-ha ... -aaa-37082


I have the non-autoranging version very similar to that (but it has inductance as well). Not a bad meter but the accuracy leaves a bit to be desired.

Like most things in life you get what you pay for, if you are looking for a accuracy then you need something like a Fluke, first rate intstrument but pricey.
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Re: Good multimeter?

Postby rocklander » 21 Dec 2011, 09:11

deltafred wrote:
rocklander wrote:for less than that you can get autoranging
http://www.dealextreme.com/p/3-0-lcd-ha ... -aaa-37082


I have the non-autoranging version very similar to that (but it has inductance as well). Not a bad meter but the accuracy leaves a bit to be desired.

Like most things in life you get what you pay for, if you are looking for a accuracy then you need something like a Fluke, first rate intstrument but pricey.

couldn't agree more.. I have a similar "MIC style cheapie" (but with a smaller screen) and the accuracy is too 'fickle' (swings about a lot), but whilst I don't own a fluke (and would love to) I just can't justify near 10X the price... it's plenty good enough for a solder jockey like myself :) .. but your point is completely valid
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Re: Good multimeter?

Postby LucifersTrip » 21 Dec 2011, 09:40

like buying separate stereo components rather than a rack system, I believe it is usually best to get the various (volt/ohm, cap) meters separately. When things are bundled together, quality is sacrificed.

i'd go with a DMM in the price range above ($30-40) and get a separate cap meter. i've had good luck with this, it's inexpensive and you get to build one more circuit
http://www.amazon.com/JYE-Tech-Capacita ... -2-catcorr
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Re: Good multimeter?

Postby deltafred » 21 Dec 2011, 12:44

rocklander wrote:but whilst I don't own a fluke (and would love to) I just can't justify near 10X the price...


Same here.

I used them exclusively at work where everything had to be calibrated on a regular basis. If you can justify and afford one they are great, otherwise make do with the copies but remember that what it says on the screen may be some way off what the actual value is.

Most of my test gear is equipment that was being scrapped because it was either too old, failed to meet the rigorous calibration specs, or faulty, and deemed uneconomic to repair.
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Re: Good multimeter?

Postby DrNomis » 21 Dec 2011, 13:45

My DSE Q-1559 LCR Multimeter can measure Inductance, Capacitance,AC/DC Voltage, and Current, as well as PNP/NPN Transistor Hfe,Duty-Cycle, Hz,Continuity and Logic levels, cost me $99.00 when I first bought it, but I tend not to use it much now because it seems to do weird things, when I switch the multimeter on, the continuity beeper seems to sound continuously and I have to frantically twist the range-dial pointer to stop the beeper from sounding... :hmmm:
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Re: Good multimeter?

Postby CRBMoA » 21 Dec 2011, 20:13

LucifersTrip wrote:like buying separate stereo components rather than a rack system, I believe it is usually best to get the various (volt/ohm, cap) meters separately. When things are bundled together, quality is sacrificed.

i'd go with a DMM in the price range above ($30-40) and get a separate cap meter. i've had good luck with this, it's inexpensive and you get to build one more circuit
http://www.amazon.com/JYE-Tech-Capacita ... -2-catcorr


I bought ^^^this^^^ DIY cap tester and housed it in a cheap Radio Shack enclosure.

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Re: Good multimeter?

Postby JVanDe7 » 21 Dec 2011, 20:28

Ok, good deal. I'll buy the $10 cap tester kit from Amazon and then what's a good solid multimeter for around $50? I won't need capacitance but hfe would be useful, as well as resistance and voltage (duh). I looked at Fluke but the 115 is $130 and I don't want to spend that much since I'm just a hobbyist, not an electrician or electric engineer. I'll only use it for building pedals basically, and I only do that a handful of times each year.
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Re: Good multimeter?

Postby JVanDe7 » 30 Dec 2011, 16:26

Well I received the capacitance tester kit. I put it together in an hour but it doesn't work. :(

I used an Ibanez 9v wall adapter to power it since it has the standard 2.1mm jack, but then afterwards I noticed it wants 5 volts (markings on the PCB and schematic)? So maybe I fried it? Stupid move on my part I guess but I just assumed it would work with a standard wall adapter for pedals. Other than that I can't tell what the problem might be. The display doesn't light up at all.

There are some troubleshooting tips in the "directions" that it came with. I'll give those a shot maybe but I'm more inclined to just say piss on it. It was only $10. Who knows, the IC could be faulty? The transistor could be faulty? The switch could be bad? So many potential issues. Lame.
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Re: Good multimeter?

Postby Hides-His-Eyes » 30 Dec 2011, 16:43

9V into a 5V IC is probably an instant fry tbh.
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Re: Good multimeter?

Postby deltafred » 30 Dec 2011, 16:49

Was it something like this

http://www.amazon.com/JYE-Tech-Capacita ... B0050ZKXHK

If it was then it has a 5 volt regulator on it so it it shouldn't be damaged by 9v. I run mine on about 12v.
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Re: Good multimeter?

Postby JVanDe7 » 30 Dec 2011, 17:48

deltafred wrote:Was it something like this

http://www.amazon.com/JYE-Tech-Capacita ... B0050ZKXHK

If it was then it has a 5 volt regulator on it so it it shouldn't be damaged by 9v. I run mine on about 12v.


Yes that was the exact kit. So nothing is f*cked here? It may be fixable?

Looking at the pic shown at the Amazon link, I can tell you I have the diode oriented properly, the ceramic caps are in the right places, it's missing the same 3 resistors, the on/off switch, the zero switch, the crystal, the ic is oriented properly, as is the transistor, everything looks good. My solder joints are all good too.

*The electrolytics are in the right places but I had them reversed the first time I tried it. There were no markings for +/- so I did what I thought was right... only to find out after further inspection that they were reversed. Would that have killed anything maybe?
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Re: Good multimeter?

Postby deltafred » 30 Dec 2011, 19:01

Check to see if you have got 5v between the GND and +5V connections on J4 (bottom left hand corner).

If there is 5V there then the regulator is working ok.
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Re: Good multimeter?

Postby deltafred » 30 Dec 2011, 20:05

JVanDe7 wrote:*The electrolytics are in the right places but I had them reversed the first time I tried it. ... Would that have killed anything maybe?


There is a possibility that one of the electrolytics may have gone short circuit with having reverse voltage applied, if either are then it will stop it working.

The regulator should be current limiting (If my memory serves me right) so even if the C on the output was/is shorted then it should stand it.

First check the voltage on J4.
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Re: Good multimeter?

Postby JVanDe7 » 30 Dec 2011, 21:00

Right on, will do. I'll report back once I check it out. Thanks for your help sir. FYI, could be a day or two before I get time to look at it. I'm at work now and with the Holiday tomorrow night and whatnot...
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Re: Good multimeter?

Postby deltafred » 30 Dec 2011, 21:08

If I miss your post PM me, I will check voltages etc on mine as required.
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Re: Good multimeter?

Postby JVanDe7 » 31 Dec 2011, 16:19

Okay, at J4 I don't get any voltage between ground and +5v.

I do get 9 volts from ground to D1 though so I know the power supply is working. I get .30 volts on one leg of the 100uF electrolytic but I get no volts on either leg of the 10uF electrolytic.

I get .31 volts on the emitter leg of the tranny but I get nothing on the collector. Fried?
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Re: Good multimeter?

Postby deltafred » 31 Dec 2011, 16:42

JVanDe7 wrote:Okay, at J4 I don't get any voltage between ground and +5v.

I do get 9 volts from ground to D1 though so I know the power supply is working. I get .30 volts on one leg of the 100uF electrolytic but I get no volts on either leg of the 10uF electrolytic.

I get .31 volts on the emitter leg of the tranny but I get nothing on the collector. Fried?


Which end of D1, just the top or both? 9v on both ends means the diode is ok, just the top is a faulty diode.

9v on the bottom end of D1 but .3v on the top (+) of the 100uF means a bad solder joint.

The 'tranny' you refer to is a 78L05 - 100mA 5V regulator.

If only .3v is getting to the regulator it will not start to function as it needs in excess of 5v, hence the 10uF will have nothing on it's +ve leg.
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Re: Good multimeter?

Postby JVanDe7 » 31 Dec 2011, 16:48

I get 9v on the top of D1 and 8.8v or so on the other end of it.

I'll check those solder joints again and report back...
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