Digital multimeters DMM: which one to buy?

Frequently asked questions about tools and instruments used in stompbox development.
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Dr Tony Balls
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Post by Dr Tony Balls »

I'm thinking about replacing my crappy Radio shack DMM with a new unit (one with built-in Hfe measurement). Do you all have any suggestions? Brands you like? Specific models that maximize bang-for-the-buck potential?


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Post by lolbou »

Metrix is the top to me. But they're expensive... I love the MTX 3250 though I can't afford one now (but I did use some at University)...
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Post by RnFR »

i was at home depot the other day and saw this cool new ryobi rechargable dealie. it looks straight out of the new star trek movie too. very nice and simple layout, auto everything, nice rubbery grip, crazy black and lime green color scheme, and no batteries. i guess that's why it's green! don't know if it had trannie sockets though.

i'll see if i can find a pic.

-----------

hmmm. can't seem to find anything on it. i think it's part of a new line they have coming out. it was on an endcap display, and was surrounded by a bunch of other products of theirs with that crazy hot green and black color scheme. i think it might've been some sort of father's day promo. maybe it's too new?


i just use a 30 dollar one i found on amazon. it was the cheapest auto ranging one i could find.
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Post by willc1968 »

try all electronics. i have the 18 dollar velleman and it has the hfe function. i have been using this for over a year and it is great for an inexpensive meter. this was just going to be a backup to my elenco meter but i find the velleman to be just as good. no capacitance function though. that would be on the 45 dollar model and i know nothing of that.

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Post by rocklander »

RnFR wrote:i was at home depot the other day and saw this cool new ryobi rechargable dealie. it looks straight out of the new star trek movie too. very nice and simple layout, auto everything, nice rubbery grip, crazy black and lime green color scheme, and no batteries. i guess that's why it's green! don't know if it had trannie sockets though.

i'll see if i can find a pic.

-----------

hmmm. can't seem to find anything on it. i think it's part of a new line they have coming out. it was on an endcap display, and was surrounded by a bunch of other products of theirs with that crazy hot green and black color scheme. i think it might've been some sort of father's day promo. maybe it's too new?


i just use a 30 dollar one i found on amazon. it was the cheapest auto ranging one i could find.
anything like this? - if so.. looks very cool bro :D
http://www.ryobitools.com/catalog/tek4/ ... ent/RP4020#
http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/sto ... &langId=-1
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yeah that's it! it looks WAY more green in person though. pretty sweet meter, huh?
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Post by audioimage »

Hi I just purchased the one here for $9.90 USD and the shipping was only $4.21 USD:

http://www.futurlec.com/Multimeters.shtml
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Post by JiM »

I have that one for almost 10 years, works like a charm :
http://www.p-mastech.com/products/04_dm/my64.html


I know modman has the same model : members/modman/builds/hb_ga5/DSCN0043.jpg
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Post by SpencerPedals »

Thanks for the info, Jim. I need to pick one up that has capacitance and a better hfe socket. I bought my first one before I realized I'd be addicted and then bought a cheap one for the hfe tester alone, but cheap hfe sockets are useless and only work after 10 minutes of trying to get it to make contact and read the transistor.

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Post by Dr Tony Balls »

I picked up the Mastech meter that Jim posted. I like it just fine, but the hfe measurement seems a bit weird.

For example, a 2n3904 datasheet will list @ Ic = 10mA, Vce = 1.0V, hfe = 100 min, 300 max. However, the manual for the meter says that the hfe test conditions are Ic = 10mA, Vce = 3V.

What I need to figure out is the right way to convert what the meter tells me, to what standard test conditions on a datasheet would provide. Anyway....i'm working that issue right now.

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Post by modman »

[smilie=a_peek.gif]
JiM wrote:I know modman has the same model : members/modman/builds/hb_ga5/DSCN0043.jpg
Hey! :mrgreen:
It's not the cheapest one, but you can do decent capacitance measurements, and something very important I missed in cheaper models: sonic continuity check, so you can verify connections very easily. That's would have saved me so much trouble a few years ago.... you know, what's that bleeping noise mean?

http://www.ladyada.net/library/metertut/continuity.html
with video demonstrating 'bleeping noise' syndrome :wink:
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Post by CHEEZOR »

This is the one that I bought. Digital Multimeter Model # LCM-1950. It has really nice specs and was the only DMM I could find that measured/tested transistors, diodes, capacitors, and inductors all in one unit. Maybe Im just a noob, but I couldnt find any others that had all of those features. And since I was into modding wah pedals at the time, the inductance measuring was a big one. The max values this one is capable of measuring were also a plus. (Keep in mind I bought mine about a year ago so there might be better products... Mine was also cheaper when I bought it. I think it was 69.95, now its 74.95.) Also its not shown in the picture, but it comes with a rubber grip jacket. Check out the manual for specifics and a better picture of the unit. :)

A *quick* google search still shows the place I bought it to be the cheapest:
http://www.cs-sales.net/lcm1950.html
The page also has a link to the manual mentioned above.

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Post by jagermonster »

I've been using a friend's old POS for a while now, and would love to get a new one. On a budget of course.

Anyone have any experience with the B&K 2704C?

http://www.mouser.com/ProductDetail/BK- ... t70VY8HX94

Any recommendations? Thanks!

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Post by phibes »

Are you in the states?

I know nobody likes the Rat Shack but out of my stack of meters, this is my favorite. Price is good.

http://www.radioshack.com/product/index ... Id=2103175#

Pretty much does it all. It got goofy one day so I didn't touch it for two years. A few months back I cracked her open only to realize I blew a fuse. :slap: Luckily there were spares inside so now she's fine again. I'm sure there are sweeter ones out there but I noticed it while I was at the shack getting a few resistors so I figured what the hell, beats shopping online!
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Post by DrNomis »

jagermonster wrote:I've been using a friend's old POS for a while now, and would love to get a new one. On a budget of course.

Anyone have any experience with the B&K 2704C?

http://www.mouser.com/ProductDetail/BK- ... t70VY8HX94

Any recommendations? Thanks!

I haven't come across one of those at all,but,I do have something similar,it's my Dick Smith Electronics Q-1559 LCR Meter,I bought it back in 2009 before Dick Smith Electronics got out of the DIY scene and started focusing on consumer electronics,it cost me $99.00 Australian,it basically does everything I need it to do and is easy to use.... :)
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Post by PokeyPete »

jagermonster wrote:I've been using a friend's old POS for a while now, and would love to get a new one. On a budget of course.

Anyone have any experience with the B&K 2704C?

http://www.mouser.com/ProductDetail/BK- ... t70VY8HX94

Any recommendations? Thanks!
I have a 2704B and like it a lot. Not familiar with the C though.
I have Flukes as well, but wanted a meter that could measure transistor gain. This one
measures capacitors as well. For somewhat on the cheap, I'm very happy with it.

http://www.frys.com/product/429530?site ... IN_RSLT_PG
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Post by bigmufffuzzwizz »

I got mine off of ebay for $30 shipped USD. Really good meter with auto ranging functions. I believe it was called VC99. Knock-off of a Fluke but still works efficiently without giving me any problems.
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Post by Tonetweaker »

I bought a Fluke 77 IV awhile back. Not as inexpensive as some of the ones mentioned already, but it's damn-near indestructible... and when it comes to my tendency to knock things off my workbench while I'm working, that's definitely important. :lol:
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Post by amptramp »

Just a couple of comments:

hfe measurements can be "spoofed" by leakage current. If you are using germanium transistors, make sure the meter can separate leakage from current gain.

Some meters have an upper limit of 2 megohms (actually 1999 Kohms). Higher values are common in LFO's and tube circuits and there is no indication at all if the values are higher. Even if you use a 1.8 megohm resistor, the tolerance may very well put it above the limit. The maximum resistance in standard carbon resistors is 22 megohms, so my 30 megohm meter has me covered.

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Post by JVanDe7 »

What's a good affordable multimeter? Must have capacitance, and hfe capabilities. Going to be used primarily for diy pedal building.

Here's what I've found thus far - know of anything better at same price point?
http://www.smallbearelec.com/Detail.bok?no=904
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Post by rocklander »

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