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Best multimeter recommendation ...and I mean THE best.

Discussion in 'Amp Tech Center' started by The Guy, Mar 27, 2017.

  1. Blue Bill

    Blue Bill Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    As Clint pointed out, the analog movement allows you to see and evaluate the dynamic qualities of whatever you are measuring, like cap discharge; or you can momentarily tap a measuring point and see if it is live and what sort of voltage range you are in, by how the needle moves. DMM readouts are useless for dynamic situations.

    Plus, old school is always better.
     
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  2. RLee77

    RLee77 Friend of Leo's

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    For an amp, a scope is the most useful troubleshooting tool. It's like the difference between shaking a box to figure out what's inside, and opening it up and looking.
    I remember building and using one of the HeathKit vtvm models; I used to love browsing their catalogs when I was a kid.
     
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  3. bparnell57

    bparnell57 Poster Extraordinaire

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    It is. I won't argue that. But I'd more easily afford a Vtvm first, and it takes up less space.

    Also, the used scopes coming up for sale are getting cheaper and better every day.
     
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  4. David Barnett

    David Barnett Doctor of Teleocity

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  5. The Guy

    The Guy Tele-Holic

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    I know, but there is some info about cleaning the circuit that might help getting rid of your problem. If it is an issue related to resistance then most probably it's a dirty contact or something like that.
     
  6. Bill Moore

    Bill Moore Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    As far a the analog/digital, my Flukes have a bar display under the digits. I use it mostly to find an intermittent, (like an air flow meter, or throttle position sensor), resistance measurement.
     
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  7. robrob

    robrob Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Yea, I always forget about the Fluke bar graph that's there specifically so you don't have to go find your analog meter to watch the needle swing.
     
  8. dsutton24

    dsutton24 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    The biggest advantage is that it's easy to interpret what a varying voltage is doing. In an expert's hands they're much faster than a digital meter. They can measure the a.c component of a d.c voltage easily. And, comparatively speaking, they're beautiful instruments.

    The disadvantages are many, the biggest one being that it's an expert's meter. They're very easy to damage if misused, where almost every digital meter costing over $10.00 is going to be self-protecting against stupididity. If you accidentally forget to switch your Simpson 260 from resistance to voltage, then plug in your amp, then VRROOOM! your meter flies off the bench with a blue flash and a bad smell, that bad smell being the smell of burning cash. Although I wouldn't recommend doing it on purpose, doing that with most digital meters won't harm a thing. If you try measuring current incorrectly, or you shove too much current through an analog meter, chances are you'll destroy it.

    Analog meters have a much lower input impedance when measuring voltage, and a much higher input impedance when measuring current than a digital meter. That means that the act of measuring things can sometimes be inaccurate because of the loading the meter imposes on what's being measured. You have to be able to interpret what you're measuring, and understand when loading will be a concern.

    Analog meters are fragile. Tipping it over on the bench can destroy the movement. Most digital meters can survive multiple severe falls and keep on ticking.

    Most analog meters including the 260 won't measure a.c current without an add-on device.

    R.f. and magnetic fields will cause errors in measurement.

    I know there are a dozen guys out there now sharpening up their keyboards to call me crazy... I was a die-hard Simpson 260 guy for decades, until I bought my first Fluke. That was a game changer. I'd used many digital meters, and they all were lacking in some way. The Fluke did 99% of what I needed it to do, and just kept on functioning despite years of hard daily use. The 260, on the other hand, was one of three or four devices I needed to troubleshoot many routine problems. I finally destroyed that Fluke one day. It was leaning up against a contactor that exploded when it closed. Nothing would have survived that. I use a meter on a daily basis, and deal routinely with voltages and currents that make even the insane B+ voltages that Fender inflicts on their electronics look like a D cell.

    I've still got several analog meters, but I couldn't tell you the last time I used one. On the rare occasion a digital meter won't cut it, I drag out the oscilloscope. Once you've got all your other tools bought, a nice analog meter is well worth having, but there would be a lot of other things I'd recommend you purchase first.
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2017
  9. The Guy

    The Guy Tele-Holic

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    :) Thanks.

    P.d: what would you recommend me to purchase before I get a beautiful Simpson 260?
     
  10. dsutton24

    dsutton24 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Well, off the top of my head I'd say that you need to learn at least the basics of electricity, electronics, amps, and troubleshooting before you start buying instruments. But, if you're set on buying hardware, you need good soldering tools. A 40 watt temperature controlled iron, a 140 watt gun, and a 200 watt iron (if you're going to do chassis grounds or cap cans). You need a light bulb current limiter. You need a decent DVM. After that come the 'nice to haves', like a signal generator, and an oscilloscope. Then come things like a variac, and a dummy load. Depending on what you're doing, an isolation transformer is an important tool.

    After all that you should consider a VTVM and / or something like a Simpson 260. By that point, though, you're just burning money. If you like having nice things, that's okay, but if you have a decent DVM, a signal generator, and an oscilloscope, and most importantly, you know how to use them and interpret what you're measuring, you don't need much else.
     
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  11. The Guy

    The Guy Tele-Holic

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    Thank you.

    I already have a few awesome books that I am studying and I am also fully aware of the dangers involved and know how to avoid most of 'em.

    I think I'm going to get there ;) ...learning fast!
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2017
  12. SacDAve

    SacDAve Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    I did a search about a year ago for a decent safe multimeter after mine shorted out and was destroyed 99% sure it was a meter failure. Probably got some of the same replies to my question, watched/read way to much on the web. What I realized a multimeter is a tool that you want one that has taken into consideration the safety factors. the one name that kept popping up was fluke. So I ended up buying a fluke 115 right away I noticed what a quality tool it is, do have a nice collection of leads which is also nice to have, and like any quality tool it needs a nice home.
     

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  13. rogb

    rogb Tele-Afflicted

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    Wavetek is very decent too. British Telecom in the UK use them.
    I have had mine for a while, CAT III of course, but lust after a Fluke, so darn expensive in the UK though!
     
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  14. Mike H.

    Mike H. Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I've used a bunch of meters. I currently own a Fluke 87. Its the best I've had yet.
     
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  15. koolaide

    koolaide Tele-Afflicted

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    Fluke 27 FM for me. They are reasonable, safe accurate and built like a tank. True RMS -did I say safe and built like a tank....

    Just scored one last month on fleabay for $30.00 It was military surplus Works like a charm.

    Just my 2 cents.
     
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  16. Robster

    Robster Tele-Afflicted

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    I recently killed a Radio Shack pocket multimeter...It was plenty accurate. I had a Fluke before, very nice, now have an EXTECH also very nice for $50 or so. Have an analog meter too. And you might as well pickup the free or cheap Harbor Freight multimeter if your unsure of a high voltage, use that one first...
     
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  17. bparnell57

    bparnell57 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Except for the fact that I had a harbor freight multimeter literally blow itself off the bench when I went to check line voltage but had it set incorrectly by accident. Whoops!
     
  18. The Guy

    The Guy Tele-Holic

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    I finally picked up a used Fluke 187 (made in USA) which seems to be the same than the 87iv, in very good condition with some minor cosmetic issues...

    Cat III & cat IV, 50000 counts, primary and secondary display, accuracy 0.025% DC voltage and 0.4% AC voltage, measures capacitance and inductance .... And a whole lot more! And all that for 140usd. I think I'm set.

    Such a sturdy piece of equipment.

    Thanks for your advice! :)

    The Guy.
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2017
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  19. codamedia

    codamedia Poster Extraordinaire

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    Not only is a Fluke extremely well made, their quality control is excellent. Any fluke leaving the warehouse will be calibrated to perfection... a no name DMM at Menards will not have that luxury.
     
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  20. archetype

    archetype Fiend of Leo's

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    I've got a DVOM, but still use my Simpson 260 for some things. If you're measuring a value that's jittery, only an analog meter can give you an idea of how much the reading varies. It gives you some context, where a digital readout is just incomprehensible changing numbers.
     
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