cryptohunter
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Recommendations for a good, but cheap, multimeter

Thu May 11, 2017 9:17 am

Hi there,

It's become increasingly clear to me, why electronics enthusiasts generally
own a multi-meter.

I would be very grateful if you might suggest a good, cheap multimeter
for me to purchase, with the usual Amps, milliamps, volts, watts readings.
Settings for AC or DC. ... and measurement of things like capacitance
and perhaps temperature etc.

Thanks to whoever offers their recommendations.

Have a nice day

cryptohunter :-)

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Jednorozec
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Re: Recommendations for a good, but cheap, multimeter

Thu May 11, 2017 9:21 am

You're not going to find a cheap multimeter that measures watts, capacitance or temperature. Take a look on ebay.
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jadro
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Re: Recommendations for a good, but cheap, multimeter

Thu May 11, 2017 9:23 am

I use this for a year and it is good to measure anything and it is cheap and precize.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/LCD-Auto-Range- ... SwoudW8mdU

Jadro
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BMS Doug
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Re: Recommendations for a good, but cheap, multimeter

Thu May 11, 2017 9:32 am

Give up on finding a multi-meter that measures power, measure voltage and current and work out the power from those. (you can get a multi-meter that measures power but not cheaply)

Temperature and capacitance are also expensive to add.

Stick to a basic one like the one that Jadro has suggested, if you get two you can calculate the power without having to re-arrange your circuit.
Doug.
Building Management Systems Engineer.

cryptohunter
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Re: Recommendations for a good, but cheap, multimeter

Thu May 11, 2017 10:18 am

jadro wrote:I use this for a year and it is good to measure anything and it is cheap and precize.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/LCD-Auto-Range- ... SwoudW8mdU

Jadro
Thank you Jadro :-)

achrn
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Re: Recommendations for a good, but cheap, multimeter

Thu May 11, 2017 10:59 am

BMS Doug wrote: Stick to a basic one like the one that Jadro has suggested, if you get two you can calculate the power without having to re-arrange your circuit.
I would echo this - since I got a second multimeter I use both simultaneously more than I thought I would. Two very cheap multimeters are probably more useful than one twice the price.

If cheap means under 10 quid, I think they are much-of-a-muchness, and if you're not going above about 20V and you're working in milliamps they are probably good enough. If it means 'less than a Fluke', I've been very happy with my Brymen BM235, and people that know more than me seem to think it's a good unit. That's a definition of 'cheap' that extends to £100 though (and note it's much cheaper from TME than from ebay or Amazon).

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scruss
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Re: Recommendations for a good, but cheap, multimeter

Thu May 11, 2017 2:30 pm

Cheap multimeters usually come with terrible probes that break at the first opportunity. Maybe go a bit above the sub-£10 to avoid the disappointment. Adafruit's basic multimeter looks not bad, though I'd give those probes a couple of years tops. Extech meters are mostly decently built.

Apart from good probes, you really want a loud continuity tester in your meter. My very very very (in fact, needlessly) expensive Agilent meter is barely audible, sadly.
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rpdom
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Re: Recommendations for a good, but cheap, multimeter

Thu May 11, 2017 3:13 pm

I've found the DT-830B multimeters to be adequate for basic hobbyist work. I have a better meter as my main one, plus a DT-830B for a secondary that I got from ebay for a ridiculously low price (includes battery). Something like £2 with postage.

I wouldn't risk doing any high voltage stuff with it though.

BMS Doug
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Re: Recommendations for a good, but cheap, multimeter

Thu May 11, 2017 3:20 pm

scruss wrote:Cheap multimeters usually come with terrible probes that break at the first opportunity. Maybe go a bit above the sub-£10 to avoid the disappointment. Adafruit's basic multimeter looks not bad, though I'd give those probes a couple of years tops. Extech meters are mostly decently built.

Apart from good probes, you really want a loud continuity tester in your meter. My very very very (in fact, needlessly) expensive Agilent meter is barely audible, sadly.
If (when) the probes break you can replace them with a better set, a good set of probes could outlast several multi-meters.

I don't have much experience of cheap multi-meters, I have to have a good one for work.
cheap multimeters may only last a year or two but when the price difference between cheap and good is so large I can see that a hobbiest can live with spending £5 a year on replacing it, much more cost effective than a fluke (for hobbiest purposes).
Doug.
Building Management Systems Engineer.

MarkTF
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Re: Recommendations for a good, but cheap, multimeter

Thu May 11, 2017 4:25 pm

In the US, we have Harbor Freight, whose business model seems to be selling cheap Chinese tools. When the local store opened a few years back they were mailing advertisements with coupons for free stuff just to get people into the store and I built a collection of 4 (?) multimeters like that shown by Jadro above during that period.

1) It does work well enough for low voltage work.

2) The probes are rubbish as Scruss suggests. At least one was non-functional when I got it and I've had one break at the meter plug end after a year or two of use.

3) It would be really nice to have an audible continuity tester mode like some of the better meters.

4) The transistor tester feature works, but is clumsy to use. The pins go through the "connector" to touch the circuit board directly so it's hard to get reliable contact.

5) I'd be very leery of using it on line voltage.

6) If you've got nothing now, it's infinitely better than nothing.

7) It was free.

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bensimmo
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Re: Recommendations for a good, but cheap, multimeter

Thu May 11, 2017 5:43 pm

I use cheap ones in education, cost about £5, they work and last for ever and do the basics. We don't use the probes as we plug 4mm banana plug into them so they can connect into he circuit or crock clip them to a circuit. The probes generally work.

I also have for work a more expensive auto-ranging one.
It wasn't a lot £15 to £20 but does everything I need.
Including hFE, temperature (via thermocouples) max, data holds that I never use and a lovely loud continuity.

Search MS8221C for an idea of these, this was branded under Rapid (rapid-online)
I would guess they have newer models by now.

I used plenty through the year and this is a nice one for general use.

Oh and buy a small box of any fuses in them.

Only flaw is it starts in AC for it's voltage when I'm pretty always in DC!.
Does mains fine too.

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Re: Recommendations for a good, but cheap, multimeter

Thu May 11, 2017 6:47 pm

FWIW, I've used a couple of the (yellow) type shown here:
http://www.cpmspectrepi.uk/raspberry_pi ... octor.html
(I'm not sure whether the one shown is the oldest or the newest, but both were a few pounds when purchased and the oldest is probably >10 years old and still works. But their leads have been replaced/repaired a few times).
The meter I mainly use now has more features, including a temperature probe and RS232 connectivity:
http://www.cpmspectrepi.uk/raspberry_pi ... 000zc.html
That cost about 3x the price of the others (but <£20 IIRC)
Trev.
Still running Raspbian Jessie on some older Pi's (an A, B1, B2, B+, P2B, 3xP0, P0W) but Stretch on my P3B+, P3B, B+, A+ and a B2. See: https://www.cpmspectrepi.uk/raspberry_pi/raspiidx.htm

stderr
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Re: Recommendations for a good, but cheap, multimeter

Thu May 11, 2017 8:32 pm

scruss wrote:Cheap multimeters usually come with terrible probes that break at the first opportunity.
I never miss out on the free Harbor Freight multimeters, their probes often don't work right even out of the box, but the 9v battery works great in my Fluke.

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rpdom
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Re: Recommendations for a good, but cheap, multimeter

Thu May 11, 2017 8:47 pm

stderr wrote:I never miss out on the free Harbor Freight multimeters, their probes often don't work right even out of the box, but the 9v battery works great in my Fluke.
I like it :lol:

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Ronaldlees
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Re: Recommendations for a good, but cheap, multimeter

Sun May 28, 2017 1:43 pm

stderr wrote:
scruss wrote:Cheap multimeters usually come with terrible probes that break at the first opportunity.
I never miss out on the free Harbor Freight multimeters, their probes often don't work right even out of the box, but the 9v battery works great in my Fluke.
Haha - like that one too.

I've had myriad number of cheapie (radio shack and others) multimeters. They're all gone. But the Fluke I bought in 1987 is still going strong. It's fallen off ladders, been dumped in puddles, and has been connected across the mains while on the current measurement setting. Well, the low current measurement doesn't work anymore (duh). I have yet to replace the fuse, since I have other meters for (small) currents. But yeah - that's kind of lazy. I use it alot, just not for currents much.

Anyway, if I add up the cost of all the cheapies I've tried, it'd probably be more than what I spent on "ole trusty".
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Heater
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Re: Recommendations for a good, but cheap, multimeter

Sun May 28, 2017 2:44 pm

Cheap multimeters can be OK. I have a few, in the 30 euro or so price bracket that have been working well for a decade or two.

Just remember that they may not be all that safe for using with mains voltages.

Low voltage circuits with limited current supplies, good enough for most hobbyist usage.

drgeoff
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Re: Recommendations for a good, but cheap, multimeter

Sun May 28, 2017 7:02 pm

The likes of http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/New-19-Range- ... 1462592520 (and similar yellow ones with the 3 input sockets at the bottom of the front panel) are fine for hobbyists working with RPis, Arduinos and other 'safe voltage' stuff when high accuracy and durability are not necessary.

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bensimmo
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Re: Recommendations for a good, but cheap, multimeter

Sun May 28, 2017 8:27 pm

drgeoff wrote:The likes of http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/New-19-Range- ... 1462592520 (and similar yellow ones with the 3 input sockets at the bottom of the front panel) are fine for hobbyists working with RPis, Arduinos and other 'safe voltage' stuff when high accuracy and durability are not necessary.
That's the standard school multimeter, so they can take some abuse.
Don't leave them on as they drain the 9V battery.
(obvious but it'll be flat by the next time you use it ;-))

Fuses get blown by the kids just being clueless. Easy to change though.

Work fine for testing mains too.

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Re: Recommendations for a good, but cheap, multimeter

Mon May 29, 2017 1:16 am

Yes, I'd go with the Harbor Freight ones like https://www.harborfreight.com/7-functio ... 69096.html. A few years ago I bought some on sale at $4 so I got 4 or 5 of them. They're all still around and working fine. I've blown the fuses in a couple of them, I've had to replace a couple of the original 9 volt batteries. But they work fine and the battery life is acceptable. Accuracy is good enough. Probes, well, I had my own probes around anyway. Everybody's different, I like an alligator clip on the ground and a good sharp probe for the hot lead. I've worked at jobs where the probe had to be RF shielded. They use standard banana plugs, you can plug anything in. Being cheap enough to have several you can use one for current and another for voltage at the same time. Or just scatter them all over the house like I did.

I paid about $80 for a fancy Jameco one and a couple years later tried to get a schematic to fix it with and found they consider those cheap throwaways. Never again. I've had Keithleys that were OK, never a Fluke for some reason. There seem to be a few similar models of these, just search for meter on their site. The little red guys. And keep some 3mm 1/2 amp or whatever they are fuses around because they can be a nuisance to find. Try to measure too much current and you'll pop one.

Heater
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Re: Recommendations for a good, but cheap, multimeter

Wed May 31, 2017 4:58 am

Check this short video to see why you should be wary of cheap multimeters.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DO1mWOI2XQI

They are quite fine if you know the limitations and potential dangers.

drgeoff
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Re: Recommendations for a good, but cheap, multimeter

Wed May 31, 2017 10:41 am

Starting at 35 minutes into https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d75uoCu69WY is an EEV Blog teardown of the Harbor Freight version with fuse.

hippy
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Re: Recommendations for a good, but cheap, multimeter

Wed May 31, 2017 12:17 pm

I have used one of these for some 30 years and it has served me well.

http://www.maplin.co.uk/p/precision-gol ... eter-gw18u

That's apparently discontinued but is the sort of thing I would recommend to someone looking for a basic multi-meter.

If you do need something more fancy - capacitance, inductance, RMS, wattage - then that probably won't be cheap if good quality. It all depends on what you are wanting to do, how much you need advanced capabilities.

One thing I would say is check that you like how it works. I dislike slide switches, like everything on one rotary selector, and don't do much more than continuity check, measure voltages and resistances so what I have suits me fine. It's good and chunky, has a nice protective case, came with decent probes.

sarahgad
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Re: Recommendations for a good, but cheap, multimeter

Wed Jun 07, 2017 7:58 am

Did the protective case came along with your multi-meter or you got it made or purchased from somewhere.

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Gavinmc42
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Re: Recommendations for a good, but cheap, multimeter

Wed Jun 07, 2017 8:30 am

The most important feature is how easy it is to change the fuse.
Some MM have Milliamps meter input and separate Volt input.
If you forget and measure volts in milliamp position, fuse blows.
I like the 3 + 3/4 digit ones, ie 3.999 volts

The diode test feature is useful, get one that can light up LEDS, especially blue LEDs.
More common on 9V powered MM's
Frequency is handy, 4 MHz is better than most.
Autoscaling helps too.
Continuity beeper to find shorts.

Don't pay too much, accuracy is good enough even on cheap ones.
Or buy cheap one, see if it works, if it does, spend the saved money on another Zero :lol:
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Re: Recommendations for a good, but cheap, multimeter

Tue Feb 20, 2018 5:37 pm

Today on google, I was looking for the cheapest multimeter and find this old thread. I have read a couple of best multimeter reviews articles. But, the price is higher than my budget. Thus, I want to ask here if anyone has used Mastech MS8268. Its price only $27 and fits my budget. Any type feedback will be appreciated.
Last edited by cesttonal on Thu Feb 22, 2018 9:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
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