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Author Topic: DMM suggestions?  (Read 7074 times)

Mark Cadwallader

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DMM suggestions?
« on: December 30, 2013, 10:28:33 pm »

It is time for me to buy a better quality DMM to keep with my audio gear.  I expect that my primary use will be metering AC power to make sure that I have what I'm expecting at a venue's power outlets. I'm not a licensed electrician, so I won't be doing tie-ins, but I want to be able to confirm what was done. I'm not an EE, but I'm reasonable competent to do simple diagnostics on simple circuits.  I have several inexpensive DMMs now, but nothing with more than with a CAT II rating, which doesn't seem adequate for my intended use.

Any suggestions on what would be a reasonable combination of features, accuracy, and build quality?  Something like the Fluke 170 series? Something else?  I don't (think) I need anything fancy, but I don't want junk.  I'm open on a budget, but I'm not rich.  I know that good tools are expensive, but cheap tools are damned expensive.

Thanks in advance for your suggestions. Mark C.

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Nick Enright

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Re: DMM suggestions?
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2013, 11:11:14 pm »

It is time for me to buy a better quality DMM to keep with my audio gear.  I expect that my primary use will be metering AC power to make sure that I have what I'm expecting at a venue's power outlets. I'm not a licensed electrician, so I won't be doing tie-ins, but I want to be able to confirm what was done. I'm not an EE, but I'm reasonable competent to do simple diagnostics on simple circuits.  I have several inexpensive DMMs now, but nothing with more than with a CAT II rating, which doesn't seem adequate for my intended use.

Any suggestions on what would be a reasonable combination of features, accuracy, and build quality?  Something like the Fluke 170 series? Something else?  I don't (think) I need anything fancy, but I don't want junk.  I'm open on a budget, but I'm not rich.  I know that good tools are expensive, but cheap tools are damned expensive.

Thanks in advance for your suggestions. Mark C.

Klein CL2000, true RMS, CATIII/CATII, the clamp on can measure DC current also.

Got mine around 150$ at an industrial electrical supply house I use locally.

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Nick Enright
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Mike Sokol

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Re: DMM suggestions?
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2013, 11:56:02 pm »

Any suggestions on what would be a reasonable combination of features, accuracy, and build quality?  Something like the Fluke 170 series? Something else?  I don't (think) I need anything fancy, but I don't want junk.  I'm open on a budget, but I'm not rich.  I know that good tools are expensive, but cheap tools are damned expensive.

The Fluke 170 series is very nice, but you'll get just as rugged of a product with all the functions you need with the Fluke 117 DMM for around $175. Plus the 117 has a non-contact voltage function built-in you can use to quick-check microphones and guitars for a hot-skin voltage. I tell my young sound-tech students that a Fluke meter can outlast their sound career, and indeed one of my current live-sound students now has his dad's Fluke that he used at NPR for 20 years. It's hard to argue with Fluke's reliability. One real danger with cheap meters is that if you tangle with a too-high voltage accidentally, the meter itself can become a bomb and launch exploding parts at you with very bad results. So it's good that you're getting rid of your cheap meters. 
« Last Edit: December 31, 2013, 10:44:12 am by Mike Sokol »
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Mike Sokol
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Craig Hauber

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Re: DMM suggestions?
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2013, 12:20:14 am »

For checking hard-used outlets in crappy venues I recommend a wiggy (solenoid) type tester.  The fluke equivalent modernizes the whole concept and adds digital readout.

http://en-us.fluke.com/products/electrical-testers/fluke-t-plus-pro-electrical-tester.html

Another good Fluke meter is the 376 clamp with the flex-loop -gives you AC/DC volts, ohms/continuity beep as well as clamp current and their new flex loop for those tough to reach conductors.  I think it also has inrush recording for turn-on surge measurement

http://en-us.fluke.com/products/clamp-meters/fluke-376-clamp-meter.html

It is time for me to buy a better quality DMM to keep with my audio gear.  I expect that my primary use will be metering AC power to make sure that I have what I'm expecting at a venue's power outlets. I'm not a licensed electrician, so I won't be doing tie-ins, but I want to be able to confirm what was done. I'm not an EE, but I'm reasonable competent to do simple diagnostics on simple circuits.  I have several inexpensive DMMs now, but nothing with more than with a CAT II rating, which doesn't seem adequate for my intended use.

Any suggestions on what would be a reasonable combination of features, accuracy, and build quality?  Something like the Fluke 170 series? Something else?  I don't (think) I need anything fancy, but I don't want junk.  I'm open on a budget, but I'm not rich.  I know that good tools are expensive, but cheap tools are damned expensive.

Thanks in advance for your suggestions. Mark C.
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Craig Hauber
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Tom Bourke

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Re: DMM suggestions?
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2013, 06:58:21 am »

I just got a Fluke 325 and love it.
I also got a Fluke LVD1 my key-ring. 
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Stephen Swaffer

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Re: DMM suggestions?
« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2013, 08:50:19 am »

The Fluke 170 series is very nice, but you'll get just as rugged of a product with all the functions you need with the Fluke 117 DMM for around $175. Plus the 117 has a non-contact voltage function built-in you can use to quick-check microphones and guitars for a hot-skin voltage. I tell my young sound-tech students that a Fluke meter can outlast their sound career, and indeed one of my current live-sound students now has his dad's Fluke that he used at NPR for 20 years. It's hard to argue with Fluke's reliability. One real danger with cheap meters is that if you tangle with a too-high voltage accidentally, the meter itself can become a bomb and launch exploding parts at you with very bad results. So it's good that you're getting rid of your cheap meters.

+1

If money is an issue keep your eyes open-I have 4 Flukes in vehicles/shop and have yet to pay full price-and 2 were new or like new when I got them.  Picked up an older 70 series at a second hand shop a couple months ago (in box and leads still factory wrapped) for $15 and worth more than many meters priced 5 times that in my opinion and worth being patient to get. I have only ever seen one Fluke that would not work-and that was because somebody tried to measure open circuit volts on a TIG welder with the hi freq start on-not really fair to the meter.
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Mike Sokol

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Re: DMM suggestions?
« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2013, 10:37:38 am »

For those of you on a tight budget who don't have the time to cruise the pawn shops for a Fluke, Klein has a new MM500 "Tough Meter" which works well. While it's a very basic meter, it will do all the measurements needed to check power at a gig. Plus it's rated for 10 ft drops to a concrete floor. Klein sent me a review sample a few months ago and I've had a lot of fun throwing it around the classroom to scare students. You can purchase one at Home Depot for $50 which is a great value for an entry-level pro meter. http://www.kleintools.com/catalog/multimeters/auto-ranging-multimeter-0

As an aside, I really do like the Klein electrician tools in general. Treat yourself to a good pair of electricians pliers and you'll thumb your nose at the cheap junk.  And everyone please get rid of those free Harbor Freight meters. My dad loves them (because they're FREE) but I refuse to use them.

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Mike Sokol
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John Roberts {JR}

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Re: DMM suggestions?
« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2013, 10:45:22 am »

You guys are giving me meter envy... I'm still using my $20 ratshack DMM until it dies then I'll probably buy another. :-)

JR
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Mike Sokol

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Re: DMM suggestions?
« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2013, 10:51:30 am »

Here's a good article in EC&M Magazine about why cheap voltmeters are dangerous:

http://ecmweb.com/content/does-your-meter-safety-measure

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Mike Sokol
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John Roberts {JR}

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Re: DMM suggestions?
« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2013, 11:03:42 am »

no love from that link...

JR
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