Author Topic: Any recommendations: Decent multimeter under 30$  (Read 2244 times)

somnif

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Any recommendations: Decent multimeter under 30$
« on: July 01, 2016, 12:47:02 AM »
Howdy folks,

After a few years away I've finally found time to dust off my soldering iron and get back into pedal making. I was getting my supplies together and dug out my trusty old 0$ Harbor Freight DMM and I've begun to realize its... fairly crappy. The hfe function is wildly inaccurate (when it works), the resistance measurements wander off target, and the voltmeter seems to be mostly guess work.

I'd like to invest a bit and get a decent entry-level tool. In addition to ohms and volts, I want something that can measure hfe, and a continuity tester would be a welcome bonus. Any recommendations in the 20-30$ range? Amazon, home depot, the usual suspects are on the table.

Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Adam_MD

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Re: Any recommendations: Decent multimeter under 30$
« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2016, 02:22:34 AM »
Coincidently I was going to start a similar thread this morning.  I decided to measure some resistors last night and I'm not confident my multimeter is very accurate.  According to my multimeter all my 1M resistors from several different sources are way off. 

brucer

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Re: Any recommendations: Decent multimeter under 30$
« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2016, 02:24:30 AM »
This is the type that I've seen recommended on MB: http://www.ebay.com/itm/DMM-VICHY-VC97-Auto-Range-Digital-Multimeter-Meter-/120840632016

Can't vouch for it (or that particular supplier), but other, better builders have recommended it:http://www.madbeanpedals.com/forum/index.php?topic=14351.0

Domdec314

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Re: Any recommendations: Decent multimeter under 30$
« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2016, 05:24:48 AM »
I've had this Mastech multimeter for a few years now. It's been fantastic.

Mastech MS8268 MS8261 Series Digital AC/DC Auto/Manual Range Digital Multimeter https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000JQ4O2U/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_pkLDxb6N9YMH1


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wgc

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Re: Any recommendations: Decent multimeter under 30$
« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2016, 11:28:06 AM »
harbor freight has one for about $5.  I got one for $2 during a big sale a few years ago and still works fine.

I wouldn't use it for designing switching systems on nuclear reactors, but for dirt pedals its been pretty good.
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mitchschaft

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Re: Any recommendations: Decent multimeter under 30$
« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2016, 11:10:51 PM »

HamSandwich

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Re: Any recommendations: Decent multimeter under 30$
« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2016, 12:04:58 AM »
Harbor Freight also has this one that has been serving me well for a couple years:

http://www.harborfreight.com/ac-dc-digital-multimeter-37772.html

HFE, cap, connectivity, the works! Less than $30.

EDIT: Oh, and a temperature probe.

EBRAddict

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Re: Any recommendations: Decent multimeter under 30$
« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2016, 05:37:05 AM »
I have that Mastech listed earlier in this thread. It's OK. The hFE is not very precise and you can't tell what current it's based on. The coating on the test lead points started flaking off after month of light use.

A Fluke is a great DMM and there are tons of used ones on eBay.

thesmokingman

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Re: Any recommendations: Decent multimeter under 30$
« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2016, 07:57:39 AM »
I went years using the radio shack 29 range digital multimeter which is close enough to your price range and for light use it does a good enough job. I'll also take this opportunity to upsell you on a quality meter. I wish I had bought one sooner.
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somnif

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Re: Any recommendations: Decent multimeter under 30$
« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2016, 05:11:56 PM »
Well I've done a bit of digging, and it seems the more I look the more it becomes apparent that hfe is NOT something good DMM's will do. Diodes, sure, caps of course, and resistance for days but transistors are apparently hands off.

So on that score....

Anyone have experience with these little devices?: http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=%20LCR%20ESR%20Transistor%20checker&clk_rvr_id=1057450525145&mfe=search

Little battery driven LCD screen multi-testers, in the range of 10-20$ . Impressive range of functions (with several grains of salt in the mix of course), but I am curious if anyone has hands-on time with them. A few of the un-assembled kits are in the sub 5$ range, and if they are even remotely functional I may save a few handfuls of change to play with one.

galaxiex

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Re: Any recommendations: Decent multimeter under 30$
« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2016, 05:33:06 PM »
Ya, I got one like this...

http://www.ebay.com/itm/PCB-Transistor-Tester-Diode-Triode-Capacitance-ESR-Meter-MOS-PNP-NPN-LCR-LCR-T3-/371301439496?hash=item56734a5808:g:wFkAAOSwPhdVJh8Y

Not sure if mine is that exact version as it has been ~ year since I got it,
but that looks the same with the ZIF socket and the yellow button.

Mine works pretty good tho I don't know how accurate the readings are.
It doesn't like germanium transistors tho it will read them.
Have to be careful with Ge trannys orientation in the socket.
Nothing bad will happen, it just read different hfe depending on which way you put it in.

Example, one Ge tranny reads hfe-5... flip it in the socket and it reads hfe-120.
Guess which is the "real" reading...  ;)
Right, the 120 hfe.
So if you test Ge.... ALWAYS flip it in the socket and test again.
When inserted "wrong" it will also show the wrong pinouts.

It doesn't have a problem with silicon trannys, reads the same hfe no matter which way you put it in the socket.
Identify's the pin out too. Nice!

All in all I'm happy with it, nice for making quick checks and verify pinouts.

Recently re-capped an old solid state guitar amp and tested all the old caps "just to see" if its worthwhile changing all the caps.

Yeah.... they all read very high or "bad" ... as in some caps the tester said were "diodes"  :o

The amp sounds Waaaaay better now, even tho it worked before.  8)

HTH

Edit, for serious testing I still use my Fluke meter, but I find myself using this little tester alot!
I actually don't know how I got on without it before... ;D

If it broke, I'd buy another.
« Last Edit: July 05, 2016, 07:29:02 PM by galaxiex »
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thesmokingman

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Re: Any recommendations: Decent multimeter under 30$
« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2016, 09:09:16 PM »
honestly I'm wondering how many $20 a piece units I could go through vs just buying a peak atlas ... which right now is a pretty good bargain now that the exchange rate for the pound is favorable.
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somnif

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Re: Any recommendations: Decent multimeter under 30$
« Reply #12 on: July 05, 2016, 09:19:59 PM »
honestly I'm wondering how many $20 a piece units I could go through vs just buying a peak atlas ... which right now is a pretty good bargain now that the exchange rate for the pound is favorable.

Perhaps in the long term, but at the moment I'm just looking for a fairly decent DMM, but, I also want to be able to get a quick and dirty idea of transistor gain and leakage.

My freebie Harbor Freight dmm could do it (supposedly, never could get the damn thing to work) but good models seem to avoid that function. An 8$ DIY Mega328 based unit seems like a decent short term investment that leaves me with more money to put towards the multimeter. (I'm living on a grad students pay, I want to invest on the more important tools first).

But I'm still digging through Ebay to see what I can find!
« Last Edit: July 06, 2016, 03:18:21 AM by somnif »