Multimeter reccomendation?

Discussion in 'Amps/Cabs Tech Corner: Amplifier, Cab & Speakers' started by Tonebender, Aug 21, 2005.


  1. Tonebender

    Tonebender Supporting Member

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    Hey guys I need an affordable multimeter for checking over my work, amp biasing and whatnot.

    Where can I get an affordable/decent one?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Steve Dallas

    Steve Dallas Supporting Member

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    People are going to laugh at me, but here goes...

    My dog drug my fluke off the bench and I needed another DMM immediately, so I went down to RS. I left with this one dirt cheap:

    http://www.radioshack.com/product.a..._name=CTLG_011_008_002_000&product_id=22-811#

    The only drawback is the auto ranging is a bit slow. I never got around to buying another Fluke and use this as my main meter. I don't think you can beat if for the $$.
     
  3. Kevan

    Kevan Member

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    +1
    (and I'm only laughing because I'm imagining a little chihuahua with a big ol' chunk of yellow rubber in his jaws, running across the lawn...LOL)

    Fluke.
    RS if you're on a budget.
     
  4. Reeek

    Reeek Member

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    I use a $125 Ideal brand PlatinumPro 320 Series I bought from Home Depot. It was the top-o-the-line deive Home Depot sold at the time.

    It's as good as a $400 Fluke in so far as features and functions. It handles Cat III 1000 Volts DC which is more than enough for tube amp work. Is big, hefty and works like a champ. It came with a nice case and leads. That price is 3 years old however. I think it's one of the best bang for buck DMM's out there for tube circuit and amp repair. I use it weekly for one reason or another.

    Here is a web link for sales and the mfg link:

    http://www.idealindustries.co.uk/index.cfm?pid=17&op=dsp&pk=10132&fk=232

    http://www.goodmart.com/products/229825.htm

    Obviously, you should pick the DMM you like and for the price you can pay but make sure that you buy one that has enough VDC capacity not to blow the fuse each time you measure the plate voltage on an amp that has high plate voltages. I made the mistake of not knowing what I really needed the first time I decided to work on my own amps so I bought a cheaper RS DMM that only handled 400 VDC. It sucked when I had an amp that had plate voltages of 450 or higher and I had to turn around and pony up for the Ideal anyway when I couldn't read the plate voltage of half my amps.
     
  5. jzucker

    jzucker Supporting Member

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    I'm also looking for a decent multimeter. Most of the cheaper ones like the platinum pro only measure down to 4nf or 6nf (6000pf) so you can't use it to measure the small caps in tone stacks, volume bypass, reverb circuits, etc. Many of these caps are fairly critical.


    The Fluke 110 only measures down to 1nf. Anything else out there other than fluke that can handle small caps?
     
  6. TubeAmpNut

    TubeAmpNut Member

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  7. jzucker

    jzucker Supporting Member

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    thanks bk.

    I guess the 187 is similar without the computer connection option and a little less. Where' the best place to get one? Cheapest I found was ebay at $260. A little steep...
     
  8. johnc

    johnc Member

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  9. jzucker

    jzucker Supporting Member

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    thanks john. The 160 doesn't do capacitance . The other model (115) which does, doesn't measure down in the pf range apparently.
     
  10. amoebas

    amoebas Guest

    maybe mouser has em?
     
  11. jzucker

    jzucker Supporting Member

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    mouser's prices aren't very good on meters.
     
  12. TWreckXS

    TWreckXS Member

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    An experienced electronics technician recommend I purchase a used Fluke meter on ebay. Many that once sold for hundreds of dollars new can be purchased for $50-75. They are very finely made professional quality test instruments that can last for decades. I purchased a Fluke 8050 for around $50, he thought they sold for $800 new, and downloaded the manual. There are many different older models with all the features you will need for amp work.
     
  13. VintageJon

    VintageJon Member

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    FLUKE 177 here. Really recommend a Fluke as it will survive mistake of leaving the DMM on Ohms and measuring plate voltage.

    My 177 appears to be bullet-proof and goof-proof!

    Been though a lot of meters, probably own 10 different and working and have been through at least 20 in this life. A Fluke may be the last DMM you ever need to buy.

    -Jon
     
  14. VintageJon

    VintageJon Member

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    For caps just get a Cap meter from AES. This is gem of a unit and Mil Contractor here is using it as it's as good as their $5K Tecktronix unit!
    AES unit is only around $50!!!

    Well, they use it as a quick check "on the floor" as it's not rated for "production or IQC". Good enough though...

    I use it every day..

    -Jon
     
  15. jzucker

    jzucker Supporting Member

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    It may be bulletproof but according to the specs can't read any cap smaller than .001uf
     
  16. jzucker

    jzucker Supporting Member

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    Cool thanks. That may be the smartest thing instead of getting everything in one.
     
  17. VintageJon

    VintageJon Member

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    For caps a dedicated meter is the best bet...
    Minimum scale on this instrument is 200pF and you can zero it!

    -Jon
     
  18. d l x r e v e r b

    d l x r e v e r b Member

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    Tom Mitchell's book "How To Service Your Own Tube Amp" recommends
    the B & K 2703 as the best dollar for dollar value in a multimeter, 44 dollars when the book was first published in the early 1990s. For a lower price range he recommends the Radio Shack 22-188 . Radio Shack is known to change model numbers on products , so the 22-188 product probably is a different number by now.

    For anyone laughing at an earlier replier's mention of a low priced Radio Shack meter laugh even harder at my Wal-Mart digital multimeter marketed as "Popular Mechanics" originally purchased years ago to work on my car's electrical system. This $ 20 meter registers guitar amplifier readings just as sensitive and accurate as the high priced Fluke meters of my amp tech friends in numerous side by side tests. We actually just wanted the free thrill of seeing how humorously bad the Wal-Mart meter would be but were astounded by the accuracy.
    Keep in mind this meter was purchased nearly 15 years ago and the quality of the newer meters might not necessarily be the same.
     
  19. jzucker

    jzucker Supporting Member

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    Here are some options i'm looking at for an all-in-one meter that can measure caps down to 10pf resolution. Each has some additional features that may or may not be valuable to you. The more expensive ones cross over into used fluke 83,85,87 territory.

    The first one is a good buy but has very poor accuracy. Probably not an issue for guitar amp work though but I would suspect overall quality of the instrument to be relative to price as well...

    Exetech EX420 - .3% basic accuracy $59
    wavetek 37XR - .1% basic accuracy $111
    Exetech MT330 - .1% basic accuracy $129
    B&K 5390 - .025% basic accuracy, $155
    Exetech EX520 - .09% basic accuracy $159
    Exetech MP530 - .08% basic accuracy, $179
     
  20. mbratch

    mbratch Member

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    Heh. Mine's an RS model, yellow like the better name brands. Works great. BUT I HATE the auto-switchoff feature. It will switch off right in the middle of a reading. The auto-switchoff is needed, though, so you don't drain your batteries inadvertently.
     

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