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How long have you had--and used your Multimeter regularly?

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Alastair
(@alastair)
Reputable V-Ratter Registered

Mine is a Beckman Tech 310.

Ive had it since 1985 and its used most days. Ive got others, including a Fluke but they never measure up to the ease of use, accuracy and fast response of this--now ancient--multimeter.
I particularly like the Huge battery life, quoted by the makers at 2,000 hours, and I would say this is conservative! Ive left it on for months on end!

Fluke and others I have always seem to need new batteries,--just when you need 'em most.....

Its been dropped (Many times), shoved into tool-boxes, shoved on way too high voltages on low ranges, used for motor-car repairs when I was an MOT Tester, got covered in oil and crap, generally abused and very well used!

Still it works and is still accurate. Its originally beige case is now very yellowed and old looking.....
The only issue over all that time has been the rather odd way the processor chip is connected to the board and display.
--Done by rubber strips containing carbon strips. Every couple of years I need to remove these, clean and refit.
It doesn't have the functionality of these new fangled things, but I like it!

It Really IS my best old friend! :thumb

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Topic starter Posted : 22/04/2014 10:40 am
Red_to_Black
(@red_to_black)
Noble V-Ratter Registered

I have/had a Fluke 79 series II for many years, used everyday at the time, the first one got stolen :aai the second one I still have.
This was my 'weapon of choice' for TV/VCR servicing, and other electronic work. dmm

I have a calibrated (yearly) Fluke 87V for Electrical work/commissioning etc., I got this within the last 6 years or so.

I sometimes use an 'El cheapo' analogue meter when required, mainly for electrical fault finding, or when a digi meter is unsuitable for whatever reason, and I have just recently acquired an AVO 8 MK5. :aad

I had one of these AVOs or similar when I first started in the trade, this one was given to me when the shop I worked for closed.
I am not sure what happened to that one, I either gave it away or possibly left it at another shop.
To my shame I did not really value it so much at the time ( I was a lot younger) as it was a bit unwieldy, I appreciate the one I have now a lot more though, youngsters eh! :ccg

Like most people with our interests, I started when I was very young with a Tandy/Micronta analogue meter, then had various digital ones Maplins etc. at one time or other until I settled on the Flukes in my professional career.

Oddly, since becoming involved more with testing electrical systems I don't use a multimeter nearly so much these days, here the instruments of choice are Megger branded, ELI/RCD tester LRCD 220, and Insulation/low resistance ohmmeter MIT 320.
Oh! and a couple of clamp meters, one of which is an earth leakage type.

"This is my multimeter. There are many others like it, but this one is mine. My multimeter is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. Without me, my multimeter is useless. Without my multimeter, I am useless."

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Posted : 22/04/2014 12:53 pm
Refugee
(@refugee)
Famed V-Ratter Deactivated Account

My first meter was a Japanese think that worked well for a few years before it got iron filings in the movement.
It was replaced with a Russian Supertester 680R and that lasted quite a long time and it was replaced with my first digital model that got dropped many times before the case broke open.
I had a Fluke for a short time but it got stolen.
I was given many tools from a shop that closed including two AVO 9 MK4s and a bench top Fluke of the mains powered variety.
I have added a valve voltmeter function by taking on a basket case AVO Electronic Testmeter and that joins my stock of test meters for all occasions too.

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Posted : 22/04/2014 2:56 pm
Anonymous
(@anonymous)
Illustrious V-Ratter Deactivated Account

I still have and sometimes use an AVO 7 (the one that uses the 4.5volt battery) that was given to me by my step father in 1968.
Rob t

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Posted : 22/04/2014 3:55 pm
sideband
(@sideband)
Famed V-Ratter Moderator

I bought my digital multimeter from CPC about 25 years ago...branded 'Escort'. I seem to recall it was about £80 back then. I have to say that it has been faultless and was used every day for many years. Out of interest I took it to work a few months ago and checked it against our calibrated meters and it came out very favourably on all ranges.

I also use an old Philips analogue meter for some jobs. That is also probably around 25 - 30 years old but just keeps going.

Rich

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Posted : 22/04/2014 5:07 pm
Anonymous
(@anonymous)
Illustrious V-Ratter Deactivated Account

I've got three DMMs.

A Maplin precision gold which cost £50 new about 30 years ago. Loads of ranges, including temperature, and capacitance which are sometimes useful. It slightly under reads on the voltage range compared with the other DMMs.

A basic Maplin precision gold, without hfe, temperature .... It cost about £20 20 years back and I inherited it.

A Maplins Uni-T UT58C which I bought for £35 a couple of years back, mainly because the leads on the expensive meter, mentioned first, were knackered and I couldn't find any decent ones to fit. I couldn't recommend it. The leads are a bit stiff, the hooded croc clip bits for the probes seem sensitive to sunlight, and one lot has gone brittle and had to be replaced. It's got a nuisance plug in for capacitance, temperature, hfe etc. It has an automatic power down feature which you can't turn off. It powers down after about ten minutes, which I suppose saves batteries, but it can be very irritating.

I have a couple of AVOs, an 8 MK3 and a NATO pattern one. They are accurate (at least agree with the DMMs well) and get used occasionally, but they're a bit cumbersome.

I've also got a Hioki 30kohm per volt analogue meter which I bought in 1976. It gets used very occasionally.

Then there's a Racal bench voltmeter with Nixie tubes, and a Heathkit VVM, neither of which have been used in ages.

I think the best value in multimeters is probably to get a second hand Fluke off ebay. At one time there were quite a lot on there for about £25. Generally no fancy features such as capacitance etc, but accurate, reliable and very good battery life.

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Posted : 22/04/2014 5:37 pm
Anonymous
(@anonymous)
Illustrious V-Ratter Deactivated Account

I am now on my second Precision Gold WG020, it has loads of useful ranges including capacitance and inductance. The first one which I owned for about 15 years was damaged by a surge when I was checking a transformer. I was surprised to find that Maplin still sold them.
I use it for all repairs, for volts, AC and DC and resistance, also use the HFE and capacitance quite a lot.
I also now have an AVO which although is not in tip top condition is very useful as a second meter and the analogue scale is sometimes essential, especially when you want to "peak" something. I like the way you dont have to change sockets when you swap from current to volts or resistance.
Mike

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Posted : 23/04/2014 12:03 am
Refugee
(@refugee)
Famed V-Ratter Deactivated Account

I like having the amps ranges on a different socket as it saves the amps fuse if you accidentally select amps when you are measuring volts.

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Posted : 23/04/2014 12:57 am
Anonymous
(@anonymous)
Illustrious V-Ratter Deactivated Account

I like having the amps ranges on a different socket as it saves the amps fuse if you accidentally select amps when you are measuring volts.

Thats the opposite for me, I always turn off the meter but have often forgot to re-plug the +ve probe from the amps into the VOR socket, hence blown fuses. :aai :ccb

Mike

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Posted : 23/04/2014 7:28 am
Anonymous
(@anonymous)
Illustrious V-Ratter Deactivated Account

It's always struck me with DMMs that you get what you pay for, but for £20 ish and upwards at Maplins you get one which is quite serviceable and will last for years with a bit of care, certainly for amateur use. I've never heard of anyone having serious problems with that sort of DMM.

The ones I'd avoid are the generic Chinese things you see everywhere for about a fiver. The batteries last a very short time and they are dangerous to use on any sort of high voltage. They don't have a proper selector switch, it's printed on the circuit board. It creates conductive dust and it can flash over.

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Posted : 23/04/2014 3:55 pm
Katie Bush
(@katie-bush)
Famed V-Ratter Moderator

Aaahhh....

Where to begin! I was given a "Pifco" (I think) 'Radio Meter' that did valve heater continuity, Volts and Ohms.. That would have beed at least forty five years ago! :ccg

My first practical multimeter was a cheap Japanese effort that I bought in my teens and was used several times in a week, until I fried one or two ranges and it became relatively unusable.

After that, I lashed out and bought a "TTC" (Forgotten the model No) which came with all the bells and whistles, and a pilot's licence. :aak It was a very well built Japanese meter which got used beyond its intended applications and worked extrememly well.. It was far too sophisticated for my use, with it's ability to read RF frequencies, capacitances, EHT and HV voltages.. It had more probes than NASA but was too complicated to setup, though as analogue meters go, it was one of the best I could get at that time.. Sadly, it met its demise when my brother pinched it for working on automotive applications (under used and overloaded) and killed it through his carelessness.

Next along came a Tandy/Micronta multimeter of some model or other, again, analogue, and that served me well for a while but was not that well built compared with the TTC, and nor did it have the capabilities, but by then, I was drifting away from electronics and what it did dabble with was all low voltage solid state stuff (generally speaking, self assembly kits).

Some years back, I rediscovered a use for a multimeter and acquired a Fluke Model 77 which developed a fault after many years of service.. It was switly replaced by a Model 75 which I eventually fried through my own carelessness whilst trying to figure out a microwave oven fault. :ccg

Since most of the jobs around the small holding were electrical, rather than electronic, I bought a Fluke Model C57 (I think) or was it C35? clamp meter that could read Volts, Amps (lots of Amps!) and low Ohms.. I still have it, somewhere, and it was used aplenty on tractor and generator jobs.

Not long after that (about ten years ago) I bought an AVO Model 8, mk5, and still use it on the vintage kit to this day.

More recently (eighteen months or so) I bought a Fluke Model 117, which has the functionality of the likes of the 77 but with several useful added features like capacitance and frequency (low frequency that is) along with a useful "Volt Alert" feature that detects high voltages before you make contact with it (handy for locating live power cables embedded in walls!)

The Fluke 117 and the Avo 8 get used in conjunction with each other, and still get regular use (or will, once I've got a bit less pain in my back).

An awfully long time ago though, I bought on of those ultra-cheap (£4.99) from Wilko's Jo-Jo DMMs.. Now that little meter, I wouldn't really want to rely on in certain applications, but is quite handy for quick checks on low voltages, and for rough and ready resistance checks, but not much else.. I will say this though, it's had a lot of use, abuse and rough handling, and although the display can occasionally display more than one decimal point, it still works quite well, and considering its cheapness, beyond any realistic expectations.

Just to add a bit of flavour to the mix, I also have a Megger BM8 mk3, and a Robin Model 3111V insulation testers, which are very handy for testing and reforming supect capacitors, as well as their intended insultaion testing duties.

So, how long have I had a multimeter - 45 years (ish)
And, do I use it regularly - Yes (ish)

Marion

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Posted : 23/04/2014 9:45 pm
Cathovisor
(@cathovisor)
Illustrious V-Ratter Registered

My first meter was an Amprobe 20k/Volt one, used for many years and every now and then, it gets an outing for old times sake. Then along came a Beckman DM20L, my first digital meter; I liked this because it didn't autorange! It lives in my toolkit. The main meter for most electronics is now a Fluke 179, bought because it did temperature as well as being true RMS. I also find that I don't really have the patience to squint at an AVO any more and work out how many marks along it is from whatever point - and I never use the things for resistance checks, the non-linear scale is a PITA.

However... there are also an AVO 7 and 8, as well as a couple of funky HP valve voltmeters which have optical chopper stabilisation! These await restoration. The AVO 7 is ideal for older service sheets, no need to make allowances for using a higher OPV meter in the voltage readings!

Also, for comedy value there is an AVO DA112. The one with the Nixie tubes.

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Posted : 23/04/2014 9:56 pm
Red_to_Black
(@red_to_black)
Noble V-Ratter Registered

I forgot that I also have a couple of £5 cheap digi meters, one lives in a drawer at my computer desk, and one in the bottom of my TV kit/case.

Agreed I wouldn't trust these for any mains voltages or any serious use, but they are quite handy to have dotted about the place, and better than nothing for checking fuses, bulbs and the like.

The one in my TV case was used mainly for monitoring voltage rails in equipment, by temporarily soldering the leads/prods on to the PCB itself, this was especially useful for intermittent faults, also saving tying the main MM up, plus it did not timeout like the Fluke.

"This is my multimeter. There are many others like it, but this one is mine. My multimeter is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. Without me, my multimeter is useless. Without my multimeter, I am useless."

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Posted : 23/04/2014 10:00 pm
Anonymous
(@anonymous)
Illustrious V-Ratter Deactivated Account

Aaahhh....

Where to begin! I was given a "Pifco" (I think) 'Radio Meter' that did valve heater continuity, Volts and Ohms.. That would have beed at least forty five years ago! :ccg

I found a Radio Detective when I was sorting out a great uncle's stuff around 1980. In a fit of unaccustomed generosity I handed it to my cousin who wrecked it working on cars in about two weeks. I think I was a bit peeved because since he had been an electrical engineer, I'd had an idea there would be an AVO on the scene.

They were trying to do something with the Radio Detective that was done effectively by the Japanese in the 60s and 70s, by providing a multimeter with good enough performance for a reasonable price, and a lot better than guesswork and good enough for most things, if not an AVO. Also I've heard that when radio technicians came back from WWII, their expectations about what sort of meters were useful and necessary were changed upwards. TV gave an incentive for cheap scopes to be made available.

Our TV bloke - served in WWI as a sparks, ran a radio and TV shop to the late 50s, did a few jobs when he retired - always turned up with his AVO 8. He was happy to explain it and measure battery voltages, but I definitely wasn't allowed to mess with it.

My first practical multimeter was a cheap Japanese effort that I bought in my teens and was used several times in a week, until I fried one or two ranges and it became relatively unusable.

The Hioki I bought around 1975 wasn't cheap. It was almost a fiver. I think by then an AVO would have been about £50. B&B for a student then was about £7 a week.

Around 1969 the physics teacher bought half a dozen Eagle 1kohm/volt multimeters for use on selected, approved projects and he counted them all out and counted them all back in. I coveted one. There was also an AVO meter in the school lab, but it was a hallowed thing and brought out to settle disputes from time to time.

There was also a little Cossor scope and a Telequipment S51. Mr Best was widely criticised for spending heavily on equipment. I particularly coveted the S51.

I've got a couple of AVOs, bought for just a few quid - hard to justify when reasonable DMMs are so cheap in relative terms. I've got an S51, which the cousin who destroyed the Radio Detective gave me out of the blue. It works but I've never used it for anything serious and there are a dozen other scopes I'd use first.

I've got a clamp meter I rescued from a bin.

When I started to get back into this stuff seriously, about the mid 80s and had some money, I bought the Maplins Precision Gold number. Scopes came later.

I've got some Babani books from the 50s talking about making test equipment such as meters, sig gens and I think even a scope of a sort, and it all seems impossibly crude and horrible.

In terms of test equipment, and especially meters, we don't know we're born.

Then there were log tables and slide rules which were generally painful and have been completely wiped away by calculators you can buy for the price of a few Mars Bars, and certainly about four pints.

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Posted : 23/04/2014 11:31 pm
crustytv
(@crustytv)
Vrat Founder Admin

I found a Radio Detective when I was sorting out a great uncle's stuff around 1980

Would this be the Pifco, its tests valves too via the socket up top, well the heater only. Its complete with original box, case, instructions and probes. I've had this about 15 years, never use it just for display.

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Posted : 23/04/2014 11:47 pm
Red_to_Black
(@red_to_black)
Noble V-Ratter Registered

Around 1969 the physics teacher bought half a dozen Eagle 1kohm/volt multimeters for use on selected, approved projects and he counted them all out and counted them all back in.

Ah! An Eagle analogue multimeter, now there's a blast from the past. :)

I recall having an Altai one at one point too.

"This is my multimeter. There are many others like it, but this one is mine. My multimeter is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. Without me, my multimeter is useless. Without my multimeter, I am useless."

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Posted : 23/04/2014 11:48 pm
Katie Bush
(@katie-bush)
Famed V-Ratter Moderator

Well now,

Chris' meter looks like the posh version of the one I was given.. Mine was a basic red Bakelite case with the valve socket on the top, and similar terminals to Chris' one, only that I thought it read Ohms, maybe my memory is playing tricks.

Then, Altai... That's the make of the cheap Japanese one I had, and likewise, it cost me about three or four pounds in the mid 70's.

Marion

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Posted : 24/04/2014 12:18 am
davegsm82
(@davegsm82)
Reputable V-Ratter Registered

My first serious meter was a (now) ancient precision gold (maplin) effort which was actually fairly basic. Volts, ohms, amps but that's all. I still have it tucked away in a box somewhere, happened across it a few month ago and removed the dead battery out of respect for the old girl.

For the past few years I've been using a Fluke 175, I found it in a cupboard, long forgotten and liberated it. I also have an Iso-tech (somewhere) which has all the bells and whistles including frequency counter, a good backlight and RS232 IR connection.

Since I do a lot of programming, low voltage stuff, I don't need the big guns so I use these cute little characters...

On the left we have a 'Skytronic 600.005' - a terrible quality, somewhat dangerous tiny meter with Volts (up to 500!!!) - amps to 200mADC - Ohms to 2M and hFE. Also, on the 2K range it has a continuity buzzer.

On the right is a DS203 pocket scope, can't remember the analogue bandwidth but it's something like 72MSP if I remember right. It's got 4 'slots' for user programs, #1 is the normal scope program, I have a better version (more features) programmed into slot 3 which handles FFT etc. It also sports a sig-gen up to 50KHz.

Both of these are ideal for carrying around in your rucksack to break out when you're bored at work.

Dave.

https://sites.google.com/site/davegsm82/projects/radioputer - A BC5441 Turned into a Media Centre PC.

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Posted : 24/04/2014 12:34 am
Anonymous
(@anonymous)
Illustrious V-Ratter Deactivated Account

I found a Radio Detective when I was sorting out a great uncle's stuff around 1980

Would this be the Pifco, its tests valves too via the socket up top, well the heater only. Its complete with original box, case, instructions and probes. I've had this about 15 years, never use it just for display.

It wasn't as smart as that and didn't have the box. I recall it was more like a 60s Jap meter.

There's this

https://www.flickr.com/photos/billsmoorfoot/9068043921/

Which looks like a bit like an old fashioned alarm clock - minus the two bells on top.

It must be a few years earlier than yours, but the same Sherlock Holmes theme and there's one on ebay now, which I won't link to but seems closer to my recollection.

Pifco must have sold a few models. No doubt there were rivals as well - which the one I saw could have been. It's been over 30 years ago. I think I remembered it because I always wondered why there seemed to be no alternatives to the excellent but very expensive AVOs (there was Taylor and I've seen a couple of US ones - but they hardly seemed a lot cheaper) until the Jap meters started to appear in the 60s. Well they clearly were there.

Moving coil (D'Arsenval) meters were very expensive things in the 30s, which was partly why magic eyes were created.

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Posted : 24/04/2014 1:00 am
Anonymous
(@anonymous)
Illustrious V-Ratter Deactivated Account

This is the one I saw. It's often worth lookking at the images on Google if a search doesn't turn up what you want.

http://www.radiomuseum.org/r/pifco_all_ ... er_ac.html

The ebay one looks like a later version.

I don't think it offered much in comparison to the 60s Jap meters, but back in the day it would have been a lot better than nothing.

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Posted : 24/04/2014 1:24 am
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