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Old 29th May 2011, 07:34 PM   #1
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Default Time to upgrade multimeter

I have 5 el cheapo multimeters on hand and none measure capacitance, so I started looking at other options. I'm looking at the Fluke 87 and the 187.....but youch, $250 for the 87 and $350+ for the 187......thats a lot of $$$. I wasn't quite expecting that but I am increasingly becoming more interested in electronics, particularly the audio side of it, I feel the upgrade is worth it so if the 187 is worth the extra $100 I'd opt for it.

Any other (cheaper???) or better options, links, or general advice would be highly appreciated and welcomed.

Thanks
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Old 30th May 2011, 07:25 AM   #2
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I have a Fluke 77-IV. Don't know the current price - I certainly didn't pay "list price" for it. I think you can be fairly safe with used test equipment, provided:
- It's from one of the "major names" (not a low-budget knock-off)
- There's no sign of damage or abuse (including clunks and rattles, strange smells, etc)
- It powers up and seems to do what it was made to do.

As for measuring capacitance: Yeah, the thing has a "Capacitance" function, but I always thought of multimeter "Capacitor" functions as more of a convenience feature, rather than a serious capability. I haven't done any legitimate tests, but I wouldn't try to use it for anything less than about 0.01 uF, or more than 100 uF or so. If I really want to measure capacitance, I'd get a dedicated capacitance meter.

Dale
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Old 30th May 2011, 08:18 AM   #3
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It all depends on your current and future needs. The 87 comes with a premium because it's from Fluke's industrial line. I have a 53 and a 79 that I'm happy with. The 179 looks good to me. Still at least the better part of 2 c-notes, but with reasonable care you can will it to your heirs in good working condition.
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Old 30th May 2011, 08:27 AM   #4
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MAPLIN (OK UK) did a lovely multimeter for 30. I'm sure RadioShack must do something similar without the price hike of the FLUKE.
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Old 30th May 2011, 09:41 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Andy5112405 View Post
MAPLIN (OK UK) did a lovely multimeter for 30. I'm sure RadioShack must do something similar without the price hike of the FLUKE.
I'm definitely open to any suggestions here. If the Flukes don't accurately measure capacitance, then maybe that's not what I'm looking for anyway....

Was checking Ebay, this looked interesting:

Cap meter "Kit"

For under $16, I wouldn't oppose taking a chance
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Old 30th May 2011, 09:52 PM   #6
tomchr is offline tomchr  United States
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Originally Posted by caxxxxxx View Post
I'm definitely open to any suggestions here. If the Flukes don't accurately measure capacitance, then maybe that's not what I'm looking for anyway....
The Fluke meters will measure capacitance within the limits expressed in the product documentation (i.e. manual). The main issue with handheld capacitance meters is that the lead capacitance will cause measurements of low capacitances to vary all over the place. That's the case for a dedicated handheld cap meter as well as a multimeter with a capacitance function.

The question is, how much accuracy do you really need? +/- 5 % is probably adequate for 99.9 % of what you'll be doing. I would expect most cap meters to be within +/- a few percent on everything but the lowest and highest ranges.

If you want better accuracy, you'd be better off with an impedance analyzer or an LCR meter. The used LCR meters that are any good start at about $1k. An HP 4194A impedance, gain/phase analyzer will set you back a cool $5k on the used market. Then you need the $800 (used) impedance test fixture for it.

~Tom
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Old 30th May 2011, 10:09 PM   #7
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Extech EX330 is one of the best values on the market. I use an Amprope AM-220 which also measures capacitance. Both are very good for the price. Amprobe is a division of Fluke. AM-220 runs around $35-40. EX-330 around $50.

Unless you are doing mission critical stuff, I wouldn't spend your money on a really expensive one, no matter how nice they are.

If you want to spend a little bit more, and get a really good one, try the BK Precision 2709B. Amazing deal for $100.

Last edited by TheLaw117; 30th May 2011 at 10:12 PM.
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Old 30th May 2011, 10:12 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomchr View Post
The Fluke meters will measure capacitance within the limits expressed in the product documentation (i.e. manual). The main issue with handheld capacitance meters is that the lead capacitance will cause measurements of low capacitances to vary all over the place. That's the case for a dedicated handheld cap meter as well as a multimeter with a capacitance function.

The question is, how much accuracy do you really need? +/- 5 % is probably adequate for 99.9 % of what you'll be doing. I would expect most cap meters to be within +/- a few percent on everything but the lowest and highest ranges.

If you want better accuracy, you'd be better off with an impedance analyzer or an LCR meter. The used LCR meters that are any good start at about $1k. An HP 4194A impedance, gain/phase analyzer will set you back a cool $5k on the used market. Then you need the $800 (used) impedance test fixture for it.

~Tom
Yeah, I think I can live with +-5% vs. $1K+, lol.

That Ebay meter kit I linked above is looking better and better, the manual says it's within 1% accuracy @ 1pF to 500 uF....
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Old 30th May 2011, 10:14 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by TheLaw117 View Post
Extech EX330 is one of the best values on the market. I use an Amprope AM-220 which also measures capacitance. Both are very good for the price. Amprobe is a division of Fluke. AM-220 runs around $35-40. EX-330 around $50.

Unless you are doing mission critical stuff, I wouldn't spend your money on a really expensive one, no matter how nice they are.

If you want to spend a little bit more, and get a really good one, try the BK Precision 2709B. Amazing deal for $100.
Thanks, just the info I'm looking for. I'll check into them, especially the BK.
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Old 2nd June 2011, 01:03 PM   #10
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I am on my second 87 in 20 years after the first one took a long fall onto concrete. It is an expensive meter but I never question accuracy or whether or not it will turn on. I agree with the comments on capacitance. I use it on sub 1uF and it is OK there. For larger values I use a bridge. In all honesty though I don't use my 87 anywhere near to its fullest. I got both of mine at a great price, well below list. Doing it again, the 77 would be just fine because anything the 87 isn't good at (like large capacitance), I have another device to use.
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