Uni-T UT61E DMM
It's funny, I have had this meter for a while but didn't think to post it here until today. I know people on here (especially those new to electronics) are looking for a relatively inexpensive (<$100) quality DMM. I decided to share this meter because its a great quality meter that doesn't break the bank.
I was looking for a decent hobbyist meter and knew that I couldn't afford a Fluke and didn't have the space for a lot of the huge benchtop ones on ebay that go for cheaper. Anyways, while researching I came across this meter (Uni-T UT61E) on the EEVBlog forums. In general the reviews were that it was well built and seemed OK, in particular it seemed to do what it said. I decided to get it, mainly due to price. I had a coupon for DinoDirect that ended up making the meter only $41:D. At that price point alone, the fact that it was auto-ranging and TrueRMS made it a good deal feature wise. Since then , its become much more apparent of how good of a value this meter is. At the time of posting, this meter will cost you around $50-55 shipped (from China) and IMHO is by far the bang for the buck for a new meter.
First the specs/features:
Do NOT confuse this meter with ANY others in the Uni-T lineup. Uni-T is a VERY hit or miss company. When they do it well they do it REALLLY well, when they don't the device borders on complete crap.
The thing is SOLID, when I say solid I mean better than the Fluke 116 I use in my chemistry lab. Though truthfully, that 116 is kind of disappointing both inside and out. Even with all of the screws removed the device does not flex at ALL when I torque it in my hands. The dial has a nice solid click when you switch between functions with a good ka-chunk into the off position. The stand is sturdy and doesn't flex, I have no problem changing functions on this meter with one hand. The digits on the screen are LARGE with great contrast and the beep for continuity testing is good and loud.
Internally, the meter is pretty good to quite good. The input protection is adequate enough to be safe (much better than most chinese made meters) but not to the level of a Fluke (the one area where the 116 shines). It uses CooperBusman Arc-rated solid fuses (not glass fuses which can transmit an arc flash), has two PTCs and resistors, etc. Soldering is pretty good in most places, there are a few places where the hand soldering could be better. Some older versions (before mine) had weird manufacturing "fixes" such as stacked SMD caps. Recent revisions to the board have taken care of most of these.
Specs and Testing:
One of the most important thing is does it actually do what it is designed to do? As you know there are a lot of meters that have high ratings but unless its a solar eclipse and you are in Antarctica standing on your head they will never meet it. :D For example, the DMM company Victor is well known for drastically overstating their accuracy. Victor DMMs a are sold under a variety of different makes but the model names are usually VCxx or VAxx. Anyways, I decided to put this meter through its paces using some 0.1% KOASpeer resistors and a variety of caps I had laying around (Panasonic, UCC and eSC). Link to test data I had multiples of each value (at least 10 for the resistors) so I measured all of them and took an average. The resistors consistently showed an error of around 0.25-0.3% low, meaning that this meter could theoretically be adjusted to a much tighter accuracy. The capacitors actually were actually really close to their rated values. For example, the 100nF Panasonic caps tested within 0.3% of their stated value, while at a much higher capacity the UCC 100V 2200uF (huge freaking caps) had an error of 1.0% from their rated value. The only ones that tested outside of the boundaries of the accuracy of the meter were the eSC caps. Truthfully, I think thats just because they are crap. In the future I'd like to get some 1% caps to really push this meter on the cap measurement.
This meter is damn well worth the money. It's solidly built, does what it says it can do and is a damn good price. There are a few downsides, one is no backlight on the display. The second is the probes sometimes have a film on the tips that can mess with the measurements. Wiping with isopropanol (rubbing alcohol) supposedly takes care of this.
Edited to make the posts more readable.
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