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Old 19th September 2013, 06:51 AM   #1
themadhatta is offline themadhatta  United Kingdom
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Default investing in new tools

hey, i am starting to build more and more projects so i am going to drop a couple hundred of my hard earned pounds on new tools, i going to start with a multimeter and was looking around and found this UT-801 Bench Multimeter : Multimeters : Maplin Electronics anyone have anything to say about it good or bad?
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Old 19th September 2013, 08:24 AM   #2
richie00boy is offline richie00boy  United Kingdom
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investing in new tools
It's not true RMS and the accuracies are not listed. Based on that I would just get a 20 quid meter and spend the 40 left on something else useful. The only benefit of a bench meter is if you want to have it on a shelf above your workbench at eye level.
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Old 19th September 2013, 08:49 PM   #3
wissting is offline wissting  Sweden
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Agilent (HP) seems nice, got a few of these for work:
34401A Digital Multimeter, 6 Digit | Agilent

The cheaper educational model might be something:
U3401A Digital Multimeter, 4 Digit Dual Display | Agilent

Or get a fluke 8050 with good display from ebay.
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Old 19th September 2013, 11:56 PM   #4
Enzo is offline Enzo  United States
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I have some nice bench meters, but I still almost always use my Fluke hand DMM. I can park it next to my work and glance at it, I don;t need to look up at my bench riser. I mostly use the benchies if I want to monitor some voltage while taking various other readings elsewhere. And if you work anywhere else but in front of the bench meter, it normally won;t move with you.
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Old 20th September 2013, 05:38 AM   #5
PedroDaGr8 is offline PedroDaGr8  United States
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AVOID AVOID AVOID!

While I am a huge fan of some of Uni-T's stuff namely the UT61E, UT139C and a few others. Their bench stuff is rubbish. Not worth your money. It is basically a cheap handheld meter in a lunchbox. There is a huge amount of wasted space behind it.

Considering your price range. You are much better off buying used late model stuff. You can get a LOT of kit for $100 (USD equivalent to what the Uni-T goes for). Some names to look for are HP/Agilent, Fluke, Solartron, Keithley, Racal Dana, Datron etc. In general, the top three most common are HP/Agilent, Fluke and Keithley this isn't to say that the others are good. I'd love a Solartron 7.5 digit multimeter but don't have that kind of money.

Also, with bench meters, they tend to focus on getting the highest quality readings without the frills. Things that you think would be standard sometimes can be options. For example, some meters are DC only, AC was optional. Same thing with IE-485(aka HP-IB or GP-IB), RS-232, etc. Fluke and HP had a tendency to be bad about that at one point. Also, some sellers have no clue how to represent digits. They will call a multimeter with 5 numerals a 5.5 digit meter, which its not. It is a 4.5 digit meter.

Some models that MIGHT hit your price range:
Fluke 8840A (check options both AC and IE-485 are optional)
Fluke 8000A
HP 3478A
HP 3466A
HP 3457A
HP 3456A
Keithley 195
Keithley 197
Keithley 199

Avoid the fluke 801x (8010, 8012, etc.) they have an issue where the display goes bad and its getting harder to find these displays. This is an across the board problem due to LCDs that haven't stood the test of time. I think it only affects this line.

Personally, I have an old Keithley 199 which I really love. It has dookie brown color scheme that you either love or hate:
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The good:
  • 5.5 digits
  • >1 GigaOhm input resistance on lower voltage ranges (essential for measurements down to 000.001mV)
  • Volts, Amps, Ohms, etc.
  • <0.01% accuracy spec for DCV and lower Ohm ranges.
  • 4-wire resistance measurement (essential for getting reliable <100 ohm readings with high resolution)
  • An optional 8 channel scanner card (or 4 channel 4-wire) to get readings on up to 8 different channels.
  • AC, IE-485, True RMS are standard
  • Relative aka Zero function
  • dB measurements
  • LED display is easy to read even off angle on a crowded bench.
  • etc.
I paid $100 shipped for 2, one working one not. The one that was broken, it turned out was just a bad jellybean part ($0.50-$1 and super easy to find). At least one other 199 appeared to have the same fault. Though I pulled off killing a $20 part by being stupid.
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Old 20th September 2013, 06:30 AM   #6
1audio is offline 1audio  United States
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Both the Fluke 8800 and 8860 are great values and pretty cheap. Cheap enough that you can get a spare. They are all very fast and flexible. The 8860 has some interesting options that you probably don't need like the keyboard and GPIB. It also stacks with some other Fluke instruments.
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Old 20th September 2013, 07:25 AM   #7
wissting is offline wissting  Sweden
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1audio View Post
Both the Fluke 8800 and 8860 are great values and pretty cheap. Cheap enough that you can get a spare. They are all very fast and flexible. The 8860 has some interesting options that you probably don't need like the keyboard and GPIB. It also stacks with some other Fluke instruments.
the 8800 would be my favourite DMM, but! the ACV range is rubbish compared to anything modern, halfwave rectified average!

the early LCD DMMs like fluke 8050, 8010, 8012 and also solartron from early -80` suffer from LCD-rot. You can build a new LCD for the 8010/8012 (3 1/2 digit) but not for the 8050, and I think fluke run out of spares for these. Still I really like the 8050.
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Old 20th September 2013, 07:38 AM   #8
wissting is offline wissting  Sweden
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wissting View Post
the 8800 would be my favourite DMM, but! the ACV range is rubbish compared to anything modern, halfwave rectified average!

the early LCD DMMs like fluke 8050, 8010, 8012 and also solartron from early -80` suffer from LCD-rot. You can build a new LCD for the 8010/8012 (3 1/2 digit) but not for the 8050, and I think fluke run out of spares for these. Still I really like the 8050.
BTW, if you get an LCD-instrument off ebay, do not ship it with air-mail, that might break the LCD.
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Old 22nd September 2013, 05:38 AM   #9
themadhatta is offline themadhatta  United Kingdom
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hmm ok doke have taken everything on board and have started to look for a bargin fluke meter, basicly what i am doing is starting all over again, as i didnt have time for my hobby the last couple of years or the money, so i am buying myself all new equipment and a nice parts stock, i have built a few cmoy amps now and modified them slightly with higher end parts and liked the sound, just ordered ck3 and a o2 objective board, to have a go with next
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Old 22nd September 2013, 06:03 AM   #10
PedroDaGr8 is offline PedroDaGr8  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by themadhatta View Post
hmm ok doke have taken everything on board and have started to look for a bargin fluke meter, basicly what i am doing is starting all over again, as i didnt have time for my hobby the last couple of years or the money, so i am buying myself all new equipment and a nice parts stock, i have built a few cmoy amps now and modified them slightly with higher end parts and liked the sound, just ordered ck3 and a o2 objective board, to have a go with next
I forgot to address handhelds multimeters:

In general the top names in handhelds are Fluke, Agilent, Amprobe and Brymen

Fluke is the most well known because they have a long history of reliability and they have the Fluke name. There is a lot to be said for this.

Agilent is not in the least bit shabby. They often have some great features and precision.

Amprobe is well Amprobe. If you know multimeters you know that they make solid safe kit.

The last one is Brymen Technology Corp. They make some of the safest meters out there. Their top of the line meter is CAT IV 1000V rated, Fluke doesn't even have a single meter that has this rating. Not even the intrinsically safe stuff. They are the OEM for Greenlee, some Amprobe, some Extech etc. If you want a laugh though, check out their HORRIBLE webpage. You will feel like you stumbled upon GeoCities circa 1998. That being said crap webpage aside, their meters are no joke. 500,000 count, 0.02% accuracy, Cat IV 1000V all in one meter.
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