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Opinions on HP3478A meter
Opinions on HP3478A meter
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Old 27th May 2019, 09:30 AM   #1
suzyj is offline suzyj  Australia
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Hi guys,

I mainly use an old Fluke 87 on the bench, which is a very good meter. Until recently when I needed extra precision I just used a Keysight 34461A, which was very, very nice.

Iíve just bit the bullet and bought an LCR meter (BK precision 878), so hopefully will have something better than the 87 to test resistors and capacitors.

Alas Iíve lost access to the 34461A, so Iím thinking of buying something for home. I see a reasonable number of HP3478A meters around. They appear to tick all the boxes; 5.5 digit, reasonably cheap, HP...

Anyway, what are peopleís thoughts of them?
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Old 27th May 2019, 11:09 AM   #2
gerhard is online now gerhard  Germany
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I have one and use it daily.
Quiet display, no erratic hopping around like some others,
10 GOhm Zin for input voltage < 3V, so you can easily measure gate bias of a typical FET.
I like it.
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Old 27th May 2019, 11:46 AM   #3
jackinnj is online now jackinnj  United States
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Opinions on HP3478A meter
HP3478A has a very good true-rms detection circuit. to get better you have to roll your own or use an HP3403C/Fluke 8920A.
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Old 27th May 2019, 12:49 PM   #4
Chamberman is offline Chamberman  United States
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I've had my 3478A for about 3 years now and it works great. Be sure to change the CMOS battery out in it if you buy one. If the battery goes flat you'll lose the cal data. You also have to be careful when changing the battery. There are some threads online that detail how to change the battery without losing the cal data.

There's also a fellow online that has published a free program to control the 3478A via GPIB. It's here if you're interested.
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Old 27th May 2019, 03:24 PM   #5
ej25awd is offline ej25awd  Canada
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I got one and my gripes other than cal data vanishing with the cell backup dying is that its upper DC voltage range is only 300V and has no math/memory functions. Math function is very handy for resistor matching.

I also have the 3403C, 34401A and 3455A. The 3455A can do math, 3403C has the highest crest factor for its true RMS detector. I have a couple of Flukes, a 76 and 87.

Six DVMs is a lot but one meter can't do all the job that I need measuring. A lot of my test gear has this situation of one is simply not enough for the job at hand.
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Old 28th May 2019, 05:46 AM   #6
warrjon is offline warrjon  Australia
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I have one too, they are a great meter, we used them in the Laboratory as the goto meter until they were replaced by the 34401. Measure the battery if its over 3.05V check it once a year and replace it when it hits 3V.
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Old 28th May 2019, 11:28 AM   #7
suzyj is offline suzyj  Australia
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Thanks guys. I wasn’t aware of the battery backed cal data. I’ll be calibrating it anyway (I have relatively straightforward access to a 3458A) so that’s not a biggie.
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Old 28th May 2019, 08:47 PM   #8
warrjon is offline warrjon  Australia
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To calibrate the 3478 to specification you will need access to a 5700/20 and thermal transfer like a Fluke 792A, and standard oil bath resistors just using a 3458 does not give a 10:1 TUR Test Uncertainty Ratio.
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Old 28th May 2019, 09:27 PM   #9
cowanaudio is offline cowanaudio  Australia
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Opinions on HP3478A meter
G'day Suzy

I have the 3478 and a Fluke 8846A on the bench and much prefer the Fluke. It gives a much more stable readout at low voltages and the data logging is really useful. It has many smart features the much older 3478 is missing.
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Old 28th May 2019, 10:06 PM   #10
suzyj is offline suzyj  Australia
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The 8846A goes for ~5-10 times what 3478A’s do. I’d be single pretty quick if I spent that much on a multimeter.

Warrjon, I don’t understand the issue. The 3458A I can use is 8.5 digits and in cal. Any 3478A I’d be calibrating is only 5.5 digits. From reading the tech manual for the 3458A, I would simply measure a reasonable source with the 3458A, write down the value, then connect to the 3478A, enable calibration, and push the range up or range down buttons until the reading is the same as the first 5.5 digits of the 3458A.

It’s only 5.5 digits, so I can cobble up sources that’ll stay put to that level for the few minutes needed. Accuracy is unimportant, as I’ll measure the actual value. Only stability matters.
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Last edited by suzyj; 28th May 2019 at 10:22 PM.
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