Looking for a digital multimeter

Dell / OPTIPLEX 755
September 3, 2011 at 07:26:21
Specs: Microsoft Windows XP Professional, 2.327 GHz / 3316 MB
I'm looking for a digital multimeter that I could use to test (among other things) the voltage in PC power supplies. I would like to keep in in the $50 or less price range. One that has caught my eye is the Amprobe AM-220, which seems to get fairly good reviews. Anyone familiar with this particular model? I'm certainly open to other suggestions.

1 Corinthians 15:3-4


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#1
September 3, 2011 at 10:08:26
Fluke is one of the best. Be careful with any of the cheaper models. They have very poor parts and in some higher voltages may be dangerous. Our parts people thought they'd save money on some China junk but the stupid things are not worth using. Get a fluke and have it for years.

1/3 of highway deaths are caused by drunks. The rest are by people who can't drive any better than a drunk.


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#2
September 3, 2011 at 10:39:18
Be aware that a multimeter alone, even the best, will only give you limited information as to the state of the power supply. At best it will tell you that the PSU is probably working.

Even if you get the correct voltages, without a load in the power supply you cannot tell if the power supply is still providing the correct vltage when under load. To test the PSU under load you need to plug it in and switch on the computer in which case it will be self evident if the PSU is working or not.

Test equipment to test a power supply properly on the bench is quite expensive.

Stuart


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#3
September 3, 2011 at 12:36:53
Thanks for the replies. I don't know if it would be worth buying an expensive device for occasional use. The cheapest Fluke multimeters I saw, even on sale, were over $100. I'm wondering if there are decent units in the $40 - $60 range that would be accurate enough to show noticeable discrepancies in 3.3, 5.0 and 12.0 rail voltages. Don't get me wrong ... I'd be willing to spend more money for a reliable and durable multimeter, as long as it's fairly accurate and can measure what I want it to.

1 Corinthians 15:3-4


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#4
September 3, 2011 at 13:03:00
"Don't get me wrong ... I'd be willing to spend more money for a reliable and durable multimeter, as long as it's fairly accurate and can measure what I want it to."

Then a Fluke is what you want. As mentioned, you can buy cheaper, but, as with everything else, you get what you pay for. I've worked in the electronics industry for nearly 30 years, and Fluke has its' reputation for a reason.

"Channeling the spirit of jboy..."


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#5
September 3, 2011 at 14:41:48
If you are only going to use it occasionally buy two cheap ones. I have those from Harbor Freight that cost less than $10 each, Two will give you another to check the reading and allow you to check voltage and current at the same time. Most of the time you will be checking batteries and power supplies under 30 volts. The more expensive ones like the Fluke which we also have may more features and maybe more accuracy but most of the time meters are used as go/no go for a few seconds at a time.

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#6
September 4, 2011 at 04:58:15
Good advice from everybody ... thank you. I started looking into this after seeing a go/no-go power tester on Meritline.com for $4.90, but that device only has "idiot lights," which may be sufficient for its purpose. But what if a PC is having problems with voltage drops or spikes due to a failing power supply? I would think that a multimeter might be useful to detect such problems, right? If I decide to get one, it would be for lighter tasks (e.g., testing PC PSUs, checking batteries). So again, even for occasional use, I'd want a unit that is durable and accurate, so I would be inclined to follow jefro's and T-R-A's advice about getting a Fluke (although wizard-fred's suggestion to get two less expensive units would be another option). Let's just say I decide to go with a Fluke ... any recommendations? I was looking at the 110 Series, and wondered which, if any, of those models: 113, 114, or 115 would best suit my needs for PC and battery testing? (BTW, could any of these Flukes be used to test a 12v car battery?)

1 Corinthians 15:3-4


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#7
September 4, 2011 at 07:03:56
I've always liked having the option of being able to test actual capacitor values, not just the "rising-meter" test to to see if it can simply hold a charge. That being said, the 115 would (personally) be my choice; however, I prefer to use a separate LCR meter if one's available:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LCR_meter

As far as being able to tell the true state of a car (deep-cycle) battery, almost any meter can tell you the voltage and current (under load) from a battery. Being able to tell something about the charge state of a battery is an entirely different subject altogether. Much has been written on this subject alone, and since I started working for a manufacturer of battery chargers back in June, I can say that what can be determined from any standard meter is pure speculation. Here is one page I'd recommend concerning deep-cycle batteries that sums it up pretty well (note: this isn't who I work for):

http://www.marine-electronics.net/t...

"Channeling the spirit of jboy..."


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#8
September 4, 2011 at 13:43:29
Well, T-R-A, you've pretty well convinced me that if I'm gonna get a multimeter, it's gonna be the Fluke 115. If you happened to check the links to those models in my previous post, they were linked to a company named Tequipment out of NJ. Anyone familiar with this company? Or are there any other recommendations for reliable vendors where I might order a Fluke 115?

1 Corinthians 15:3-4


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#9
September 4, 2011 at 14:01:48
Looks reputable, and they do apparently give you a free carrying-case. Not sure what they'd charge for tax/S&H, but it's also available through Amazon (which has free 2-day shipping):

http://www.amazon.com/Fluke-115-Com...

Nonetheless, should something occur to the meter, you'd likely be sending it to Fluke for service anyway.

An additional note---the screw-on alligator clips are also a big help as well:

http://www.amazon.com/Fluke-AC72-Al...

You could always compare prices by putting them in your "cart", but not committing to buy until you knew the differences in prices.

Don't forget, Fluke also offers free-stuff with proof of purchase:

http://www.fluke.com/Fluke/usen/Whe...

Again, if you choose the Fluke 115, I don't think you'll be disappointed, especially in the long run. They've been around a good while and are extremely tough and durable. Drop one on the floor and it will more than likely survive (and stay calibrated). Can't say that for many others.

"Channeling the spirit of jboy..."


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#10
September 4, 2011 at 18:07:59
Thanks, T-R-A. I'll keep you posted. Gonna do a little more research to see what else I could do with a multimeter. I don't do much more than work on PCs, but maybe with a decent unit like the Fluke 115 I might get interested in broadening my interests. :-)

1 Corinthians 15:3-4


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