(Topic ID: 175856)

Digital Multimeters - Recommendations?


By PinballFever

3 years ago



Topic Stats

  • 36 posts
  • 24 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 3 years ago by John_I
  • Topic is favorited by 2 Pinsiders

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    #1 3 years ago

    I need one for EM troubleshooting to replace my old busted up analog multimeter and there are so many of them. (No electronic circuit troubleshooting.)

    Thanks in advance,
    Bruce

    #2 3 years ago

    Get the cheapest one you want. Any meter will do what's needed for your application.

    http://m.harborfreight.com/7-function-digital-multimeter-69096.html

    #3 3 years ago

    I have a different mind set here. I use a Fluke. Cost about $100. I anticipate having it until I'm dead. It a simple dmm that has auto ranging capability. Nothing fancy but a very sturdy reliable meter. If you want cheap Harbir freight offers deals at times when they give away a dmm. I got one and it is definitely not on the fluke level but it works. Just thinking with a piece of test gear you never want to have to wonder if the test gear is giving the right information

    G

    #4 3 years ago

    I'm with GPS on this one... Get a Fluke if you can. Sometimes you do get what you pay for, and I think this is one of those cases.

    #5 3 years ago

    I too highly recommend fluke. I've been using them for years both professional and personally and they are always rock solid and problem free.

    But a cheap DMM will work too. Just depends on your budget.

    #6 3 years ago

    I'm very happy with my B&K Precision 2407A Mini Pro Multimeter. At $59.00 they are about half the price of a fluke, and very good quality. I have the auto ranging model but they make a manual ranging also. I also like the size, but B&K also makes full size meters if that is what your looking for. Good luck with your search.

    amazon.com link »

    amazon.com link »

    #7 3 years ago

    Might be overkill for you, but worth every penny... $125

    amazon.com link »

    Jaz

    #8 3 years ago
    Quoted from GPS:

    I use a Fluke. Cost about $100. I anticipate having it until I'm dead.

    Still have my Fluke 87 from about 1989 or so. Had to replace the LCD display in about 1994, but since then, it's been trouble free and rock solid. I'm sure it will outlive me.

    #9 3 years ago

    Fluke, hands down. still got mine. obtained in about 1990

    #10 3 years ago

    Watch this: You will want to buy accordingly.

    #11 3 years ago

    I use a Greenlee dm-210a. Has worked well for years. And as others have said you cannot go wrong with a Fluke.

    #12 3 years ago
    Quoted from Jazman:

    Might be overkill for you, but worth every penny... $125
    amazon.com link »
    Jaz

    That Bremen BM235 is what I would buy if I needed a great meter. My $10 Greenlee is good enough.

    Ask people who use meters a lot what features they find most useful. I think auto-ranging, a backlight, and an integrated stand are all features I would use in a DMM.

    #13 3 years ago

    Pretty much any multi-meter will work for most pinball applications. I'd just buy something I wanted from Harbor Freight, and get the multi-meter for free with one of their coupons.

    #14 3 years ago
    Quoted from Tomahawkjim:

    » YouTube video
    Watch this: You will want to buy accordingly.

    The one I linked to above is recommended and branded by Dave, the guy who did that video.

    Jaz

    #15 3 years ago

    If you want one that checks resistance, amps, ac and dc voltage and capacitors. Get the Fluke 179. If you want just the bare minimum, the free one from Harbor Freight isn't that bad.

    image (resized).jpg

    #16 3 years ago

    These are great recommendations and I watched the entire video. Strong recommendation for a good quality DMM there.

    I just want the meter to do coil resistance and circuit continuity tests for my 4 EM pinball machines.

    Is it worth paying more to be able to test current and would you test currents on an EM?

    Thanks again,
    Bruce

    #17 3 years ago

    Yeah, I got a Fluke just because all the cool guys have one, but a cheapo is really good enough.

    #18 3 years ago

    Another Fluke recommendation here. Miles better than the cheap-o-meters.

    #19 3 years ago

    fluke makes the best meters. i use a fluke 117. cheapos are probably ok, but if you want something reliable and will last for a while, fluke is your best choice.

    #20 3 years ago
    Quoted from PinballFever:

    Is it worth paying more to be able to test current and would you test currents on an EM?

    Normally you don't measure current, although all meters are capable of doing so. But you have to know what you are doing (not exceeding the the amperage limits of the meter). I HIGHLY recommend picking up a 1000 clamp on ammeter. If the amps you are measuring are, for example, 15A, it shows up as 15mA.

    Pretty neat but you have to be able to get the clamps around whatever wire you're measuring. Even then, I've only measured amps maybe 12 times in 30 years. Mostly to see what current a machine is drawing or the electrical lines to an electrical panel or circuit breaker.

    #21 3 years ago

    Haven't bought a Fluke yet but probably will some day. I've got one from Sears - a Craftsman brand but no idea who the manufacturer really is. It works great, but the biggest part is it does buzz for continuity. The cheap (ie. HF freebies and similar) DMMs often don't have the speaker so you can't just hear continuity which can be a pain when it's inconvenient to look at the meter. At least spend $30-40 even if you aren't getting a Fluke to get something decent. Worth every penny.

    #22 3 years ago

    It seems like people either recommend the cheapest possible meter or Fluke. I went through 2-3 cheap Harbor Freight style meters then bought a Fluke 289. There are order of magnitude differences in cost and quality between the two which makes it difficult to compare them. It comes down to if you want the best or you want something cheap. The way I look at it a multimeter is a necessary piece of equipment in this hobby and even a high end Fluke costs a lot less that what most of us spend on pins, so it is worth the investment.

    #23 3 years ago

    Thanks for posting the review above, very informative on things I hadn't ever considered. Also watched the $50 meter review - good options there.

    #24 3 years ago
    Quoted from shimoda:

    very informative

    Agreed! I've learned a lot from this thread, thanks guys.

    Looks like I only need the multimeter for measuring resistance and continuity.

    The video does explain the dangers of using cheap multimeters with live voltage.

    Looks like I'll get a cheap one to start with then get a fluke down the road.

    Bruce

    #25 3 years ago

    I'll tell you this much: Avoid "Extech" brand multimeters. They're feature rich for the price, but on the two that I purchased, I'd get different measurements from both under the same conditions. And old professor of mine who teaches electrical engineering courses confirmed for me that Extech brand multimeters were rife with issues. I never really trusted it after that, so I fell back on my trusty craftsman. Eventually I'll get myself a fluke (even their most basic model would suit my needs), but right now, I haven't been doing enough boardwork to justify the upgrade yet.

    #26 3 years ago

    This (Greenlee DM-20) is what I have had for almost a decade now. It's been all I have ever needed for pinball or home improvements (or really any other electrical need I've had). The only gripe that I have with it is that it doesn't read current. However, I purchased it at a big box retailer and it came with a voltage pen tester, and plug tester, and carry pouch. I would definitely recommend it to others.

    amazon.com link »

    #27 3 years ago
    Quoted from PinballFever:

    Looks like I only need the multimeter for measuring resistance and continuity

    You'll use the diode setting a lot too to measure, diodes, bridges and transistors. Almost as valuable as volts and resistance... maybe more so.

    As someone else mentioned, have a continuity setting with an audible beep. Very handy when checking fuses, etc., without having to look at the meter.

    #28 3 years ago

    Everyone likes their expensive toys. Fluke is good, but you don't really need it. I fix computer boards with a cheap DMM and a cheap audible tone logic probe. Rarely do I need to get the scope out.

    My every day DMM is a cheap mastech. Works fine, has some advanced features. I would recommend it.

    amazon.com link »

    #29 3 years ago
    Quoted from maffewl:

    This (Greenlee DM-20) is what I have had for almost a decade now. It's been all I have ever needed for pinball or home improvements (or really any other electrical need I've had). The only gripe that I have with it is that it doesn't read current. However, I purchased it at a big box retailer and it came with a voltage pen tester, and plug tester, and carry pouch. I would definitely recommend it to others.
    amazon.com link »

    I also have the Greenlee DM-20. It does read DC current. If I were to upgrade, the features I would look for are changeable leads, a backlight, and auto-ranging. I've never tested its accuracy.

    #30 3 years ago

    I burned through 4-5 cheaper DMMs in the $20 to $40 range before eventually getting Flukes. Some of the cheaper ones died completely, others didn't die completely but stopped working reliably. I now have 3 Flukes.

    Beyond reliability, one of the features I like most about Flukes is how fast they are. I can measure continuity and diodes very quickly which allows me to run through all the checks I need to do on a given board in less time. When checking shorts to ground on a long row of transistors, I can literally just run the probe across the back of them listening for a tone as I go. I haven't found a cheap DMM that can do that unless I go really slowly. If I'm checking 50 components on a board, saving a second or two per check matters.

    The other feature I really like is the tone on diode check as it prevents needing to look at the meter for every test. It makes life much easier when testing pinball boards as the diode check is probably the most common test I use. Not all Flukes have the feature. My current favorite is the 117 as it includes the diode tone test as well as the AutoV which is nice when testing parts of a board that could be either AC or DC.

    -Jay

    #31 3 years ago

    It isn't a fluke that Fluke is the best.

    #32 3 years ago

    For a long time I was a cheapie/free meter advocate for pinball work. Why spend money when Harbor Freight will give you a meter for free? Even though I was only using these cheap meters at home, they started to frustrate me due to a lack of durability. The test leads were very low quality, and tended to fail very quickly. Also the meters themselves were really easy to fry - all it took was one mistaken reading - either putting the leads in the wrong place, or having the meter set to the wrong function - and it was toast. I try to be very careful when using a meter, but probe slips just happen once in a while.

    When I started doing on-site repairs again a few years back, I was still in the mindset of using those cheap meters. One day I was on a call when my latest cheapie meter - once again - just stopped working for no reason at all. So, I ran to the nearest Home Depot and grabbed the only meter they had, a Klein Tools MM400. I was shocked at how good this meter was for 49 bucks. Auto-ranging, hi-low limit readings, hold function, capacitance, temperature probe, audible continuity, backlight. It has a built-in stand and built-in storage wells for the lead probes.

    I take this meter on every job and it's still going strong, even though I've dropped it and zapped it a few times. And, the original test leads and probes have held up great under a lot of use.

    This was a solid reminder to me that, if you're doing professional work, it really pays to have good quality tools.

    - TimMe

    #33 3 years ago

    Even more great recommendations and advice from you guys. This has been very helpful.

    Quoted from schudel5:

    You'll use the diode setting a lot too to measure, diodes, bridges and transistors.

    I have four EMs ranging from 1949 to 1968. I'm not sure they have diodes, bridges and transistors but I've been learning from Clay's pinrepair site that they can be used for modifications.

    Quoted from schudel5:

    As someone else mentioned, have a continuity setting with an audible beep.

    This wouldn't be very useful to me because I have a hearing loss but the guy in the video mentioned the ability to freeze the reading so you can look at it. There are several features he recommends looking for such as auto ranging etc in a multimeter.

    There's so many recommendations and reasons stated here for getting a fluke that I'm thinking about getting one in the 50-100 range.

    Bruce

    #34 3 years ago

    I've had this one since the 90s I think. When I made a living working on cars. It never failed me then, and now it's the perfect meter for working on these wired up wooden boxes. New and old. A product that lasts that long and is still going strong despite any abuse gets my praise.

    DSCN5186 (resized).JPG

    #35 3 years ago
    Quoted from PinballFever:

    I have four EMs ranging from 1949 to 1968. I'm not sure they have diodes, bridges and transistors but I've been learning from Clay's pinrepair site that they can be used for modifications.

    Even if you stay with EMs strictly, there are EMs that have bridges, diodes and capacitors. Some have bridges to power pops and slings with DC and some have timer circuits that use capacitors. But not common.

    #36 3 years ago
    Quoted from YeOldPinPlayer:

    Get the cheapest one you want. Any meter will do what's needed for your application.
    http://m.harborfreight.com/7-function-digital-multimeter-69096.html

    Generally I am a fan of HF, but this meter is worthless as tits on a bull. Flukes are nice. Even a used one from ebay will serve you well.

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