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Your first multimeter can initially seem a bit daunting with all the modes, but the only way to learn is to get one and play with it. I damaged my first meter when I was young by using it on the incorrect range. You can damage these cheap meters, but at the cost you don't have to worry about it too much.
I probably made this video too long and complicated, but it's useful to know how things work as well as how to use them.
The very cheap meters sold for around 5 $/£/€ are usually pretty accurate for their cost and very usable. Once you've mastered using one you can move up to something with more features or more suitable for industrial work. These cheap meters are NOT suitable for poking around in distribution boards or industrial equipment with high fault current.
Meters have a category rating as follows:-
Cat I - electronic use (these cheap meters)
Cat II - electrical appliance, but not fixed wiring or distribution boards
Cat II - general electrical maintenance in panels and machines
Cat IV - utility level work with very high fault currents
For industrial work I recommend Fluke as it appeases the clipboard warriors. There are many other brands suited to industrial use too. Beware cheap meters with fake category ratings.
The Fluke meter in the video is an original American made unit, and was my first ever real industrial meter. It cost a lot, but has lasted well.
I recommend getting these meters from a prominent supplier in your country to ensure they comply with local regulations. The one I demonstrated is from CPC/Farnell and definitely better quality than the eBay imports.
If you enjoy these videos you can help support the channel with a dollar for coffee, cookies and random gadgets for disassembly at:-
http://www.bigclive.com/coffee.htm
This also keeps the channel independent of YouTube's advertising algorithms allowing it to be a bit more dangerous and naughty.
#ElectronicsCreators

How to use your trashy meter there's a lot of snobbery in electronics about what meters are good and what meters are bad, never is going, oh fluke, it's got to be fluke if you're starting off in electronics. I actually recommend getting yourself one of these little dinky meters they're only about five pounds: five dollars, whatever garber free, i believe, just gives them away free as a gimmick, very cheap uh in reality, they're a perfect meter for getting used to in the first place, because It means if you have a terrible instant and you do somehow connect the mains across it. While it's set to resistance and it blows the metered pieces, replacing the whole meter will cost less than replacing the fuse in your fluke. The flux are good, though, for if you're doing industrial electronics or poke around in mains wiring in your home, you don't want to use these meters.

That's when you want to use something more up. Markets like a fluke or one of the many other brands are made to the same standard. So, let's take a look at these meters, i'm going to show you how they work first and then i'm going to show you how to use the ranges, because i can remember buying my first meter from tandy and it wasn't. It was an analog meter and it had little holes for all the different probe settings and i didn't have a clue when i was young.

I managed to blow up very very quickly. It just stopped working went all wonky, but then now i know uh what that? Probably was but not to worry, so these meters are very simple inside they just have one calibration pot. Don't touch that uh. They have a chip.

In this case, it's a blob cover covered with a blob of resin, covering the chip and then little uh stacks of resistors to set ranges and on the back of it, there's a rotary knob that just wipes contacts around and as it wipes from round it does A couple of things that selects different resistors and it also chooses the position of that the decimal point in the display it moves according to the range, as it's set things worthy of note in here, there's a little fuse that fuse in this case is a 250 Milliamp, quick, profuse f250 milliamp, it's a 20 millimeter fuse. If you get one of these meters, it's worth getting a pack of fuses, they're, very cheap uh, just a little glass fuse is fine for these ones, uh, for because you'll be using it with low voltage uh. Otherwise, if you accidentally blow it - and it's very very easy to do particularly in these meters, because there's a bit of a weakness, but it's also a useful feature as well. I'll show you that afterwards, but if you blow it, it's just easy to change it.

There's also on the 10 amp range, the high current range. There is this big wire link that you should know about between the 10 amp connector and the common connector. If you accidentally leave the meter in that range and then you stick it across a power supply or a battery you'll, basically you'll be shorting it out through this wire link. These things are super accurate for, for their cost, they're, actually very good um.

The accuracy is achieved purely through using precise values of resistors, and this a tiny bit of calibration. This big shunt here for measuring high current all they've done is they've put a shunt in of a known size, and then they fine-tuned it by just crimping it with their. What looks like a pair of side cutters just crimped a little bit regularly until they've narrowed. It down to get a precise value of resistance actually then gets the desired result.

Um very simple, inside very cheap they're good. So let me show you what actually happens when you use these, then i'll show you actually how to use it so that little chip, let's zoom down this, just a little tiny bit little chip, just measures, a very low voltage, everything it doesn't matter if you're measuring Resistance or you're measuring current or you're measuring the diode. It's always just looking to measure as a voltage and to select a different ranges. All it's doing is it's moving along resistor taps to actually change the ratio of the test leads versus.

What's actually going into this, and the meter can also measure the ac and the dc voltage, you can measure the different polarities so for the voltage, it's very simple: it's just a resistive divider, usually for ohms. It uses a known current passing through whatever resistor you connect, say, for instance, this 10k resistor, it plus, is a known current and then the probes actually measure the voltage across it and by calculating based on the known current and the voltage, it can work out. The value of the resistor, so that's it's just measuring the voltage across the resistor again, if you have an unknown current in the current range, it uses known resistances and it depends the range you select which resistance it is. It simply determines that current by measuring the voltage across the known resistance, uh and again it's the voltage goes to digital display, and it knows it can actually display what the current is.

The diode test, such a useful thing, i have to say, you'll, find that uh 99 of your use of this meter is probably the 20 volt range and the diode and continuity test. I use those ones all the time. It's like almost never deviate from using those. It's kind of rare to use other ranges, but what you have with the diode test.

It uses a known voltage, three volts, passing through a resistor, so it passes one current between the the leads at one milliamp of current and then, when you actually place it across things for continuity, if it detects it's below about point, one volt, like almost a dead Short circuit it'll beep, but it also displays the voltage. So if you place these probes across a diode, it will show the forward valve the forward voltage that diode, which is a very good way of testing these, it's a way of testing. If a diode's working, what type of diode it is and if there's a short circuit that is it there's really it's a very simple system, it uses it's all just measuring voltages right. Let's do some tests, i'm going to zoom back out here a bit.

Do i need to zoom back out? No, i shall not zoom back out. I shall stay where we are, let's start with voltage. So, as i said earlier, the range i use almost exclusively is 20 volts dc. If you're measuring say, if you're measuring above 24, 20 volts, say 24 volts you're going to have to move up to the range higher, you want the range that's just slightly higher than the voltage you're measuring.

So in this case, i'll put it 20 volts. I shall bring in a dc supply that is approximately 12 volts, we'll clip that on and i shall energize the supply and it displays 11.9 volts. Now if i chose a higher range, it would still display the 12 volts, but it's displaying a lower resolution. A lower number of digits and if i go up to the highest range, which is 500 volts, it will just display it's not accurate, even accurate, that range, but it will display the that uh.

It will display 12 volts. Well, it is accurate enough, but there won't be any decimal places so by using the lower voltage, the one that's closest you're, going to get the greatest accuracy 11.99. Here, if you go to a too low range say for this 2 volt, the 2 000 millivolt range. It will just display a one that means it's out of range.

It can't measure that it's not going to damage the meter, but it just can't measure it. It's important to note that there are there's a dc voltage range and there's an ac voltage range. If i disconnect this, i recommend disconnecting the leads before changing to other ranges, if i select it to 200 volts ac, but then i apply dc. Instead, it's going to be all over the place.

It's going to display 25 volts that 12 volts. If you ever get weird results like that, make sure you're in the correct voltage, dc or ac, because the same that thing happens in the other direction and the reason for that is because, when it's measuring ac voltage, it's a very crude circuit. That's just averaging the positive and the negative cycles uh at 50 or 60 hertz. It's not it's just creating a very rough value.

It's in these meters they're not super accurate in that way, good enough for 50, 60 hertz uh, but not not as good as a professional meter for specialist applications. Certainly, with the high frequency power supplies, you can't use the ac range because uh it will it just. It will skew it completely because it will be too high of frequency for it right. Let's bring initiations firmer.

This doesn't look like a transformer. It looks like a fluorescent lamp ballast, but that's because it was made by a fluorescent ballast manufacturer. It's a slimline transformer 240 volt in 12. Volt out.

Let me plug this in. At this point, i should say that you shouldn't really use these meters. You can use them on 240 volts, but they don't have the correct electrical safety ratings for that. If i stick it in that's, set to 500 volts ac, it will display the 240 volt supply.

I've got here, but it's not. I wouldn't recommend it because uh you're relying on the protection of the circuit, it's not so bad. I've got a three amp fuse in this one, but if you're probing around the distribution board and you've got things wrong, particularly if you've got the current range and you stuff, these leads in it could make the the whole meter explode. That happens, however, let's go back to the 200 volt range.

I've got my 12 volt output here and there it is it's measuring the ac output 12.8 volts, because it's not loaded down, however, watch what happens when i turn this accidentally to dc voltage, 20 volt range and you'd think that would still read something even in the Ac, it doesn't the reason it doesn't it go it pretty much displays zero. The reason for that is because it's averaging out the voltage uh inside and because the meter is actually going, the transformer is putting out positive, 12 volt and then negative 12 volts. It's continually swapping polarity, the average is zero. That's why you get that zero.

If you choose the wrong range, i shall unplug this now slide out the way. Even for batteries like say this, 1.5 volt battery, the 20 volt dc range is good because uh, it's still accurate enough that you, you could go down to the 2000 millivolt range, but it's a bit harder to read because it removes the decimal point. You have to work out that that's 1.3 volts, but if you set at the 20 volt range, it's still accurate enough. It's going to give you two decimal places.

1.3 volt. For that battery. Also note the plarted, the little negative will appear. If i connect the positive lead to the negative terminal, it will still display the voltage, but it will display as a negative voltage.

That just indicates that the the positive lead, the red lead, is more negative than the black lead. At this point, i should i should have done this earlier, in fact, uh the lead positions here. This is where you've got a bit of a weakness in this meter. If you look at the fluke, let me grab the flick again.

The fluke has the common, the black lead. This one is also marked common here. The black lead always goes into the common most of these meters. Then you've got the other ranges.

You've got the volt, ohm and diode. In this case, you've got volt, ohm, diode and milliamp. Then you get 10 amp and 300 milliamp you've got the current ranges. The reason they normally keep the current ranges separate is because, when you actually put them into the current ranges it by the way it measures the current, it puts a very low value, resistor or a dead short across it.

If i was to probe across the 5 amp connection this or 10 amp, depending on the type of meter you'd just measure you'd see the shunt, it's really important to remember to make sure the lead's in the right place in almost all instances, you will have it In the the black in the common and the red and the volt, oh milliamp, if you put into the five amp one you will uh or the 10 amp one you're, going to basically you're not going to get readings but you're going to short circuit everything. You put this across it's worth, knowing that what's the next range resistance when you're measuring resistance, you have a series of ranges again: 200 ohm, 2000, ohm, 20k, 200k and 2000k, but nice. If they said two meg on there, because that'd be more easier to deal with i'll, just put this lead out the way here so say. For instance, we've got a 10k resistor brown, black orange brown, black and three one zero and three, which is one zero and three zeros.

So ten thousand ohms the closest range to that that's a usable, is about twenty thousand ohms. When you're testing resistors, it doesn't matter which way around the leads go make sure you don't hold both leads on like this, because, if particularly with higher value resistors, your just your hands holding, it can potentially skew the result that uh reading. So if i then hold this on either side, it will say 10.15 or thereabouts - that's the 10 000 ohms and if i set it to say a higher one, it would still measure it, but it would be to lower accuracy. So you kind of want the lowest setting possible if you go too low.

This is in the 2000 ohm setting uh. It's not going to read it because it's out of its range and it will just display the one again. Some meters display ol a bit of controversy there. Some people say it means overload or whatever, but it's not actually really overloading them.

Here is a 100k resistor just for reference purposes. Let's put up the 200k range again and stick this meter across it and it's displaying 98.5 approximately there's always going to be a slight extra resistance in the leads or the contact point. If i grip it with my fingers and hold it you'll see, the reading goes way off, because i'm actually some of the currents actually flowing me through me and that's skewing the reading next range, current okay say, for instance, you have an led: let's bring the power Supply back in again, i shall power this. This is a bonus thing of this meter that i quite find quite useful.

Here's, the led and a resistor in series, very pretty uh. One of the nice features about these meters is that you don't have to change the leads into different positions when you're measuring the current. However, that's also a bit of a curse, because if you accidentally turn around to that, even with the probe in the normal place, if you set it to the current uh, it's basically going to put a resistor quite a low value resistor across the uh. The leads and if you're probing about batteries or power supplies, it can actually damage the resistors or blow the fuse in the meter.

That's why i say you should get more make sure you get fuses. I've set it to the dc current range. There is no ac current range in this meter. I've set it to the 20 milliamp range, because that is a known area if in doubt, uh set it to the higher current range.

Well, let's start off: let's set it in the 200 milliamp range. If you go higher, if you go to the 5 amp range, you will have to change the lead over to that dedicated high current shunting side, but uh. I don't really make sure what, if you do, that switch it back afterwards, just it solves problems. You'll find this out possibly the hard way you may blow up your meter.

Don't worry about it! If you do so this uh, i want to measure the current through this led, so you break the circuit. You actually put the meter in series with your circuit. Now the led is lit the current's flowing through the meter and it's showing 13.7 milliamps. I can actually switch up to the 20 milliamp range.

It'll. Give me a bit more actually 13.62 milliamps with that. It's worth mentioning that, if, because this puts a resistor in series to actually measure the voltage across the resistor, when it's measuring current, you have to be careful with where any resistance in the circuit is going to affect the current flow. Significantly.

That's particularly important with things like lots of leds and very low value, resistors a limited current as soon as you add the meter in it can actually show a lower reading, because the meter itself has added to the circuit resistance. There is a way around that you can actually measure in circuit without interrupting it. If you know the value of that resistor, you can measure the voltage cross and that will ah, you can then multiply. I equals voltage divided by resistance and voltage measure divided by resistance.

That will show you the current flowing through the circuit, but that's only for it's not so critical in this application next and the last range one of the most useful. It's the one that my meter spends, the other half of its time in is the diode and continuity test. There is uh, i'm going to mention dave jones here, dave jones says: if it's got a gain test on it, it's a meter. Basically speaking, i tend to yeah, i i the only time i've ever stuck a transistor in this gain.

Tester is just to see if it worked. I never use that. Do you guys use the gain test? I've never done it anyway. The diode and continuity test is very useful.

You get meters that have discontinuity, but they don't uh have the beeper. This one has the beeper, and this is where me and dave disagree now. This beeper has the decisive. If you touch leads like that or scratch them, it has to be a certain time before it beeps, and then it does so decisively.

My preferred meter here with this big big display, it is more instantaneous and it's scratchy. This is what dave calls a scratchy tester, because it beeps instantly and if there's any bad connection, it hisses and crackles and scratches right. I prefer that, because it's faster and also it shows even to get a good connection, it's still crackling buzzing. It means that there's actually a bad connection.

It can give you a little bit more information, but it doesn't sound as slick and dave's going for the slickness as he does, then that's just his preference uh. It's fine! You know this decisive. It does sound better without that scratchiness. I just find this uh slightly less useful than uh that so continuity, the beeper, is important because it means, if you get a circuit board, let me grab a circuit board.

Let me grab this high voltage power supply if you're proving about doing continuity. Sometimes, if you have to keep taking your eyes off what you're looking at to actually look at the display, then you can lose track of where you were in the circuit board. That's why the beeper is quite handy because you can probe about and you can follow circuitry along and just find your way about it without actually having to look up at the meter. The beeper will only go if it detects a fairly decisive uh short circuit.

I'm not sure if it would even work with this resistor, it will display a random value for the resistor actually displays a close value to the resistor rating. Now here is one of the most useful functions. The diode setting actually passes a three volt supply at limited current uh, which means that for testing leds you can actually just without necessarily relying on getting a display. It will make an led light up.

That is very, very useful. The meter itself will only probably display about two volts, but it puts out three volts. Some meters don't do that. They can't test leds.

I prefer the ones that contest leds. That's a win for this one, but watch this. This is a standard silicon diode. It's measuring the voltage dropped across the leads uh.

If i put it the wrong way around, so no current flows through you'll get nothing. If i put it the other way, around you'll see the forward voltage drop of the semiconductor junction, which is about 0.6 volts 592 millivolts, and from that you can actually determine if this is a schottky diode. If it was about point, if it was say it displayed 200 volts at 200, millivolts 0.2 volts, that would be a short k. This one is a a silicon at about 0.6 and that also lets you test these diodes.

If, if both ways round showed open circuit, the diode would possibly open circuit if both ways round showed just continuity, beeping both ways round, it would mean the diode had gone short circuit, and that is about it. This one also has a little tone output. I think i've never really used that, but, as i say on this meter here, i tend to use diode and continuity, and the 20 volt dc range are the two ranges that this meter spends most of its time on and of those because i'm always tracing circuit Boards out, it's almost always in the continuity test, so i do recommend getting one of the peeper. This uh meter, incidentally, came from uh cpc in the uk.

It only cost about five pounds. I'm going to show you a feature that makes it slightly better than this. One with that dangerous shunt across the high current range, let's pop this open, it also comes with a cute little rubber holster, which gives a sort of cheap fluke-like appeal without actually the cost of a fluke. I do use fluke at work.

I recommend, if you're, probably about an industrial equipment, uh fluke is useful because it is pretty good quality and also uh. It keeps the health and safety narcissists off your back because they see the fluke and they say oh well, he must be a professional. So, very similarly inside but note how are the two fuses? One of them is soldered in this is a five amp fuse, and this one is in series of that shunt there. That also has a sleeve over it, and that is just an extra layer of protection.

In case someone does poke the leads in they're, also ceramic fuses, which means, if you do have an instant, if you were to poke it into a distribution board and short it out, then most likely these ceramic fuses would break the the fault current. I still don't recommend using for that uh this one, the fuse that says quick flow, 500 milliamp, but again it's a ceramic fuse, very good. It's just that little nice feature it's a proper peeper. It's a got this extra fuse.

It just makes this a pretty good meter. It does mean that this one, this does 10 amps, but this one only does 5 amp, that's probably because they're reaching the cable and the fact that this one does actually comply with british regulations, because it's from a prominent supplier cpc is part of farnell. As part of a element 14. - but there we go, these meters, don't be ashamed of these meters.

They're, absolutely perfectly fine, they're a very good starter meter. But as you get more into electronics, you may decide to go up market and choose something a bit posher or with other features like capacitance and things like that. But as a starter meter, these little ones are absolutely perfect.

13 thoughts on “How to use your trashy meter without blowing it up (much)”
  1. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Darran J Hankey says:

    Great explanation Clive , you know not that it matters , I failed a practical exam 34 odd years ago for testing a Bridge Rectifier by putting the positive lead on before the Black Earth ,,. Real old college lecturer , I'm serious , that cost me passing a vital module in Repeater builds we were working on pre Digital , we used to service the Duplex , / Ham style radios prior encryption ,,, love the channel , Clive btw. Have you tested any Pen Style Soldering Irons ? I'm not falling for a WISH special again,,, that was dodgy

  2. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Joshua C. says:

    I have one of those antiques that has the independent jacks for their ranges. Fortunately I was able to acquire a ratty cheap Radio Shack meter (that somehow still "works") early on in my electronics hobby, and IIRC it included a manual. Then again, I may have been able to intuit how it worked.
    I wouldn't go within ten feet of 480v 3ph with it though.
    Also I like hearing you say that. "Simple, cheap, and good."

    Talking about continuity buzzers, my cheap little analog meter has a scratchy continuity. It's so simple that it's VERY scratchy.
    Most of my nicer digital meters have a very short pause, shorter than your cheapie's, but not quite scratchy.

  3. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Vilvaran says:

    I'm pretty confident on the tranny tester in these things – it can tell you a lot about it's condition; such as if there is a low-gain.
    Personally I've found little-to-no difference between the reading from one of these and a dedicated semiconductor analyzer (handheld)…
    …and seeing as the theory to testing the gain is just the diode setting with extra steps; unless something is wrong with it!
    The things worthy of note: one of the polarities of transistors has it's gain measured as beta (collector current) whilst the other is measuring emitter current.
    Also with some transistors the gain might be off – for instance a power transistor is going to read higher than when it's being used at normal current ranges (40 at 1mA compared to 20 at 200mA for instance)

  4. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Christian Wagner says:

    I have a great appreciation for these cheap multimeters. The value they provide is immense. For beginning hobbyists who are working on low voltage applications, they may be all that's needed. I recall learning about electronics (a long time ago) and dreaming of having such a meter. My first unit was an analog device with a tiny display and 1,000 Ohms / Volt resistance. The difference between a trashy meter and a good meter is much less than the difference between a trashy meter and no meter at all!

  5. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Peter Sage says:

    Second viewing, I'd say most home gamers could get more utility out of a handful of trashy meters than a single pro-jobber DMM costing a couple orders of magnitude more. If you know what you're doing, two trashy meters will get you meaningful 4-wire Kelvin measurements that you cannot get from a single meter at any price point.

    Dave seems to think any electronics engineer needs at least 4 DMMs based on his use case of measuring power supply input and output voltage and current. At hobbyist voltages and currents, trashy meters are more than adequate for this.

  6. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Pineapple road says:

    I have a reletivly cheap (ok, not quite as cheap as those meters, £17.99 as of when i bought it) auto ranging meter, which can do up to 6v on the range with 3 decimal places (and up to 60v on the two decimal place range)
    and for whatever reason it also has a temperature probe (which connects in the same way as the multimeter leads), it has THREE different current ranges (which have to be manually selected, microamps and milliamps use the same probe hole, and there is a seperate probe hole for amps)

  7. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Norzel7 says:

    Bought a couple for about 4 pounds each quite a while ago; more that adequate for low-power stuff I prefer doing. Probes fell off their wires within days because they were literally hanging on copper core, but a decent pair from China is barely 2 pounds. One of those meters doesn't even have a fuse, only empty pads for it!
    And l've soldered alligator clips instead of probes on now vacant leads, which is much more convenient for breadboard stuff.
    I think there's ICL7106 clone under those blobs in, well, all of them. It, or better, it's led driving brother ICL7107 is a great chip for beginners, in my opinion, to do a basic meter from scratch and get a better idea of how those tools work.

    Could be a nice DIY project, with PCB divided into functional areas.

    AC range showing double DC voltage is just how this thing works – to measure AC, it simply sends it through single diode across about half of resistance it uses to measure same DC voltage, which would give mildly inaccurate AC reading (thus 200V range minimum) and double DC reading in one direction.

  8. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Zen boi :] says:

    Thank you for this video! I use those same types of cheap meters myself when working with low voltage DC or checking continuity, just as you've done in this video. I kept using them instead of my nice meters because they tend to beat the speed of auto ranging resistance meters (nice for checking potentiometers) and they work just fine for DC if you are more concerned with whether a voltage exists in a general range than a specific amount 😀 I learned quite a few things in this video I never knew about them and I am very thankful for that. Wish I could find that variant of it that complies with UK regulations, since I don't think I have any that have the dual fuses, though I haven't opened my DT9205A yet, which is pretty much the same as the ST-9905 shown in this video. Since it has a power button it makes it a little more convenient to safely switch between ranges. Though i've never opened mine to see the fuse setup in it. Anyway I'll happily keep using these meters, especially the "scratchy" continuity ones – those are a life saver for PCB repair!

    NO i have never used the gain tester!! 🤣

  9. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Daryl Cheshire says:

    my friend has blown analogue multimeters in his youth, the resistors go incandescent, he says the meter lights up from inside. I think you just blow the resistor for that range.
    I have a couple of digital multimeters but I also have an analogue one. I always like the moving needle. And if you are only measuring voltages it will still work even if the battery is flat.
    If you have it set to DC voltage and connect it to AC the needle will vibrate, presumably at 50Hz, I’m told it doesn’t do the meter much good to vibrate like that.

  10. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars LaserFlexr says:

    Heres a good test for your $300+ multimeter, take yourself some aluminum foil (good conductor), alternately stack that with Mylar film (good insulator) electrically connect every other conductive layer, then attach your voltmeter leads to either side of the massive capacitor that you just constructed. Press the stack to move the plates closer together and as it is moving you generate a voltage. Release the pressure to allow it to relax back to wider plate spacing and it produces the opposite voltage. Ball up your fist and pound the stack and blow the guts out of your $300 DVM. Buy cheap meters ever after.

  11. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Skyfox says:

    Surprisingly true about the accuracy of those cheap meters. I got a bunch of the free-with-any-purchase meters from Harbor Freight and tested them with my bench power supply, and they were spot on within 1 or 2 hundredths of a volt (and since my power supplies came from Banggood, those could very well be inaccurate, too). My first meter, which I still have, is a little pocket DMM that runs on two button cells. It does DC, AC, ohms, and continuity, and for most of what I do that's all I need.

  12. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars jammin023 says:

    I've got by with a cheapo meter that I've had for ~30 years. It looks basically the same as the yellow one here, in fact it's amazing how little these things have changed – except they've sped up the display update rate. I'm tempted to move a bit more upmarket to get an "instant beep" continuity test, but online listings don't tend to mention whether the beep is instant or delayed. So I'm considering just building a dedicated continuity tester circuit instead – seems like it ought to be pretty simple (famous last words)…

  13. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars wingerrrrrrrrr says:

    Though I'm fully saturated with meter ownership, the last one I recently picked up is one with an AC/DC current clamp probe capability, which was a bit out of the cheap meter range at $45, but did add a capability that none of the other meters had. Measuring current without needing to disconnect wires is very handy in some instances, like checking starter current draw, or current drawn by an AC appliance. Trade-off is a bit of accuracy, but it's good enough for my purposes.
    My main issue with the one I got was that they didn't provide any means for manual range selection, just auto ranging, and it does poorly for min max readings and measurements that happen to fall about the threshold between ranges, where it'll just jumping ranges. They fixed that deficiency with a subsequent model, but jumped double in price.

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