Digital Multimeter

This is the place for any magazine-related discussions that don't fit in any of the column discussion boards below.
Post Reply
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Dec 08, 2005 1:01 am
Location: Kirkland Wa

Digital Multimeter

Post by FlyingCarGuy » Mon Dec 12, 2005 11:07 pm

Hey guys, I'm looking at the Fluke multimeters. Specifically the 170 series. I'll be receiving my first robot in the next couple of days and the cheap meter I have now does not inspire confidence. What kind of meter would be best for me if I'm building my own robots? I'd also use the same meter for wiring the house and working on the cars. Also, what is true RMS and when would I use it? What is a CAT IV rating?

Here's a link to the ones I'm looking at ... series.htm
Flying Cars don't get stuck in traffic

Posts: 488
Joined: Wed Jun 29, 2005 1:01 am
Location: Missouri

Re: Digital Multimeter

Post by JPKNHTP » Tue Dec 13, 2005 7:36 am

-God Bless

User avatar
Posts: 2050
Joined: Tue Nov 30, 2004 1:01 am
Location: Seattle

Re: Digital Multimeter

Post by philba » Tue Dec 13, 2005 8:59 am

[note: somebody's been messin with the BBS SW, doesn't let me use parens and isn't doing url tags properly, sigh...]

well, I'd bet your cheapo DMM is a lot better than you think and won't make much difference. The one thing I would go for is a bigger, bright display. There is nothing more annoying than having a hard time seeing the reading.

On RMS, typically, the cheap meters assume a sine wave. The better ones actually do the calculations. It may be better but do you really to measure wierd AC signals for their RMS value? I've yet to really need it. Maybe for measuring inverter output?

For wiring your own house, with AC, I'd guess. I'd go and get one of those non contact voltage detectors - like this one

At minimum, I'd want the following in a meter:
- AC, DC, Current to 1A, min
- resistance
- Capacitance
- audible continuity
- Freq to a couple hundred K or so
- big and backlit display <-- don't skrimp on this
- decent built-in stand

Nice but not necessary
- temp, but depends on the probe quality
- diode - resistance doesn't do it
- Hfe
- serial connection

<small>[ December 14, 2005, 08:36 AM: Message edited by: philba ]</small>

Dean Huster
Posts: 1263
Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2001 1:01 am
Location: Harviell, MO (Poplar Bluff area)

Re: Digital Multimeter

Post by Dean Huster » Tue Dec 13, 2005 5:15 pm

Regarding the Cat IV, III, II, I, etc. ratings --

The higher the Category number, the safer the meter is to use in high-energy circuits. In other words, using a Chinese, Korean, Taiwanese (i.e., Radio Shack) meter to troubleshoot 480-volt 3-phase systems is threatening to shorten your lifetime, fingers and/or arm. A good Fluke Cat IV meter is best on those circuits (along with eye/face protection, insulating gloves, proper clothing, etc. Cat I meters are mostly for probing around inside a computer; Cat II can be used for household electrical stuff all the way to the service panel; Cat III .... hey, it seems to me that you can hit up the Fluke web site and get all this information from an authoritative source.

Dean Huster, Electronics Curmudgeon
Contributing Editor emeritus, "Q & A", of the former "Poptronics" magazine (formerly "Popular Electronics" and "Electronics Now" magazines).


Robert Reed
Posts: 2276
Joined: Wed Nov 24, 2004 1:01 am

Re: Digital Multimeter

Post by Robert Reed » Tue Dec 13, 2005 5:58 pm

As to true RMS- cheap meters measure RMS based on the assumption that it is a true sine wave, and become inaccurate for any other waveform. My Fluke meter is touted as true RMS and is based on , among other things, the crest factor of the waveform. This gives actual reading in true RMS ( which is the equivalent DC voltage to produce the same the same power). Lately, I have been working with a lot of Triac power circuits producing very chopped up waveforms and the meter gave me useful info pertaining to that. Dont know what Flukes limits are on various waveforms, but it seemed to work fine for this application.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 28 guests