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What kind of Multimeter should I purchase

Fluffyboii

Active Member
I am sick of broken multimeters. The digital stuff it seems always go bad in a way that is inrepairable somehow. I destroyed my first multimeter which was a gift with EMP gun I made by tazing a coil of wire that happened to be too close to it. After that happened I bought another one and that one was just draining 9V batteries by itself even when it was closed so I ended up not using it since I did not have 6 9V batteries laying around. So I got another small better quality unit that was lot pricier at the time from a local seller hoping it would last long. That one ended up going berserk by itself after 2 years or so. I thought it was batteries so I gave it new ones but it seems like its processor or chip that does all of the black magic gone bad.

I have a Simpson 260 multimeter I purchased for like 5USD from landfill and fixed by gluing broken posts inside that were supposed to hold the middle selector switch close to the PCB. I used it for a while then middle selector switch started only working in certain places with applied pressure. Unfortunately it got some copper oxide on contacts that is resilient to %99ISO and other rust removal stuff I have so I need to take it apart to properly clean all the contacts it has inside. At least it should be repairable because it is old. Although even if I fix it I will not use it all the time since it is precious and very big.

Final cheap multimeter I got started acting up again with illogical behavior after only week of usage. I just want to measure DC, resistors and sometimes DC current. I rarely measure AC since AC stuff I want to measure is usually thousands of volts anyway and I got a small oscilloscope I can use for high frequency low voltage readings. I don't need fancy stuff for but cheap stuff keeps breaking down and feels awful to use. Sometimes I can link device failure to my user error but it is usually randomly occurring nonsense as I explained.

Anyway I still need something digital for the ease of use that will last long. I checked up the Aneng AN8008 and similar cheaper than Fluke but still should be decent models. Prices seem to be all over the place. Also I live in a sad country buying from overseas adds a lot of tax and even 35USD multimeter is considered very expensive because... From my understanding having true RMS and auto scale at least proofs some quality of the device even though I don't need those features. Maybe I should just get a cheap analog meter since they don't die from digital illness by themselfs. Or should I just buy something meaninglessly advanced and high quality since it is my fate to use it for a very long time. It is not that I can't afford a good meter, I just don't need all the bells and whistles and can not justify prices of some.

 

Nigel Goodwin

Super Moderator
Most Helpful Member
From my understanding having true RMS and auto scale at least proofs some quality of the device even though I don't need those features.


Not at all, they are common on cheap meters as well - true RMS is useful, but auto-ranging is more a nuisance than useful.

I would suggest though the problem is you - you must be seriously abusing your meters to keep killing them - I've never killed a meter in all my decades of using them (other than blowing an easily replaced fuse).
 

danadak

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
The low cost meters use a crappy range/function switch implementation with
wipers on PCB. When my meters act up first thing I do is clean that interface,
and usually all problems disappear.

The other problem is the flat ribbon cables connecting LCD to display, and the zebra
strips used. Again if you get partial characters, clean that interface.

I have a couple of AN8008, best cheapo meter I have ever had, but had to do
the above. The era of gold plated ceramic rotary switches is behind us, human
progress at its best....


Regards, Dana.
 

sagor1

Active Member
One comment I would make is to look for a multimeter that has separate current inputs for mA and A. Cheaper meters use the V/mA port as common, and it is easier to blow a fuse if you have the selector on the wrong range. By having a separate mA measuring port for the +ve probe, you change the human risk factors, at least in my case.
So, in summary, look for a meter that has 4 probe ports, one black for common, and 3 others (usually red) for measurements. Cheaper meters have only 3 probe ports.
Also, check what kind of fuses the meter uses. Some of them can be expensive, for a fuse. Always buy spare fuses, you will end up using them eventually when you make that "human error".
Even if you have a high end Fluke meter, you will blow something if playing around with an EMP gun. Human error accounts for most multi-meter failures, regardless of brand or quality.
 

Fluffyboii

Active Member
The low cost meters use a crappy range/function switch implementation with
wipers on PCB. When my meters act up first thing I do is clean that interface,
and usually all problems disappear.

The other problem is the flat ribbon cables connecting LCD to display, and the zebra
strips used. Again if you get partial characters, clean that interface.

I have a couple of AN8008, best cheapo meter I have ever had, but had to do
the above. The era of gold plated ceramic rotary switches is behind us, human
progress at its best....


Regards, Dana.
I did clean the interface as you said you can see the problem I got with my longest lasting multimeter at post #34 and 35. I don't think dirty contact can cause the beeper to beep and screen to light up in resistance measuring mode.
One comment I would make is to look for a multimeter that has separate current inputs for mA and A. Cheaper meters use the V/mA port as common, and it is easier to blow a fuse if you have the selector on the wrong range. By having a separate mA measuring port for the +ve probe, you change the human risk factors, at least in my case.
So, in summary, look for a meter that has 4 probe ports, one black for common, and 3 others (usually red) for measurements. Cheaper meters have only 3 probe ports.
Also, check what kind of fuses the meter uses. Some of them can be expensive, for a fuse. Always buy spare fuses, you will end up using them eventually when you make that "human error".
Even if you have a high end Fluke meter, you will blow something if playing around with an EMP gun. Human error accounts for most multi-meter failures, regardless of brand or quality.
Yep I failed to resist my curiosity at that one. It was like 5-6 years ago. I thought it wouldn't do anything to the meter. Instead it killed it immediately. Was asking for it tbh. Will keep in the mind 4 port thing.
 

Fluffyboii

Active Member
Not at all, they are common on cheap meters as well - true RMS is useful, but auto-ranging is more a nuisance than useful.

I would suggest though the problem is you - you must be seriously abusing your meters to keep killing them - I've never killed a meter in all my decades of using them (other than blowing an easily replaced fuse).
What are common things that kill multimeters. One thing I know is giving voltage to when it is in resistance mode, AND emp :/
 

Fluffyboii

Active Member
It is clean as it gets. I renew some of the bad looking solder joints on it but it is still broken.
 

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Diver300

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
What are common things that kill multimeters. One thing I know is giving voltage to when it is in resistance mode, AND emp :/
Fluke multimeters are generally not damaged by connecting to voltage on the resistance ranges.

I may have proved that more times than I care to remember.

As others have said, having to plug the red lead into a different socket before measuring current means that you have to think about what you are doing, which can reduce the number of fuses that are blown.
 

Fluffyboii

Active Member
There is my Simpson multimeter. It has these corroded contacts. It slowly lost functionality from the middle selector switch and died. All battery voltages and fuses are fine. IDK how to fix it or remove the back PCB. Brushing the switches with acohol or rust remover did not help.
 

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rjenkinsgb

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
Try some light oil, applied in very small amounts from the end of a thin wire?
eg. 3-in-1, sewing machine oil, clock oil etc., not a heavier oil or spray.

Deoxit would be best but it's very expensive, more than a cheap multimeter!
(Unless the school or an electrics shop uses it & you can get the switches treated without buying a can).
 

Fluffyboii

Active Member
Try some light oil, applied in very small amounts from the end of a thin wire?
eg. 3-in-1, sewing machine oil, clock oil etc., not a heavier oil or spray.

Deoxit would be best but it's very expensive, more than a cheap multimeter!
(Unless the school or an electrics shop uses it & you can get the switches treated without buying a can).
Would the oil for cleaning and maintaining guns work. Basically machine oil they sell for the stuff you said. I have some other stuff for cleaning electronic contacts but they didn't work on this multimeter.
 

Fluffyboii

Active Member
From what I remember, Gun oil is quite thick? Or at least the stuff my father used on shotguns seemed to be.
It may work, it will at least stop further corrosion.
i

I have this kind of generic lubricant. It is not viscous, more like regular vegetable oil. The contacts were already oiled from my past attempt to fix it. The odd thing is when I first got this multimeter it wasn't working because middle selector switch was dislocated by some impact that broke PCB standoffs. After fixing it it worked like a charm then started dying after I used it for a short while. It is a very old device so it is odd that it decided to degrade that fast after I fixed it.
 

Fluffyboii

Active Member
From what I remember, Gun oil is quite thick? Or at least the stuff my father used on shotguns seemed to be.
It may work, it will at least stop further corrosion.
I fully wrote about and put more photos of the Simpson 260 meter here since that site was the one that came up first when I searched problems about this meter. It died completely after sitting on a shelf so It annoys me greatly that I can't use it now for unknown reasons. I think it is something other than mode dial since it doesn't respond to anything.
 

Fluffyboii

Active Member
Hey, I finally got Simpson 260 working. It was a burnt fuse. Interesting thing is I checked the fuses like 2 times before taking it apart and looking for something else but at the end the fuse was the issue. I don't know how it escaped all of my checks. The mode dial was still corroded so it took few turns until 1X resistance measurement was working again. It seems accurate enough right now but I should probably fine tune it since it was dropped hard on ground judging from the giang crack across its body. I filled the crack with epoxy and put the missing nuts that connected the meter itself to the PCB. It is fine now.
IMG_20230126_183410.jpg

IMG_20230126_183147.jpg
 

JimB

Super Moderator
Most Helpful Member
Interesting thing is I checked the fuses like 2 times before taking it apart and looking for something else but at the end the fuse was the issue. I don't know how it escaped all of my checks.
I think that most of us have been there at some time in our careers...
We check everything, it all seems to be right and yet the thing does not work.
It is called experience.

JimB
 

Fluffyboii

Active Member
I think that most of us have been there at some time in our careers...
We check everything, it all seems to be right and yet the thing does not work.
It is called experience.

JimB
Maybe fuse was kinda intact in the position I checked it but not when it was inside the meter. I want to use this meter for everything but the possibility of damaging it just by not putting the polarity right scares me. At least it is working now.
 
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danadak

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
Maybe I am totally out of my mind but putting oil on contacts is not a recipe for
improving contact resistance, quite the opposite. Its an excellent insulator. I would
suggest using alcohol to remove the oil. I have used tooth paste on rotary contacts
to remove oxidation. But follow-up cleaning to get the tooth paste abrasives out
of the contact areas very important.

Regards, Dana.
 

rjenkinsgb

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
Maybe I am totally out of my mind but putting oil on contacts is not a recipe for
improving contact resistance,
Mineral oil (or even a suitable grease, in heavy switchgear) is excellent contact treatment. It flows from the contact surfaces as they move together, it reduces wear and prevents corrosion!

It should definitely not be washed off!

The only thing to avoid is using excess, as that will attract dust and dirt.

As many of the other more experienced engineers on here will testify, 3in1 has been used on potentiometers and switches for decades and works superbly well!

Just do not ever use silicone based substances on switchgear....
 

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