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Thread: Recommend me a multimeter

  1. #1
    Registered User Norbie's Avatar
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    Recommend me a multimeter

    I'm nearly getting to the point where I need to do some serious electrical work on my project car, and I recently discovered that my trusty Jaycar multimeter that I bought eons ago has been trashed by a leaking 9v battery.

    So new multimeter time. What would PF recommend for a know-nothing PF'er like me doing auto electrical stuff in a shed? Obviously I'm not a professional so I'm not looking to spend mega bucks on pro gear, but I still want something that gets the job done and won't fall apart in 6 months. I'm definitely open to spending more if it makes things easier/better/more efficient. The older I get the more I appreciate things that make life easier!

    I've done a bit of research online and quickly realised there are too many options, I'd basically be taking a stab in the dark. And that's still an option but maybe the PF brains trust can get me pointed in the right general direction?

    Sorry if this topic has been covered already but I couldn't find anything recent.
    Norbie!

  2. #2
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    Jaycar have reasonable multimeters for not much money.

  3. #3
    Gas Turbine enthusiast da9jeff's Avatar
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    Yep just grab whatever they have that is auto ranging (movies the decimal for you) and has a temp input. $50-100 should get you a good one.

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  4. #4
    No I'm Not Shonky Shonky's Avatar
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    For ELV (extra low voltage) like much of a car, pretty much anything will do the job from $20 up.

    If you are touching anything LV (e.g. 240V mains) get one with proper Cat ratings, proper internal clearances etc.

    How much you wanna spend? Taking say $50 as a starting point this should be alright:
    https://www.jaycar.com.au/economy-tr...meter/p/QM1321

    Backlight is often handy.
    Make sure it has auto power off - some surprisingly don't
    10A is good for the odd low (in car terms) current measurement.
    Min/max is often handy as a quick check for something like voltage whilst cranking.
    Check the probes for quality. Often they skimp out there. But you can replace with some good Fluke probes for surprisingly cheap sometimes
    Check continuity reacts quickly when tapping the probes together.
    Have a go in the store and make sure the selector feels solid.
    Temperature input/sensor with a K type thermocouple might be useful and you'll need to pay a bit more to get into that sort of function.

    I'd say don't worry about "automotive" multimeters with dwell and tacho unless you're working on anything non EFI.

    Altronics range seems a bit cheaper but the pictures don't work for me.
    Last edited by Shonky; 11-04-19 at 06:19 PM.

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    All of the above, but if you can find a unit with clamp DC it is a big bonus.


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  6. #6
    Convicted User data_mine's Avatar
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    As above pretty much any multimeter will do a great job on car stuff these days.

    I'd also recommend a PowerProbe, has basic volt meter, continuity tester, ground and power indication (with green/red LEDs, and different audible tones - great for tracing looms), it's show piece however is the ability to inject either power or ground into the circuit via the probe (up to a few amps), can be used to trigger a relay to test amongst other tasks.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by cub35 View Post
    All of the above, but if you can find a unit with clamp DC it is a big bonus.


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    Seconded

  8. #8
    no mods, leave it stock Jack Nicholson's Avatar
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    Get a China-spec Fluke off eBay.

    I bought mine 18 years ago, still going strong, had to finally get new leads last year the originals started to get a bit high in resistance...



    I used to work in a NATA-certified Electrical lab, when it was new I tested it for voltage and resistance accuracy, it was "pretty good".
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marv View Post
    Look, just because you drive a couple of imported luxo Pommy cars doesn't mean you need to act like an Imperialistic Lapdog and be the last bastion of defence for Straya The Beaut's mid-20th-Century ideals
    Quote Originally Posted by nutttr View Post
    People must assume you are some sort of drug dealer with all these nice cars turning up to a fibro home

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    Registered User Fraud's Avatar
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    I have nothing to add, other than I bought a test light with a voltage readout on it about a year ago after insisting on using a multimeter for absolutely everything on a car in my life until this point. I don't know why I waited so long.
    Quote Originally Posted by myshortyboomba View Post
    I've had many gauges in cars. I always found the conrods react faster than a gauge.

    you can always hear them when they break and they stop the engine immediately so you can't do any more damage.

  10. #10
    What's that whooshing? Aaron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Nicholson View Post
    Get a China-spec Fluke off eBay.

    I bought mine 18 years ago, still going strong, had to finally get new leads last year the originals started to get a bit high in resistance...



    I used to work in a NATA-certified Electrical lab, when it was new I tested it for voltage and resistance accuracy, it was "pretty good".
    Thatís the Fluke for the Chinese market not a Chinese clone of a Fluke isnít it?

    Theyíre a good thing for sure.
    ---
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  11. #11
    No I'm Not Shonky Shonky's Avatar
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    Re a DC clamp meter, generally you won't get an all round multimeter and a decent enough clamp meter in one. Certainly not in budget.

    SCA used to a have a rebadged Uni-T that was good down to single digit mA which is pretty low for a DC clamp meter, can be good for tracing battery drain issues without having to disconnect. It's a *very* basic multimeter as well. It's only rated up to 100A so can be an issue requiring deguassing if you put too much peak current through it. The other thing with DC clamp meters is they can be very sensitive to magnetic fields, orientation etc. So you need to zero it as close as possible to the test and measurement orientation.

    This one:
    https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/UNI-T-UT...e/273598608243
    Last edited by Shonky; 12-04-19 at 08:16 AM.

  12. #12
    no mods, leave it stock Jack Nicholson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron View Post
    Thatís the Fluke for the Chinese market not a Chinese clone of a Fluke isnít it?

    Theyíre a good thing for sure.
    Genuine Fluke product, not a knock-off. Just made in China, for the Chinese market. Although when I got mine 18 years ago it was an official product for the rest of the world, not just China.

    I bought it at Dick Smith's from memory, yeah, that long ago.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fraud View Post
    I have nothing to add, other than I bought a test light with a voltage readout on it about a year ago after insisting on using a multimeter for absolutely everything on a car in my life until this point. I don't know why I waited so long.
    I also have one of those. I got a Kincrome branded one on sale a while back. It's a good/handy tool, but a little limited since it can only check for voltage, polarity, and give you a voltage measurement.

    Doesn't help you for continuity checks when no voltage present.

    Mate of mine rocked up a few weeks ago with a Snap-On branded one to show off, identical to the Kincrome except it was red instead of blue, and $265 price tag :/

    Only thing I don't like is the alligator clamp for the neg is huge, sometime makes it difficult in tight spaces or with small things you're trying to probe.
    Last edited by Jack Nicholson; 12-04-19 at 08:22 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marv View Post
    Look, just because you drive a couple of imported luxo Pommy cars doesn't mean you need to act like an Imperialistic Lapdog and be the last bastion of defence for Straya The Beaut's mid-20th-Century ideals
    Quote Originally Posted by nutttr View Post
    People must assume you are some sort of drug dealer with all these nice cars turning up to a fibro home

  13. #13
    no mods, leave it stock Jack Nicholson's Avatar
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    I will say the Min/Max recording comes in handy when diagnosing bad batteries.

    Connect the meter up to the battery, start the recording then crank the starter, you can then go back and see what the voltage dropped down to as it was cranking, even if the engine starts.
    Jaguar XJR, Freelander 2 HSE, Jaguar XKR

    Quote Originally Posted by Marv View Post
    Look, just because you drive a couple of imported luxo Pommy cars doesn't mean you need to act like an Imperialistic Lapdog and be the last bastion of defence for Straya The Beaut's mid-20th-Century ideals
    Quote Originally Posted by nutttr View Post
    People must assume you are some sort of drug dealer with all these nice cars turning up to a fibro home

  14. #14
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    Yep, min/max is excellent for diagnosing shit.

    Connect to a fuel pump power circuit, go for a drive. get a true understanding of whats going on etc.

  15. #15
    Registered User Norbie's Avatar
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    Thanks for the advice everyone, that helps!
    Norbie!

  16. #16
    Non Compos Mentos Gammaboy's Avatar
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    I got one of these last year - was on sale for ~$27. It's no Fluke, but it's damn good for what I paid.
    https://www.jaycar.com.au/cat-iii-mu...ature/p/QM1323
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  17. #17
    Non Compos Mentos Gammaboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Nicholson View Post
    small things you're trying to probe.
    Pervert.
    "Where can we get hold of a Vincent Black Shadow?" "Whats that?" "A fantastic bike," I said. "The new model is something like two thousand cubic inches, developing two hundred brake-horsepower at four thousand revolutions per minute on a magnesium frame with two styrofoam seats and a total curb weight of exactly two hundred pounds."

  18. #18
    Registered User dnegative's Avatar
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    Chinese fluke, put a 15A fuse in it and your good to go.
    I see people with expensive meters all the time and they are a total waste of money.
    Quote Originally Posted by cracka View Post
    Fuck I'm retarded

  19. #19
    Ellis Juan mizone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Nicholson View Post
    Get a China-spec Fluke off eBay..
    +1 This.

    You buy them for life pretty much. They can be calibrated and are an industry standard.

    Look on eBay for a Fluke China DMM and you'll find a genuine one with Chinese manual (only for the Chinese student market) for under $200. Tehn download the English manual.

  20. #20
    Registered User Norbie's Avatar
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    I found something on eBay which claims to be a Fluke multimeter for $35. I'm sure it's a terrible knockoff but at that price it's worth a gamble I reckon, so I pulled the trigger. I'll find out if I wasted my money in a couple of weeks!
    Norbie!

  21. #21
    Opinionated Cunt perthdrivers.txt's Avatar
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    +1 for EBay Flukes, though mine was considerably more than $35....

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  22. #22
    No I'm Not Shonky Shonky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by perthdrivers.txt View Post
    +1 for EBay Flukes, though mine was considerably more than $35....
    A China Fluke is a real Fluke. A $35 Fluke will be a fake/copy.

  23. #23
    Ellis Juan mizone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Nicholson View Post
    Genuine Fluke product, not a knock-off. Just made in China, for the Chinese market. Although when I got mine 18 years ago it was an official product for the rest of the world, not just China.
    They still do them, however I'm seeing a lot of the China Flukes now have Fluke written in Chinese on them.

    Mine came with the calibration certificate.
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    I was working at a electrical engineering firm at the time but got a redundancy the day it arrived so couldn't get it calibrated for free :-(

    The same firm were buying hundreds of Fluke DMM units a year and couldn't get a price anywhere near the eBay China Fluke price

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  24. #24
    Registered User jabtronic's Avatar
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    I was after a new cheapy multimeter a while back and after tons of research I went with the $40 Vici VC99, also got a $90 Uni-T UT216T which is a clamp meter/multimeter that can do AC and DC current, the DC current measuring has been extremely useful have used heaps of times.

    https://www.aliexpress.com/item/VICI...699031619.html
    https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/UNI-T-UT...A/273783468752

  25. #25
    No I'm Not Shonky Shonky's Avatar
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    Supercheap have a rebadged Uni T for $60 similar to that one. 40A range reads to precision of 10mA.

  26. #26
    Registered User MWP's Avatar
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    Please avoid buying stuff like this from Jaycar on principal... dodgy fuckers.

    I quite like the Uni-T brand multimeters.
    My go-to at the moment is a UT-61E. About $100, and is a quality bit of kit for the $$s.
    Plenty of Youtube reviews on it if you want to know more.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shonky View Post
    Supercheap have a rebadged Uni T for $60 similar to that one. 40A range reads to precision of 10mA.
    Don't confuse precision/resolution with accuracy.
    The $60 meter has a 60A clamp meter range, with an accuracy of 1%+3 which equals +/- 630mA. Way over 10mA.
    In the 10A range it has an accuracy of +/- 130mA.
    It's still pretty decent for a $60 DMM though.

  27. #27
    No I'm Not Shonky Shonky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MWP View Post
    Don't confuse precision/resolution with accuracy.
    The $60 meter has a 60A clamp meter range, with an accuracy of 1%+3 which equals +/- 630mA. Way over 10mA.
    In the 10A range it has an accuracy of +/- 130mA.
    It's still pretty decent for a $60 DMM though.
    Not sure what you're looking at. The ranges are 40A and 400A.

    Anyway, I know what the difference is between precision and accuracy. Your quoted errors will be at full scale only. It's 1% of reading + 3. So your statement about accuracy is misleading IMO. Show me any clamp meter that beats this by any significant margin. Most won't even even get to 1% of reading. They are generally repeatable enough though to use that precision.

  28. #28
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    Why are jaycar dodgy?

  29. #29
    Registered User MWP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shonky View Post
    Not sure what you're looking at. The ranges are 40A and 400A.
    Ah, i was looking at the normal DMM, not the clamp meter.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shonky View Post
    Anyway, I know what the difference is between precision and accuracy. Your quoted errors will be at full scale only. It's 1% of reading + 3. So your statement about accuracy is misleading IMO...
    I guess so, but in the same way it's also misleading to say it has a 10mA precision... hence why i mentioned it.

  30. #30
    Registered User MWP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chartreusehj View Post
    Why are jaycar dodgy?
    Mainly because of this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SW8K9D9u5aI
    But other reasons too.

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