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If you just gotta Fluke it...
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If you just gotta Fluke it...

by easilyconfused on Sun Jul 04, 2010 10:02 am

As stated in other posts of mine I'm too green at this hobby to even deserve anything but entry-level gear. But, like most people, I find it hard to purchase something that I know is not the best IF the best is attainable simply by digging a little deeper into my very shallow pocket. And I realize I can't use that same mentality for everything I buy. I can't have the best of everything. But somehow I'm okay with that as long as it's not the multimeter.

So-- my question is this: If you just gotta have a Fluke (even though you don't deserve one because of your ignorance), which one would be the most inexpensive yet appropriate for hobby electronics as discussed on this forum? Amazon has this one (link below) for $136 (free shipping) but I'm pretty sure it's Chinese. I don't know if that makes it any less of a Fluke and I don't know if it's suitable for what I'm going to be doing (assuming I'm able to learn hobby electronics).

http://www.amazon.com/Fluke-115-Compact ... B000OCFFMW

As I discuss this issue with you guys I'm assuming that the alternative to a low-dollar (yet new) Fluke would be the Extech EX330 for $56 and free shipping from Amazon. What are your thoughts? The el-Cheapo Sperry I've been using has gone belly-up, so I need to order something in the next day or two. Thanks for your time.
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Re: If you just gotta Fluke it...

by adafruit on Sun Jul 04, 2010 11:36 pm

we rather like the EX330 - it comes down to whether you need the precision or not. since you'll probably end up with more than one mmeter (eventually) we suggest getting a cheaper one first and then upgrading as needed. my opinion is, if you have the $, getting a cheap scope is way better than a $$$ meter

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Re: If you just gotta Fluke it...

by oPossum on Mon Jul 05, 2010 1:38 am

Get the best Fluke that you can afford.

My Fluke is 23 years old and works like new. Every meter before it suffered partial or complete failure. The total cost of those other meters was more than double the cost of the Fluke.

Use cheap meters for secondary measurements if necessary. Your primary meter must be something you can trust.

Fluke 117 review (similar to 115)

Review of $50 multimeters (Including Extech EX330)

Durability of Fluke

Danger of poor meter design (at any price)
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Re: If you just gotta Fluke it...

by easilyconfused on Mon Jul 05, 2010 10:55 am

oPossum wrote:Get the best Fluke that you can afford.

My Fluke is 23 years old and works like new. Every meter before it suffered partial or complete failure. The total cost of those other meters was more than double the cost of the Fluke.


Like you, I've looked at all of Dave's Fluke reviews. He tells you flat out not to get the 117 as it lacks features that "we" need. In another episode (as you probably know) he gives you a list of must-haves (for the electronic hobbyist). That's where I get bogged down. I have that list but I don't understand data sheets well enough to know when they're there and when they're not. Right now I'm leaning towards this thing (link below) because it's only a little more than the Extech330 and "seems" to have what I need. And it's a Fluke (I think). It just seems to be too good to be true, and you know what they say about that.

http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.28659
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Re: If you just gotta Fluke it...

by oPossum on Mon Jul 05, 2010 11:40 am

The lack of low value cap and current measurement isn't a big deal. Most bad caps are tantalum or electrolytic of 1 uF or more. Low current can easily be measured by using a 10 or 100 ohm resistor as a shunt. The low current range of a cheap meter is one of the most likely features to fail, and I think Fluke is wise to leave it off most of the lower models. My Fuke 12 doesn't have current measurement (at all) and I don't miss it.

The 10 series (10, 10B, 11, 11B, 12, 12B, 16B) used to be sold in the USA. I don't know when or why they stopped.

The Fluke at DX appears to be genuine. They also have the Model 15 (no frequency, relative measurement, or tempurature).

http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.28658
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Re: If you just gotta Fluke it...

by oPossum on Mon Jul 05, 2010 11:47 am

easilyconfused wrote:I have that list but I don't understand data sheets well enough to know when they're there and when they're not.


Don't worry about the specs. All of the $50 meters Dave tested (except the busted Global) where very accurate.

Consider that:
- All meters where new
- Testing was at room temperature
- They had not been dropped (yet)
- The batteries where new

How will they perform in 5 years? 10 years? With low batteries? Are they really durable? Will it be accurate when hot or cold? Will the manufacturer fix it 5 years from now?

The specs don't tell you any of that.
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Re: If you just gotta Fluke it...

by easilyconfused on Mon Jul 05, 2010 12:32 pm

oPossum wrote: Don't worry about the specs. All of the $50 meters Dave tested (except the busted Global) where very accurate.


I took all you advice under consideration. And I really appreciate it. I went ahead and ordered the 17b. Just couldn't resist. I'm not knowledgeable enough to give feedback on it but I hereby offer myself up as a guinea pig. I'll report anything that's obviously bad and I'll be glad to check things on it for any interested parties. Probably still gonna order some Adafruit analog micrometers because people will see them and think I know something about electronics.
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Re: If you just gotta Fluke it...

by pstemari on Mon Jul 05, 2010 7:25 pm

The newer Flukes with LC measurements and what-not are awfully tempting, but the old Fluke 77 I bought when I was in college is still going strong. I've popped the fuse on the 300 mA scale one or twice, but it's no big deal to replace.

Besides, it's a nice sedate gray and not BRIGHT SCREAMING YELLOW.
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Re: If you just gotta Fluke it...

by mikeselectricstuff on Mon Jul 05, 2010 8:05 pm

The lack of low value cap and current measurement isn't a big deal. Most bad caps are tantalum or electrolytic of 1 uF or more.


I don't think I've ever used a low-cap range to measure capacitors.
However I've used it plenty of times to check which end of a cable has a break inside a connector, and also to estimate the length of cable offcuts without uncoilng them.

I've also used higher cap ranges to check the wiring of a multicore mains supply cable with 6 switchmode PSUs on the other end, 4 floors away.

Similarly I've never used the 4-wire low-ohms range on my HP 34401A to measure a low-value resistor, but it has located umpteeen shorts on PCBs.

R/C/L meters aren't just for R's C's and L's..
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