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Thread: In need of quality mutimeter tool

  1. #1
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    In need of quality mutimeter tool

    I would like to purchase and learn how to use a Multimeter. When I shop for one I 'bout get dizzy looking at the endless choices. Would like one to diagnose electrical problems should they arise on my motorcylce, (R1100RT).
    Should it be small enough to take on trips?
    Are some accurate and some not?
    Anyone have a brand name or specific unit that they would suggest?
    Digital?

    As far as using one I recently picked up a Haynes Manual for my bike and in the back pages they have pics and instructions for using one. Looks simple enough.

    I was not sure which Forum heading to list this under, do we have a TOOL heading? If so, I did not see it. I will rely on our Forum Moderater to set me straight. I need all the help I can get.

    Thanks,
    Mark

  2. #2
    Lucky motorradmike's Avatar
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    Hi Mark:

    Digital for sure.
    The cheapo 3-1/2 digit ones from Harbor Freight are astonishingly accurate.
    I have a $5 one in my car trunk which isn't very nice to use but it works fine.

    I say dive in and get one under $20 to start with.
    Mike Marr
    1978 Yamaha XS750 (Needs rings), 1996 BMW R1100RS, 2004 Honda CRF230F

  3. #3
    Outlander Omega Man's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mark from maine View Post
    I would like to purchase and learn how to use a Multimeter. When I shop for one I 'bout get dizzy looking at the endless choices. Would like one to diagnose electrical problems should they arise on my motorcylce, (R1100RT).
    Should it be small enough to take on trips?
    Are some accurate and some not?
    Anyone have a brand name or specific unit that they would suggest?
    Digital?

    As far as using one I recently picked up a Haynes Manual for my bike and in the back pages they have pics and instructions for using one. Looks simple enough.

    I was not sure which Forum heading to list this under, do we have a TOOL heading? If so, I did not see it. I will rely on our Forum Moderater to set me straight. I need all the help I can get.

    Thanks,
    Mark
    Hi Mark, I actually have a number of them from digital Fluke to analog Simpson. For the most part, unless it is something real exotic, I reach for my Radio Shack Cat.# 22-813. It's around $30.00 IIRC. Simple, easy to use, and if you don't use one regularly, you can pick it up and be re-associated with how it runs real quick. As things go, I'm not normally a fan of RS products but I find this one a winner.
    I am going to move this over to gear where it should get a better view. HTH, Gary
    "Well they say.. time loves a hero but only time will tell.. If he's real, he's a legend from heaven If he ain't he was sent here from hell" Lowell George
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  4. #4
    Bluenoser
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    Whichever one you get just make sure the scale will go into 2 decimal places ie: voltage/ohms scale shows 12.56 rather than 12.5. You'll find it much more useful.

    Some of the cheaper ones don't have useful enough ranges. Other than that the cheaper ones are going to be more than accurate enough.
    1971 R50/5 SWB with R75/6 drivetrain
    2013 DL650

  5. #5
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    I like the Radio Shack 22-813 too. After getting one for work I liked it enough to get one for home also.

  6. #6
    AstroBob bob88061's Avatar
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    Dmm

    I bought several of these for myself and friends:
    http://www.harborfreight.com/7-funct...ter-90899.html

    At the time they were on sale for a $1.99 now they are all of $4.99. Small, light, and easy to pack. Yes they read .01V on the 20V scale and are accurate enough. Just remember to switch OFF (no auto off function) to save your battery.
    'If life throws you a curve, lean into it!'
    Bob Bryant
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    www.teambryant.org

  7. #7
    Benchwrenching PGlaves's Avatar
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    You may or may not need this feature, but I would want one that will measure up to 10 amps of current. Many will only measure milli-amps which might detect why your clock ran the battery down over the winter but won't find a significant draw or load. Absent a complete short circuit 10 amps usually will tell you what is drawing how much power.

    Somehow my best one that does measure up to 10 amps of current has taken up residence in Kansas while I live in Texas, and just yesterday I needed that feature and the several multimeters I have here don'g go over 200 milliamps on the ampmeter setting so going to town was on my short list of things to do.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell
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  8. #8
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    Is there a way to tell if meter is indeed accurate? I have the Harbor Freight model, which seems fine, but I suspect it might read high when measuring voltage.
    '14 R1200GS,
    Priors: '13 K1600GT, '08 R1200RT, '04 R1150RT, '05 R1200GS, '73 R75/5.

  9. #9
    Proud Veteran SteveAikens's Avatar
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    I have a Blue-Point EEDM504A I bought "a while ago" - long time. Blue-Point is the brand sold by SnapOn. It's a really good multimeter, measures up to 10 amps, down to a microampere [current up to 326 mA].

    I sent mine to Microprecision Calibration Inc. a couple years ago for recalibration. I paid for the test but no calibration was needed. Pretty solid for as much as I used it.

    They, and other Blu-Point MM's are found on eBay pretty cheap these days. Right now, there are a couple EEDM504D's that are BIN's for $29 on up.

    I've had a few of the Radio Shack MM's over the years and they do ok but in my experience, they're not very stable. OTOH, I snagged a compact one from Radio Shack that was pretty self-contained to carry on the bike that worked great for everything I wanted to use it for on the road. It was in a fold-over case and about the size of half a deck of cards. I think I paid something like $20 or so for it and checked it out in the garage before I trusted it. Really a well spent $20.

    Anyone even remotely interested in doing any work on their motorcycles should have this valuable tool in their arsenal. Do a search for "using a digital multimeter" in google and you'll get all the information you'll need to learn to use one effectively for free.

    One last note - "cheap" in multimeters for routine use DOES NOT mean "cheap" in the common sense of the word. You can get excellant results with a $20 MM so make sure you have the need for what you pay for when considering a high dollar MM.

    Good luck.
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  10. #10
    Proud Veteran SteveAikens's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sailorlite View Post
    Is there a way to tell if meter is indeed accurate? I have the Harbor Freight model, which seems fine, but I suspect it might read high when measuring voltage.
    Can't speak to their ability to do so on a Harbor Frieght MM but Microprecision Calibration/ has a good reputation and I've known about them and used them for about 30 years or more.
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  11. #11
    Lucky motorradmike's Avatar
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    About calibration

    Quote Originally Posted by Sailorlite View Post
    Is there a way to tell if meter is indeed accurate? I have the Harbor Freight model, which seems fine, but I suspect it might read high when measuring voltage.
    Calibration has its place, I won't argue that, but you don't need to spend any money on it for a garage use 'instrument'.

    You can verify your meter by comparing it to another one. If it agrees to a couple of others within 100mV around 12V then what more do you need?

    If you still want to send it out, bear in mind that "Calibration" simply means they will tell you whether or not it meets spec., they won't do anything to make it more accurate.
    I'm not sure how they'd react if you sent them a HF meter.
    Mike Marr
    1978 Yamaha XS750 (Needs rings), 1996 BMW R1100RS, 2004 Honda CRF230F

  12. #12
    Proud Veteran SteveAikens's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MotorradMike View Post
    Calibration has its place, I won't argue that, but you don't need to spend any money on it for a garage use 'instrument'.
    .....

    If you still want to send it out, bear in mind that "Calibration" simply means they will tell you whether or not it meets spec., they won't do anything to make it more accurate.
    That's not correct Mike. Some servce providers can and do have the ability to calibrate to the required spec.

    "Micro Precision Calibration Inc. is an ISO/IEC 17025:2005 Accredited Laboratories that perform Calibration traceable to International Standards. We are ISO 9001:2008 Registered and ANSI/NCSL Z-540.1-1994 Compliant. This allows Micro Precision Calibration Service to provide state-of-the-art test equipment calibration services that precisely measure scale, flow, force, torque, weight, pressure, temperature, optical and calibrate almost any mechanical, electronic, or dimensional instrument."

    However, what you are correct on is whether the general garage guy or gal needs the level of measurement accuracy to "fix yer beemer".

    My point in noting calibration was not to suggest everyone needs it. It was to point out that well made test equipment is generally stable - even when it's not exactly treated with kid gloves. Also note that "well made" doesn't necessarily mean expensive.
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  13. #13
    leesrt
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    I've been an electronics tech for the last 28 years so it really depends on what you want it for. For general shop use a simple radio shack model is fine. If you want durability, accuracy, and a warranty I would go with Fluke. Keep in mind that a cheap fluke will still be in the triple digits.

    There's nothing that complex on our bikes that a simple sub $50 dmm can't handle.

  14. #14
    AstroBob bob88061's Avatar
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    More on HF DMM

    Worked as a EE for 37 years at EADS Test & Service (aka Dana Laboratories maker of the 1st portable DMM in 1974). We designed and built DMMs from the 3.5 digit Danameter to the 6900 a 6.5 digit DMM. Our lab could cert DMMs to 10ppm.
    For the garage all you need is 1% or reading (the analog Simpson 260 was 2% of full scale or +/- 500mV at 12V). The Cen-Tech from HF has a spec. or .5% +/1 digits on the 20V range. At 12V that is +/- 80mV (1 year spec). The HF meter also has a 10A range.

    Agree w/ Leesrt but this $4.99 DMM is also quite adequate :-)
    'If life throws you a curve, lean into it!'
    Bob Bryant
    BMW 2005 R1200RT
    www.teambryant.org

  15. #15
    Small road corner junkie pffog's Avatar
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    +1 on a 10 amp shunt.

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