Arguably the most important tool in robotics, everyone should have a good multimeter, but there are lots of overpriced pieces of junk around. To be sure you get a good meter, you could go spend $200 on a Fluke, but I thought it would be neat to generate a list of favorites, particularly inexpensive ones.
Personally I’m partial to Velleman DMM’s. After a string of disappointing Radio Shack brand meters, I picked one up from a kit website (it was the only one they carried, and I wanted to max out my shipping) and got very lucky. They have unexpected features for their low price, with quite decent accuracy, and they look and feel like quality instruments (around here we call them fluke-a-likes).
For about a year now I’ve been keeping a Velleman DVM850BL in my desk drawer for daily use, and it is definitely still my all time favorite, mostly because I got a great meter for just $15 (about the price of the lame plastic rectangle meter at your local gas station!). It’s small (comparable to a gameboy) but it’s got all the normal features: DC Voltage and current, AC voltage, resistance, diode continuity, and a diode tester. It also has data hold and a back-light, which at first I thought were really really cool, and then never ever used. But, I recently managed to destroy the (unfused) 10A DC current circuit on mine, so I thought it was time for something new…
I just picked up a Velleman DVM890F, sort of the full-size meter big brother of my old DMM. For $40, you get the features of the little guy above (minus data hold and the back-light) plus capacitance, frequency, temperature (ambient and thermocouple probe), and AC current. I’m excited about temperature (it is 70F in my office right now) and frequency, but the real deciding factor was capacitance, which I really missed not having in my smaller meter. After playing with it for a day I’m quite satisfied.
So, anyone else have a DMM gem to share?