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  #1  
Old 02-24-2006, 12:21 AM
apropos apropos is offline
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Fluke multimeter for auto work?

I had that cheap $8 multimeter I got at Radio Shack 10 years ago. It broke, or rather the wires did, and I wonder about the replacement.

I see that Fluke 87 is a popular choice, but how does one justify spending over $100 for such a tool, I mean what features do I get that I don't get with that cheap $8 unit?

Specifically, what automotive features does it have, and what's that RS-232 interface for?
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Old 02-24-2006, 05:30 AM
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Fluke makes great meters, no doubt about it. If you use it a lot, you can't go wrong with a Fluke. If you only use it occasionally, you can get by with something less expensive (not cheaper!). I've had Flukes and now I use a Craftsman meter, and it's about 10 years old and has held up well. Even the probes are still in good shape, and I use mine a lot. Check around, and you'll see some good meters that will work for you, at a decent price. Just stay away from the el-cheapo models, they have the flimsiest probes and cases.
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Old 02-24-2006, 05:51 AM
Bob Ayers Bob Ayers is offline
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Fluke makes 2 models specifically for the automotive industry, Model 78 (about $300), and Model 88V (about $560). Both of these models are designed and built to be rugged (can take voltage hits to 4kV), and have features for measuring RPM, injector pulse widths, and frequencies. They also
have the capability of measuring the signals from O2 sensors...

These meters would be for the professional that would want a meter to last, and probably an overkill for your weekend mechanic.....
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Old 02-24-2006, 08:18 AM
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For automotive type work, you might take a look at some of the Actron models, or the upper line Kal-Equip models. I have an Actron CP7680 that I bought off eBay (cheap) a few years ago, and has been a good meter. Has all the same basic functions of the Fluke 88, but not nearly as expensive. Also works just fine for home and shop AC electric work/troubleshooting, but is not true RMS. Not sure the CP7680 is available anymore, but the Kal-Equip 3000 model looks identical with identical features.

http://www.kalequip.com/product_detail.php?pid=37

If you want the best and don't mind spending the money, go for the Fluke.
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Old 02-24-2006, 08:43 AM
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Fluke makes the best meters hands down but you have to be honest with your self and figure out how much you really use it. Flukes are a pretty pricey meter but you can get a great meter for alot less.

Im in the Automotive field and honestly I dont use my meter too often I acually own a Craftsman meter. I would like to buy a PDI meter in the near future because I really like them. Our school has a ton of them and they are great.



http://www.pdimeters.com/Merchant/pdiFr.html
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Old 02-24-2006, 09:34 AM
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I believe Fluke makes some of the better Craftsman meters. A good meter can be handy for other stuff around the house.
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Old 02-24-2006, 09:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by apropos
I see that Fluke 87 is a popular choice, but how does one justify spending over $100 for such a tool, I mean what features do I get that I don't get with that cheap $8 unit?

Specifically, what automotive features does it have, and what's that RS-232 interface for?
You get what you pay for, duribility and accuracy.
Also Fluke is american owned and have manufacturing facilities here and around the world.

The RS-232 is for computer interface to view logged/ recorded data.
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Old 02-24-2006, 10:04 AM
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The Fluke I had straight out of tech school made it through more than I ever expected. I got run over, left out in the weather, all kinds of careless things from when I was learning to take better care of things. It did finally quit, but it really took a beating before it did.
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Old 02-24-2006, 10:34 AM
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I'm an electrician and I wouldn't use anything but a Fluke. Of course I use it constantly and need the accuracy. Had I not be in my profession I certainly would just by a basic craftsman, radio shack etc. They are good enough to get you through
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Old 02-24-2006, 10:53 AM
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ACtron 76* does seem like a much better choice for me, or Craftsman. I do use mine once in a while. Electricity is a mystery to me. I've never used one to check resistance for example, but I do know that plug wires are supposed to have that.
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Old 02-24-2006, 12:27 PM
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If you're just a shadetree mechanic (like me), any good quality meter will work, I personally use a B&K.. if you do a lot of work, or just want the best, Fluke is the way to go... the new ones are tough!
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Old 02-24-2006, 06:09 PM
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Fluke are good and $$$
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Old 02-24-2006, 06:49 PM
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For around $200 bucks (shipped) I picked up a nice Fluke 78 from HERE. Great deal! Came with a nice, easy-to-follow users manual, and Fluke has some further testing techniques in PDF files that you can download from their website that show you different ways to utilize the various features. There is a long list of accessories for the 78, as well. Only drawback was, no carrying case included (sold seperately). Needless to say, it has come in extremely handy.

Bob Ayers can vouch for the fact that, when I first came on the board a few years ago my electronics skills were, ahem, rudimentary at best. But as I became better aquainted with the inner workings of my Fords, I quickly realized how important a good multimeter is to have in your tool box. I had been getting along with using another meter I had lying around for houshold stuff, but I wanted something specifically for the purpose of automotive testing, and then if it did more than that, fine. I poked around and did some research and soon realized that Fluke is a very reputable company when it comes to meters. Some more reading up on the company and it was clear that Fluke was my choice.

FWIW, another thing I took into account while looking for a meter is something that I have seen in several Ford Manuals regarding testing automotive circuitry:

Quote:
NOTE: "True RMS" DVOMs should not be used with the pinpoint tests because they may display different voltage readings depending upon if the DVOM is turned on first and then the test leads are connected, or if the leads are connected first and then the DVOM is turned on. Also, they may not auto-range to the same range every time and some units will display significantly different values depending on the range selected
The Fluke 78 is not a True RMS meter, so I suppose that's why it's on Ford's list of approved meters.

I have found that, when you have a good meter in your box, you are much more likely and motivated to tackle those pesky electrical problems.

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Last edited by Rockledge; 02-24-2006 at 06:57 PM.
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Old 02-24-2006, 06:59 PM
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Digital meters are limited to certain extent especially in automotive use. For instance they if you are reading voltage at a turn signal wire that is flashing you only get a bunch of jumbled digits. With an analog meter the needle will sweep up then down. Much easier to visualize whats going on. I have both and if I had to have only one I would have the analog type. Much more rugged and reliable in comparable cost meters.
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Old 02-24-2006, 07:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fixnair
Digital meters are limited to certain extent especially in automotive use. For instance they if you are reading voltage at a turn signal wire that is flashing you only get a bunch of jumbled digits. With an analog meter the needle will sweep up then down. Much easier to visualize whats going on. I have both and if I had to have only one I would have the analog type. Much more rugged and reliable in comparable cost meters.
Sweeping needles have their drawbacks, as well. In any case, Fluke is aware of that concern and that's why on their automotive meters there is a built-in "Precision Analog Bar Graph" that is displayed along with the digits. This is a quote out of the Fluke manual:
Quote:
The one problem with digital readouts has been that the numbers displayed didn’t give much information about whether the reading was increasing or decreasing. You may have experienced the frustration of trying to read the constantly changing numbers on digital exhaust gas analyzers or engine analyzers. Fluke has overcome the problems associated with traditional analog and digital meters by providing a combination display that gives you the accuracy of a digital readout with the dynamic measurement capabilities of an analog meter. Rather than adding new meters to test every gizmo that comes along, one good multimeter will suffice.
The Fluke 78 is probably better described as an Analog/Digital Multimeter. Fluke even uses those terms in some of its promotional literature.
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Last edited by Rockledge; 02-24-2006 at 07:16 PM.
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