What Leads For A Digital Multimeter?

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by abrogard, Dec 14, 2007.

  1. abrogard

    abrogard New Member

    Messages:
    8
    I just got a digital multimeter, the first one I've ever owned or touched, for only $10, new!

    Great stuff. But it came without leads. And when I look at it I see not two holes marked + and - as with my old analog meter, but three, with strange markings.

    So I don't know what to put in where.

    Could someone please help me? I've attached a pic.

    regards,

    ab :)

    Attached Files:

  2. BrianJohn

    BrianJohn DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    151
    Location:
    VA
    Common and the hole right above common, the bottom two holes, third hole upper most is for measuring amperage utilizing the meter in series with the load and source.

    I thought when you said you paid $10.00 for it that it came without holes.
  3. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    Make sure not to connect the meter ACROSS a voltage source with the COM and 10AMP leads, as that is pretty much a dead short.

    The blue socket on the left is to connect the three leads of a transistor ( 2 types, NPN and PNP)
  4. HandyAndy

    HandyAndy General Contractor, Farmer

    Messages:
    68
    Location:
    Haxtun, CO
    Radio shack sold meter leads at one time, I think they still do,
  5. abrogard

    abrogard New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Okay, got it. I use the bottom two holes. The bottom one is negative and the middle one is positive, to use my old analog meter terminology.

    The 'COM' marking threw me. I didn't think of 'common' as an answer. And I still don't really understand it, but okay, earth, neg, like that.

    DON'T use the 10ADC and COM across a voltage source. Those two are to be used in series when measuring amperage with a hefty 10Amp maximum. Well, sounds hefty to me. I've never ever before measured current but I guess I'll be bound to have a go now I've got an instrument.

    Thanks for the help, guys.

    I actually googled it and found it well represented. Available in the States at a recommended retail of $us15 !

    Sold by another outfit with 1 year's warrantee!

    Pity it doesn't come with a manual.

    I'll go get some leads for it and play with it...

    regards,

    ab :)
  6. 480sparky

    480sparky In the Trades

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    149
  7. abrogard

    abrogard New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Actually it turns out I've been too hasty once again... under the cardboard backplate of the blister pack was a kinda long bubble going across the bottom, something like you get on blister packs of screws, so's the vendors can stand 'em up on display I guess.

    But this wasn't for standing up for display, it had a little instruction booklet and a pair of leads in it!

    All for $10. Ah, it's a lovely time for penurious home handymen (if it weren't for the cost of timber and steel, that is, but you can't have everything).

    But thanks for the link to those other instructions, they're more comprehensive than the stuff I got, I've downloaded them and I'd read up on 'em.

    regards,

    ab :)
  8. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,647
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    multimeter

    Personally, any multimeter without a snap around ammeter is almost worthless to me.
  9. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    Snap around's are a lot safer too, they don't flash and hurt your eyes when you wrap them around a load larger than they can handle.

    bob...
  10. BrianJohn

    BrianJohn DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    151
    Location:
    VA

    ?????? Could you expand on this.

    I own a variety of clamp-on amp meters and have NEVER seen a flash.

    As for a clamp-on amp meter having additional functions, that is user specific. I never use a clamp-on for anything but measuring current.
  11. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    This is the reason. If you were to use the amp and common leads to try and measure voltage on a 115 volt outlet, you would probably see the flash. Snap on current meters don't physically touch the voltage like the leads do.

    bob...
  12. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,317
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    I think it is confusing to suggest that a snap-on (sometimes called clamp-on) ammeter is required. The only function that a snap-on ammeter has that a standard multimeter does not have is the ability to measure Alternating Current (A/C). That is essential in some cases but is probably less than 1% of the applications for a typical homeowner.

    It is rare that a homeowner would want to measure A/C current and I think using a multimeter for that purpose on 120 Volt circuits is probably hazardous. The only time I try to measure current with mine is small DC circuits.

    I have both and prefer the multimeter for most things because it has more ranges and a better display.

    Also a consideration for the typical homeowner is that you can get a multimeter for $10 and a decent snap-on ammeter costs $70 t0 $100 or more.

    Every homeowner should own a multimeter and learn how to use it. It is good for checking lightbulbs, Christmas tree light strings, batterys, cords, and numerous other things.
  13. Wet_Boots

    Wet_Boots Sprinkler Guy

    Messages:
    798
    Location:
    Metro NYC
    "banana plugs" are what will fit in the test meter connections. Pretty much standard issue for test leads.
  14. BrianJohn

    BrianJohn DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    151
    Location:
    VA
    A few thoughts on a DIYer and his inexpensive test equipment. The least expensive voltage tester most electricians utilize cost in the range of 35-60 dollars, and while this unit may be safe to use take care.

    Be careful using this tester, always test this and any voltage tester for that matter on a known live circuit prior to use.
  15. abrogard

    abrogard New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Yep, guys thanks for the input. I well understand the warning about checking the meter before use and the reminder is very good to have - my old radio shack analog meter had such puny wiring inside the leads that they just broke during the course of normal use and led me to detect no voltage on a circuit that was actually live.

    My fault for not doing a resistance test first I guess. No matter who's fault - a very dangerous circumstance.

    And thanks for the warnings about the 'flash that hurts the eyes', I got a laugh out of that but its equally serious I guess. My instructions read to let 15minutes go between current reading and not to leave it in circuit for longer than 10 seconds.

    I guess I could get an eye hurting flash if I ignored those instructions on sufficiently beefy circuit.

    I think I won't be using the ammeter part at all - I can't see where it would be useful when I'm constrained to one measurement every 15 minutes.

    But I'm very satisfied with what I've got especially considering the price. A better replacement for the analog meter plus the transister checker is nice (even if I'm only playing) and it operates as a signal generator, too, it says, that'll be good, something else to explore.

    I test wall plugs, light sockets, computer wiring, car wiring, that's it.

    And I nearly got zapped that time with the broken lead on the analog, so I'm a bit wary. Not wary enough, though, that was a timely reminder. Thanks.

    regards,

    ab :)
  16. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,647
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    ammeter

    when you get to the "checking electric water heater" part, then you will realize the benefit of a snap around ammeter.
  17. 480sparky

    480sparky In the Trades

    Messages:
    149
    Otherwise, this might happen.:eek:
  18. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    Ah rite Sparky, that's the flash I was talking about!

    bob...
  19. BrianJohn

    BrianJohn DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    151
    Location:
    VA
    If you see a flash like that from using a multimeter on a voltage system with in the meters rating you have a good case for a lawsuit...
  20. sbrn33

    sbrn33 Electrical Contractor

    Messages:
    31
    Location:
    Fremont, NE
    I was thinking the same thing. Who hasn't had the leads in the wrong holes or the meter set on the wrong setting?
    My lead set cost almost $30 bucks(without the meter). I can say I might be just a little scared checking 480 with that meter.

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