Monday, August 28, 2017

Tool Review -- Mastercraft No. 052-0055-6 Manual Digital Multimeter

For the price when on special ($29.99 from $59.99) it looks to be a good deal.

The meter is everything I need, and I wish it were 100% ok because I'd like to keep it. But I'll be taking it back for a refund on account of what I consider to be an unacceptable flaw -- the 2VAC and 20VAC ranges don't quite indicate zero with the test leads shorted together. The 2V range indicates 33mV when it should be reading zero, and the 20V range indicates 9mV when it should be reading zero. I may be guilty of being awfully picky there, but that flaw really puts me off; it leads me to question the overall integrity of the instrument.

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Battery Installation

If you do decide to get one of these meters, you may want to know how to install the 9V rectangular battery. The manual's instructions are as clear as mud.

The manual tells you, "To replace the battery, remove the holster from the meter." Holster? I don't see a 'holster'. To me, a 'holster' is a carrier with a belt loop on it. It turns out that what the manual calls a 'holster' is the blue, resilient sheath that encloses the sides and much of the back of the meter. Pry off that sheath and the battery compartment cover at the upper rear becomes obvious.

Unscrew the single No. 2 Phillips recess screw, slide the cover off and you have access to the battery compartment.

Two More Quibbles
  • The rotary switch's volts settings are common to both AC and DC. A push/push button switch selects which it is. The switch's 'up' position is for DC; the 'down' position is for AC. There's not much physical difference between the two positions. That's poor design -- an unambiguous AC/DC selector switch, like a slide switch, is called for.
  • Stiff test leads. The test leads are remarkably stiff. Decent test leads are silicone insulated and supple.
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So, a disappointment. As I said, I may be being too picky, but I don't think that flawlessness is too much to ask from a mature technology, especially at the regular price.

It looks like if I mean to get a proper multimeter, I'll have to part with serious money for a Fluke.

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A Low-Cost Alternative -- SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2018

I ended up getting one of these from Amazon for about $20.00:

It seems that it's no longer available.

So far, it's been a good instrument. Time will tell how durable it is. Should it ever fail me, I'll be out of luck as far as any possibility of repair goes.

Anyway, it seems that there are reasonably priced alternatives to Fluke.

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