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post #11 of 21 Old 06-04-2012
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Re: How to calibrate a voltage meter

I've never had a problem with ANY HF products, and after reading your post I decided to check my meters(3), one of which is a $9 HF, against my Simpson and my neighbor's Agilent--the readings were identical. Can cite some references to HF product failures, particularly their multi-meters? I would like to check them out for future references so I don't run into trouble when updating or replacing products for my boat.

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post #12 of 21 Old 06-04-2012
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Re: How to calibrate a voltage meter

For a working marine electrician, a calibrated voltmeter is not just nice to have, it's ESSENTIAL. For the reasons cited by HelloSailor, and for other reasons.

BTW, an accurate way to measure AC/DC amperage and in-rush current is also important.

Just because you don't know how to use such instruments doesn't mean they aren't needed....it just means that YOU don't need them because you don't make the kinds of measurements that more practiced owners and professionals make with some regularity.

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post #13 of 21 Old 06-04-2012
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Re: How to calibrate a voltage meter

Gary-
I don't need to cite references from some huge study. As I said, MY OWN HF METERS were seriously inaccurate. Since HF is infamous (see the hydraulic crimper thread) for changing sources as well, the HF meter that you have is not necessarily the one that I have, even if they are the same model number.

If you took ANY three meters, of different make and age, and put them all on the same voltage source at the same time, I'd be surprised if they all agreed. Unless they were all reference quality meters.

I've also got a HF polisher, a cheap one bought to do one small job. It shipped with two cap screws to assemble the handle onto it. One fit, the other was totally the wrong size. Someone in China grabbed the wrong cap scew and threw it into the baggy. Yes, I could have gone back to the store to exchange the whole thing, didn't want to make that drive. Customer support was very nice on the phone, said they'd mail me a new one in about eight weeks. Eight weeks to mail a screw?!

I found the secret cabinet where the local Home Depot keeps metric cap screws instead.

Also broke the plastic handle (the part your thumb goes into) on one of their freebie utility scissors. Store manager says, that's not a hand tool, it doesn't have the lifetime warranty on it. What, a scissor isn't a tool? What exactly is it, a weapon? An artifact? a design statement?

HF = disposable products, built to sell cheap. Sometimes that's all you need, but I wouldn't use them for anything mission-critical.
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post #14 of 21 Old 06-04-2012
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Re: How to calibrate a voltage meter

You're probably right about them changing suppliers often. I have some heavy-duty, deep socket wrenches that I purchased from them about 5 years ago, they're very high quality, and the cost was next to nothing. Keep in mind that I carry sufficient tools on the boat to tear down the entire engine, and I have a spare everything. I'm a great believer in Murphy's Law, and always try to be prepared for the unanticipated.

My electronics background is probably archaic by today's standards (I'm an old guy), but for me that's OK--I'm still able to diagnose and fix 99-percent of the electrical and electronic problems on the boat and at home. The 1-percent I cannot fix is usually something that couldn't be fixed while onboard the boat anyway. That's the stuff I send back to the manufacturer, and instead of repairing it, they just toss it in a dumpster and send out a new one with a freight and handling charge.

I still buy things from HF, mainly tarps for winter storage, bungee cords and hand tools for the boat. The hand tools seem to hold up pretty well, like the 18-volt, battery powered drill. It gets used a lot, the battery still holds a good charge, and the cost was just $13.99. I've been using it for three years, and if it drops dead tomorrow I'll buy another one and keep the old one for spare parts.

Cheers,

Gary
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post #15 of 21 Old 06-04-2012
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Re: How to calibrate a voltage meter

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post

If you took ANY three meters, of different make and age, and put them all on the same voltage source at the same time, I'd be surprised if they all agreed. Unless they were all reference quality meters.
Here's but a few of my cheapies, none of which agree with my Flukes..



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post #16 of 21 Old 06-04-2012
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Re: How to calibrate a voltage meter

Gary-
Funny thing about drills, Gary. The average "consumer" grade electric drill apparently is used for less than three hours, total life cycle. Consumers don't drill much. So they're designed to run maybe five hours, and then the bearings crap out and other bad things happen, which is why "contractor" grade tools cost so much more.

I have the trigger switch crack on a Ryobi that was almost new. Cheap little 50c plastic switch, the plastic sliding piece cracked. I figured I'd order a new switch, but no, Ryobi doesn't sell parts, either they warranty replace the whole thing or you go buy another one. And their special Chinese slide switch didn't match any of the US standard sizes.

Eventually they did the right thing and replaced it, out of warranty. But still, the whole concept of "throw the whole thing out, a fifty cent part costs too much" just turns me off. HF? You just know it won't be better. But for disposable tools, at a price, or stuff that's just too dumb to break...

Hey, Maine!
We've got the same cheap Sperry. Which oddly enough I called to ask them about, I think they said the DC is rated for 1/2% plus whatever float there is. I'm surprised you don't open 'em up and make 'em all sing the same song.

Last edited by hellosailor; 06-04-2012 at 09:04 PM.
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post #17 of 21 Old 06-04-2012
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Re: How to calibrate a voltage meter

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maine Sail View Post
Here's but a few of my cheapies, none of which agree with my Flukes..
Of course. My fluke gives me four numbers of precision, a trait for which they are well known. But I only need that kind of reading when I'm troubleshooting sensitive electronics. My work on my own boat is electrical in nature, not electronic, and has never required more than a couple tenths of a volt of accuracy.

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1984 Islander 30 Bahama
Pasadena, MD

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post #18 of 21 Old 06-05-2012
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Re: How to calibrate a voltage meter

I just ship my meters in for calibration every year or so. I very rarely need high accuracy but when I do it's important. Sometimes a current calibration certificate makes the difference between a client getting warranty coverage and not.

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post #19 of 21 Old 06-05-2012
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Re: How to calibrate a voltage meter

I can believe your stressing about a .06 range as unless i have and issue during and install and a 4 to 20 ma is doing funny stuff on a 600' run of wire




My Ryobi drills and batterys put my 3X the price Dewalt to shame and those drills have been out in the sun driving 7000 screws on one deck job

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post #20 of 21 Old 06-05-2012
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Re: How to calibrate a voltage meter

Milage may vary, but the fluke I use on the job gets sent out for calibration annually.

I've never had more than a hundreth of a volt difference in any of the cheap meters I use even the HF meter.

Of course if I did I would just adjust them on a couple of different voltages to match the calibrated Fluke.

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