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Closet Powerboater
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
For all the messing about with electrical systems I've done over the past 15 years of boat ownership, I've always used a cheapo Radio Shack brand multi-meter. I know I could do better, but it was always there, and always told me my DC voltage and ohms of resistance which was all I usually needed.

I'd like to upgrade to something better. I'm not even sure what other features I'm missing out on, though I think I've seen some units that you can clamp around a wire and sense volts/amps. That would be useful.

I'd like something good, but something cheap enough that I won't be bound by honor to commit ritual seppuku if I drop it in the bilge.

MedSailor
 

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Bristol 45.5 - AiniA
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I may get pilloried for saying this, but I was in the same situation as you a few years ago. I thought one of the clamp on ones would be useful. Now I find that the main use for the clamp is to hook the meter onto something convenient so I have both hands free for the probes.
 
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Fluke ain't cheap, and ritual suacide might seam appropriate if you ruined the calibration, we are talking 1/1,000 of a volt and 1/100 of an amp. Not needed on a sailboat. I use the $10 radio shack also they are accurate and the are expendable. Simpson should have a good medium price meter. The current reading clip on will come as an extra for that specific meter.
 

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bell ringer
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Mine is like a $20 unit I got from the Home Depot, what will the fancy one do that a "regular" one wouldn't?
 

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I have and use a Fluke, but agree they're probably overkill for general marine electrics troubleshooting. Not sure I'd go for a $20 special but a meter with a good sized display, all the usual features and an audible 'diode checker' setting so you need not be looking at the meter when checking simple continuity should suffice.

I'd think you can get that for $100 or less?
 

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I picked up a Southwire #11050n at Lowes for around 80 bucks does all the stuff I need. The cool feature it also has a temp. probe, that is always good for engine troubleshooting.
 
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Old enough to know better
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I have a craftsman that does most anything I could ever understand. It has a temperature probe that is quite handy, and used to use it to measure tire temperature after autocross runs. It looks to be made by one of the big guys for them and has a nice thick resilient read cover that takes a lot of shock. It was about $40 or so on sale. I have a stack of coupons for free ones at Harbor Freight. I figure after 6 or 50 I may get one that has a display that actually works, but they are free so what the... I wanted to get one for each of my kids to play with, and have a few lying around (great to lend out so I don't loose my good one) but I may just end up with one working one.

Really depends on what you want to do with it. If you plan on checking out circuit boards you might want one that can read capacitance, but other than that simple voltage and resistance is likely all you will need. Temperature is good to have but would get a infra red meeter before I spent extra to get one on a multi-meter.
 

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There are 20 probes on this panel with 7000 feet of wire and its calibration been independently verified for FDA compliance to be within 1/10 of a degree C







While i prefer Fluke hands down and up ;)

Very little of the fairly complex stuff i build and install needs anything much better than



a 20 buck meter which says exactly the same thing as the fluke
 

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18 year physics teacher veteran here.

As an undergrad (in electronics lab) at at a national lab in the summers, Fluke was a staple. They are expensive.

Since then, my household "go to" has been cheap-o Radio Shack. Where I teach, I also use inexpensive meters--I teach undergraduate level physics to advanced high school students.

I don't own a boat, but have several friends that do and travel occasionally, crew weekly, and assist them with maintenance occasionally. The meters I've seen around these guys' boats are also cheap.

My dad always says, "First expense, last expense." So, I think a basic one will do. It doesn't get much junkier than Harbor Freight's cheapest meter. But, even a few of these have lasted a while at school.

The suggestion about an audible continuity tester is GREAT.

Have fun.
 

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Periodically Harbor Freight offers a basic one for free with purchase of something else. Yea it's a Chinese POS but you won't feel bad if you break it or get it wet. I've got two of them now and they actually work pretty good.
 

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Fluke. They are a lot harder to break that you think. I generally get 10 years of steady use, until someone walks off with it. Dropped hundreds of times.

Or you can get something cheap that might give you usable numbers... or they might be wrong. Good luck looking for small leaks, fluctuations, and poor connections. It's just possible you don't know what you are missing.
 

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Closet Powerboater
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Fluke. They are a lot harder to break that you think. I generally get 10 years of steady use, until someone walks off with it. Dropped hundreds of times.

Or you can get something cheap that might give you usable numbers... or they might be wrong. Good luck looking for small leaks, fluctuations, and poor connections. It's just possible you don't know what you are missing.
Maybe I just got really lucky with my cheap one. Probably a fluke! :laugher:laugher

Medsailor
 

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