15 November 2023

Digital Multimeters For Ham Radio

A few days ago I stumbled on this video, put together by Tom Wilkinson, N8FDY, for the Northern Ohio Amateur Radio Society (NOARS). Tom has been doing a variety of meter evaluations over the past year, and I've come to respect both his approach to evaluating meters, and how he presents his results. Watching Tom evaluate a meter is like watching my grandpa do it, even though Tom and I are probably not too far apart in age 😄. His approach is slow and methodical.

What sets this video apart from many other evaluation videos put together by bloggers like Dave Jones (EEVBlog) and Joe Smith is that Tom starts the video by discussing terms like CAT ratings, digit counts, accuracy and test certifications - something few other reviewers do.

I'm familiar with several of the meters Tom highlights in this video, particularly the Brymen models. Brymen is not a brand we hear much about in the US, but they are very popular and well respected in the rest of the world. Here in the US, Brymen has a distribution agreement with the electronics tool supplier Greenlee, so if you want a Brymen meter just buy one of the Greenlee branded meters. Or, you can do what I did and order a Brymen meter from overseas suppliers who will ship to the US. That's how I got my Brymen 869s, which has become my most used bench meter.

As you watch the video you'll note one brand that's missing from the presentation. Big Yellow is nowhere to be seen. While Tom, in other videos, describes himself as a bit of a Fluke fanboy, he also admits that they are not good value-for-money for the kind of work hams use their meters for - mainly low voltage CAT 1 (DC) and CAT 2 (household 120v) applications. I have to agree with him on this.

If you are not interested in meter reviews, just watch the first half of the video where Tom discusses all the meter safety and accuracy topics - that alone is worth your time.

Tom is also building a library of individual meter reviews, and what he's reviewed so far is quite interesting. There may be a Uni-T 181A meter in my future, since I want something that will do logging.


W8BYH out

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