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Thread: Multimeter!

  1. #1
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    Default Multimeter!

    Not being an electronics guru whatsoever, I have a rather ridiculous question...

    For testing LIon voltage, does the multimeter I purchase have to have any particular setting or range?

    I was thinking of hopping down to my local crappy tire and buying this one (looks a little more robust than DX's testers):

    http://www.canadiantire.ca/browse/pr...romSearch=true

    (use postal code N1R8C4)

    And for pulse load testing, I already have a ZTS tester on the way....
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  2. #2

    Default Re: Multimeter!

    I've accumulated about 5 Multimeters over the years, and this is my primary DMM. Granted, I don't do much more than test batteries. As long as it tests DC voltage in the range of your batteries, it will work fine.
    Last edited by coppertrail; 03-15-2009 at 07:25 AM.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Multimeter!

    Quote Originally Posted by coppertrail View Post
    I've accumulated about 5 Multimeters over the years, and this is my primary DMM. Granted, I don't do much more than test batteries. As long as it tests DC current in the range of your batteries, it will work fine.
    For $14, can't go wrong.

    Purchased.

    Mod's, please close! Unless anyone wants to discuss multimeters! I do I do! lol
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    *Flashaholic* Mr Happy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Multimeter!

    Quote Originally Posted by coppertrail View Post
    As long as it tests DC current in the range of your batteries, it will work fine.
    Don't you mean DC voltage? Granted DC current has its uses, but voltage is the main test applied to batteries.

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    *Flashaholic* Mr Happy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Multimeter!

    Quote Originally Posted by foxtrot29 View Post
    For $14, can't go wrong.

    Purchased.

    Mod's, please close! Unless anyone wants to discuss multimeters! I do I do! lol
    Actually, I would have purchased the Innova meter from Canadian Tire. The general quality of construction is better on the Innova/Equus meters, meaning they will probably be more reliable overall.

  6. #6
    Flashaholic* TakeTheActive's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Re: Multimeter!

    Quote Originally Posted by foxtrot29 View Post
    ...For testing LIon voltage, does the multimeter I purchase have to have any particular setting or range?
    From my Sig Line LINKs:


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Multimeter!

    RadioShack 22-802 DMM: pocket-sized, easy to keep clean and safe by simply closing the lid, has held up for years of use and goes about anywhere in a tool box, glove box or pocket. Got a couple of them on sale years ago and haven't used my expensive fragile analog since.





    Link to product manual pdf: http://www.radioshack.com/graphics/u...0802_PM_EN.pdf

    oregon

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    Default Re: Multimeter!

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Happy View Post
    Actually, I would have purchased the Innova meter from Canadian Tire. The general quality of construction is better on the Innova/Equus meters, meaning they will probably be more reliable overall.
    Yeah, and it seems to only be 3 1/2 digit, so I cancelled the order.

    I'm on the fence here, don't know what to buy....
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    Default Re: Multimeter!

    You can do load testing using a digital multimeter and some Radio Shack scraps:



    You just have to create a circuit that puts a load on the battery, which is what resistors do. Above, I've put two 1 Ohm/10 Watt resistors in series for a total of 3.0 Ohms tested/displayed.

    This circuit tests freshly charged Li-Ion cells at 1.38 amps, and NiMHs at .45 amps (or .91 amps if using only one resistor). It can also test 123 cells at exactly 1 amp draw.

    Parts cost:

    - Multimeter $3
    - Resistor 2-pack $2
    - Alligator clips $.60

    Total cost: $5.60

    Please note that the multimeter in the photo is set to display the resistance of the circuit - never use this setting for battery testing! Always set your meter to DC Volts when testing batteries
    Last edited by StarHalo; 03-14-2009 at 02:38 PM.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Multimeter!

    Ok, found one on ebay that is 3 1/2 digit, and for DC this is the accuracy listed:

    DC. Voltage 200mV / 2V/ 20V / 200V / 1000V ±1%, ±2digits
    +- 2 digits? Is this a bad thing?
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    *Flashaholic* Mr Happy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Multimeter!

    Quote Originally Posted by StarHalo View Post
    You can do load testing using a digital multimeter and some Radio Shack scraps:
    For those less familiar with circuits, it may be worth pointing out that that picture is really dangerous. The meter is on a resistance range with the meter probes right next to a battery. It is just inviting someone to set it up like that and then put the probes on the battery.

    For this test the meter needs to be on the DC volts range. If the probes are touched to a battery with the meter on a resistance range it could damage the meter.

  12. #12
    *Flashaholic* Mr Happy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Multimeter!

    Quote Originally Posted by foxtrot29 View Post
    Ok, found one on ebay that is 3 1/2 digit, and for DC this is the accuracy listed:

    DC. Voltage 200mV / 2V/ 20V / 200V / 1000V ±1%, ±2digits
    +- 2 digits? Is this a bad thing?
    Well unfortunately for really reliable measurement of lithium ion voltages you need a meter that is 4 1/2 digits with a basic DC accuracy of about 0.1%.

    To see why, suppose the battery has a true 4.20 V measurement. On the meter you have to use the 20 V range, which means you have readings up to 19.99 V. The uncertainty in the meter reading will therefore be 1% of 4.20 V (0.04 V) + 2 digits (0.02 V) giving 0.06 V total.

    In the worst case the meter could therefore read anywhere between 4.14 V to 4.26 V. In reality most meters will not be right at the edge like that, but a good rule of thumb is never to trust the last digit.

    I said unfortunately at the beginning because a 4 1/2 digit 0.1% meter will cost a lot more than a 3 1/2 digit 1% meter. However, you might like to buy a low cost but reasonable quality meter to get familiar with using it, and then decide later on if you want to spend a lot more on a more accurate one.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Multimeter!

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Happy View Post
    The meter is on a resistance range with the meter probes right next to a battery. It is just inviting someone to set it up like that and then put the probes on the battery.
    Very true, I've edited the post, ty for pointing that out.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Multimeter!

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Happy View Post
    Well unfortunately for really reliable measurement of lithium ion voltages you need a meter that is 4 1/2 digits with a basic DC accuracy of about 0.1%.

    To see why, suppose the battery has a true 4.20 V measurement. On the meter you have to use the 20 V range, which means you have readings up to 19.99 V. The uncertainty in the meter reading will therefore be 1% of 4.20 V (0.04 V) + 2 digits (0.02 V) giving 0.06 V total.

    In the worst case the meter could therefore read anywhere between 4.14 V to 4.26 V. In reality most meters will not be right at the edge like that, but a good rule of thumb is never to trust the last digit.

    I said unfortunately at the beginning because a 4 1/2 digit 0.1% meter will cost a lot more than a 3 1/2 digit 1% meter. However, you might like to buy a low cost but reasonable quality meter to get familiar with using it, and then decide later on if you want to spend a lot more on a more accurate one.

    Understood. I went with the canadiantire version, and it is 3 1/2 digit, 0.5%. Seems like a solid quality meter (linked in one of my first posts above...)
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  15. #15

    Default Re: Multimeter!

    This setup will give you wrong results as you measure the voltage drop of the contact points to the battery.
    Do a search for Kelvin, 4 wire measurement method.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Multimeter!

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Happy View Post
    Don't you mean DC voltage? Granted DC current has its uses, but voltage is the main test applied to batteries.
    I did mean voltage :-S . Post edited.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Multimeter!

    get yourself a fluke DMM, cheap DMM is unreliable, do notice cheap one will read incorrectly when the battery level is low.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Multimeter!

    One could get a calibrated voltage reference and probably use that in combination with an inexpensive meter.

    ebay often has ones for auction from a seller named zildjianboy7. He also sells them direct from his web site at voltagestandard.com. He sells a trimmable version and a less-expensive, non-trimmable one (or he used to).

    Most likely such a 5V reference will give you a good idea of your measurement error at 4.20V. If you are really lucky and your 3 1/2 digit meter specs out a little better than advertised, you might be able to use your meter's "relative" function to get 3 decimal places, even if your meter's voltage ranges jump from 4V to 40V. For this hypothetical example, take a 3V Li primary and measure its resting voltage. Your meter hopefully can read that voltage out to 3 decimal places. Press the Relative button to zero the meter relative to the voltage of the Li primary cell. Then measure the voltage of your Li-ion. Add that relative value to the voltage measured for the Li primary to get the absolute voltage of the Li-ion.

    Normally, if your meter range goes from 4V to 40V (for example), the Li-ion voltage measurement will be at 2 decimal places. But by using the relative feature, you might fool the meter and obtain 3 decimal places since the nominal 3V measurement of the Li primary should be at 3 decimal places.

    Another approach could be to compare your meter to the measurements from a known-accurate meter like a Fluke 87 V.

  19. #19
    Flashaholic* Black Rose's Avatar
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    Default Re: Multimeter!

    Quote Originally Posted by foxtrot29 View Post
    I was thinking of hopping down to my local crappy tire and buying this one (looks a little more robust than DX's testers):

    http://www.canadiantire.ca/browse/pr...romSearch=true
    That one goes on sale quite regularly for under $10. Next sale should be coming along in a few weeks.

    I have 2 of them.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Multimeter!

    Quote Originally Posted by Black Rose View Post
    That one goes on sale quite regularly for under $10. Next sale should be coming along in a few weeks.

    I have 2 of them.
    Canadian tire was having a huge sale while I was there.... Clearance, 40-75% off! But alas, that item was not on sale.

    I'll stick with this one for a while, my next one will probably be a fluke! lol

    I have a ZTS tester enroute anyway...
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  21. #21
    Flashaholic* Black Rose's Avatar
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    Default Re: Multimeter!

    Where did you get your ZTS from?

  22. #22

    Default Re: Multimeter!

    Many sources on the Internet -- Lighthound, Battery Junction, Thomas Distributing, amazon, B&H Photo, ....

    Not sure, however, how a ZTS substitutes for an accurate DMM when it comes to Li-ions. If the Li-ion measures 4.25V on a Fluke DMM, what will the ZTS tell you? 100% capacity remaining? A CBA II looks like a better product for battery testing, though more expensive and complicated, and perhaps also overkill.
    Last edited by Justin Case; 03-16-2009 at 06:56 AM.

  23. #23
    Flashaholic* Black Rose's Avatar
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    Default Re: Multimeter!

    Quote Originally Posted by Justin Case View Post
    Many sources on the Internet -- Lighthound, Battery Junction, Thomas Distributing, amazon, B&H Photo, ....
    I am looking for a Canadian supplier so that I don't have to add 30% on top to deal with the US-CDN exchange rate.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Multimeter!

    Quote Originally Posted by Black Rose View Post
    Where did you get your ZTS from?

    Got it from lighthound for $28.xx... Of course, +12.95 shipping.

    So to make it worth it, I threw on about 10 CR123's and a battery holder.
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  25. #25

    Default Re: Multimeter!

    Quote Originally Posted by foxtrot29 View Post
    Understood. I went with the canadiantire version, and it is 3 1/2 digit, 0.5%. Seems like a solid quality meter (linked in one of my first posts above...)
    Are you sure that the voltage accuracy spec is 0.5% with zero offset error?

    I can't find the 4320 on the Equus web site. They have a 3310, 3320, and 3340 DMM. The 4320 looks closest to the 3310 cosmetically.

    The 3310, 3320, and 3340 all have a voltage accuracy spec of +/-(0.8% + 5 digits). IMO, that's bad. The 5 digits of offset error is a lot for a 3 1/2 or 3 3/4 digit DMM.

    If the 4320 has 5 digits of offset, IMO you would do better to get another DMM.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Multimeter!

    Quote Originally Posted by Justin Case View Post
    Are you sure that the voltage accuracy spec is 0.5% with zero offset error?

    I can't find the 4320 on the Equus web site. They have a 3310, 3320, and 3340 DMM. The 4320 looks closest to the 3310 cosmetically.

    The 3310, 3320, and 3340 all have a voltage accuracy spec of +/-(0.8% + 5 digits). IMO, that's bad. The 5 digits of offset error is a lot for a 3 1/2 or 3 3/4 digit DMM.

    If the 4320 has 5 digits of offset, IMO you would do better to get another DMM.
    It's 0.5% + 2 digits I think.
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  27. #27
    Flashaholic* Black Rose's Avatar
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    Default Re: Multimeter!

    Quote Originally Posted by foxtrot29 View Post
    It's 0.5% + 2 digits I think.
    Nope.

    I just grabbed the manual for the 4320a and it is +- (0.8% + 5 digits) for DCV.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Multimeter!

    Quote Originally Posted by Black Rose View Post
    Nope.

    I just grabbed the manual for the 4320a and it is +- (0.8% + 5 digits) for DCV.
    I'm looking right at it now, and it has different accuracy depending on the setting. The setting for 20v shows as 0.5% + 2 digits. Several of the other settings have either 0.8% or even 1.0%. But not the setting I'm using it for.
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  29. #29
    Flashaholic* Black Rose's Avatar
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    Default Re: Multimeter!

    Do you have a 4320 or a 4320a?

    The docs for mine show +- (0.8% + 5 digits) for 20V

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Multimeter!

    Quote Originally Posted by Black Rose View Post
    Do you have a 4320 or a 4320a?

    The docs for mine show +- (0.8% + 5 digits) for 20V
    It is a #4320.

    That's what it says on it's face and on the manual! Unless there is some kind of misprint. I had to look at it twice when I read your post!

    [EDIT]

    I wasn't aware there was a 4320a... I wonder what the differences are -- other than accuracy, obviously. the "a" one would think would denote that it came AFTER the 4320 -- and thus should be better? lol who knows.
    Last edited by foxtrot29; 03-18-2009 at 09:14 PM.
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