Ham Radio: Workbench-4, Meters

THE WORKBENCH – EPISODE 4 – RF Meters, DC Power Meters, and Digital Multimeters

 

For this episode, I made a quick and dirty video comparing several Tenma Digital Multimeters with my Fluke 287.  I compared voltage, continuity, current, and miliamp current.  You can check this out here:  https://youtu.be/tl76f0S3iOU

 

Save 5% on your next order from MCM Electronics with promo code RADIO5

http://www.mcmelectronics.com

 

CONTEST!  Enter to win a Tenma 72-10415 Digital Multimeter (a $100 value) by visiting http://www.mcmelectronics.com/workbench and signing up for their email newsletter!  Contest ends on 8/25/2016 and the winner will be randomly selected and announced on the next episode of Workbench.

 


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Segment 1 – News and Updates

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Update:  LM317 power supply:

$5-$10 gets you a PCB with a regulator, digital display and voltage adjust pot.

Just put in 3 volts more than the output.  0-30 volts typically.

Ebay Link

 

Tons of cheap kits and electronics from www.banggood.com

Example:  https://blog.adafruit.com/2016/08/11/portable-adjustable-power-supply-3dthursday-3dprinting/

 

Icom released a new ID-51 Plus2

http://www.icom.co.jp/world/news/160808/ID-51_PLUS2_colorvariation.pdf

 

Kenwood TH-D74

http://www.jvckenwood.com/en/press/2016/08/press_160808.html

 

What’s on George’s bench?

Finalized the PCB for the antenna analyzer

Rev 2 Gerbers are off to the PCB fab

 

Working on D-STAR DD module with Rich KC6OBJ

D-STAR stack + 2 1.2 GHz ID-1’s

Goal:  Over the air TCP/IP to the repeater site PLUS 3.4 GHZ link between sites

 

Two new IRLP nodes made from Raspberry PI’s  – Thanks Dave VE3LTD

One to backhaul from Black to our IRLP reflector

One to backhaul from WA6HHQ in Aptos on the Central Coast

 

What’s on Jeremy’s bench?

Sick Raspberry Pi 2 in my cluster.  Intro to cluster:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJKhRLKXr-Q

Finishing Battery Test of Bioenno Test and starting to work

3 Meters from MCM Electronics!

 


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Segment 2 –  METERS

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Analog VOM

Simpson 260

 

Pro Tips – Hams rarely need precision, they need indication (Indicator vs instrument)

 

Cheap

Basic measurements like continuity, coarse voltage and current.

Sometimes they stop working because of bad connections, components.

Ebay Link

$12 with shipping

 

Have to have features

 

Nice to have features

  • Capacitance

  • Diode check

  • Transistor check

  • Frequency counter

  • Computer connectivity

  • High quality probes

  • Impact resistant / weather proof case (rubbery)

 

What do you get as price increases?

  • Precision

  • “Nice to have” Features

  • Non contact sensing

  • Computer connectivity

  • Accessories

  • Power Handling

  • Faster continuity test response

 

Good probes

  • Silicone insulation not cheap wire

  • Good strain relief

  • Flexible

  • Sharp probe points

  • Removable alligator clamps

FLUKE TL71 10A PREMIUM DMM TEST LEAD SET FOR DIGITAL MULTIMETER PROBES NEW $18

 

<$100

Tenma 72-7780 6000 count TRMS – $60 – http://www.mcmelectronics.com/product/TENMA-72-7780-/72-7780

Extech…

Tenma 72- 10410 – $67 6000 count TRMS w/ USB – $67 – http://www.mcmelectronics.com/product/72-10410

 

~$100

Tenma 72-10415 22000 count TRMS w/ USB Connectivity $100 – http://www.mcmelectronics.com/product/TENMA-72-10415-/72-10415

EEVBlog Branded Bryman BM235 – ~$100US – https://www.eevblog.com/product/bm235-multimeter/

 

>$300

Fluke 87V – $340 –

 

Fluke 287- $450 –

Keysight (Agilent) U1272A – $490 –

 

Clamp Current Probes

Tenma – $40 – http://www.mcmelectronics.com/product/72-9180#review

 


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RF Power Watt Meter

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Difference between a RF watt meter and a SWR meter?

Same thing but…

RF power meters may not show SWR

Make sure you pick one for the frequency range and power level that you need.

Requires a load!

 

Cheaper – good enough

MFJ 822 (HF 2m) – $60 – http://www.mtcradio.com/mfj-822-wattmeter-hf-vhf-1-8-200-mhz-300-w-mobile/

MFJ 842 (2m,220,440) – $60 –

Diamond SX-200 (HF 2m) – $90 – http://www.hamradio.com/detail.cfm?pid=H0-000009

Diamond SX-600 (HF, VHF, UHF) – $180 – http://www.hamradio.com/detail.cfm?pid=H0-000013

 

Commercial grade

Bird Model 43 and slugs ($300 for meter + ~$50+ per slug)

http://www.birdrf.com/Products/Wattmeters_Line%20Sections/PortableWattmeters/43_General-Purpose-Wattmeter.aspx#.V6tGLpgrKUk

 


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DC in-line power monitor

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Powerwerx Wattmeter-PP  $50

https://powerwerx.com/watt-meter-analyzer-inline-dc-powerpole

 

$14 clone on Ebay

RC Digital LCD Watt Meter Battery Voltage Current Power Analyzer Tester

Ebay Link

 

West Mountain Radio PWRcheck – $185

Many modes, programmable “gas guage”, USB for logging and computer monitoring/alerting

http://www.westmountainradio.com/product_info.php?products_id=pwrcheck

 


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TUTORIALS

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Sparkfun – How to use a multimeter

https://learn.sparkfun.com/tutorials/how-to-use-a-multimeter

 

Fluke – ABC’s of DMMs (Digital Multi Meters)

http://support.fluke.com/find-sales/Download/Asset/1260898_6116_ENG_M_W.PDF

 

Ideal Industries – Basics of Digital Multi Meters

http://www.triotest.com.au/shop/images/basics_of_digital_multimeters.pdf


EEVBlog Multimeter Videos

DMM Buyers Guide for Beginners:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gh1n_ELmpFI

How a Multimeter Works: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuCXsT3_WRE

Multimeter Counts and Resolution:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4JFeU-o2kc

 

4 comments

  1. I’d be interested in helping you guys put together a power meter pcb and some software.

    I’m not a ham but have wanted something similar for home appliance testing. If we can get it sensitive enough I’d also like to use it for micro controller sleep mode testing.

    How can I help?

  2. For my portable and QRP operations, it would be nice to have one micro-controller that can log Solar power in (I pack the Goal Zero 20w panel), DC power from battery to radio, and RF power out/reflected. All of that logged for later recall would be a great way to analyze the station setup. Maybe even a wifi Access Point (Piglet?) so the data can be collected live into an app for display?

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