For those who enjoy tinkering with electronics or performing do-it-yourself projects that involve electrical components, there is probably no greater tool to have than the digital multimeter.
Often abbreviated DMM, the digital multimeter allows you to measure a wide variety of things and see what is going on inside electrical circuits.
Depending on the particular model you are using, you could measure voltage, current, capacitance, inductance, or continuity. Based on the capabilities you require or desire, digital multimeters are available in a wide range of prices from a large number of manufacturers.
A well-known and highly-trusted company that sells digital multimeters is Fluke. Founded in 1948, Fluke is a leader in the manufacture, distribution and service of electronic test tools and software. If you currently own or are considering purchasing a multimeter, we'll cover here the basics on how to use a Fluke multimeter.
For starters, let's get familiar with the essential components of your multimeter. Nearly all multimeters sold today are digital and therefore have an LCD screen where you will be able to read the measured values.
You will also find various buttons or in some cases a dial or knob, that you can use to select the function you would like to use (voltage measuring, current measuring, etc.). Finally, you will have a set of leads or probes.
These probes usually come in tow colours, one black and one red, and are what you will use to take measurements with your Fluke multimeter.
Using your leads to take measurements is quite simple, and the process varies slightly depending on the type of analysis you are trying to make. When measuring the voltage between two points in a circuit, use the buttons or dial to indicate you would like to measure voltage.
Most models offer the ability to measure both AC and DC voltages, so take care to select the correct voltage type you would like to measure to make sure your measurements are useful.
Next, place the black lead at the location of lowest voltage (usually ground) and place the red lead at the location of highest voltage.
After doing this, you will be able to read the voltage between these two points on the digital LCD. If you're reading happens to be negative, simply swap the locations of your red and black leads.
When measuring current with your Fluke multimeter, you will need to be sure to break the continuity of your circuit so that you can place your multimeter "in-line" and allow the current to flow through it.
It is important to note that your red lead should be located at the point in your circuit from which the current flows and that your black lead should be placed at the point in your circuit where the current will flow too.
Similar to voltage readings, if your measurement value is negative, it means the current is flowing in the opposite direction than you thought. Simply swap the locations of the red and black leads and the measured value will be positive.
Probably one of the simplest, yet highly useful, functions of your Fluke multimeter is the continuity tester. Testing for continuity allows to you determine whether or not electrons will be able to flow freely between two points.
To put your multimeter into this mode, just press the button for this function or turn your dial to it. For testing continuity, it does not matter where you place the red and black leads, just place one at your first location and place the other at your second location.
If the path between your two points has a low enough resistance that electrons can flow from one to the other in a relatively free fashion, your multimeter will begin to beep.
This audible alert is useful in that you don't have to have fixed sight of your multimeter while taking these measurements.
If you do not hear a beep when you place your leads between two points, then there is no electrical connectivity between them.
A multimeter is a powerful tool for both troubleshooting and double checking your work when it comes to all things electrical. As stated before, there are many models out there with many different capabilities. Hopefully, these basic instructions will help get you started with your Fluke multimeter, take a look at our Top Multimeters and see if any take your fancy (Fluke does make an appearance)!