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A tool that I use a lot for day-to-day diagnostics and troubleshooting is the humble multimeter. A multimeter is an essential electrical measurement tool used by electricians, technicians, and hobbyists to troubleshoot and measure various electrical properties of electrical circuits and components. It combines the functions of multiple meters, including a voltmeter, ammeter, and ohmmeter, allowing the user to measure voltage, current, and resistance, respectively.
Some advanced multimeters can also measure other parameters, such as capacitance, frequency, and temperature.
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Multimeters can be used for all sorts of applications, from diagnosing problems in electrical circuits, appliances, or electronic devices by detecting electrical faults or component failures, measuring the electrical properties of individual components, such as resistors, capacitors, and diodes, and also checking electrical safety of equipment.
My go-to unit for the past few years has been the super reliable, super useful Kaiweets HT206D. Priced at under $40, this thing has paid for itself many times over.
But it's had a hard life and has suffered a bit of damage. Plus it's missing a few features that I think would be beneficial from a multimeter.
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For example, the Kaiweets can't log data, so the information you get is limited to what is displayed on the screen. It's also wired, so you need to be in front of the display the whole time, and there's no option to have the information beamed to your smartphone over Bluetooth. And finally, there's no oscilloscope feature that allows you to capture data such as voltages per second and display that as a waveform, which is an extremely useful troubleshooting feature.
So, I went in search of a smart multimeter, and I ended up getting two for testing: the Pokit Pro, and its smaller sibling, the PokitMeter.
Both of these devices are "smart" in that they combine the features of a multimeter, an oscilloscope, and a data logger into a single device, and also connect to an app on your smartphone, doing away with the need for a screen on the meters.
The Pokit Pro is a neat, compact probe-style multimeter. The lead to the second probe is a generous 700 mm/27.5 inches, which is long enough to be useful and short enough to not get in the way. It wraps neatly around the multimeter when not in use.
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Connecting the Pokit Pro to the app was a breeze, but expect a lot of safety warnings. I highly recommend that you read the manual carefully. While this is a CAT III-rated multimeter, which means it's rated to be safe up to 600VAC/VDC, you should always be careful when dealing with high voltages.
Once connected to a smartphone, you can start using the Pokit Pro. Here's what it looks like graphing voltages.
And here's the Pokit Pro acting as a standard multimeter. There's definitely a learning curve to using the software, and I've found myself getting lost in all the settings, but this is something that practice will no doubt make better.
On the end of the probe is an LED light that can be switched on in the app. It's especially handy when you want a clearer view of what you're poking at.
I've tested the Pokit Pro with up to 250 volts of AC power in the U.K. and it worked fine.
Now, let's take a look at the smaller, more compact "keychain" PokitMeter. It comes in a tiny kit containing the meter, little probes, and a carry case.
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The leads on the PokitMeter ratchet out of the body when you pull either side, extending out to a total length of 400mm or 16 inches.
And when you're done, they wind themselves back into the meter with a press of a button -- like a measuring tape!
Here's what the detachable wire clips look like. They fit onto the ends of the probes easily.
Connecting the PokitMeter to the app is simple and straightforward. Again, owners are warned of the limitations of the meter and encouraged to read the manual.
The PokitMeter is tiny but great for low-voltage diagnostics such as automotive troubleshooting.
At $250 for the Pokit Pro and $129 for the PokitMeter, these tools are not cheap. If you're starting out, then I highly recommend getting a cheap and cheerful (yet safe) multimeter such as the Kaiweets multimeter that I previously used.
But, remember, the Pokit Pro is not just a regular multimeter. If you are more experienced and know how to get the most out of your tools, then this could be a perfect fit for you. It's just as valuable for users who want an oscilloscope and data logger.
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I'm going to use these multimeters exclusively for the next few weeks to test them to the limits and see whether I think they're worth the money, but the initial testing I've done suggests that they're very capable meters that deliver on what they promise.
That's a lot of power...if you know how to make use of it!