How to use a Multimeter or Test Meter

The basics or instructions of how to use a multimeter, including how to use an analog or analogue multimeter, or a digital multimeter, DMM, and using multimeters their best advantage.


Multimeter Tutorial Includes:

Test meter basics     Analogue multimeter     DMM digital multimeter     How to use a multimeter     Voltage measurement     Current measurements     More current measurement techniques     Resistance measurements     Diode & transistor test     Fault finding transistor circuits    


Multimeters are very cheap to buy and are one of the most commonly used pieces of electronics test equipment. Although basic operational multimeter instruction may be given when the test meter is bought, details of how to use the multimeter to test circuits and gain the maximum use from them are not always available.

Although there are major differences between the internal circuits within analogue and digital multimeters, the way in which they are used is comparatively similar. However separate sections are given below with instructions on how to use a digital multimeter and how to use an analogue multimeter.

How to use a digital multimeter

The operation of a DMM, digital multimeter, itself is normally very straightforward. With a knowledge of how to make voltage, current and resistance measurements, it is then a matter of putting the multimeter to use. If the meter is new then it will obviously be necessary to install a battery to power it. This is normally simple and straightforward and details can be found in the operating instructions for the DMM.

... apart from amps, volts, and ohms, many DMMs can measure parameters including frequency, capacitance, continuity, and temperature....

Typical digital multimeter

Using a digital multimeter is quite straightforward - some simple steps enable them to be used easily.

When using the meter it is possible to follow a number of simple steps:

  1. Turn the meter on
  2. Insert the probes into the correct connections - this is required because there may be a number of different connections that can be used.
  3. Set switch to the correct measurement type and range for the measurement to be made. When selecting the range, ensure that the maximum range is above that anticipated. The range on the DMM can then be reduced as necessary. However by selecting a range that is too high, it prevents the meter being overloaded.
  4. Optimise the range for the best reading. If possible enable all the leading digits to not read zero, and in this way the greatest number of significant digits can be read.
  5. Once the reading is complete, it is a wise precaution to place the probes into the voltage measurement sockets and turn the range to maximum voltage. In this way if the meter is accidentally connected without thought for the range used, there is little chance of damage to the meter. This may not be true if it left set for a current reading, and the meter is accidentally connected across a high voltage point!

How to use an analogue multimeter

The operation of an analogue multimeter is quite easy. With a knowledge of how to make voltage, current and resistance measurements (see the "Related Articles" on the left hand side of this page for further details) it is only necessary to know how to use the multimeter itself. If the meter is new then it will obviously be necessary to install any battery or batteries needed for the resistance measurements.

Analogue multimeter

... analogue multimeters have been available for many years and they are very flexible in their operation....

Using an analogue multimeter is just as easy as using a digital one, but a few differences will be seen.

When using the meter it is possible to follow a number of simple steps:

  1. Insert the probes into the correct connections - this is required because there may be a number of different connections that can be used. Be sure to get the right connections, and not put them into the ones for a low current measurement if a high voltage measurement is to be made - this could damage the multimeter.
  2. Set switch to the correct measurement type and range for the measurement to be made. When selecting the range, ensure that the maximum for the particular range chosen is above that anticipated. The range on the multimeter can be reduced later if necessary. However by selecting a range that is too high, it prevents the meter being overloaded and any possible damage to the movement of the meter itself.
  3. Optimise the range for the best reading. If possible adjust it so that the maximum deflection of the meter can be gained. In this way the most accurate reading will be gained.
  4. Once the reading is complete, it is a wise precaution to place the probes into the voltage measurement sockets and turn the range to maximum voltage position. In this way if the meter is accidentally connected without thought for the range to be used, there is little chance of damage to the meter. This may not be true if it left set for a current reading, and the meter is accidentally connected across a high voltage point!

Summary

Multimeters are very easy to use, and they are the most essential piece of test equipment that is needed if any electronics construction work is to be undertaken. Fortunately the multimeter instructions of how to use them are straightforward, and they should give many years of good service is treated well. Additionally it is possible to use a multimeter to perform many types of test. Even the older analogue meters can be used in a variety of ways, and digital multimeters often have many measurement capabilities beyond the basic amps volts and ohms measurements.



More Test Topics:
Analogue Multimeter     Digital Multimeter     Oscilloscope     Spectrum analyzer     Frequency counter     Dip meter, GDO     Logic probe    
    Return to Test menu . . .



Popular articles