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Thread: $2 Multimeter?

  1. #1
    Footballus vita est iamlucky13's Avatar
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    $2 Multimeter?

    Harbor Freight sometimes astounds me. Apple probably couldn't even ship an iPod into the country for $2, much less build it, package it, hang it on a shelf, and ring it up at the register. Meanwhile, I wander into Harbor Freight this weekend, and leave with a $4 fiberglass-handled hammer, a $2 multimeter, and a $0.59 paintbrush.

    Yes, I know quality isn't a word in the Harbor Freight dictionary. I've broken plenty of their tools and for stuff I plan to use seriously I get Craftsman, but I've generally gotten my money's worth out of Harbor Freight. I'm just boggled that they can sell stuff, even utter crap, for as little as they do and remain in business.

    The multimeter did give some initially spurious readings, but I couldn't duplicate those. It may fry the first time I forget to switch the dial from Ohms back to Volts, but for $2 it's a risk I'm willing to take. Not only did the multimeter come with a battery and leads (those alone are $10 at Sears, although much better quality), it even seems to be reasonably accurate when compared to a nicer Triplett DMM I have:

    Outlet: 118.7 vs 118.5 VAC
    Camera Battery: 7.49 vs 7.47 VDC
    *Camera Battery: 7.4 vs 7.5 VDC
    Resistor 1: 9.91 vs 9.93 kOhms
    *Resistor 1: 9.8 vs 10.0 kOhms
    Resistor 2: 460 vs 470 Ohms
    *Resistor 2: 468 vs 471 Ohms

    * Alternate range setting

    Ok, I admit it, the multimeter was probably a loss leader, but even the regular price is less than the leads are at Sears, and who in their right mind says "Limit 10" for a loss leader?

    /Rave
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    Just a student norsehabanero's Avatar
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    some of their stuff i had had for years, I bought a racheting tap wrench about 9 years ago and still going strong the cheap stuff you dont feel bad when it breaks
    http://www.thebicyclingguitarist.net.../bios/bike.gif about to start winter quarter , enjoying school so far

  3. #3
    JF1
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    I bought a $6 digital multimeter from HF some years ago that I keep in my toolbag in the car. I didn't want to keep my Fluke in there as I didn't want to take a chance on it getting stolen.
    For the simple car diagnostic stuff I've used it for, it has been just as accurate as the Fluke with the exception of measuring resistance where the cheapie multimeter sometimes fluctuates and repeated measurements are needed.
    Another HF tool I carry in the car tool bag is 1/2" torque wrench as I don't want to carry my SnapOn in the car. It has been every bit as accurate as the SnapOn as calibrated by my local SnapOn truck guy.
    Most of their stuff is crap but if you tend to not use the stuff that often, it will usually do.
    If my livelyhood depended on reliable tools (like an auto tech) I wouldn't go close to HF.
    J
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    I purchased a 7" angle grinder from them for less than it was to rent. A tool I have needed only that one time.
    "harder" is not a very good safeword.

  5. #5
    phony collective progress x136's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iamlucky13 View Post
    a $4 fiberglass-handled hammer, a $2 multimeter, and a $0.59 paintbrush.
    I can kind of see the first two, but cheap paintbrushes are awful. They just make the job more difficult than it needs to be.

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    Footballus vita est iamlucky13's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by x136 View Post
    I can kind of see the first two, but cheap paintbrushes are awful. They just make the job more difficult than it needs to be.
    Yep, but I only have a small patch job to do. It's about 6 square feet total.
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    If you need a tool for something where its not used, or used only for a project and chucked, Harbor Freight is great. A couple years back, they had great deals on clicker torque wrenches.

    Just note the tools are intended to be cheap, and are not really intended for everyday use for the most part. If you want tools for professional use, hail the Snap-On truck, or hit Sears/Lowe's/Home Depot for their premium lifetime warranty stuff.

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    Senior Member hos13's Avatar
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    If I can't find it at the pawn shop, I'll look for it a Harbor Freight. However I don't think I would use their tools to make a living.
    "Don't give up, don't ever give up" jimmyv

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    la vache fantôme phantomcow2's Avatar
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    They have decent digital calipers as well. I got a pair of "Cen-Tech" calipers when I visited them a few years ago. The jaws on these things are not ground or fit to be parallel, but it could get you within .002" no problem.
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    Pwnerer Wordbiker's Avatar
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    As a guy that has made a living with tools his entire life...I hate crappy tools.
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    Banned Indy_Rider's Avatar
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    I will stick with my Fluke multimeter. It never gives a bad reading.

  12. #12
    You Know!? For Kids! jsharr's Avatar
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    When I need tools, I just head to the the LBS or the local garage and ask the guys behind the counter if I can borrow theirs.
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    Pwnerer Wordbiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsharr View Post
    When I need tools, I just head to the the LBS or the local garage and ask the guys behind the counter if I can borrow theirs.


    You know how to get a mechanic's goat.
    Quote Originally Posted by ahsposo View Post
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    Grumpy Member trsidn's Avatar
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    If I used it in my work, I'd get a Fluke or Simpson (I was an electrician in a former life) But for the house, all I need is to verify voltage exists, or an open circuit. So a cheapo suits me fine.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mariah View Post
    Transcendental enumeration.

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    Domestic Domestique UnsafeAlpine's Avatar
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    We give our students those exact multimeters. They work fine until they don't, but then, they're only 2 bucks.

  16. #16
    Senior Member JMT114's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Indy_Rider View Post
    I will stick with my Fluke multimeter. It never gives a bad reading.
    +1
    My name's Jim, but most people call me...Jim

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    Footballus vita est iamlucky13's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phantomcow2 View Post
    They have decent digital calipers as well. I got a pair of "Cen-Tech" calipers when I visited them a few years ago. The jaws on these things are not ground or fit to be parallel, but it could get you within .002" no problem.
    I've got a set of those for less than 1/10th the price of a Starrett or Mitutoyo. I was surprised to see half the guys at my work use them too. It calibrated fine and is more than enough for 95% of the work I need them for, but for official measurements, I check one of the nice sets out from the instrumentation department.

    I should qualify my earlier statements though. I don't bother with their electric power tools. I was given a variable speed "Chicago Electric" drill. I was tearing apart a deck awning and it started spewing out smoke. Remarkably it still works, but despite being an AC drill, it's probably got less torque than my 18V cordless.
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    J E R S E Y S B E S T Jerseysbest's Avatar
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    HF T-handles are awesome!

    Air hoses (and I imagine other hoses) and quick disconnects suck.
    Hammer's are good.
    Jack stands good
    Vise grips are okay, nothing special but they work fine
    Compression tester is good
    Tire inflater sucks, but the old one I had from them worked great but got run over.
    Brake caliper spreader good
    I know someone who bought a spot welder to replicate factory welds from Ford and it worked fine
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    Riding Heaven's Highways on the grand tour ModoVincere's Avatar
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    If I can't fix it with a hammer and or screwdriver, I call a pro.
    Only exception to that is when explosives work...then I'll gladly do it myself.
    1 bronze, 0 silver, 1 gold

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