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Upgrading a Fluke multimeter with a masterful addition

LCD

The old Fluke 8050a multimeter from the 80s is an awesome piece of lab equipment. It’s built like a tank, and thanks to the newer more portable models, this old meter is available for a pittance on eBay. [Ken] picked up a few of these meters and decided to give one of them a little upgrade – a 2.2″ 320×240 LCD display that is a vast improvement on the old stock seven-segment numerical display.

Inside the Fluke 8050a is a 40-pin DIP processor that handles all the computations inside the unit. [Ken]‘s solution to tap into this processor was to take a 40-pin PIC microcontroller, bend some of the pins backwards, and use the remaining pins to drive the new LCD display. It’s actually somewhat brilliant in its simplicity and looks really cool to boot.

The rest of the circuitry consists of a level converter and a few wires going directly to the LCD display. [Ken] already has another Fluke 8050a on the bench waiting for a facelift and some plans for a few improvements that include a bar graph, histogram, and possibly even a touch display.

Comments

  1. w1z13 says:

    Why not use a honky-tonky voltmeter for this project? Instead of ruining an old jewel? Please don’t threat your other fluke like that.

    • static says:

      [sigh] I for one is happy that conservatives-purists-traditionalists haven’t won the day over the years. In the event they had I wouldn’t be reading or commenting to Hackaday posts. More importantly I wouldn’t be seeing the surgeon next week who will be removing these 2 wisdom teeth that have been making me cranky.

    • hat says:

      Ruining an old jewel by making it usable? The LCDs in 80×0 flukes have a design defect that means they will *all* one day stop working.

    • Grazz256 says:

      Option A: Hack old meter to make a cool project and make it better.
      Option B: Throw out old meter.

      Not everyone is a collector, the world thanks the hackers/modders out there who are willing to take the time to make cool projects with old stuff.

  2. Staltus says:

    He needs to make up a batch of “Retr0bright” to restore the cases to their original color and they would look awesome.

  3. roboman2444 says:

    Hm, would be interesting if he added a few features to it, such as data logging or highest and lowest recorded.

  4. Leadcrayon says:

    LOL I still use these at work for testing HV power supplies for MSSR and TACAN units

  5. Tiersten says:

    Neat hack. The new display + piggybacked CPU means he can do all the fancy stuff from the improvements list like logging to SD, a graph display or network controlled.

    The casing could do with some Retr0bright though. It looks like the two meters have their casing swapped over though. The top one has a very yellow bezel with a pale case and the bottom one has a pale bezel and a very yellow case.

  6. Rob says:

    Your definition of “pittance” and mine seem to differ widely… Had one of these on my bench once… wish I’d thought to keep it when I moved!

  7. steaky says:

    awesome idea. looks way better than the 7segment display stuff. plus it wouldn’t be difficult to have a “retro” mode where you draw the display as a large 7segment display…

  8. popeiler says:

    That seriously looks good. Do you have any issues on the with screen refresh rate? It’s often useful to be able to see quickly changing numbers when adjusting sensitive potentiometers. (one of the reasons I’m kinda partial to VFDs.)

    • ColdTurkey says:

      Seems the above picture has caught the display mid-refresh from a ‘2’ to a ‘3’. Is that a sign of the refresh rate being low or is it more likely a camera capture thing?

  9. Per Jensen says:

    Pretty font! – I agree that this is a bit crazy to do if you have a working instrument, but if the display is going bad, i see no problem doing this. The implementation of the “mod” is spot on – I love the piggybacking on the original processor. Bravo!

  10. hpux735 says:

    This is so rad! I just ordered the parts! Can’t wait.
    I’m hoping I’ll be able to add RS-232 out.

  11. Tom the Brat says:

    I love it! You preserved the fluke’s function and gave it a new look.

  12. Bravo!
    I would love to see you offer conversion kit placed on either Kickstarter or tindy.
    And I will agree to have maybe some extra functions like a hold feature minimax and average and maybe even a data logging feature to USB to a computer

  13. B0SC0 says:

    How about a continuity beeper for the ohms function. I have the 8012A and sadly, no beeper.

  14. Galane says:

    With a touch screen the new display peripheral could be configured to do all kinds of things like keeping the previous n readings visible to make it much easier to track down a fault in several readings which should be identical or nearly so. Another possibility would be tracking test points in numerical order. Test 1 through n and it rolls over to a new list after the last point. Add a footswitch input for assured switching to the next reading so a jiggly touch or scratching through corrosion wouldn’t read as multiple tests.

  15. Greg. says:

    Nice upgrade :)

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