Hacking A New Display Into A Fluke 8050A Multimeter

Old lab equipment was often built to last, and can give decades of service when treated properly. It’s often so loved that when one part fails, it’s considered well worth repairing rather than replacing with something newer. [Michael] did just that, putting in the work to give his Fluke 8050A multimeter a shiny new display.

The Fluke 8050A is a versatile device, capable of measuring voltage, current, and resistance in addition to decibels at various impedences and conductance, too. The original display doesn’t show some of the finer details so well, so [Michael] elected to improve on that when he installed a new 2.2″ graphical LCD to replace the basic 7-segment LCD that originally came with the hardware.

To achieve the install, the original LCD display module was removed from the chassis. A piggyback device that sits under the Fluke’s microcontroller was then used to break out signals for the new graphical LCD without requiring modification to the meter’s PCB itself. An Atmega32u4 microcontroller then takes in these signals, and then drives the graphical LCD accordingly.

It’s a great hack that makes the old multimeter easier to use, and the new white-on-green display is far kinder on the eyes, too. We’ve seen other multimeters get screen transplants before, too. Of course, if you’re new to the world of segmented LCDs and want to learn more about how they work, [Joey Castillo]’s talk from last year’s Remoticon will get you up to speed!

Fluke DMM Hack Adds One Digit To Model Number

Among his many interests, [Dave Jones] likes test and measurement equipment. He recently posted a few videos on his EEVblog exploring the reasons why Fluke voltmeters are so expensive. In the process, he stumbled upon an interesting hack for the Fluke 77.

The Fluke 77 was introduced in 1983, and is an average responding meter in the AC modes. This model has become a de-facto standard for use in maintenance depots and labs for equipment which has very long lifespans — think military and industrial gear, for example. Many test procedures and training materials have been designed around the use of the the Fluke 77. The cost to change them when a new and better meter comes along is usually so prohibitive they might as well be cast in stone — or at least hammered into 20 pound fanfold paper by a WordStar-driven daisy-wheel printer. But for those unburdened by such legacy requirements, Fluke has the 17x series of True RMS reading meters from since the beginning of this century. These meters bear a strong visual resemblance to their siblings in the 7x family and are substantially interchangeable but for their AC measurement methods. Continue reading “Fluke DMM Hack Adds One Digit To Model Number”

Cloned Memory Module Fixes Broken Scopemeter

Finding broken test gear and fixing it up to work again is a time-honored tradition among hackers. If you’re lucky, that eBay buy will end up being DOA because of a popped fuse or a few bad capacitors, and a little work with snips and a soldering iron will earn you a nice piece of test gear and bragging rights to boot.

Some repairs, though, are in a class by themselves, like this memory module transplant for a digital scopemeter. The story began some time ago when [FeedbackLoop] picked up a small lot of broken Fluke 199C scopemeters from eBay. They were listed as “parts only”, which is never a good sign, and indeed the meters were in various states of disassembly and incompleteness.

The subject of the video below was missing several important bits, like a battery and a power connector, but most critically, its memory module. Luckily, the other meter had a good module, making reverse engineering possible. That effort started with liberating the two RAM chips and two flash chips, all of which were in BGA packages, from the PCB. From there each chip went into a memory programmer to read its image, which was then written to new chips. The chip-free board was duplicated — a non-trivial task for a six-layer PCB — and new ones ordered. After soldering on the programmed chips and a few passives, the module was plugged in, making the meter as good as new.

While we love them all, it’s clear that there are many camps of test gear collectors. You’ve got your Fluke fans, your H-P aficionados, the deep-pocketed Keithley crowd — but everyone loves Tektronix.

Continue reading “Cloned Memory Module Fixes Broken Scopemeter”

Repairing A Workhorse Bench Meter

In today’s market, and expensive high-precision bench meter will have a host of features: graphs, alarms, averaging, and more. It will probably even use an operating system. However, old meters can still get the job done at a price that you can actually afford. A case in point is the Fluke 8842A, solid meters with 5.5 digits of resolution and the ability to do two or four wire resistance measurements.  They are built like tanks and are surprisingly affordable, especially if you consider what they went for when new. [Illya Tsemenko] recently updated a log about repairing such a meter, and there is a lot of good information about them if you own one or are thinking about one.

The biggest problem with repairing these meters is that there are several custom parts including the display that are essentially unavailable. For that reason, [Illya] took a meter with a broken display and used it to source parts for another meter.

Continue reading “Repairing A Workhorse Bench Meter”

Is That Cheap Multimeter As Good As A Fluke? Let’s Find Out

When [learnelectronics] talks about cheap meters, he always says, “If you are doing this for a living, get yourself a Fluke.” But he realized he’s never shown the inside of a Fluke meter, so he rectified that in his most recent post. For comparison, he opens up a Fluke 26-III and an Aneng AN870 (retailing at about $500 and $30, respectively).

The initial opening shows that the Fluke has hefty brand name fuses, but the Aneng has little generic fuses. In addition, the Fluke has an internal case that helps keep you away from live voltage. The Fluke also has a proper rotary switch, while the cheap meter has a switch that is etched on the PC board; a cost-cutting trick that’s often a point of failure on these cheap meters.

The Fluke also has a significantly larger number of protection devices and heftier components, you presume can take more punishment. Of course, if you don’t have a few hundred volts running through your meter, it probably doesn’t matter. The cheap meters are certainly good enough, even though you do get what you pay for, as you might expect.

As long as you have a meter open, you might as well hack it to have WiFi. Or, if you prefer, a serial port.

Continue reading “Is That Cheap Multimeter As Good As A Fluke? Let’s Find Out”

The Cheapest Meter On Banggood

According to [pileofstuff], he didn’t really need another digital multimeter. However, when he saw a DT-832 meter on Banggood for the princely sum for $4.99 he wondered just what kind of meter you’d get for that price. You can see his conclusions in his recent video (below). He does make it clear, by the way, that he wasn’t paid for the review or given the meter. He just decided to see what $5 would buy in a meter.

Depending on your predisposition to cheap Asian electronics, you may or may not be surprised. After all, for $5 you can’t expect a top-of-the-line lab instrument. The device measures AC and DC voltage, DC amperage, ohms, transistor beta, and has a diode tester and continuity buzzer. It also has some frequency measurement capability. You can’t be too surprised it doesn’t auto range, though. To be fair, although he mentions Banggood as the source of the meter, a quick Google search shows you can get them from all the usual sources, and the price is down to $3.73 as long as you let them ship it from Canada.

Continue reading “The Cheapest Meter On Banggood”

Fluke 12E+ Multimeter Hacking Hertz So Good

It kind of hurts watching somebody torturing a brand new Fluke multimeter with a soldering iron, even if it’s for the sake of science. In order to find out if his Fluke 12E+ multimeter, a feature rich device with a price point of $75 that has been bought from one of the usual sources, is actually a genuine Fluke, [AvE] did exactly that – and discovered some extra features.

fluke_12E_CDuring a teardown of the multimeter, which involved comparing the melting point of the meter’s rubber case with other Fluke meters, [Ave] did finally make the case for the authenticity of the meter. However, after [AvE] put his genuine purchase back together, the dial was misaligned, and it took another disassembly to fix the issue. Luckily, [AvE] cultivates an attentive audience, and some commenters noticed that there were some hidden button pads on the PCB. They also spotted a little “C”, which lit up on the LCD for a short moment during the misalignment issue.

The comments led to [AvE] disassembling the meter a third time to see if any hidden features could be unlocked. And yes, they can. In addition to the dial position for temperature measurement, [AvE] found that one of the hidden button contacts would enable frequency and duty cycle measurement. Well, that was just too easy, so [AvE] went on checking if the hidden features had received their EOL calibration by hooking the meter up to a waveform generator. Apparently, it reads the set frequency to the last digit.

The 12E+ is kind of a new species of Fluke multimeter: On the one side, it has most of the functionality you would normally expect from a “multi”-multimeter – such as measuring both AC and DC voltage, current, capacitance and resistance – and on the other side it costs less than a hundred dollars. This is made possible by the magic of international marketing, and Fluke seems to distribute this crippleware product exclusively in the Chinese market. Therefore, you can’t buy it in the US or Europe, at least not easily. A close relative of the 12E+ which should be a bit easier to obtain is the Fluke 15B+; the meter we saw earlier today when [Sprite_TM] hacked it to share measurements via WiFi. The 15B+ seems to be identical to the 12E+ in appearance and features, although it’s unknown if the two are hackable in the same ways.

Thanks to [jacubillo] for the tip!