Friday 27 July 2012

Review: Skytronics / Mercury 600.219 Multimeter

I needed a new cheapo multimeter, and bought this off of eBay for a grand total of £18.90 delivered. That's about "30 bucks" to everyone else. I couldn't find a review, or even a decent photo beforehand - so I thought I'd put this here for any future people looking for info on the "Skytronics" (mine arrived branded as Mercury, so who knows) model 600.219 "professional" digital multimeter. Here's the official website:
Here's the packaging. Nothing fancy, but looks alright:

The case - hmmm, looks and feels cheap. Plus they put an extra space in "Digital", so it looks like DIGIT AL MULTIMETER. Keeps everything tidy though. Press stud fastening.
Inside the case - everything very nicely shrinkwrapped. Manual printed on toilet paper, but in English rather than Chinglish.
Test leads/probes - Brilliant! Really! They feel nice, have a decent quality cable on them, came with protective end caps that fit well over the nicely sharp tips. Leads are properly rated and marked. Strain relief where the probe meets the cable. Can't fault them.
The meter itself - Good points: measures almost anything, a lot more than most cheap meters. Seperate sockets for A/mA/V to prevent oopsies. The screen is great, very clear. The stand is good. Meter could do with some little rubber feet to stop it sliding around on a flat surface.

Bad points: the dial! Ugh, it has the worst click in the world, very springy. Unfused 10A range - assuming some idiot decided to try and measure "how many amps are in the mains", rather than blowing the non-existant fuse, the meter would likely just explode and blow your arm off.

The yellow protector case thing is a bit useless. It makes it a lot bulkier, and a lot harder to get the stand out of its slot in the back.
Interesting point 1 - internal temperature sensor. Plugging the thermocouple in (via the included mini-K to banana adapter) auto switches to using that rather than the internal sensor.
Inside the meter - 2 boards. Smaller one backs on to the dial it seems. Soldering is neat. No bodge wires or loose components. 2 small glass fuses for the V/mA ranges, no other input protection. The battery is a pain to get in and out, there is a seperate door for it behind 2 screws, but its slightly too narrow to get a PP3 and the plastic clip through without a firm push. I didn't bother unscrewing the rest of it, I thought the springy click wheel might fall apart or something.
Interesting point 2 - the manual on/off switch is a proper switch that the battery goes directly to. This means the current draw when off is zero. Current when on is around 4.9mA, so you could hope for around 100 hours runtime on one battery.

In conclusion, a good cheap meter with a lot more features than one costing a tenner. Worth the little bit extra in my opinion. Great value for money.

I wouldn't recommend it to any "real" electronics professional, or anyone working on mains electrics - but then again, I'd hope those kinds of people already have high quality gear, and not Chinese crap from eBay!

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