Review: UNI-T UT61E digital multimeter

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HKJ
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Review: UNI-T UT61E digital multimeter

Review of UNI-T UT61E digital multimeter

DSC_1416DSC_1435

The UT61E is a 4½ digit meter and can show reading up to 22000, in this article I will check it out. The meter is one of the meters in the UT61 series, that at the current time has 5 models with slightly different functions.
The meter is a true rms meter, this means that it can measure correctly on most AC voltages/currents, not only clean sinus waveforms.
The meter is rated as CATIII/CATIV, this makes it safe for use just about everywhere (If the ratings are correct).


DSC_1406

The meter arrived in a the box that is used for all the UT61 meters.

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Inside the box was the DMM, test leads, a test socket, a RS232 cable, CD and manual. There was a battery in the meter. The manual is a common manual for all UT61 models.



Test leads

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The meter includes one pair of test leads. There is no banana plugs or alligator clips included.
The leads are about 1 meter long each.

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The connector that goes into the DMM is fully shrouded, this is a good safety feature. The probe tip is fairly sharp, but there is a long part that is not covered, for some measurements this is good.

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The leads are rated for 20A and CATIV 600 volt / CATIII 1000 volt, this is the same as the meter. The current rating is way too high for these probes, I measured the resistance to 0.11 ohm in each.



Connections

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The meter has four input terminals. The COM terminal that is used for all measurements and 3 terminals that is selected, depending on what has to be measured. There is one terminal for 10A current range, one for all the other current ranges and one for everything else. This is a good design for input terminals.
In the specifications it says that the V input terminal has overload protection to 750VAC/1000VDC, but the explanation of each range (Except volt) recommends to stay below 30VAC/60VDC for safety.

DSC_1413DSC_1428

The test socket that is included can be used when measuring resistors and capacitors, both SMD and leaded components. It can also be used for transistor test, but not on this DMM model. Including this type of test socket is much safer than making extra holes in the meter for test connections.
Note: This socket uses the mAuA terminal, instead of the COM terminal, i.e. it requires that the meter supports this.

DSC_1408DSC_1409DSC_1410

On the backside is a connection for the RS232 cable or an USB cable. This connections does not have any electric connections, but uses light, this way there is perfect galvanic isolation between the DMM and any connected computer.
The cover is locked when pushed in, but the lock is to weak in my opinion. It is to easy to loose the cover.



Display

DSC_1439

I got a picture of the display during the self test where everything is turned on. The display has a couple of indicatores that is not used on this model of the meter.
It has one numeric display with up to 5 digits and one bargraph with 46 segments. The bargraph is updated at a faster rate than the numeric display.
There is no background light on this meter.



A look at the different ranges

DSC_1426

Here I will look at all the different switches and ranges on the DMM.



The Hold switch

SwitchHold

This switch will freeze the reading when pressed, generally I do not find this very useful. Some meters has a better implementation where the meter automatic will hold the last reading, without touching a switch, this is a much better hold function.



The Range switch

SwitchRange

This switch is used to manually select a range. First press will select manual range, the next presses will step through the ranges. Hold the switch down to change back to auto range.
Most of the time automatic range selection is best, but sometimes it is necessary to lock the meter to a specific range.



The Rel switch

SwitchRel

Pressing this switch will store the current reading and show all further readings relative to the stored value. The most obvious place to use this function is for ohms: Short the probes and press the REL switch, the meter will now subtract the probe resistance from all further readings.



The Peak switch

SwitchPeak

This function is nearly the same as a max/min function (That this meter is missing), but works faster. I.e. it will capture much shorter peak values. This can be used to look for maximum or minimum voltage without having to look at the meter all the time. Because the peak function is very fast it will also record maximum and minimum values that is to fast for the meter to display during normal use. The meter will always record both max. and min. and with the Peak switch it is possible to change between them. Hold the switch down to exit the peak capture mode.



The yellow and blue switches

SwitchYB

These two switches is used together with the rotary switch to access some measurements functions. This is marked around the rotary switch with yellow and blue labels. For some ranges it is possible to combine functions from both the blue and yellow switch (i.e. AC+Hz).



V range

SwitchV

This position starts at DC volt, but can be switched to AC volt (Blue button), frequency or duty cycle (yellow button).

The DC volt has a resolution down to 100 uV and can measure up to 1000 volt with a 10 Mohm input impedance and 0.1% accuracy.
With AC volt the range is limited to 750 volt and 0.8% accuracy, but it has +/-10 on the last digit and because it is true RMS it can only be used down to 10% of the current range.
The frequency measurement on these ranges are designed to measure the frequency of the voltage measured, i.e. do not expect it to work up to more than 1kHz.
The accuracy stays within the specified 0.1% on DC (only checked up to 12 volt).



mV range

SwitchmV

This range is for the lowest voltage range, this range also has a extreme high input impedance (3 Gohm). Note that the AC range is only valid down to 22mV due to the 10% lower limit on AC ranges.
The accuracy stays easily within the specified 0.1% on DC



Ohm range

Switchohm

This range is for ohms and releated function, i.e. continuity and diodes. When using the test socket there is a 0.3 ohm added resistance, i.e. measuring resistors below 100 ohm with the test socket requires use of the REL function to keep accuracy (It is always a good idea to REL below 100 ohm). The manual recommends using REL below 2K to get the best accuracy.
The meter can measure with 0.01 ohm resolution and has ranges up to 220Mohm.
The continuity works at around 30 ohm, it is a bit slow in reacting.
The diode test can not display Vf for a white led, but it will glow. The test current is up to 1.7mA.
The ohm accuracy stays within the specified 0.5%



Capacity range

Switchcap

This range is used to measure capacitance. The meter has a specified offset of about 50pF, on my meter it was around 60pF (This is common for DMM's).
The meter can measure with 0.01nF resolution and has ranges up to 220000uF (220mF), the high ranges has unspecified accuracy, on the lower ranges the accuracy is 3-4%.
I could not test the accuracy, but it does show very close to the specified values on the test capacitors.



Hz range

SwitchHz

The frequency range can measure much higher frequencies that the V or A ranges. Use the yellow button to select duty cycle. This range does only work with a input between 0.3 volt and 30 volt, but can measure above 10MHz. the accuracy is specified as 0.01%.



uA range

SwitchuA

The meter can measure from 0.01 uA to 2.2 mA in two ranges, this range and has a burden voltage of up to 0.85 volt. The actual resistance is a bit funny, most of the time it is 1 kohm, but when the burden voltage reach about 0.5 volt the resistance will drop. Note: The resistance does not change between 220uA range and 2200uA range.
The accuracy stays within the specified 0.5% on DC



mA range
SwitchmA

The meter can measure from 0.001 mA to 220 mA in two ranges, this range and has a burden voltage of up to 1.1 volt. The actual resistance is a bit funny, most of the time it is 10 ohm, but when the burden voltage reach about 0.8 volt the resistance will drop. Note: The resistance does not change between 22mA range and 220mA range.
To get a more useable current meter, I would suggest getting an 0.1 ohm 1% (or 0.1%) resistor and use the 220mV range to measure voltage over that resistor (See Current consumption, using resistor for a example on how to do it).
This meter is missing a 2.2A range.
The accuracy stays within the specified 0.5% on DC



A range
SwitchA

This range only has a single 10A range, that must only be used up to 5A when doing continuous measurements. In this range the burden voltage is better, it is 0.45 volt at 10A, but remember to use some heavy test leads. The probes are not useable for 10A, because there will be a 2.5 volt burden voltage.
The accuracy stays within the specified 1.2% on DC



Inside the meter

To change battery or fuses it is necessary to open the meter.



Changing battery

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Removing one of these self-tapping screws opens up to the battery.

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The battery can be changed without really getting into the meter.

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Put a new battery in this holder and screw it back on the meter. The holder has a mechnical polarity protection.

The meter uses about 2.4mA. With about 500mAh in a 9 volt batteri, this translated to a runtime of about 200 hours.



Changing fuses

To change the fuse it is necessary to open the meter fully, that is two screws more.

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This is the PCB inside the meter. The fuses are small size high current fuses, this means that it is a bad idea to use the meter where there is many 100 ampere available.
Click the picture to get a larger version.

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Here I have labeled a few items on it. There are a lot of trimmers (See yellow rings) that can be adjusted to calibrate the meter or spoil the calibration.

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The back has some shielding, there is a spring on the PCB that connects to it.

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Notice the high sides on the back, they goes into a slot on the front part, sealing the meter.

Note: The manual explains how to check the fuses, without opening the meter.



PC connection

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The meter includes a serial cable for PC connection. For people with new computers this can be a problem, because not many computers includes a serial port today (In my testing I uses the UNI-T USB interface, that I had). The CD includes software for many different UNI-T meters, there is a specific program for each meter.
The CD I got was UNI-T Setup v7.0 with v4.01 for UT61-E.
The connection to the PC is one way, i.e. the meter will report a measurement at specific intervals, using the selected range on the meter. There is no way to change range from the software. The PC output is always active and streaming measurements.

ut61e-pc4

The software has 5 sections in the interface:

  • Connection, where the connection to either COM or USB is started.
  • The actual meter reading, including a bar graph and the maximum and minimum values measured.
  • A surveillance area, where it is possible to define a hi and low limit. The area will be red when the value is out of bounds.
  • A table, where it is possible to record value at specific time intervals or as frequently as the meter reports a value.
  • A chart area, where a curve of the received values are shown.



ut61e-pc5

It is possible to zoom the chart to fill the full program window, but the program window cannot be enlarged, it has a fixed size of about 720x500 pixel.

The software can also save the data, but only when the save button is pressed. There is no function to directly record the data to a file.

ut61e-log

The chart can be saved as a bmp file (I converted it to png, this is much more compact). The actual size of the saved chart will be the same as on the screen, i.e. the zoomed version will be considerable larger.

The table can also be saved and there are 3 formats to select from, but two of them are the same.

ut61e-logxls

Both the xls and txt format is a table with TAB delimeter between the values, this can be read into a spreadsheet for further processing or making a better looking chart.

ut61e-logxml

The xml format did not work with Excel, IE9 or FireFox, There was two complains about the format and one that just showed a blank screen.



Conclusion

The meter works fine and has a good precision, but there is a many small details that could be better. Especially the current ranges are bad at low voltage use, they have to high a burden voltage.
At the price it is probably a good logging meter (except for current) and I might use it for that when I get a working RS232 to USB adapter. I do not like the UNI-T USB adapter, because it does not make a virtual COM port, i.e. it can only be used with the UNI-T software.



Notes

I do only list part of the specifications for each range, for the full specifications see the manual (It can be donwloaded).

My website with reviews of many chargers and batteries (More than 1000): https://lygte-info.dk/

Edited by: sb56637 on 06/25/2015 - 12:17
HKJ
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This is my first DMM review.

If anything is missing please say so and I will see if I can include it.

My website with reviews of many chargers and batteries (More than 1000): https://lygte-info.dk/

kreisler
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Woaahhhh!! Thanks a million for the DMM review!

It will take me *some* time to read it, and i will for sure get back to you on this. Just wanted to thank you already for the tremendous efforts. All of your reviews are highly appreciated!!

Thanks again HKJ! -- Hoping you get your hands on a free specimen of the i4 Intellichager!

Talk to you soon!

*FMI* i got 4 i/o sh
Chicago X
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HKJ wrote:

This is my first DMM review.

If anything is missing please say so and I will see if I can include it.

Awesome review, thanks for sharing and writing such a thorough review  !  - The only thing I didn't see was the price.  

 

EDIT: It's a shame about the lower-voltage issues....that pretty much precludes it from torch duty, IMHO.

http://wardogsmakingithome.org/index.html

War Dogs, Making it Home - Rescue Dogs for Returning Vets

kreisler
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Chicago X wrote:
The only thing I didn't see was the price.

my paypal deduction was 31.xx$

Cash

*FMI* i got 4 i/o sh
HKJ
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Chicago X wrote:

Awesome review, thanks for sharing and writing such a thorough review  !  - The only thing I didn't see was the price. 

Generally I do not like to include prices, because it depends on where in the world you live.

 

Chicago X wrote:
EDIT: It's a shame about the lower-voltage issues....that pretty much precludes it from torch duty, IMHO.

Not really, just get 0.1 ohm resistor and some short thick leads, then it will be a competent meter for flashlight current measurements. Use the resistor below 0.5A and the DMM with thick leads above 0.5A.

My website with reviews of many chargers and batteries (More than 1000): https://lygte-info.dk/

HKJ
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kreisler wrote:
Hoping you get your hands on a free specimen of the i4 Intellichager!

Sysmax has promised my one, but do not expect a review in the near future. When I receive it, the test will take at least two weeks!

My website with reviews of many chargers and batteries (More than 1000): https://lygte-info.dk/

HKJ
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I added a link to a larger version of the PCB in the DMM (Just click the picture of the PCB).

If anybody like access to this large picture, please say to. These is no reason to include it, if nobody uses it Smile.

My website with reviews of many chargers and batteries (More than 1000): https://lygte-info.dk/

kreisler
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click works! i like the large picture Smile

please leave the link (no delete). Very helpful!

looks like nice built quality!!

THANKS!

*FMI* i got 4 i/o sh
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Given the weakness on current measurement are you aware of any meter for the same sort of money that would be better.

Don't need logging and already own an ancient and very battered Fluke 77(III).

 

The numbers from my light tests are always to be found here.

https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0ApkFM37n_QnRdDU5MDNzOURjYllmZHI...

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Don wrote:

Given the weakness on current measurement are you aware of any meter for the same sort of money that would be better.

Don't need logging and already own an ancient and very battered Fluke 77(III).

 

Not really. I daily use I am using much more expensive meters (Fluke 179/189/289/8846A and MetraHit Energy), they do also have to be watched on the current ranges (But the are considerable better than UT61E). The best meter I have seen (For burden voltage) was a cheap meter with manual ranges and no fuses, but it did have other problems (That is no surprise).

I might review a few other DMM's, but I have not really decided it yet.

My website with reviews of many chargers and batteries (More than 1000): https://lygte-info.dk/

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For truly GOOD current measurements, it's best to stop screwing around with regular DMM's at all.  Get a current clamp meter - it has exactly ZERO burden voltage.

Even a really cheap current clamp meter will show MUCH more accurate real-world current measurements than any DMM with leads (thick or thin).
http://www.storeinfinity.com/mastech-ms2108a-4000-counts-ac-dc-current-clamp-meter.html 

Personally, when I need a precise current measurement, I use an Agilent N2783B Current Clamp connected to an Agilent MSO7054B Oscilloscope, but that's way overkill for LED type current measurements.  The <$40 current clamp above is more than adequate.  Either way, measuring current with a leaded DMM or the voltage accross a shunt resistor (0.1 OHMS gives a 1 Volt burden voltage at 10Amps) is a very bad way to get real-world measurements from a system like an LED torch.

Damn fine review of that DMM though - for the (incredibly low) price, it's a nice unit.  I love my Hioki 3801-50, but it's nowhere near that price point, and it's not "better enough" to justify the additional cost for the types of measurements necessary in our hobby.  Even it sucks for current measurement because there is no such thing as a zero-burden leaded DMM in current mode.

PPtk

I am currently extremely busy with work. Please do not expect a response from me quickly. I will be dropping in as time permits, but the amount of time I can dedicate to responding to topics and PMs is very limited.

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PilotPTK wrote:

For truly GOOD current measurements, it's best to stop screwing around with regular DMM's at all.  Get a current clamp meter - it has exactly ZERO burden voltage.

Even a really cheap current clamp meter will show MUCH more accurate real-world current measurements than any DMM with leads (thick or thin).

That is not correct. A current clamp is fine when measuring a couple of amps and up, but try measuring 10mA with a current clamp, where few can do that with any precision.

The 0.1 ohm resistor was not meant for 10A, only for below 1A. I do also say that in the review (It is in the mA range description).

 

My website with reviews of many chargers and batteries (More than 1000): https://lygte-info.dk/

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HKJ wrote:

That is not correct. A current clamp is fine when measuring a couple of amps and up, but try measuring 10mA with a current clamp, where few can do that with any precision.

I measure a couple of uA with a current clamp on a regular basis - Imon current on laser diodes.  Just a pF of capacitance from a scope probe on these signals is more than enough to screw everything up.  At this incredibly low level, the signal isn't terribly accurate, but its very repeatable and precise measurement to measurement.  The current clamp I use is guaranteed accurate to 1% at anything over 10mA.

HKJ wrote:

The 0.1 ohm resistor was not meant for 10A, only for below 1A. I do also say that in the review (It is in the mA range description).

 

Agreed, I see that now.  And yes, for measurements in the mA range, a shunt resistor is not a bad way to go - limited voltage drop at those levels.

 

Once again, really nice job on the review of the DMM.  It really is a pretty nice unit for the cost.

PPtk

I am currently extremely busy with work. Please do not expect a response from me quickly. I will be dropping in as time permits, but the amount of time I can dedicate to responding to topics and PMs is very limited.

Price
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HKJ,

You mentioned the model has no back light, have you tried press and hold the yellow button? My cheaper UT61A has back light LCD.

I also found out that despite my model does not come with temperature measurement but if I were to turn the dial somewhere in between say mA and uA, I get temperature (most likely ambiance) reading!

Prisoner 6-2-7

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Excellent detailed review HKJ. Thanks very much! Sticky'd.

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Nice review, thanks. OK a clamp meter is new to me. I had to YouTube it. How do you measure a flashlights current using one?

Piers said " ....but who wants enough light, when you have the option for far too much "

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PilotPTK wrote:
I measure a couple of uA with a current clamp on a regular basis - Imon current on laser diodes.  Just a pF of capacitance from a scope probe on these signals is more than enough to screw everything up.  At this incredibly low level, the signal isn't terribly accurate, but its very repeatable and precise measurement to measurement.  The current clamp I use is guaranteed accurate to 1% at anything over 10mA.

What was the price of that clamp?


Price wrote:


HKJ,

You mentioned the model has no back light, have you tried press and hold the yellow button? My cheaper UT61A has back light LCD.

The manual explicit states that it has no backlight (and the switch does not work either).

 

Langcjl wrote:
OK a clamp meter is new to me. I had to YouTube it. How do you measure a flashlights current using one?

 

My website with reviews of many chargers and batteries (More than 1000): https://lygte-info.dk/

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HKJ, you made my day. Thanks

Piers said " ....but who wants enough light, when you have the option for far too much "

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HKJ wrote:

What was the price of that clamp?

If memory serves, about $4000.  It was added to the lab a long time ago though, so I might be off by a bit - my memory for unimportant things isn't very long..

 

PPtk

I am currently extremely busy with work. Please do not expect a response from me quickly. I will be dropping in as time permits, but the amount of time I can dedicate to responding to topics and PMs is very limited.

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Nice review!  I may have to grab one of these.  Didn't know these were so darn cheap!  I've got a pricey Agilent datalogging DMM, but could use one for basic voltage logging.

It's funny that the unit you reviewed seems more accurate than the more expensive UNI-T-UT70B (although this model has the temperature feature).

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Kreisler why do you have to use multiple usernames on BLF?

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I liked your first reply more. Wink

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I ordered the UT-203 clamp meter from dealextreme. It is okay, but the zero is way off - about 1.5 amps. It has a 'rel' button than can be abused for zeroing however.

The zero is not really stable but it is possible to figure out tens of mA on it. Compared to a rather anonymous brand at work the zero offset is a bit better on that one (half an amp) but still not perfect.

The Uni-T readings match my normal multimeter pretty well though.

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dinoboy wrote:

EDCPlus wrote:

Nice review!  I may have to grab one of these.  Didn't know these were so darn cheap!

kreisler mentioned the 30 bucks. that was *after* applying the discount coupons, dinopoints and his giftcard. starting price was ~55 US$, so he saved approx ~25$, well done!

Talking of Dinodirect (my green land) price went up since (89.39$ wtf) and due to that people on the EEVBlog stopped splurging as well.

FYI, the current valid coupon discount codes are to be found here:

http://budgetlightforum.com/node/4702

And once you're a regged DD member, it's not too hard to collect Dinopoints and giftcards. Since this review might stir renewed interest in this really nice built and accurate DMM I am going to ask Summer if she can have the price lowered again, at least for a while.

Of course you can buy the item from anywhere else (even in your home country!, Uni-Trend is distributed worldwide) but ordering it from DD is cheap and safe, and i dont think that anyone had major trouble with receiving it from there in the recent past.

i am dinoboy and dont work for DD, but i enjoy sharing any good budget dealer experience with friends! (and i am legit. kreisler vouches for me Wink )

I posted that post after researching the price on eBay and a few other sites.  I see $62 Shipped on eBay is the lowest price, but I would probably buy from a US seller @ $69.99.

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HKJ wrote:
The table can also be saved and there are 3 formats to select from, but two of them are the same.

ut61e-logxls

Both the xls and txt format is a table with TAB delimeter between the values, this can be read into a spreadsheet for further processing or making a better looking chart.

i did 2 amperage measurement sessions (tailcap readings: 10440 on Hi, 10440 on Med) and saved the 2 XLS files, then opened them with Excel2010, deleted the unnecessary columns (DC/AC, Unit, AUTO) and some rows (beginning and end measurements). i copied the Med-amperage (see "D") measurements to the spreadsheet of the Hi-amperage measurements (see "C"), and finally selected both columns and let Excel2010 produce a line graph:

the 2 line graphs look nice (and we can even see the down-step from Hi to Hi-2 after 7mins; f e n i x l d 0 1 r 4 : unregulated driver with 10440's so the down-step must be a time-controlled feature!!) but the x-axis looks wrong:

  • it should begin with 0.0 (unit time: seconds), and not with "1" as shown
  • the time difference between 2 neighboring data points is 0.5sec (the runtime of 10440-Med is ~30mins, and not the double "3601" as shown)
  • the ticks should be 1 tick per 60 seconds (=1 tick per minute)

I will also try to visualize the data with other graphing software (Wolfram, Origin) but if someone is proficient in Excel and knows how to quickly get my x-axis "corrected", then please shoot me. Obviously i am not proficient in using Excel at all Embarassed

Thanks for some concrete Excel2007/2010 steps ..

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HKJ
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The usual curve in Excel is not a x-y chart, but each value fills one position. If you have a entry at regular time intervals (Like each second), you can just calculate a column with time in second or minutes from start and the use it for "Category" labels. You will also need to edit the axis and define how often to show a value (Like only show 1 in 30 values). This is the method I uses for my runtime charts in my flashlight reviews.

The other solution is to select a real x-y chart, you have to open the full chart type selection to find it (It is called something with X Y). The again you need to calculate a time column and use it as the X value, but this time you do not need regular time intervals.

My website with reviews of many chargers and batteries (More than 1000): https://lygte-info.dk/

kreisler
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Hi HKJ, thanks for the tip with X-Y charts. Will try to figure it out now with my Excel2010. At the same time i am downloading Origin. It's easy to generate a 40mins time column with Wolfram but it's not installed on my system.

Looks like Excel isnt the most helpful here..

EDIT: another problem in Excel (or in combination with other software) is the interpretation of comma "," and decimal point ".", argh!!

EDIT2: X-Y charts: Excel returns an error because of some number of rows limitation (255 rows) or freezes. d*mn it. Excel is not recommendable at all if one has to manipulate or visualize thousands of data points!! Sad

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HKJ
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Excel has a auto fill function, you just enter the first few values, select the area and the uses the auto fill to generate the remaining values.

The point/comma issue is a PITA.

 

In my runtime charts I sample each second, this means that I can have lots of entries. This works fine with the line chart.

My website with reviews of many chargers and batteries (More than 1000): https://lygte-info.dk/

Ledsmoke
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Holy Mother! HKJ

A review on a DMM? Only on BLF Smile

Thank you for taking the time and making the effort to do this. That is so awesome.

I NEVER read a DMM review before although I've seen them. I read this though Smile

Actually sounds a like its a lot of functionality in a cheap meter. 

And pilotptk: Good one on the clamp meter. 

~ Ledsmoke ~

Dutch humor:

[quote=djozz]

 I do not think that the BLF-community ben

kreisler
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I figured it out with Excel2010, the UT61E graph is presented in the F e n i x post. Thanks again HKJ for the support, as always!!

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