Multimeters: Basic Tips

multimeter without meter probes

Multimeters, which have existed since the 1920’s, are simple but crucial tools for people interested in building and testing electrical circuits. They can measure voltage, current, and resistance, all characteristics which are integral in Ohm’s Law. Most digital multimeters nowadays have a small digital screen for displaying numbers, and below that, a large dial used to specify what characteristic  is being measured and the maximum amount of volts, amps, or ohms to be measured. They also are connected to 2 meter probes, one positive, one negative. Here are some basic guidelines for using multimeters.

1. Using the dial, direct the multimeter to measure one of the following: AC voltage(V~),  DC voltage(V=), Current (Ω/A), or resistance(no symbol). Be sure to set the dial at the lowest possible value (generally, the ones farthest from the top center) in any group.

2. Connect the two meter probes to whatever you want to test, making sure that the positive probe meets the positive side of the object and the negative probe meets the negative side (for voltage and current only).

3. If there is no reading on the screen or if the reading is exactly 1, turn the knob to a higher value until it changes.