Weak points of Harbor Freight DMMs

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But even if the el-cheapos fail 5 x as often as Flukes, the Flukes are more expensive on a yearly basis because they cost way more than 5x an el-cheapo. My HF el-cheapos have held up just fine, and I don't have to worry when I use them aboutmishandling them and seeing $$$ go down the drain.
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BINGO!!
When I was a motorcycle mechanic in The Dalles OR, the closest Sears was 180 miles away, round trip. A lifetime replacement warranty was worse than useless, it was an added expense. Having already broken a Craftsment open end wrench and one socket, even before I went professional, I didn't have a single Craftsman tool in my box.
OTOH, once worked for a start-up high tech company. Twenty plus electro and mechanical technicians, all sharing the same tools out of one seriosly abused Craftman 2-deck roll away. I worked for that company for almost 2 yrs and saw that box get its drawers open and slammed shut at least a 1000 times per day. It never missed a beat. I bought one jes like it. Their screwdrivers are OK, too.
Jes like Snap-On, most tools are rebranded. Some tools in a brand line are great, others crap. Snap-On tapes are rebranded Lufkins, which I consider junk. The best pair of adj pliers I've ever owned were Wizard, a $4 cheapo house brand from a long gone auto parts chain. I'd kill for another pair.
Good and bad tools are where you find them. You can't really judge a whole brand line by a couple tools. Nor can you go by price. I'll buy some things from HF. I once bought a 2-1/2 ton Chinese floor jack for $50. It was better made than an alleged USA made jack for $180.
Like the old saw, "You jes gotta be smarter than the tool." ;)
nb
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On 03/19/2011 10:21 AM, notbob wrote:

Really? Craftsman screwdrivers I consider consumables, although I do have to admit to abusing them (using them to disassemble rusty old cars)
nate
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If you mean using them as pry-bars, well yeah.
I don't know about lately. I haven't bought a Craftsman anything in years. That rollaway I bought wuz 25 yrs ago and it's still going strong. I recall liking those old Craftsman screwdriver sets cuz they had good handles, the tips never rounded, and the larger flat-blades had square shafts, handy for putting a wrench on, when necessary. I still have one. They may be junk, now.
Also, a home DIY is not a professional, where time is money. I caved about 10 yrs ago and bought some Craftsman deep sockets that were on deep sale, too cheap to pass up. But I'm retired, so rarely use/abuse tools like I used to. They're good enough for home use.
nb
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On 03/19/2011 10:47 AM, notbob wrote:

Nope, just loosening tight/rusted screws. The tips on the flat blade screwdrivers tend to twist when subjected to high torque, and the Phillips ones just tend to get munged up.
QC ain't great either; I bought a set of Torx drivers a couple years ago and the handle on one twisted off on the first or second screw I used it on (not that tight either, I was disassembling a Carter carburetor.)
nate
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It's unfortunate the quality of Craftsman tools keeps degrading. Like I said, the large flat blade I have has a square shaft and I sometimes put an open end wrench on it to increase the torque. Never had a problem, but this one is probably 20 yrs old. Thanks for the feedback. I was considering buying a new set. Nevermind. ;)
nb
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On 03/19/2011 11:20 AM, notbob wrote:

eh, they're still the best deal going. I trade 'em in every couple years :)
sometimes they'll be out of the one that I had and I'll get a free "upgrade" to a nicer one :) got a polished 1/2" drive ratchet that way once.
nate
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Couldnt have been too great of a mechanic if breaking a socket was that big of a deal. You need a serious reality check.
Jimmie
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JIMMIE wrote:

You don't have to be measuring a thousand volts. Measuring in a power panel with a low quality can result in you wearing the meter. For instance, measuring the bus voltage on ohms.
There is a "category" rating for meters based on the energy available at different parts of the supply circuit. Meters for panels have, among other things, fuses with high enough interrupt ratings to provide protection, and leads that are not likely to get you into trouble.
The fuses in a Fluke meter are far better than you are likely to find in a HF meter.
Most Fluke meters have category ratings. If you are in the service panel a cat rated meter is a real good idea. If you are an employee and in a service panel OSHA might have opinions on what is an adequate meter.
Some industrial settings might be subject to transients that are over the meter rating and cause the meter to arc over with resulting arc flash.
If you are working on something like audio equipment it doesn't much matter.
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They are great for gifts and stocking stuffers. Then when someone has a problem you can talk them through how to use it and help them fix there problem. I can't count how many times I have told someone to look for the up side down U to test for continuity.
Tom Inspiration can be found in a pile of junk. Sometimes, you can put it together with a good imagination and invent something - Thomas Edison
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<snip>
I have about 15 of them. About 5 years ago I prepared a presentation for "Enrichment Day" for my son's 4th grade class on Ohm's law. I built twelve platforms each with ten resistors in series, and two AA cells, very unkludgily constructed, and they had to measure resistance, voltage, and current and compare the measured value, labeled value, and calculated value (V/I) of each resistor.
Everything worked fine with the twelve Harbor Freight DMMs (on sale for $1.99 each) until some of the kids had them set to DC current and touched them to the + and - of the two batteries. That blew the internal 500mA GMA fuse, and the current measurement function no longer worked. I finally replaced all the blown fuses <http:// www.allelectronics.com/make-a-store/item/GMA-05/1/2-AMP-MINI-FUSE//1.html> but had I bought fuses locally I would have paid about $1 per fuse.
I wanted to donate the whole set-up to the school, after all, they paid for it all, but they weren't interested. So I have the whole thing in a bin in the shed waiting for someone that wants it.
For basic household use those meters are just fine, you don't need super high accuracy for most tasks.
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I have a Fluke 83. Used it on aircradft for 15 years. No problems. I'm now using it in buses and trolleys, 700 volts. It will probably outlive me. I've had other meters, all gone, junk. Fluke is top notch. Can't be beat
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