Once you get started in ham radio as a hobby, you’ll soon learn that there are never-ending ways to spend your money. Radios, of course, and antennas are the big-ticket items, but soon you’ll find that you need (or you think you’ll need) an antenna analyzer, RF meter, SWR meter, antenna tuner, power supply, coax, twin-lead cables, drill for mounting things, and so forth.
Since I’m not made out of money, I try to be reasonable, but one of the items I thought would be a necessity was a multimeter. My father was an electrician; so, when we were growing up, I always had (or had access to) a multimeter (or, as we called it back in the day, a “volt-ohm meter”).
This is a multi-purpose device that measures electrical stuff: at the very least, it should measure AC/DC voltage and resistance. They range in cost from about $20 to well over $100; I picked up this one (shown in the photo) from the local Home Depot store for about $40. It measures capacitance, diode charge, frequency (though not RF frequency) and even temperature, as well as power, resistance, and current.1
These days, they are nearly all digital (though the low-end $20 models are still analog), and will automatically detect and set the voltage range (when setting it manually, making a mistake would sometimes fry the unit, which was very educational). As we were installing my son’s new radio (see previous post), we used it to verify that the power cables were installed and working properly before connecting the radio.
- I purchased a new one because, quite honestly, I hadn’t used or needed one in about 20 years, and I expect that I’ll be using it more frequently as we get into this whole amateur radio thing. [return]