Multimeters considered helpful

Phil Torrone from Adafruit sez, "Collin's Lab: Multimeters! The multimeter is your greatest ally when working with electronics. Learn how to measure voltage, resistance, current, & continuity - as well as which meter works best for specific tasks. Here are the previous episodes."

Collin's Lab: Multimeters

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  1. When I was 8 or 9 this was the bets present my dad ever gave me. It was a 30k to the volt moving coil multimeter. Best toy a kid could have and the only present I can clearly remember now, 30 years later.

  2. Splendid!

    When teaching garage physics, I make sure that each kid uses a multimeter.

    Yes, start with the continuity beeper. Perhaps the most handy part of the meter.

    Now, pass around a few resistors: 10 ohms, 50 ohms, a hundred, etc. A few are little half-watters, a 5 and 10 watter, maybe a honking 25 or 50 watt resistors. Measure their resistance -- does the meter agree with the resistor's markings? Does the physical size of the resistor say anything about its resistance?

    Now set up a battery - what's its voltage? Clip it to a resistor and measure the current. Did Ohm get it right?

    For icing on the cake, get the kids to hook a few resistors in series or parallel. Is Kirchoff smiling?

    One joyous occasion, I scribbled a complex series/parallel circuit for my 8th graders; one girl thought about it, and went ahead and simplified the circuit - after numerous calculations, determined that the total resistance should be 15.7 ohms. Three other kids took up her challenge. They got a handful of clipleads and built the circuit. After 15 minutes of connecting and arguing, they measured the resistance of the network. To everyone's amazement, the multimeter read 15.7 ohms. One of those classroom experiences that the teacher never forgets...

    At the end of the class, each student keeps her multimeter ($10 at Al Lasher's in Berkeley).

  3. LOVED!!! This was so cool - and so nice to see Lady Ada too! Strangely enough lots of computer nerds venture to electronics but have only read and touched and not had another's explanation. Wonderfully captured!!!

  4. Is it just me, or wouldn't it be reasonable to expect that makers would own a multimeter before they own a breadboard?

  5. A multimeter transforms electronics from tinkering to science, via numbers. That's a big step. Its not surprising that the breadboard would come first, then the multimeter to help understand what's going on.

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