This is an important action when checking the circuit performance for analysis or when you repair a circuit/electronic device.
When testing circuits you often need to find the voltages at various points, for example the voltage at pin 2 of a 555 timer chip. This can seem confusing – where should you connect the second multimeter lead?
- Connect the black (negative -) lead to 0V, normally the negative terminal of the battery or power supply.
- Connect the red (positive +) lead to the point you where you need to measure the voltage.
- The black lead can be left permanently connected to 0V while you use the red lead as a probe to measure voltages at various points.
- You may wish to fit a crocodile clip to the black lead of your multimeter to hold it in place while doing testing like this.
Voltage at a point really means the voltage difference between that point and 0V (zero volts) which is normally the negative terminal of the battery or power supply. Usually 0V will be labeled on the circuit diagram as a reminder.
Analogue Multimeter Scales These can appear daunting at first but remember that you only need to read one scale at a time! The top scale is used when measuring resistance.
Reading analogue scales
Check the setting of the range switch and choose an appropriate scale. For some ranges you may need to multiply or divide by 10 or 100 as shown in the sample readings below. For AC voltage ranges use the red markings because the calibration of the scale is slightly different.
Sample readings on the scales shown:
DC 10V range: 4.4V (read 0-10 scale directly)
DC 50V range: 22V (read 0-50 scale directly)
DC 25mA range: 11mA (read 0-250 and divide by 10)
AC 10V range: 4.45V (use the red scale, reading 0-10)