Review – Fluke 233 Remote Display True RMS Multimeter

Hello readers

Several followers of my website have noticed the use of an interesting multimeter in a few of my articles, and were curious about it. So in this article we will discuss it in more detail. It is certainly novel in design, and has proven to be very convenient in use – the Fluke 233 remote-display true RMS multimeter. It arrives in a cardboard box that is easily recycled:

boxs

Upon tearing open the packaging we are presented with the following contents:

contentss

The contents of the box are as follows:

  • The meter itself;
  • a long (~1.2m) pair of Cat IV leads with very sharp points;
  • matching insulated alligator clip adaptors;
  • a K-type thermocouple;
  • a printed Getting Started manual, and the complete manual on CDROM;
  • a single, universal getting started sheet – explains how to remove battery isolation tabs.

However, a carry case was not included. Considering the cost of the meter here (Au$550 + tax), one would have expected a case. On the other hand, if you/your workplace can afford a 233, you can pay for your own case. So there’s two angles to the case perspective.

It is good to see that there isn’t too much of a printer manual, the less paper used the better. As others have said, if you have one of these meters the manual isn’t necessary apart from checking the specifications, and the same applied to myself. Thoughtfully the meter is supplied and fitted with 5 x AA Duracell alkaline cells, three in the meter body and two in the display unit. All one needs to do is pull out the plastic tabs from the battery compartments, and you’re ready to go.

Physically the unit does not disappoint. Made in the USA. First class. Another solid Fluke design, clean lines, and a great fit and finish. Futhermore it is of a good weight, so you could always bang in a nail with it, or the pointy-head boss. The exterior has the rubber-moulded housing which is not removable, however this would be recommended for the target market – as the 233 would be more of a field work than a test-bench instrument. However, if you do sit it on the bench with the tilting bail, you can still operate it with one hand as it has enough friction to stay put. It is also good to see that the box and packaging are cardboard which is easily recycled.

After flicking the meter on the first thing to do was remove the display, plug in the thermocouple, and toss the body into the freezer:

freezer-tests

Even with the meter in the freezer, I could still move the display around 1.5 meters away and it still received the data signal. Notice how the display is on the freezer door – it is magnetic. Immediately the benefits of the remote display come to mind. You can always have the display right where you want it, and the meter where it needs to be… it’s win-win. After showing it to my auto-electrician friend, she didn’t want to give it back.

The ability to set up a meter in a less than perfectly safe environment and take the display away is almost priceless. Furthermore, the backlight is a nice even blueish colour, and times out after around forty seconds. Whilst in the kitchen, I tested out the external temperature of my tea:

teas

Using the meter in general is very simple, you can hold it in one hand and select all of the functions with your thumb. Having the yellow shift key makes changing between associated readings very simple, for example after reading AC voltage:

241vacs

Then pressing the shift key changes to frequency:

50-hzss

The meter has several useful indication functions – while working with high voltages the triangular market is illuminated; when changing to temperature you are prompted with “OPEN” for the thermocouple, and changing to current you are prompted with “LEAD” to change sockets. It is obvious after a short period of time this was designed by engineers for engineers, and not made to a ‘price’. Although this is not an electronics multimeter, it still has quite a few ranges that would suit at a pinch. Plus the one-touch data hold, minimum and maximum functions are included as with other top-end Flukes. Hopefully someone at Fluke is working on a remote display version of their 87V.

Now that I have had this meter for just over five months, it has already become a worthwhile addition to my bench. For the kind of work I do, it has already replaced another multimeter, my old frequency counter and thermometer. The ranges are quite useful, and the continuity beeper is in the display not the body. According to the manual the 233 is rated for a one meter drop onto any of the six surfaces. Out of respect to the meter I will not throw it into a river or from a moving car. The other factor that prevents me from going to such extremes is the clear plastic over the LCD – there is a small amount of ‘give’ or flexibility in that area. Otherwise the 233 is as solid as they come.

The specifications can be found in detail in the manual here, however a quick glance shows:

Range                                                             Accuracy

AC voltage: 0.1mV ~ 1000V                      1~2%+3

AC current: 1mA ~ 10A                               1.5%+3

DC voltage: 0.1mV ~ 1000V                     0.25%+2

DC current: 1mA ~ 10A                               1.0%+3 ** no microamperes

resistance: 0.1 ~ 40 meg-ohm                   0.9~1.5%+2

frequency:  0.01 Hz ~ 50 kHz                    0.1%+2

capacitance: 1nF to 9999 uF                     1.9%+2

temperature: -40 ~ 400 degrees Celsius     1%+10

And there is also a diode test and continuity beeper function. Interestingly enough, I discovered by accident that the frequency counter function was slightly underrated. Some more testing showed it was good for up to 99.48 kHz:

233_freq

Not bad at all. However as with the many pros, there are  a few cons to using this meter. The auto-zero time of the display is a little slow, sometimes it can take two seconds. That doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re measuring many components the time adds up. And the LCD is not protected as well as expected, you can push into it with your finger. For a Fluke meter, one would expect it to be much more solid – if the display unit fell from a height and landed on something pointy with the display facing down, it would be ruined. So be careful if you have one.

Furthermore, the battery life is around eight to ten weeks of “daily use” (perhaps seven hours a week, usually with the backlight on). Some have said this is bad, however my opinion is that the convenience of the remote display makes up for the shorter battery life.

However at the end of the day – this is a great tool. Being able to measure something outside your field of vision, and having the results in front of you is incredibly useful. You could achieve the same functions by using a meter with a PC interface, but that can be overkill and time-consuming to set up. So if the specifications of the 233 meet your needs, this is a great tool that will serve you very well.

The Fluke 233 Remote Display True RMS Multimeter is available from your local element-14 or Fluke distributor.

As always, thank you for reading and I look forward to your comments and so on. Furthermore, don’t be shy in pointing out errors or places that could use improvement. Please subscribe using one of the methods at the top-right of this web page to receive updates on new posts. Or join our Google Group.

[Disclaimer - the Fluke 233 is a review sample made available by Fluke via element-14]

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John Boxall

Founder, owner and managing editor of tronixstuff.com.

6 Responses to “Review – Fluke 233 Remote Display True RMS Multimeter”

  1. Ante Vukorepa says:

    “…if the display unit fell from a height and landed on something pointy…”

    Like a pointy-haired boss’ head?

  2. I know what I’m getting for Fathers day now! Still using my trusty DSE Q1777 Bargraph Multimeter that I bought as a kid :)

    • John Boxall says:

      Memories! Although the 233 is a great meter, it doesn’t have “electronics” ranges, it is more suited for electrical than electronic work. For electronics I would use a Fluke 87V or an Agilent U1272A.
      cheers
      john

  3. Donald says:

    Gidday

    Do you still like it ? I’m looking to buy one for my trade ( auto sparky ) as I’ve had such a great run from my fluke 23 I bought as a second year apprentice around 28 years ago.

    Regards
    Donald
    New Zealand

    ===================

    • John Boxall says:

      Absolutely, still a great DMM.

      • Donald says:

        Gidday

        I bought one 7 aug this year and put new mk2 eneloops throughout.
        I also bought a new fluke 77-4 around same time as I needed the bar graph for checking car stereo’s for speaker output as I lost my 29 yr old fluke 23, dont worry though, my baby came back !

        233 went flat last week, no warning or batt indicator, last time I used it around 1 week previous went sweet as.
        So if you have the 233 you must have another meter or set of batteries on hand !!

        I cycled the eneloops twice before charging and installing in meter when I first got the 233 in a new sanyo 4 ch eneloop charger.
        It was the third dis / charge cycle so maybe I’ll get more next time.
        3 months is ok if the 2 battery holders surviive. My 29yr old fluke 23 has stripped 1 of the 4 case screws replacing the fuse.
        .I’d say I’ll make paper clips via a ptc pass through the case and make a charge cradle. I’ll prob fit Lifepo4 eventually.
        So apart from the battery life, what do I rekon of the 233

        good stuff

        wireless feature is brilliant. I’ve used a torch and mirror or my cell phone on video record up to now when on my own.

        min / max is good and has worked ok.
        havn’t needed to use hold yet.

        Neo magnet with fabric strap is totally the shizzle, unfortunatly it doesn’t dock easily with the strap attached so it’s on my 77-4 what a good thing on that, thanks fluke.
        apart from my test lead gator clips sticking to it and becoming magnetic.
        233 backlight is readable brighter would be good for when reading from 5 meters in dark.
        Big clear thick character display is great, I’ve still got the protective film from new on it and no probs from 3 metres to read
        angled base good
        magnet built in very good
        Power locked on is good. I’ve used it to watch a battery voltage on charge while using the computer, putting base as free to see head makes a big difference to range and quality
        I’ve put the clips together on beeper when looking for the head, works a treat.
        Temp seems ok , I do like how its so low thermal inertia so fast responding.
        I’ve used it inside a medical thermometer disposable sleve when testing temperaturs sensors submerged in a pot of hot water and it responded quickly enough.
        Buttons feel good
        rotary dial feels good.

        duh stuff

        I dont understand why flukes ‘ automotive ‘ meter has AC volts and AC amps before DC on the rotary dial. What are fluke thinking !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
        I’d easily do 1000 : 1 dc measurements per 1 ac measurment.
        C’mon fluke sort it out !!!
        Needs a mA scale, alot more usefull than temperature or freq.
        Selector wheel should be knurled and slightly proud of the case edge like the 23 so you can change it with your thumb while holding it in one hand.
        Otherwise, it goes ok, similar result as my $25 digitech. frequency count 1000 x less than my $25 digitech !!
        Display alot slower than my 30 yr old fluke 23.
        painful when measuring 40 fuses for 12v DC power while waiting for the display to scroll through the ranges, this alone is reason to pick up the 77-4 or 23.

        it sucks how it looses the count quite quickly when at max range. feels like less than a minute. So if talking with a client I have to nurse the meter instead.
        Display says row of 4 minus then rf err. When this happens refit to base turn off and on.
        Banana shrouds have more protection than my new 73-4 and 23, scope etc, strange again as automotive is mostly elv ( extra low voltage).
        So I can’t use my custom banana’s until after the warranty when I’ll mod the case a little.
        Meter very heavy and large dont want to have your head and meter in the footwell because if it falls on you your eyes may water. Although in a confined space I can rest the meter on kmy gut and hold the head so I can see more easily.
        I only use it if I need the wireless, too heavy and clunky.
        Sucks there is no bar graph.
        I wonder if I can buy just the head when I leave it on a job !
        Be better if you could lock power on and or lock backlight on, currenlty I can only do either. so if I want to watch something for 2 hours I’m like the train driver pressing the dead man over ride !

        Over all would I still buy the 233 being the motorolla brick of DMM’s ?
        Defintly just for the wireless fiunction alone to save me a man.

        Regards

        Donald
        New Zealand

        Been reading and trusting my fluke for 29 years.

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