The PICOTEST M3510A bench-top multimeter has an impressive array of features. It is a great deal more accurate than a typical hand-held multimeter and comes with a calibration certificate.
Precision figures are provided for each measurement mode over various lengths of time, up to 1 year. Accuracy for most readings is in the order of ±0.01%.
It has a very fast measurement update rate; up to 50k samples per second. While the display is not updated anywhere near that rapidly, it is still noticeably faster than most other multimeters – even other bench meters.
When it is in auto-ranging mode you do not have to wait long for it to find the correct range for your measurement. Alternatively, you can select the appropriate range yourself using two front-panel buttons.
To take maximum advantage of the fast measurement rate you need to connect it to your computer – more on that later.
While a bench multimeter takes up more space than a hand-held unit, in some ways it is more convenient to use. The controls and connections are easier to access and the display is easier to read.
They also tend to have more features, better performance and since they run off mains power, you never need to worry about a flat battery.
The main body is 227mm wide, 305mm deep and sits 150mm high with the handle set up as a tilting bail. It has a 2-line orange-on-black backlit LCD with quite a wide viewing angle which is better to the left than to the right.
Since the connectors are on the right side, this means it is best located on the right side of the bench.
On the rear panel are BNC trigger inputs and outputs, a USB socket, an IEC power socket, an earth screw and the optional GPIB/RS-232 interface connector. Two high quality needle probes are provided in the box.
The main modes are DC volts and amps, AC volts and amps (with true RMS), 2-wire or 4-wire resistance, capacitance, frequency, continuity, diode test/forward voltage and temperature.
In DC volts mode, the input impedance is 10GΩ (gigaohms) for ranges up to 10V and 10MΩ for higher ranges. This can be overridden if you want 10MΩ impedance for all ranges.