Part 1 (You're there)
It was obvious that this kind of post or review was bound to appear at one stage, but my aim is to walk people through my thoughts on the product and so appearance is important (to me at least).
On that note, on with the show.
So I arrived at my desk to find a brown shipping box on my desk. Awesome.
It was a pretty ordinary brown box. Just a shipping label and packing slip.
As seen in the video below I use my handy pocket tool to slit open the packaging tape.
The first thing I saw what the "Agilent Technologies Accessories Inside" box. Putting this aside for the moment, I lifted out the beautiful device. It's screen looking at me with it's beautiful bigness. Pulling off the foam cushioning I placed the multimeter on my desk and went looking for a power cable. This is where things started going wrong. Unfortunately for me, they didn't include an Australian power cable (AS/NZS 3112).
Luckily for me the cable type is quite common so I had a spare one attached to a desktop power supply I had nearby. Plug it in....nothing.
At this point I'd like to make my first very pointed comment.
Read the instructions. Read the instructions. Read the instructions. Read the instructions. (If you didn't get that, read the instructions).
These were on a CD that came with the unit.
Despite expecting to be able to plug it in and go, straight out of the box, this isn't necessarily going to be the case for you. My delivery came from the US based Newark rather than the Australian localised Element14 (You might have already guessed what this means).
Upon finally finding the set-up instructions, I read that I had to rotate the voltage selector on the back. This involved (see video) removing the protective cover, levering out the plastic widget rotating it so that the correct voltage setting was facing outwards, and then replacing it.
I also had to replace the fuse which silently blew when it was plugged in previously.
After turning the voltage selector to the correct location and replacing the fuse I plugged it in, and was greeted by a nice orange light under the power button.
A quick press and I saw a nice artistic start-up screen and after some quick info (IP and GPIB addresses etc), a voltage reading in large easy to read characters.
So what came with the 34461A?
- Two power cables. One appears to be the UK BS 1363 (Type G) plug (three large rectangular pins), and the other looks like a NEMA 5-15 (15 A/125 V earthed) (Type B) plug (two rectangular pins and one round pin).
- Two CDs. A product reference CD (the manual is on this), and the Agilent IO Libraries suite.
- Test leads (size comparisons use an Australian 10c coin).
- 1 Red and 1 Black standard probe (1000V 15A CatII) - Agilent refers to these as "Test Leads"
- 1 Red and 1 Black "pincer" connector (300V 3A CatII) - Agilent refers to these as "SMT Grabber Attachments"
- 1 Black "hook" connector (300V 3A CatII) - Agilent refers to this as a "Mini Grabber Attachment"
- 1 Red and 1 Black "thin stabby" connector (300V 3A CatII) - Agilent refers to these as "Fine Tip Probe Attachments"
- Certificate of Calibration. The calibration test report looked pretty good on my unit. The largest error was with the 10V 300KHz on 10V range reading, and even that was only 0.072% out (1year spec was +/- 4.5%)
So now that you have your shiny multimeter out of the box, on your desk (possibly with software installed on your PC), you may as I did, wish to do some initial tests.
Using the fine tip probe attachments I checked the +5 and GND levels on a USB cable connected to a PC. Success. I got pretty much spot on 5V which is expected.
Using the Ohm(2W plug) I checked a potentiometer. Again I got what I expected.
But what about the device itself?
It appears to be well constructed with buttons that are a reasonable size for pressing. The screen is clear, and easy to read, but can pose reflection issues if you're trying to photograph or film it.
If I had to give one suggestion to Agilent, it'd be to include a 1 page (even A5 size would be enough) "this is how you set the voltage setting" quick-start guide. Shove it in the accessories box. It'd fit brilliantly, and really, when you look at the cost of the device, a few cents for an extra sheet of paper isn't a large amount on Agilent's part.
Things to note during software installation: The Agilent I/O Libraries installer has, in addition to the Agilent EULA, EULAs for MS XML and IVI. This won't be an issue for everyone, but if you're at a company that is strict about what gets installed, you need to be aware of this. It's also worth noting that if an existing VISA install is detected (such as one with National Instruments LabVIEW), the Agilent version prompts you to install by default as a secondary/side-by-side install.
What is that multi tool you're using?
It's a WTF (Wrench That Fits). It's a small titanium wrench with a few other uses. It was a kickstarter project by Brad. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tactical/wtf-mini-titanium-keychain?ref=live
How do I change the input voltage selector setting?
Firstly, unplug your 34461A!
Turn your device around so you're looking at the back. Towards the top right you'll see a black rectangle with something white visible through a hole in it. Remove this black cover using the clip thing at the bottom (I used the WTF, but a small screwdriver or nail file should also work). You'll need to extract the white plastic selector. I found it easier to place my little finger in underneath it, and then hook the tip of it behind the plastic and pull it out. If you can find an easier way, let me know. Find your local voltage on the plastic white block which you just removed, and return it to its holder so that your voltage setting faces outwards.
This is a good opportunity to check the fuse and replace it if needed (like it was in my case).