Sunday, 6 January 2013

Review: Cheap and broken.. Multimeter test leads

Often, it's been said that cheap products can't be good. Well, sometimes they do work and fulfil the need, sometimes the product simply don't cut it. A world of wisdom amongst electronic hobbyists is that one should never connect/use anything that's been purchased from various 'chinaimports' without at least opening and examining it first.

And here's a good basic example of total lack of manufacturer QC, even though the multimeter leads should be a simple item. It' still too difficult to make them right at the first take. Behold, the 2.5$ multimeter test leads:
Always open and check before using, their QC just ain't.

For the picture I have opened both ends of the red wire. As far as parts go, these test leads are well within the expected quality for 2.5$ price. Nothing fancy, alligator clips feel ok and the banana plugs are half decent.

Unfortunately the wire connections leave a lot to comment. The alligator clip side is almost ok, I'd would like to see some solder added, since the bare metals tend to oxidise and lose contact soon. Banana plugs are worse, though. The red cable had essentially no contact at all, the screw did not touch the copper wire at all, essentially it was just gripping the insulator.

Secondary problem is the open end of the screw, as seen on black banana jack. This leads high risk of getting electrocuted due direct contact to metallic parts.Note though, that I would not ever recommend to use this kind cheap and thin wires to any high voltage measurements, but just in case someone accidentally does it..

To fix these, I'll need to re-make all connections and insulate the banana plugs so the screws can't be touched accidently. All in all, this is not a biggie for someone knowing electronics, but in the end there may well be a lot people who don't have the necessary talent and skill to repair these shoddy products.

PS: Just in case you'll got irresistible urge to get one of these, here's the link to these test leads . I did try to leave critical feedback concerning the QC and safety of the product, but it was not accepted. Ah well, can't please em all the time, my positive remarks of other goodies have been accepted though, so it can't be my English...


  1. ". Banana plugs are worse, though. The red cable had essentially no contact at all, the screw did not touch the copper wire at all, essentially it was just gripping the insulator."
    Well, that is kind of how I do it too. When you strip the wire and only insert the stripped end into the banana jack the wires are either too thin or they get pushed away by the screw. Tinning them seems a bad idea because they will break easily. So you just fold back the stripped part behind the not stripped part of the wire and then tighten the screw.

  2. It could be ok, if the inside hole of banana blug were a bit smaller, so that wire would press tightly against the metal, but apparently it had slipped to the side of insulated wire and thus were just lose.

    Thse leads had a sort-of connection, but nowhere solid enough to be used as a meter lead.

    I will most likely add layer or two of Heat shrink tubing to plug end. That will keep fingers away of the screws and suppport the leads.

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