Electrical test and measurement equipment reviews.

  Digital Multimeter, Clamp on meter, Oscilloscope, Electronic component testing tools, all measuring equipment for demanding applications of our times:  Switching or Uninterruptible power supply, PV Inverters, VFD motor controllers, industrial electronics repair & HVAC.

Written by Kiriakos A. Triantafillou, Industrial maintenance electrician, Hellas.

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BRYMEN BM869 Review – By the eye of the Industrial electrician.

By Kiriakos Triantafillou  December 15 2011


Revised June 9 2012 (additional info added) © 2012  


Intro.

Part – 1 Few words about BRYMEN

Part – 2 Introduction with the BM869

Part – 3 Exploring the basic features

Part – 4  Advanced features

Part – 5  Just another one multimeter with Industrial profile?

Part – 6  How it feels on common tasks?  Easy to use?

Part – 7  battery consumption - Back-light durability

Part – 8  LCD display – Multiple functions

Part – 9 Front and rear covers (body design)

Part – 10 Testing under extreme temperatures  

Part – 11 Build to last

Conclusion

BRYMEN BM869 review – By the eye of the Industrial electrician.



Intro:


It was a pleasant surprise the email that I received from BRYMEN marketing organization at October 8 2011, it was their positive answer about to use test and evaluate their BM869 industrial multimeter, of 50,000 / 500,000 counts.


I like to thanks Mr. Gary Wang BRYMEN Product Marketing Manager, because of his insight and good will, today I am able to present this product review to my readers.  

My first official review of the Agilent U1272A back to 18 July 2011, it was a major experience for me, I was been selected to write a review of a truly modern and features rich industrial multimeter.
This review acted as one awakening which caused the instant revaluation of my own criteria, about what is considered as modern and worthy industrial multimeter.


Additionally the fact that I am unsatisfied as consumer from the product suggestions coming from the distributors in Greece, which the majority distributes low priced outdated models, made me to step up forward with determination, so to start my own journey about the discovery of the hideout, or better the answer in the question of where the modern instruments with good quality and acceptable pricing are hidden?  

 
Eventually after lots of searches with Google search, I did discovered TAITRONICS which is the major show about electronics in Taiwan, and I started my personal market research which lasted for three months.

My key points were: Innovative design, fast sampling, Industrial personality, plus affordable price range.

Those characteristics killed an amazing amount of candidates from my list, the immediate acceptance of my other two invitations about acquiring demonstration samples of my choice, loaded me with lots of confidence, that my amateurish market research method it was not looking that amateurish any more.


My list at that time ended to have a small size but it was including companies with an optimistic point of view and faith about their products.

My previews experiences with China mainland were not that promising.

Yes you can find what ever product you wish in China, and at the price level that you wish too, but the faith about the quality of the product, it is not always there.



Part – 1 Few words about BRYMEN

The company started at 1993, with Mr. Tony Chan CEO / President / Electrician Engineer.
Their product range: portable multimeter's, clamp meters & voltage testers.
 
In 1994 they had first shown in ELECTRONICA exhibition (Munich-Germany), introducing their first CAT-III 1000V compliance multimeter series, which was the BM830 series, capable of surviving the 8000V peak impulse transient test.

(Nine years later) In 2003 in Taipei TAITRONICS Show, they came with their first CAT-IV 1000V compliance multimeter series, the BM680 series.
Capable of surviving the 12000V peak impulse transient test, BRYMEN was the first ever listed an UL CAT-IV 1000V certified multimeter worldwide.

The company describes this fact as: new milestone in multimeter safety!

Even at 2009, they were pioneers about the UL CAT-IV 1000V compliance, and their new offering was the BM820 series, also listed as UL CAT-IV 1000V. Yet, setting another new milestone in multimeter safety!

Well this is a true impressive past, so far I had the impression that the American companies was leading in this area, and so I did some extra search about this matter.


It is a fact that even today, according to: FLUKE Corporation - Product catalogue 2010/2011, printed in the Netherlands, 04/10 Pub ID: 11605-eng (page 9),  that FLUKE does not follow yet the CAT-IV 1000V, and also from the side of Amprobe, they did introduce in their catalogue of 2011, their first CAT IV 1000V model which is the HD160C 10,000 counts IP67.

And so it is absolutely true that Mr. Tony Chan and BRYMEN are still leading in the sector of safety, plus that they manufacture safe multimeter's for the past 18 years.

The BM860 series were firstly introduced in TAITRONICS 2011.


My invitation about the BM869 review, caught the company on the go for TAITRONICS.

This review is the first ever written about the BM869, and I do feel proud about been the first reviewer who wrote it.



Part – 2 Introduction with the BM869  

The most distinct feature is the 50,000 counts resolution in the fast mode, plus the 500,000 counts resolution in the DC mode, and also the dual line LCD display.
The rich resolution demands also one large LCD display, and this leads to an over sized hand-held multimeter, almost equal in size with the FLUKE 28II.
  

Test leads
The BM869 comes with high quality test leads, better than the one found on the BM867 (non industrial version).
Rubberise feeling on the test leads, shrouded banana plugs, soft silicone on the cables, and the leads tips are convertible to:

a)   fully exposed test tips =  1KV CAT II
b)   Add-on plastic insulators ( small exposed tip) = 1KV CAT IV
c)   banana plug with threaded end, that gets over the exposed test tip = 1KV  CAT II

The test leads are made by the Taiwanese B.T.C. rated 10A 1KV, and there is no further information printed of the actual cables.

The test leads gets easily attached in the back of the holster, even when the tips are fully exposed (1KV CAT II), or even with the plastic insulators on them (1KV CAT IV).
The cables can roll over and around the multimeter body three times, and with the test leads attached on the holster, the multimeter gains a clean look.

The test leads looked a bit short for the size of my palm and the finger guards a bit narrow for my taste, even so the general impression remains very good.
 

Thermocouple
The BM869 comes with one thermocouple, which has medium construction quality, by speaking about the banana plugs.

FLUKE has spoiled us with the shrouded banana thermocouple mostly as design, due the fact that it stays securely in place.
Agilent uses a K-type adapter that is not shrouded but it has a high quality banana plugs. (Pomona style)

The BM869 supports dual thermocouples’, and so you will definitely need to buy as extra the second one.  
Due the affordable pricing of the BM869, it would be unfair to comment more about the banana plug of the included thermocouple.
Those parts are expendable, and also for professional measurements you will need a more appropriate set of K-type bolt-on probes, capable to operate even above the 250 Celsius mark.  


Carton box – packaging
The carton box is nicely printed, the logo of the company and the specifications are all over it.
The carton box looks a bit fragile, there is no second carton box in it, so to hold the meter and the accessories stable in place.

The BM869 comes enclosed in a plastic bag, and has a LCD screen protector which serves exclusively as safety for the transportation purposes. It must be removed so to operate the multimeter.


Battery 9V
It came with a pre-installed (Gold in colour) GP-Alkaline made in Malaysia.
With expiration date April/2016 = fresh as hot cake.


Battery compartment

On the battery cover, even if this multimeter does not have waterproof specifications, there is an o-ring that it would stop any liquid from getting in it, especially when it is out of the holster.
From the inner side (battery compartment), there is a large sponge, which keeps the battery stable and unmovable.



Soft buttons and range switch
The soft buttons gives a nice feeling, and they are responsive 100%.
With no force at all and just gentle moves, they perform nicely.

The range switch, well honestly even if it works well enough,
I am a bit disappointed from it.
1) Its very small in diameter, limits the space for the fingers.
2) Because of the small diameter you have less control by rotating it in a hurry.
3) It looks like that there was a disagreement or battle on the drawing board (designer’s room), between usability and looking nice, and the second suggestion win.

The feeling of the range switch could be called as very good, the rotation is smooth, and you do get the feeling that underneath of your fingers hides one good quality mechanism.



LCD Display
The LCD display it is bright enough and easy to read from a distance, and even haves my favourite fonts style, I do dislike the rounded bulky fonts.
The display passed with success the known external pressure test, like pushing the clear plastic with your fingers and looking for any side effects on the viewable area.  

As first true annoyance it could be the narrow viewable angle (top bottom), the display offers the best contrast when been placed at your eye level or higher than that, when standing on the tilt bail.
When is set face up with out the tilt bail the contrast is good.  

It will possibly annoy you less if it is used for field work, with the magnetic hanger that is optional.  
And it will annoy you more if it is placed with the tilt bail turned upside down, so to hang the meter from a hook or nail or pipe, the narrow viewable angle will cause some fading.

For bench work (when it stands on the tilt bail) I have to offer two suggested ways of placement, far and away from you (40 - 50 centimeter (20 inch), or close to you and be (10 centimeter or 4 inch) higher than the height of your own bench table.

The second but smaller annoyance could be the fact that there is no on-screen numeric indication about the voltage range, usually found at the end of the bar graph.
My other multimeter's haves that, FLUKE 28II, Agilent U1272A, DER EE DE-208A.



Bar-graph
Well made and the fastest ever seen up to date, even the fastest fluctuation was visible, and possibly it could turn in to great assistance when you search even for ripple noise (it does looks that sensitive).

I have noticed that this LCD display type (500,000 counts) and bar graph design, it is shared among Japanese and Taiwanese manufacturers.  

In some of those designs when the bar graph gets over the 500V mark, it shows an on-screen indication as “Over” and that’s it.
On the BM869 the over range indicator is a small black arrow pointing at the right, and it shows up after the number 5.  

Personally I would expect the bar graph to was capable to indicate the working range too, the markings like 0 to 5V remains unchanged no matter if you measure 5 or 500 Volts.
This could seem like insignificant detail, but it is an aid for some people and I do include my self too.  
 

LCD & Screen protection
The LCD display it is protected from a small impact (face down) like 1 meter drop with the holster on the floor.
The holster at the top side extends near to half centimetre, and acts as top bumper with the rubberised banana plugs to act as bottom bumper.
Both landing points offer enough clearance and protection on the LCD display and range switch.


Personally I do dislike seen scratches on the clear LCD cover, and I do use screen protectors in everything that I own.

My suggestion would be to start using them too, and if they are anti glare this is an even wiser choice.

 
 
Back light  
Extremely powerful and uniform with just three LED, when the multimeter is set correctly at the best viewable angle, the back light will positively impresses you, to the point to wish to was always on (But this is not possible).

If the multimeter is not positioned at the best viewable angle, the back-light would decrease the screen contrast.

The back-light timer was hiding a small annoyance for my taste, at the hard copy of the User’s manual it is clearly say that the BM869 holds the back-light on for 32 seconds, and in my BM869 it works just for 16 seconds.
The information that I got from BRYMEN was “typographical error”.
Also the specific model does not offer any special power-up mode about disabling the back-light timer.



Auto-Power-off (APO)
The Auto-Power-off (APO) mode turns the meter off automatically to extend battery life after approximately 17 minutes of no activities.

Activities are specified as:
1)   Rotary switch or push button operations
2)   Significant measuring readings of above 9% of range or non-OL readings.

In other words, the meter will intelligently avoid entering the APO mode when it is under normal measurements, that is quite Impressive!


Disabling Auto-Power-off
Press the SELECT button while turning the meter on to temporarily disable the Auto-Power-Off feature.
Turn the rotary switch OFF and then back on to resume.


Holster and tilt bail
The holster it is well made, and with the tilt bail open, the meter stands solid like a rock on the bench, BRYMEN had use a very wide tilt bail on it, the feeling of the total stability brings a big smile on my face.

The specific tilt bail mechanism offers the option to rotate 180 degrees the tilt bail and hang the meter from a nail/hook/pipe/, due the issue with the narrow viewable angle, this way of using the holster it could possibly not be the best.  

This rubber holster offers enough protection against impact (four corners).
It is slimmer at the middle point and gives a good grip and positive feeling in the hand.
It was not made by the philosophy found on the very inexpensive multimeter's, like be an extra rubberised cover.
It is specifically tailored to attach like a glove on the BM869 and have special inner points in all the perimeter of it, so to almost lock-on on the body of the multimeter.

My own impression from this holster and tilt bail design are that it is feels nice in my large palm, plus it gives a more natural grip than what the 28II offers.
The base idea is that this holster would always be present and part of the BM869.

About removal, the best way is to start taking it off by using the low left corner, by gently pushing backwards.

By inspecting the BM869 with out the holster, I found on the top side two specially manufactured oval shaped pressure points which look like anchor points, but the rubber holster does not have anything from inside.
Could be an abandoned idea, or about a plan for another way of keeping the multimeter in position with out the specific holster.   
  

Magnetic hanger
I did not receive any, probably not available as accessory yet.
But I like to have one when it will be available.

(I have noticed that SANWA (Japan) uses on their PC7000 digital multimeter, a holster with identical design like the BM869 holster, plus they share the same plastic connector at the rear port about the PC connectivity KIT.)

On the BM869 there is the option to attach even the magnetic hanger accessory, on the base of the Infrared port, and it stays in there when it’s not in use.

My impression is that a belt type magnetic hanger is a more appropriate design or choice, than using nylon string as link between the multimeter body and the magnet.



User’s Manual
The hard copy that came with the multimeter looks small with few pages, but hides a compact guide for the new comer electrician with chapters regarding safety, True RMS, and basic how-to about measurements’.
It is well written and easy to understand, and totally complete about every technical specification about the multimeter, as example: battery consumption, LCD consumption etc.  
Unfortunately it is no available currently on the BRYMEN web site as download, but it is available under request.
My suggestion would be to become larger in dimensions by 20%, with larger and easily readable fonts.  
   
  
PC connectivity KIT – Optional
Thankfully I got one of those too.
My quick impression: Simple to use and friendly software, I love it.

The Infrared USB cable gets attached on the back of the BM869, and in a special locking point, as soon it gets in place with allots of caution ( due the fact that this design requires half rotation with precision) it is ready for action.

By attaching the Infrared USB cable on the meter, my first impression was that this design does not look that robust, but it is compact in size, and the cable gets out from the side which is a practical concept, even if the Infrared attached cable protrudes a bit, it is aloud the multimeter to be placed flat down, and does not forces you to use the tilt bail all the time like other designs do.

It looks that there was no special planning about operating it flat down with the Infrared USB cable in place, for example the DER EE DE-208A includes rubber pads on the Infrared USB cable (back plate), which is a better approach.

As long BRYMEN and the Japanese SANWA, have faith on this specific Infrared design, I will accept it too as good enough, but the robustness factor needs to be tested in time, this design are still very fresh in the market.    


Base features & specifications

•   4 4/5 digit 50,000 count LCD
•   Dual Display
•   500,000 Count Stable DCV Mode
•   1000V input protection
•   True RMS  
•   Data/Crest Hold & Min/Max recording
•   Back-light Display
•   dbm Readings
•   Duty cycle
•   VFD-Voltage filtering for variable speed drives
•   %4-20 Loop Current Measurement
•   Dual Temperature Display (Type-k)
•   PC Interface & Software (Optional)

Sensing: AC / AC+DC True RMS

Update Rate:
4-4/5 digits fast mode: 5 per second nominal
5-4/5 digits mode: 1.25 per second nominal
41 Segments Bar graph: 60 per second max

The meter protection rating, is double insulation per
IEC/EN/UL/61010-1 2nd Editions

CAN/CSA C22.2 No. 61010.1-0.92 to Category IV 1000 Volts AC & DC
CENELEC Low-voltage directive 2006/95/EC
Electromagnetic compatibility directive 2004/108/EC

Transient protection: 12kV (1.2/50uS surge)
The meter is intended only for indoor use
Operating Temperature: 0C to 45C

For more detailed specification its best to visit the product page.
Price range: about 210 Euros - VAT included 

Other strong points of the BM869 over the BM867:
Support for Dual K-type thermocouple.
Higher accuracy in the DC range, plus Ohms range  
The unit shows Hz simultaneously with ACV DCV ACA DCA
1000V HRC fuses in both inputs uA/mA & A.
The test probes of superior quality & complying with CAT-IV 1000V.
The unit comes with one K-type thermocouple.



Part – 3 Exploring the basic features

Continuity mode
Lightning fast response, clear beep sounds with no scratching, the satisfaction is warranted even for the most demanding user.


The beeper stops beeping if the resistor is over the 84 Ohms.
And the maximum measured resistor in this range will be 531 Ohm before it displays OL.

(Probably BRYMEN should check again the specifications about the Audible threshold: between 20 Ohm and 200 Ohm range, that is on the User’s manual)

Ohms range
The Agilent U1272A is the faster multimeter at the 30,000 counts that I have in my collection so far, surely the BRYMEN is close enough and needs a blink of the eye as delay so to perform the measurement (half second).
In the beginning I thought that it was a delay caused by the auto range, but it was not.
Accurate all the way, plus the resolution of the 50,000 counts, makes the measurement an enjoyable task.

At my own test about Auto-range tolerance in the 50K Ohms range, the meter displayed 53K as max.
The lowest Ohms range is the 500 Ohms and the highest the 50M Ohms.  

Relative mode
With the BM869 I was had a major surprise in this mode.
The relative mode does not lock the auto-range.
I was able to REL-Out at zero ohms, and go up to 1M Ohm.
Impressive!
 

Bar graph – speed comparison

The super fast bar graph is definitely one of the stronger points of BM869 against the competition, even faster than the Agilent U1272A and the FLUKE 28II.

In order to test the fast response of the bar graph, I have use my reference 10V DC source, and I was just playing around with the on-off switch, the human eye is unable to catch the movement of the extending segments at this speed on the BM869.
The Agilent was close enough, and the FLUKE 28II came third but not that close to the other two meters, in was the slowest in this specific mini race.

At the Crest mode (Min-Max or Peak to Peak) the bar graph its not visible or active.
The same behaviour haves also the FLUKE 28II, but the Agilent U1272A it does have the bar graph active in this mode, and it is a major advantage to have an second visual indication that your test points are still powered by Mains 220V.  

  
 
Capacitance meter
With the auto range function, the capacitor gets tested in every range (lowest to highest) for about half second per range, and this happens again and again until the multimeter to ramp up at the correct range.
The total waiting time for its measured capacitor is relevant with his own capacity.

Examples of Auto range VS Manual range.

10,000uF…7 seconds……………3 seconds
1,000uF…. 6 seconds...........3 seconds
240uF……..6 seconds...........1 second
47uF……….4 seconds...........1 second
22uF……….3 seconds..........1 second
1uF…………2 seconds..........1 second

The discharge function engages automatically, and there is on-screen indication about it.

Notes:
The test was made by having the capacitors all ready discharged.
Test leads: crocodiles & shrouded bananas with 17 cm total length (10 cm cable length) by UNI-T.     

DC / AC volts
Speaking about accuracy the BM869 side by side with the Agilent U1272A was like watching a mirror image when both was on the DC mode. The calibration on both was matching up to the last digit.
This made me to play with my DC power supply for long time, by trying to find with a major difficulty a voltage setting that the final count will be different.
The LCD updating speed it was a pleasure to watch, both of them was ramp up and down as to was twin brothers.

Personally I got a bit more excited due the fact that with the 50,000 counts resolution of the BM869, for a first time in my life I was able to see the output of my Professional KENWOOD PD35-10A PSU in such detail.

By using my reference adjustable DC voltage source (MICRO-CALC 1030 TimeElectronics.co.uk) I managed to get down to zero volts.
And in there the BM869 was +4 counts at the 500,000 counts resolution, at the room temperature of 16 Celsius.

On the AC modes the picture was positive too, I could select interchangeable view of voltage and frequency, by selecting which one will be displayed at the primary or secondary display. 


Even at Crest mode (Peak to Peak) I got the same voltage from both multimeter's up to the last count, with the help of the PHILIPS PM-5134 0.1mHz-20MHZ 20Vpp Function generator as source.

In this test I have use the function generator as to was an AC reference source, but I was interested more for the stable voltage output than the actual peak volts.



Part – 4  Advanced features

Intro:
My fresh involvement about such product reviews caused a very positive impact even to my own Greek friends, which in order to help me, they offered voluntarily their own test equipment to me as loan, so to perform in depth tests with dignity.

I like to publicly thank Mr. Mario’s Karathanasopoulos (Version computers store) who offered to me the PHILIPS PM-5134 20MHZ 20Vpp Function generator.   
Mario’s is an excellent computers engineer, with studies in England, and he is also involved with electronic repairs of laptops, computer monitors, and PSU rebuilds. 


The specific review have been originally posted in forums at December 15 2011 and revised at June 9 2012.

This lovely function generator now belongs to me, and eventually it become part of the ITTSB too, in May 4 2012.  


Duty cycle Test
The user’s manual describes as frequency range about duty cycle, the range of 5Hz – 500Hz, 2.5Vpp.
In my test I have select the 500Hz and I connected in series the Agilent U1272A & FLUKE 28II, with coaxial RG-58 high quality cables plus BNC T-type bridges and BNC to banana adapters (By Pomona), plus and a 50 Ohm BNC terminator.     

I did take pictures of my tests at 25% Duty cycle, 45% and at 88%.
There is no need to say how happy I am with the results.
Other than the prefect behaviour of the BM869 I managed to verify too that my other industrial multimeter's were spot on.

The BRYMEN BM869 were in par with the FLUKE 28II by speaking about the LCD updating speed, in any movement of the Duty cycle knob, the meters were ramping up instantly and this helps allot to adjust the Duty cycle by simply watching the LCD screen.

The Agilent U1272A in the Duty cycle mode, was have active also the secondary display measuring volts , and with the dual display active it was a bit slow to follow the fast ramp up, I was have to stop moving the knob, so the U1272A to measure and display the Duty cycle.  

This specific finding made me to add in my criteria about reviews in the future, three more parameters.
a)   Good enough to adjust Duty cycle.
b)   Good enough to verify the Duty cycle.
c)   Good enough in both.
   
And so the BM869 it is: Good enough in both.


Frequency counter

On the Duty cycle test, I have followed to the letter all the suggested technical specifications, but for the frequency counter test I decided to act wild.
The 1mHz-20MHZ function generator was all that I needed for a true crash test.
My goal was to discover the max stable displaying frequency by the use of square & sine wave.
 
At the frequency range of 50Hz – 20 kHz or even 50 kHz, all multimeter's was spot on, up to the last count.   
Now it was time to explore the unspecified territory, the results that I got are very interesting.

As assistance and confirmation about the displayed frequency I was have use my trusty LEADER LDC-831 (Made in Japan) dedicated frequency counter 5Hz-150MHz.

Results with square wave, and max obtained stable frequency reading:

FLUKE 28II……….. 167 kHz
Agilent U1272A….285 kHz
BRYMEN BM869…..1460 kHz


Results with sine wave, and max obtained stable frequency reading:

FLUKE 28II……….. 800 kHz
Agilent U1272A….1600 kHz or (1.6 MHz)
BRYMEN BM869…..7380 kHz or (7.38 MHz)

Impressive!
I did enjoyed making this test or crash test, all my excitement jumps out from the unexpected results.


The duration of my tests at those frequencies was limited to 10 to 20 seconds max.
I do not suggest to any one to feed those multimeter's with so high frequency, but still it is good to know of what those meters are really capable to do. The BM869 specifications by the book are up to 1MHz.
 

Low Pass Filter – VFD Voltage Filter

Intro:
By having the function generator at hand I managed to perform one relatively interesting test, the purpose of the Low Pass filter are to eliminate high frequencies above the 1 KHz mark, but does it?  And how well it does that?

The experiment that follows are 100% my own idea.
I am not aware if it stands as realistic in the world of metrology, but it is my personal best shot, as a simple Industrial electrician.


Setup:
I have set in series the three multimeter's (BNC connectors and RG-58 cables), set the frequency generator to shine wave 50Hz and adjusted the output of the function generator to 7V AC.

The second step was to verify that those 7V AC was there with out voltage droop from 50HZ up to 20 kHz at the standard AC mode in all three multimeter's.  

The third step was to activate the Low Pass Filter on the U1272A and 28II multimeter's, and to use the VFD AC range (Low Pass Filter) on the BM869 too.

Then I started to ramp up the frequency and to monitor the 7V voltage, and to keep notes of what happened all the way up to 5.5 kHz.
My first observation was that in all three meters the voltage starts to be affected at about 285 - 300Hz and higher than that.
And so this is the first note that worth’s to be noted, which is that the 300Hz looks to be the low end from the Low Pass filter.

The idea behind this experiment is to force the Low Pass filter to eliminate all those 7V, because it would see it as interference, or in a simplified description, as the enemy that this filter is designed to eliminate.  
Now let’s see how the Low Pass filter reacts in those multimeter's versus the frequency change.

Frequency…U1272A ………28II ………BM869

Hz   
50 …………. 7.00V………….7.00V……7.00V   
500…………..6.80…………..6.70……..6.80
800…………..6.34…………..5.18………4.30
1000…………5.86………….. 3.53……..2.42
1200…………5.28…………….2.52…….1.38
1400…………4.62…………….1.45…….0.83
1600…………3.69…………….0.98…….0.53
2000…………2.65…………….0.48…….0.24
3000………….1.00
4000………….0.50
5500………….0.24


What those numbers prove?  
Well it is obvious that the BM869 haves the most aggressive filters, with the FLUKE 28II as second best.
And in the case that you do have real interference and spikes, what you need most, is an umbrella against the unwanted frequencies, and it turns out that the BRYMEN BM869 it is from the best ones out there!

The U1272A looks to have the less aggressive filter, and rightfully it takes the third place in the specific test.


Note: In the 2011 Agilent have sort out this matter. Now days the U1273A identical design to U1272A haves the improved LPF, and all the U1270 series too.

It does feel good to be aware that your review created valuable feedback which helped fresh shown products to mature that fast.  


Temperature  & Dual  Thermocouples
The BM869 is capable to display both readings of T1 & T2 simultaneously or a single selection of the T1 or the T2, or even as T1-T2 (difference of the two).
What worth’s be noted is the blazing speed at detecting the temperature.
Even in dual display mode it is just a bit behind than the Agilent and FLUKE, but the time delay is not measurable because it is at the range of micro Seconds.

At the Min/Max/Average (REC-R) mode, the trigger level is very fast when recording temperatures.

When using a single thermocouple input of T1 or T2, it records the selected one, but when the BM869 is at T1 & T2 dual display mode, the Min-Max defaults to record the T1 probe.



Part – 5  Just another one multimeter with Industrial profile?

The on-paper specifications about the BM869 are very good, the most attractive features are the large display and the extra counts naturally.  


By not having any specific IP rating about been shock proof or water proof, and by having this huge and lovely display, I would described as 60% bench work 40% field work multimeter.

The great performance levels that this meter have shown in most tests, makes me to wish this multimeter to was had an IP67 rating.
But if it was had an IP67, it would probably not be that affordable, or it would be slow as slow cow.

Let’s not forget the magic word “affordable “, in this case I am happy about the BM869 as is.
And the description would be as: an affordable speed demon with out special armour.

From my experiences as maintenance industrial electrician, every in depth troubleshooting of light weight equipment up to 200 kilos, it is executed at the maintenance electrical repairs lab in the factory.
The BM869 it can easily serve as equivalent of a bench meter by having in mind electrical repairs.


Definitely it would not disappoint as portable handheld either, it is features rich multimeter, with CAT IV 1000V, with excellent test leads and loaded with all the features for industrial field work.
Probably one high quality soft case is all that it needs as extra, so to survive in outdoor use.  
  
But when the subject comes down about working in dark places, the winning design of the Agilent U1272A it makes hard the comparison with any multimeter out there. Due the fully adjustable back light timer which can be also disabled if needed.
The BM869 with the 16 seconds timer it can not compete. Even the FLUKE 28II has an special power up option which disables the back light timer.

From the other hand if you do work in a friendlier environment with lots of natural or artificial light, probably you will never use the back light at all.  Either way the final choice is always yours, but if you get the wrong meter for you working environment, do not blame the meter.   


Part – 6  How it feels on common tasks?  Easy to use?

The BM869 follows the clear key design, which more expensive multimeter's follow today.
And this is an added plus by thinking of how affordable it is.
Even with out reading the User’s manual, you can navigate in to the 90% of the functions.

The markings around the range selector are nicely printed, and the font’s size and font’s style gives a very positive impression.
Even the selection of the colour on the font’s that separates the functions as primary /secondary/ third, they were made with attention in the detail, and the multimeter does not loose the professional look.  

The continuity beeper is laud enough, and it can also be disabled if needed by a special power up option.
Set Beeper Off = Press the RANGE button while turning the meter on.

The test leads with the additional converters ( banana add-on leads & CAT IV 1000V plastic insulators) will force you to get one soft case, which will work as storage too for additional accessories (K-type probe & the optional PC connectivity KIT).

The banana test lead tips is a new experience even for me, if you work allot with Schuko plugs, you will love the banana type test leads. They eliminate the need to hold the test leads in place with your own hands. Additional they are extremely helpful when setting the meter for Data logging.

When you working on electrical panels which the front cover is removed, its best to use the CAT IV 1000V plastic insulators on the test leads, they are life savers against accidental short-circuits.

If the BM869 was coming also with one set of professional crocodile clips (FLUKE style), this multimeter would have the most complete set of test leads, ever offered.



Part – 7  battery consumption - Back light durability

The BM869 comes with one 9V battery, the selection of the specific battery type in such of a multimeter, it makes you to wonder mostly about the data logging duration.
By having in mind that this multimeter it is not designed to be a standalone Data logger, I can not accuse the specific battery selection as insufficient.


In the year 2012 I have discovered the first 9V NiMH with slow self discharge rate.

I will test and review this battery soon, and I will retest the BM869 about the Data logging duration with them.

Battery consumption & specifications
BRYMEN offers lots of information's about the battery consumption in detail, in the supplied User’s manual.

Power Supply: Single Alkaline 9V battery
Power Consumption: 6.5mA typical, 8mA for VFD ranges (BM869 only)
Low Battery: Below approx. 7V
APO Timing: Idle for 17 minutes
APO Consumption: 70uA typical (sleep mode)

At my 30 days of testing I did seen the low-battery indicator at the fourth week.

I was using the Min-Max-Average (REC-R) function, and the flashing battery indicator attracted my attention, I tested instantly to see what happens in the other ranges, and it was triggered only at Min-Max and in the capacitance mode.


At this point I have to remind that my testing was made on December with room temp 15 - 16 Celsius, and the low temperature it does cause an negative impact over the battery charge level.

The next day I did not see the flashy battery indicator, even with the back light on (warmer day).

The User’s manual is a bit poor about mentioning in detail information’s for the battery indicator status.

For example in the question: How many hours of operation I have when the battery indicator is always active? There is no such an answer.  
My tests shown that the flashy battery indicator it is nothing to be alerted about, even when this indicator becomes active all the time, the battery still have enough charge to keep the meter alive for many days.


BM869 and completely discharged battery

When the 9V battery reaches the lowest acceptable limit that is 5V at 20mA load, the BM869 it will reject the battery, and it will lock up displaying InErr on the main LCD, and it will keep beeping all the time. It is just impossible to make a wrong measurement due an half empty battery with the BM869.

Back light durability

The back light is bonded with the 16 seconds timer, and this makes impossible any durability testing equal to what I did with the U1272A. Even so the internal construction quality of the BM869 it is that good, that I can simply skip the back light testing with out second thoughts.          



Part – 8  LCD display – Multiple functions

The BM869 haves active by default the dual display function in the most types of measurements.

Even with this dual display active all the time, it is found to be a tremendously fast meter.  


My own experiences with dual display meters are still considered as relatively small, I can only compare the BM869 with the U1272A which is shown to be less snappy in some dual display modes, for example the Duty cycle and the AC+DC volts mode.


The BM869 at the Duty cycle measurement was tremendously fast, but it was operating in a single display mode in the specific type of measurement, and this fact gave to it a significant advantage in speed.


I am getting in those details so to point out the fact that the comparison between all those three meters is not like comparing apples to apples.   


For example in the Duty cycle measurement the U1272A was having active and the voltage function on the upper display by default.
I was able to see the voltage from -3V at about 10% Duty cycle, to become zero at 50% Duty cycle, and to rise at the +3V at the 88% Duty cycle.
Well that’s was nice as extra information over the measurement, but it took away some responsiveness that I was actually needed to have.  

The FLUKE 28II from the other hand is a single display multimeter, all the power of the internal CPU works for the single measurement that it is set to perform.


What comes out as conclusion by my opinion are that the correct choice when it comes to choose a model of a multimeter, in relation with your true needs, is tremendously essential so to get the right tool for your type of work.


The above comparison of those three meters acts as one example which shown that the U1272A is able to offer more in the Duty cycle measurement, if this is what you really need, in the cost of a been a bit less responsive.


Do not get confused, you are at the ITTSB and the what ever comparisons are between of ridiculously fast multimeter's!



Part – 9 Front and rear covers (body design)

The BM869 is a full size multimeter and a bit wider than the usual, there in no chance to hide in it 500,000 counts and stay narrow, except if your name is Master magician Harry Houdini.


The exterior design of this multimeter is extremely good, the size of the range selector it keeps bother me as European with different body analogies than what the Asian friends have.
I would suggest to BRYMEN to take under consideration all those details, especially for multimeter's that would be exported in the Europe.
By looking the other models of BRYMEN it is visible that they do use wider range selectors is some of them, and that makes BM869 to simply be an exception.

At the back of the multimeter is the tilt bail that feels good enough, the fact that is reversible with out the need to remove it, and attach it back on, gets another positive point.

The infrared cable lock mechanism, makes me a bit sceptic about the robustness factor, I would feel much better if I was aware that there is spare parts availability about the BM869, for example the plastics of the front and rear covers and even a replacement holster.  Currently I am aware that BRYMEN offer spares parts, for example red and black shrouded banana inputs, and few other bits, and this is good step in the right way.



Part – 10 Testing under extreme temperatures  

When I wrote the review about the Agilent U1272A we were had in Greece a hot summer, and in this specific week we had a
heatwave over us, the extreme test at 45 – 47C was an easy task.

Now that I am writing this words we are in the hart of December 2011, and I did performed this time a low temperature test.
I did my testing at night which the temperature were around 7-8 Celsius, the BM869 was with the thermocouple on, and next to it was the U1272A, both stayed in the cold for an hour or so, this period of time was enough so the multimeters to reach internally and externally the same temperature.
Then I took them back in, and run accuracy tests, DC volts / AC volts and Ohms, both were responding normally and fast, and the most amazing was that they were holding their accuracy even frozen.
Now I can proudly verify that the BM869 it is immune until 7C.
By the book, the minimum operational temperature is 0C, and so I came close enough.

In a later time of the first review I did further testing about operating the BM869 at low temperatures, the days of January 2012 was colder than December 2011, the multimeter operates fine even at at 1 Celsius.  At the bottom of this review there is pictures as confirmation, the display remained crystal clear and responsive, the BM869 it did win in this test too.     

Part – 11 Build to last

Even 30 years back the multimeter's industry was capable to create well made multimeter's, and some of them are still in use even today.


I got my first semi professional DMM before 22 years with my first toolbox and it was made in Taiwan (Pros’-Kit with Mastech PCB), still have it, and the accuracy is still good enough.

Modern CAT directives, New safety rules, Inverters, square waves, variable speed motors, Pulse With Motors, Duty cycle, and many more demanding measurements, leads  the modern repairman to upgrade and select new and modern tools, capable to handle the modern needs.

Today that I am holding in my hands this new technological child of BRYMEN,

I am unable to brag anymore for my first and very old multimeter, and I am speaking mostly about the “Made in Taiwan” description, the offerings of the modern Taiwan are by far superior.  


I am still praise the lord that Agilent came in my life, even by plain luck.

The in depth review of the U1272A it worked for me as a school, and today I am very careful in what ever I write as opinion.


The BM869 it is very fresh as model but even so it does circulates in Europe, and about parts and technical support there is available, up to a point.

I am not aware about the quality of services offered by the one know distributor so far, but in time I would like to see more options even to this area.



Conclusion
The BM869 is an excellent modern industrial multimeter, and BRYMEN rightfully worth’s to credit about making it.


I can not offer to it the title of the overall killer of the competition, but the point is that I do not seek to find any killers of the competition.


The BM869 is just another one worthy choice, with honest pricing that matters the most today, comes loaded with many useful features and performance, the above combination makes it attractive enough about to become a Top selling product in Europe.

Even me that I own 10 multimeter's today, I like to keep the BM869 for ever in my personal collection of tools.


It hides performance levels that is hard to find in this price range of 200$ or near to 230 Euros in Europe.

I could easily describe this product as “Best value for money”, but I am afraid to use this description, mostly because the aggressive marketing it haves misuse allot this term by offering garbage instead.

One of my ideas was to use a rating system like awards but I will avoid it.


This complete review is the rating of the BM869 and it shines as product just by it self, I just hope and wish BRYMEN to continue the same pricing policy even after reading this review.

Even today as consumer of electronic products, I do have a very bad taste in my mouth about the most offerings which are coming from mainland China, and I am talking about low performing and outdated models, with non existed spare parts and technical support.

And so I do feel the need to thanks BRYMEN Technology Corporation and Taiwan, for keeping up in such high standards of:
1)   Manufacturing quality
2)   Safety regulations
3)   Fast performing
4)   Reasonably priced products.


It is a true personal honour to be the first who wrote a review about the BRYMEN BM869.
This is another one of the few and truly worthy technical & educational experiences in a lifetime.
Thank you BRYMEN.

KIRIAKOS TRIANTAFILLOU
GREECE


Public note:

This review was originally presented on December 15 2011 and it was posted in forums, It was revised at June 9 2012, for corrections over the spelling mostly.


Commentary response: From the President of BRYMEN Mr. Tony Chan  (16 December 2011)

Dear Kiriakos, I do find your report very informative. Thank you for your hard work over-driving the meters to show their true value and design limits.

#

Pictures gallery.

2011 Arrival.

DCA

DCV

ACV /

Duty cycle /

Frequency .

#

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