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noob multimeter question
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Music Tech DIY  
Author noob multimeter question
phase ghost
I need to buy a multimeter, but I've never used one and I'm confused on a few things.

How do I measure voltage coming from a module? Do I get an adapter for a patch cable to plug into? Do I have to take it apart so I'm touching bare wire? I wouldn't plug it right into the jack would I?

I want to see what kind of voltage my existing modules are sending so I have an idea what to do with my own designs.

Take a spare cable, cut it, and attach alligator clips to the ground and hot parts of the wire, and clip them onto the clips of the multimeter.

Note that you wont see anything very interesting unless you are testing an on/off type function, because the voltage that comes from a modular synth is always in a state of flux.

A much more interesting tool is an oscilloscope, where you can see the voltage represented over time- this way you can see the shapes of waveforms- not only the VCO but also the ADSR, gates, etc...

A multimeter really wont be so useful for measuring anything but on / off signals like a pushbutton...

An oscilloscope is like a multimeter but displays the voltage over an adjustable amount of time... I especially like to visualize ADSRs so I can see exactly how the knobs are behaving.

Make sense?

Note you can get VST plugins taht emulate oscilloscopes, making the need for another piece of gear obsolete.
phase ghost wrote:
How do I measure voltage coming from a module

Red/Positive from the multimeter on the contact where the power enters the module.

Black/Ground on the ground.

The Greenlee DM-20 was my first decent DMM and I used the hell out of it and it always served me well. Now I have a nice Fluke DMM which allows me to measure AC, DC, Hz, etc. which may be more of what you're asking..
phase ghost
Modularland - So you're saying I won't be able to tell if 2v or 5v or whatever is coming from a module with a multimeter? I was under the impression that's what they were used for.
Depends what you're measuring. Remember that vco's put out both positive and negative voltages, hopefully at equal amounts, so at audio rates it'll look like 0 volts to your dmm. Slow it down to lfo rates and you'll start to see the voltages change. But Modularland is right - for many things a scope is the way to go. But you can get started and do a lot of basic stuff with just a dmm, and the best way is to just go get a cheap one from rat shack or whatever and experiment - you'll get the hang of it pretty quickly.
modularland wrote:
Note you can get VST plugins taht emulate oscilloscopes, making the need for another piece of gear obsolete.
actually that is unfortunately not the case, as far as I can tell; I don't know of any audio interface that accepts DC signals, so visualising an ADSR is going to be dc blocked on the input. You might see a little peak, but it'll return to 0v on its own, even with static DC coming in.
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