We took a look at innovative multimeters at the Maker Faire in New York in September when we previewed the Voltset, a smartphone based multimeter.
As I said in the Voltset preview, multimeters have not changed in design for a few decades. You might question why a design that works should be altered, but a new project on Dragon Innovation’s crowd funding website will definitely leave you wondering what other tools need a modern retouch.
That project is the Mooshimeter by Mooshim Engineering.
Like the Voltset, the Mooshimeter plans to take advantage of modern smart devices to expand the capabilities of traditional multimeters. By shifting the burden of display and control to another device, the Mooshim team could afford to make improvements in other areas of the Mooshimeter. While the Voltset makes a convenient pocket-sized multimeter to carry anywhere and take any sort of measurement, the Mooshimeter is a rugged data-collection device, designed to be placed in tight spaces or hard to reach places (where no multimeter has gone before!).
One of the main innovations in the Mooshimeter is a 24-bit analog to digital converter. Compared to an average multimeter with a 16-bit ADC, the Mooshimeter is able to take measurements with 256 times the precision. According to Mooshim, that’s like comparing a 4.5 digit multimeter to a 7 digit multimeter. This allows the Mooshimeter to measure very faint electrical signals as well as large ones, without the need to autorange.
The other major innovation is simultaneous measurement. The Mooshimeter is capable of taking voltage and current measurements at the same time, giving you a real-time I-V curve or a real time power measurement, not possible with a traditional multimeter.
One twist to the design is that the Mooshimeter connects to smart devices via a Bluetooth Low Energy wireless connection with a 50 meter range. Without wires, the Mooshimeter is particularly suited to being left in hard to reach places, or maybe the inside of your mobile robot. The downside to this is that your smart device must be BLE capable, although this feature is very common in most new phones and tablets.
Being wireless, it requires batteries. The Mooshim team decided to use normal AA batteries which give the meter a two year battery life. This seems like a reasonable decision over rechargeables since the lifespan is so long and rechargeables tend to decharge quickly.
The Mooshimeter has a rugged design, so you can really place it anywhere. It can measure up to 600V or 10A. An on-board SD card of up to 32 GB provides up to six months of data collection. Without the need for autoranging or adjustment and so much data collection space, the Mooshimeter is truly a powerful set and forget measurement device.
Ultimately, the Mooshim Team want to enhance the Mooshimeter experience with community-built smart device apps using their Mooshimeter API. For example, while for now the provided app can only connect to a single meter, it is possible for a user to create an app that can connect to more than one. I have to admit that APIs are pretty standard fare for modern devices, so it’s at least positive that Mooshim didn’t forget to include one.
The Mooshimeter crownfunding campaign has really taken off and is almost certain to be successful. There, you can pick up a single meter for $99, which is fairly inexpensive even compared to an economy model professional multimeter.
Read more about the Mooshimeter at Dragon Innovation.