Interesting Features of the Keysight U1282A Multimeter

The Keysight U1282A has generated a number of reviews (eg here) but I thought it would be helpful to take a deep dive into the operators manual and clear up a few misconceptions. This meter has a remarkable number of features which once set up allow the meter to adapt to a wide variety of test environments and operator styles. The downside is that a careful reading of the manual is warranted but once that’s done the effort will be well rewarded.

Activating Setup
Setup is activated by depressing the Esc-Shift key while turning the rotary switch from off to any other position. The resulting menu and options are elaborate but the settings are non-volatile so unless your needs/preferences are frequently changing, one trip through the menu should last you a while. Each of the menu items is described below just to give you an idea of the functionality.  Actual setup instructions are best obtained from the manual.

Autohold and Smooth Variation Count
This value sets the band inside of which the U1282A considers the reading stable.  When a reading exceeds this value the autohold feature will be ready to trigger again and the smooth feature will start to count down to the next refresh.

Enable Smooth Mode
This setting actually enables smoothing and allows you to set the time period between reads to obtain a stable reading from a noisy signal.

Auto Power-Off and keypad backlight timeout period
As the name implies allows you to set these timeouts from disabled to 15 minutes for the timeout and disabled to 15 seconds for the display. Also interesting to note is that the auto power-off feature is automatically disabled during logging.

Select Data Logging Option
There are 3 logging modes that can be set here: manual log (triggered by a button press or the optional Remote Switch Probes), interval log (fixed interval from 1 to 99999 seconds), or event log (triggers when hold is pressed, when the input signal changes by more than the deviation count, when a new minimum or maximum is recorded, or when a new peak value is recorded). Interval and event logging can go on simultaneously however they use the same 10,000 point memory.

Some other less significant setup options

  • dBm reference impedance value – sets the reference impedance for dBm measurements
  • The U1282A’s beep frequency can be set from 3200 Hz to 4267 Hz or you can disable tones.  If you’re sensitive to exact tones this is for you.
  • The U1282A’s continuity alert can be switched between the beeper, a red LED, both or none
  • The remote probe button can be mapped to several specific functions although the default (hold which accomplishes manual logging) seems most useful
  • Set the display count to high (5-digit) or low (4-digit) resolution
  • Set the U1282A’s display refresh rate to either 5 or 40 times/second.
  • Set the multimeter’s input impedance for mV measurement to either 10 MΩ or >1000MΩ
  • Enable and disables the Low Pass Filter for DC voltage or current measurement.

Remote Communication and Programming
Although not a setup feature per se, its worth mentioning that the U1282A comes with the IR-USB cable in the box. The Keysight Data Logger software is also a free download here.  This is a big savings over, for instance, the Fluke 287 which is sold as a data logging multimeter for a price equivalent to the U1282A and yet requires purchase of software and the interface cable as a costly optional accessory.  The U1282A is also programable with 14 commands that can be used to trigger a reading in either the PEAK (min or max), AVERAGE modes or simply read the primary or secondary displays.  This is certainly not the equivalent of the old GPIB interface but allows simple measurements to be taken and logged programmatically without specialized hardware.  Bluetooth communication is also an option and mobile software is available for both Android and iOS.  Alas, the bluetooth communications module that fits in place of the IR-USB cable is an $99 optional accessory.

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