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Multimeter display repair

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  1. #1
    2K Club Member chrisp's Avatar
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    Default Multimeter display repair

    This might be a little off-topic for this forum, but I thought that it might be of interest to some.

    I have an old Fluke 87 multimeter and it is a great meter. It is hard to explain, but Fluke multimeters are beautiful meters to use compared to cheaper brands.

    The display on my multimeter has been playing up a bit over the last few years so I decided to fix it. You might be surprised how easy it is the repair a display.

    This is what the display looked like immediately before the repair...



    This is very typical of what what happens when the ‘zebra elastomeric connectors’ dry out and fail. The repair is easy...

    Open the multimeter and remove the internals from the case...



    Unclip the gray plastic LCD retainer...



    What you can can see above is the LCD (glass-like) display and the two zebra elastomeric connectors (the pink strips visible through the LCD).

    Carefully lift the LCD up. It will probably be a little stick by the elastomeric strips but it will come away with a little bit of careful force. The strips will either stick to the display or the PCB.



    In this case, they remained stick to the LCD and came out with the display. Be careful from here. You don’t want to touch any of the contact surfaces of either the LCD or the PCB. If you do, you’ll have to clean them and it takes quite a bit of work to get them perfectly clean again. It is best not to touch them in the first place. Pull the zebra elastomeric connectors from the display.



    It is is a bit hard to see in the photo above, but I have placed the new replacement strips in to the slots above and below the display using tweezers. The replacement strips are a new, improved, versions and they are gray instead of pink.

    Carefully place the LCD back in position (being careful not touch any contact surfaces).

    Clip the retainer and covers back on and check your work.



    And it is all all working perfectly again!

    It took longer to write this post than actually to do the repair.

    Here is a close up of the old zebra elastomeric connectors so you can see how they work.



    Between the two pink strips, there is a sandwich of alternating conductive and insulating elastomeric material. If you look carefully, you can see the zebra stripes.

    It is these ends that are easily contaminated so it is best not the touch them at all.

    If you have a no-brand meter, you might have to search for zebra elastomeric connectors of similar dimensions. At a push, if you have nothing to lose, you can simply clean the strips with alcohol and reuse them. They will sometimes come good. I’ve also had some success with swapping the top and bottom strips to get them to work. However, replacement is best if you can source replacement strips.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 959e449c-7f47-4817-838a-e25228ebea9a.jpg   f2eed5d4-dfe2-404d-b7c0-1b2e08373fef.jpg   f438cad9-ebb3-4323-bd2a-47167266ea54.jpg   6d9c8ade-2687-4ea5-a21a-e169687948bc.jpg   2de906d3-0266-446d-aba1-c3befc960b3a.jpg  

    8e0b87d1-f480-4d22-86f1-2a9f3952f6af.jpg   9b089d94-c869-41df-961d-8008dfd157e4.jpg  
    Last edited by chrisp; 28th Feb 2019 at 06:20 PM. Reason: Remove duplicate picture
    There is no middle ground between facts and fallacies - argumentum ad temperantiam

  2. #2
    Slow but rough Uncle Bob's Avatar
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    Nice job!

  3. #3
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    I think it is good as well. Fluke are the pinnacle of multimeter's for quality.

  4. #4
    Not A Seagull Armers's Avatar
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    This is such a beautiful post!

  5. #5
    Community Moderator phild01's Avatar
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    Those strips aren't cheap....great post.

  6. #6
    2K Club Member chrisp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phild01 View Post
    Those strips aren't cheap....great post.
    Correct, they aren’t cheap. I paid AU$27.99 plus AU$18.90 postage from the US. It’s a fair bit for an old meter, but well worthwhile in my opinion.
    There is no middle ground between facts and fallacies - argumentum ad temperantiam

  7. #7
    Community Moderator phild01's Avatar
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    I always wonder why postage from the US costs so much even for the smallest thing.

  8. #8
    Not A Seagull Armers's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chrisp View Post
    Correct, they aren’t cheap. I paid AU$27.99 plus AU$18.90 postage from the US. It’s a fair bit for an old meter, but well worthwhile in my opinion.
    Cheaper then a new meter!

  9. #9
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    I've done quite a few using the alcohol "revival" method on LCD displays in cars (mainly climate control screens in 1990s & 2000s cars).

    Some of them also benefited from a little extra pressure in the form of a soft silicone O-ring (cut, to allow it to run in a straight line) or other elastomeric or foam like object between the case & the screen, directly above the zebra strip, to give it a bit of pressure & ensure good contact.

    Most people give you a blank look at the mere mention of zebra strips.....

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by commodorenut View Post
    I've done quite a few using the alcohol "revival"
    yes a wipe with a cleaning solution on the zebra strips, the display glass and the circuit board usually works wonders.
    Before you speak, ask yourself: Is it necessary, it is true, does it improve on the silence? - Baba

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