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Tools every engineer should have for measurement?

  1. Jan 5, 2015 #1
    I love measuring and quantifying the world. I'm curious if I'm missing any good, essential tools. I'm also curious of some good, affordable fill-ins for some measurement capabilities that I may be missing.

    I currently have:
    • Laser Distance Measure
    • Radar gun
    • Scales
    • IR Temp Sensor
    • pH Meter
    • Thermometer
    • Sound level meter
    • Multimeter
    • Cheap Torque Wrench

    I'm planning to grab (soon or otherwise):
    • Handheld Anemometer
    • Light/Illumination Sensor
    • Caliper (Digital or otherwise. Is it dumb to settle for a 6"?)
    • Hygrometer

    I'd like a way to measure:
    • Pulling force (Planning to grab a hooked suit case scale but there may be a better way?)
    • Everything else!

    I'm just curious if there's anything else that anyone can recommend or any tips anyone can give. I am on a budget, obviously, and will likely be shopping on Amazon with some money received for Christmas.

    My goal is to be able to measure most things that you can run into on a daily basis to quantify it and do so without buying a new tool every time that I find something new that I want to measure. I'm happy to improvise with things (such as my suit case scale idea for pulling force) but I'm curious if I'm missing any of the "primary colors" of measurement.

    Last edited: Jan 5, 2015
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 5, 2015 #2

    Stephen Tashi

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    Science Advisor

    You're without a voltmeter? - and torque wrench?
  4. Jan 5, 2015 #3
    Ah, check on both of those, forgot to list them though! Thanks!
  5. Jan 5, 2015 #4

    Doug Huffman

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    Gold Member

    A multimeter usually includes a voltmeter. A torque wrench is easily approximated by knowledge of the wrench handle length and the strain of the appropriate force. Precision proxy indicators are pretty useless without calibration standards.
  6. Jan 5, 2015 #5


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    Gold Member

    Mass, length, [DELE]time[/DELE], temperature, [DELE]amount of substance[/DELE], current/charge, luminosity. So you're missing a good time base, and a "molemeter." Never could figure that one out as a fundamental measurement. Swap it for a good particle counter.
  7. Jan 5, 2015 #6
  8. Jan 7, 2015 #7
    Ahh, yes. A theodolite. How could I have forgotten that one! lol
  9. Jan 7, 2015 #8
    I would get a set of known weights for calibration. As well, calipers are great, but a micrometer can be more accurate so I would invest in one. Also, I would get an adjustable strobe light to measure something like rotational speed.
  10. Jan 7, 2015 #9
    Depending on your area of interest: a high speed camera (and related equipment and software), laser timing gates, oscilloscope, accelerometers, and magnetic field sensors (Hall probe) can all be very useful.
  11. Jan 7, 2015 #10
    I have an oscilloscope. Forgot to add that one.

    I'd love to get a high speed camera but the prices of that are way out of range.. (I think?) I'd be interested in laser timing gates but that sounds like it'd be more fun to build than buy. (I'm sure purchased have a lot better calibration though?)
  12. Jan 8, 2015 #11
    You obviously have one of these but it should be added to your list: a chronometer!

    And how about something to measure pressures: barometer
  13. Jan 8, 2015 #12
    Haha probably too many! Good one though! Kind of important since time is kind of our master!

    This is a good one too! Have always wanted to get one of these! Thanks!
  14. Jan 8, 2015 #13
    Oh and very importantly you can't go without a
    Geiger counter!
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