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I work for an avionics training company where we are required to meet certain criteria with respect to the theory and practical tasks that we teach. At the moment there is one area of debate with respect to a requirement for us to teach the use of various pieces of test equipment which include multimeters, logic probes, oscilloscopes, current probes and discrete component testers.

Many people at my work consider a modern multimeter as a discrete component tester since they are able to test resistors and capacitors. I am not so sure however since they specifically mention multimeter and discrete component tester as two separate items.

With that background, my question is this - can a multimeter be classified as a discrete component tester?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think 'discrete component tester' may be an alternative name for an 'LCR meter', which specializes in measuring resistance, capacitance, inductance, and related factors (D, Q, ESR, etc.). Some multimeters may have some of these features, but generally a dedicated LCR meter is more accurate and can measure more than one parameter at the same time (C and D or ESR, L and Q, etc.) \$\endgroup\$ – alex.forencich Jul 19 '17 at 23:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ That certainly makes sense. It seems through my research that when we talk about a 'discrete component tester' it is specifically referring to a piece of test equipment that gives certain parameters (such as you've mentioned). Rather than being a multimeter which while it can do basic measurements of discrete components, it can't provide the same level of detail as a 'discrete component tester'. \$\endgroup\$ – BradSlattery Jul 20 '17 at 0:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ Maybe I should just make that an answer, then. \$\endgroup\$ – alex.forencich Jul 20 '17 at 0:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ Since you mentioned "requirements" and "certain criteria", it looks like more a legal question for the governing body who regulates your business, for those who put forth all this classifications, and should be not a question of any debates or stackexchange advices. \$\endgroup\$ – Ale..chenski Jul 20 '17 at 1:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's a good point Ali. I have also sent an email through to the governing body, but it usually takes a couple of weeks to get a reply. So I'm still waiting that one out. \$\endgroup\$ – BradSlattery Jul 20 '17 at 5:36
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I think 'discrete component tester' may be an alternative name for an 'LCR meter', which specializes in measuring resistance, capacitance, inductance, and related factors (D, Q, ESR, etc.). These devices are precision instruments which don't passively measure, but actively apply test signals and measure the response. They will also generally have features to increase accuracy, including kelvin connections (separate source and measurement leads) and guard terminals (driven output that is used to minimize the effects of leakage). Some multimeters may have some of these features, but generally a dedicated LCR meter is more accurate and can measure more than one parameter at the same time (C and D or ESR, L and Q, etc.).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Can't improve on your suggestion, but @AliChen makes a good point: "discrete component tester" is a wank phrase that is just too generic. Even a good LCR meter deals with non-linear effects poorly (or not at all). And "discrete" covers a lot of active devices. \$\endgroup\$ – glen_geek Jul 20 '17 at 13:48

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