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If I have to do some testing in an overhead electrical box with a multimeter, it is very hard to keep hands still enough to maintain the tips of probes on the wire because you are holding them overhead and your arms are shaking. Is there something (an extension for probes) or a technique with which multimeter probes can connect to wires coming out overhead?

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  • 2
    some multimeters have a place in the back to clip one of the probes ... then you hold the multimeter/probe in one hand and the other probe in the other hand
    – jsotola
    Jun 12 at 23:10
  • I tie the multimeter to my inside left wrist with a rubber band. Jun 13 at 9:15
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    Be careful with suggestions to use a probe attached to the meter or attaching the meter to your off hand. I was taught to use both probes in one hand whenever possible when dealing with high voltages so that if (when) the probes may cause a short, electricity can pass through just your hand rather than across your body.
    – psaxton
    Jun 14 at 15:38

3 Answers 3

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Alligator Clips:

Klein alligator clips

Plug into most meters instead of regular probes.

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  • Yeah, the alligator clips come in several variations.
    – Hot Licks
    Jun 12 at 20:28
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    One of these years I will have to get a pair.
    – crip659
    Jun 12 at 20:42
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    @MiG That seems like a lot of destructive work just to read the meter. I usually ask someone else to hold the meter and read it out to me.
    – Mast
    Jun 13 at 6:56
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    @ChrisH Wooden clothespins (the 2-piece type with a spring) are a good alternative. Jun 13 at 14:04
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    @DarrelHoffman I've got a few in my home electronics toolkit as they're handy for holding components as well. But I bought a pack of double ended hooks from Ikea for something else and the spares have ended up in various places for this sort of thing
    – Chris H
    Jun 13 at 14:09
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If you have a small multimeter, you can stick it on your wrist with velcro, so you no longer need three hands. There are also probe-shaped multimeters that do the same thing.

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But that won't solve your shaking hand problem.

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Wire grippers are pretty nice. There's a long insulated shaft, and the pincers at the end are pretty versatile.

You'll need a pair of banana jack wires. Shrouded jacks eliminate the chance to zap yourself if the banana jack comes out of the hole and touches your hand, which is nice.

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Once the wire grippers are in place, you also have a free hand to operate switches or do other things while looking at the multimeter, which is convenient.

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  • This is infinitely better / more reliable than alligator clips, but at the cost of being more expensive and more specialized / less versatile (will only work on a relatively small exposed pin or cable, not on bigger connectors or bolts).
    – zakinster
    Jun 13 at 8:30
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    Yeah, also much more difficult to zap yourself with them, if the banana connector is shrouded
    – bobflux
    Jun 13 at 8:34
  • I wouldn't want someone to fiddle around with alligator clips inside an electrical box if they can't keep their hands steady, so plus one for this safer option.
    – Nobody
    Jun 13 at 20:01
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Some multimeters have either min/max hold or automatic hold feature. These allow you to take the measurement without having to see the multimeter screen, and then check out the result afterwards. Thus you don't need to hold the probes still for very long.

With min/max hold, the meter records the largest and smallest value. You have to reset it manually before every measurement.

With automatic hold, the meter takes the value a fraction of second before it detects the probes as unconnected (0 or infinite reading, depending on measurement range).

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  • In addition to that, depending on what you're measuring, some multimeters will make an audible sound. E.g. if you're measuring continuity, it will beep if the resistance is less than some threshold, which also saves you from having to look at the screen. Jun 13 at 18:38

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