The Victor VC921 is well rated and one of the cheaper pocket digital multimeters. Being small, accurate, fairly quick and with good features, it makes for a good buy for low energy, general purpose work. Test ranges include voltage, resistance and continuity, and it also includes capacitance and frequency scales. Other pluses are True RMS accuracy and auto-ranging, though it doesn’t measure amps.
- Measures AC/DC voltage & resistance
- Measures capacitance & frequency
- Flip-top case
- Pocket sized
- Hardwired leads
- Dedicated positions
- Size: 117mm
- Weight: 108g
- Test leads
- Batteries (x2 AAA)
- Instructions (VC921 manual)
In-depth Review of the Victor VC921
It is quite slow to respond at times and is obviously made to budget, but the VC921 is better than most pocket meters at this price range and is reasonably accurate. That it includes capacitance and frequency inputs is a boon, and it also boasts an auto shutdown function.
The Victor VC921 happens to be a True RMS meter. This essentially means better AC voltage readings on all types of waveform than an ‘average’ RMS meter. The upshot is you could accurately measure the output of an inverter, for instance.
This meter also comes with dedicated dial selector positions. Many meters share AC and DC voltage positions, as well as resistance and the continuity checker. With the VC921, there is no confusion as every position has a different range. Along with being very portable, it is thus easy to use.
The addition of capacitance, frequency and (to a lesser extent) duty cycle is a big plus. All ranges are quite generous to boot, with resistance up to 40MΩ, frequency upwards of 10MHz and capacitance down to 4nF. You also have a beeping continuity checker, which is quite timely on the VC921. It can even be upgraded as a data logger with RS232 interface.
A relative mode allows you to compare a stored reading with the present one. The main negative is the lack of an amperage range, although this is not a game-changer for general electrics, where most people want to test voltage and continuity.
Auto-range: Few cheap multimeters are auto-ranging. Virtually all sub-$20 meters are manual ranging, which would mean you’d need to select each individual range within a given scale manually. When a digital multimeter auto-ranges, you just select the right position and measure away. The downside with cheaper DMMs is they often take time to settle on a reading.
|DC voltage||400mV / 600V||±(0.5%+4)|
|AC voltage||400mV / 600V||±(0.8%+6)|
|Resistance||400Ω / 40MΩ||±(0.8%+4)|
|Capacitance||4nF / 200µF||±(3.5%+8)|
|Frequency||100Hz / 10MHz||±(0.5%+4)|
Design and Function
Victor is a popular maker of budget digital multimeters out of Hong Kong. They also churn out amp clamp meters, thermometers, oscilloscopes and other test equipment. The Victor VC921 is quite streamlined, with its flip-back top, lead storage and its nice dial switch. The lid can be swiveled back and used as a stand, while inside are useful instructions.
This little meter also has handy cord storage, albeit which might take a bit of getting used to. The leads are a quite thin, yet have sharp probe ends. A nice touch is the lid can’t be fully closed without the dial being turned to the left off position – you are less likely to leave the thing switched on. The dial itself is one of the best you’ll find on such a meter, being well engineered with a sure click.
The display isn’t the VC921’s best feature, although it has a resolution to 4000 counts and refreshes at a rate of roughly three times per second. It also turns itself off after 15 minutes of non-use, which will definitely help to save battery power. As one might expect on such a cheap device, the display is not backlit.
The circuit board design is okay at this price range. It is well put together and features a bank of resistors, diodes and an auto-resetting PTC fuse. As it doesn’t have an amperage input, you won’t find a standard, replaceable fuse in here. The category rating is Cat-II to 300V, with surge protection at 2.5kV.
Pros and Cons
- Fold-away case with lead storage
- Auto power-off
- True RMS
- Auto ranging
- Feels a bit tacky
- Cord storage could be better
- Can be tricky to hold/test simultaneously
- No current input
- No backlight
If you’re looking for a decent, inexpensive pocket meter for general purpose electrical and electronics tasks, the Victor VC921 is an okay bet. It is an auto-ranging, True RMS DMM that can measure capacitance and frequency. It cannot measure amperage, however, and might seem bulky compared with other pocket meters. It also doesn’t have a backlit screen, but you can’t have it all.
Alternative: The all-sun EM3081 is quite similar and has a DC milliamp range.