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Review Fluke CNX 3000 kits – The Multimeter for the electricians
18 August 2013 18:16
Some time ago Fluke Europe contacted me and asked if I like to review the Fluke CNX 3000 Multimeter kit and it did not take me long time reply that, yes I would like to review that as that could be a funny project to try and make a review of this cool new series that Fluke is calling the CNX 3000.

So from Fluke Europe, I got this package and at first look it seems to be very big for two multimeter, so I better open them and see what is inside.

Inside the brown box there were two CNX kits in some boxes there is clearly show what kit version it is and each front cover shows what is inside the kit, so they have not just used the same boxes for them all and then slapped a sticker with the model number on the side.

The text on the front is just quick list of the content, the full detailed listed is on the back side.

 

So what is this CNX series multimeter from Fluke?
Let’s begin with what a common multimeter is and has been for years, a multimeter is one device there can do measurements of different types like volt, amps, ohm and often a number of other things.
For more details about what Multimeter is then I will suggest that you look at the Wikipedia page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multimeter as it explains it very well and there is also some nice history behind the steps that multimeter has goon through over the years.
So what is this CNX series from Fluke, it is still a multimeter in it concept but Fluke has now split the device into multiple devices with each its own measurement function and the devices are talking together via wireless communication. The way the devices are interconnected is in what is called a star topology so this mean that there is one master device and then there is a number of slave devices talking with the master.
As a picture is always better than 1000 words then look at the picture below where you can see one master multimeter in the center and around it is four slave devices there is connected wirelessly to the master device.
For now there are three different devices there can work as master devices and there is five different devices there can work as slave devices and send measurement to a master.
So because there now are multiple devices then it can take more than one measurement at the same time and showing the values on the master unit, where other normal multimeter only can take one measurement at the time.

Note that the marketing image here from Fluke is a bit wrong as it lead you to believe that you can connect four slave devices to the master device in the center, but that is not correct as the Multimeter there is acting as master can take one measurement on its own and then you can connect up to three slave devices to it, if you look at the displays you can see a ID number in each slave device and if you look at the master then it is talking to ID 1, 2 and 3 but it is not talking to the clamp meter with ID 4 in the upper right corner of the image.

 

Before we go on and look at the kits and how it is all work then let’s get a short brief overview of the devices and witch one there is master and which ones there is acting as slaves to the master or even can work in both master and slave mode.

This is just a quick overview of them and we go into more details later one.
Model: Fluke CNX 3000 multimeter
Type: Multimeter
Work as: Master and can also work as slave to another master
Slaves: Max 3 slaves can be connected
Model: Fluke CNX 3000 USB dongle for PC
Type: USB dongle for PC with software
Work as: Master on the PC with the CNX software
Slaves: Max 10 slaves with one USB dongle and if you have two USB dongles in the same PC then 20 slaves can be connected.
Model: Fluke TI 1xx and Fluke TIR 1xx Thermal Imagers
Type: Fluke Thermal Imager Camera
Work as: Master
Slaves: Max 5 slaves can be connected
Model: Fluke CNX v3000 Wireless Voltage Module
Type: Voltage measurement
Work as: Slave
Model: Fluke CNX i3000 iFlex AC Wireless Current Module
Type: Current measurement
Work as: Slave
Model: Fluke CNX a3000 AC Wireless Current Clamp Module
Type: Current measurement
Work as: Slave
Model: Fluke CNX t3000 K-Type Wireless Temperature Module
Type: Temperature Measurement
Work as: Slave

So lets us now look at the back side of each box and as you can see they nicely list the specs and what there is inside each kit so you can be fully sure you take the right box from the shelves at your local Fluke store when you’re out shopping for new gear.

CNX General Maintenance System box back side.

CNX HVAC System box back side.

So what is inside each box, let’s begin with the content of the General Maintenance system kit


The CNX General Maintenance system kit is having a selection of items there fits for working with mains so this is a perfect kit for an electrician or for someone there is doing similar work.

The content of the kit is:
* Fluke CNX 3000 Wireless Multimeter
* Fluke CNX v3000 AC Wireless Voltage Module
* Fluke CNX i3000 iFlex AC Wireless Current Module
* iFlex i2500-10 Flexible Current Probe
* Fluke CNX pc3000 Wireless PC Adapter and Software
* TL224 Test Leads
* TL175 Test Leads
* AC175 Alligator Clips
* AC285 Alligator Clips
* Two Magnetic Hanging Straps
* Soft Carrying Case

 

And what is inside the Fluke CNX 3000 HVAC System kit


The CNX HVAC system kit is intended technicians there is mainly working with HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air conditioning)

The content of the kit is:
* Fluke CNX 3000 Wireless Multimeter
* Fluke CNX a3000 AC Wireless Current Clamp Module
* Fluke CNX t3000 K-Type Wireless Temperature Module
* Fluke CNX pc3000 Wireless PC Adapter and Software
* TL175 Test Leads
* AC175 Alligator Clips
* 80PK-1 K-Type Bead Thermocouple
* Magnetic Hanging Strap
* Soft Carrying Case

We are now over the brief overview of the Fluke CNX 3000 gear and what there is in the kits that I have got for testing for this review, so next we look at each of them in more details.

Fluke CNX 3000 Wireless Multimeter

The CNX 3000 Multimeter is one of the center points when using a Fluke CNX kit to do the measurement and it is design to be a very versatile meter to have most functions that an electrician or similar will need to use most of the time and it looks like a good replacement for something like the Fluke 179 or Fluke 189 that is often used by electricians, it don’t seems to be competing with it brother the Fluke 287/289 there is more for working with electronics and lower volt then working with mains.
The main missing part on the CNX 3000 multimeter is 10A current measurement and there is a clear reason for this and it is because that function is put into its own wireless device. I must say that in my years as an electrician I have almost never used the 10A current functions of the multimeter that I have been using and that is because when working with mains, Then it is a lot easier to just use a current clamp and this is why it make more sense to remove the current function from the meter and then have the two wireless current clamp devices, the iFlex clamp CNX i3000 and AC Clamp CNX a3000 for the current measurement function.

List of the functions in multimeter
* AC voltage
* DC voltage
* Continuity testing
* Resistance
* Diode test
* Capacitance
* AC and DC current (low range)
* Frequency

  

The multimeter build and feel
As always Fluke multimeter are very well build and is built to last, the case is very strong with the rubber protected case and it feels very good, the buttons and rotary switch are also of very good quality and there is nothing bad to say about the build quality except for one thing and that is the fuse location but more about that in a moment.
Let’s first see the size of the meter compared to some other devices that you may know, so you can get an idea of the size of it.

Here you can see the Fluke CNX 3000 Multimeter in the center with some of it friends and yesterday’s phone.

The lineup is Nokia 2010, Fluke 179, Fluke CNX 3000, Fluke 789 and Fluke 287.

As you can see the size is very much like the Fluke 179 and it is smaller than the bigger brother Fluke 287/289
I have measure the Fluke CNX 3000 multimeter without the test leads to have a weight of 505g and that is about 60g more than the Fluke 179

   

Test leads and alligator clips

The CNX 3000 multimeter is coming with the TL175E TwistGuard™ Test leads with 4 mm lantern tips.
The test leads are well designed with an super nice silicon wires so they are very easy to use and you don’t have to fight the wires when using them, the handle can be twist to move a protection tube in or out over the 2mm tip so it can protect the sides of the long 2mm tip from touching other things when making a measurement and risking that you shorting something and make a dangerous situation, it is an good idea and good designed by Fluke.
The alligator clips are very good and there is even add some insulation to both sides of the jaws so there is a very little risk that it can get contact with the wrong things and make a short, the insulation tube there is over the alligator clips is in a nice silicon/rubber so it is easy to open then jaws, the clips do have a 2mm inner thread there is fitting to the 2mm tips with the thread, so that they can be screwed together and make a very secure connection.
To make the test leads also work with 4mm sockets and other test points then Fluke has made a small removable 4mm-to-2mm adaptor that they are calling the “4mm lantern tip”

As you can see here in the photo, the small adaptors can be screwed on to the 2mm tip with the thread and by this make the tips 4mm in size, when the adaptors are on there then you can no longer twist the handle to move the protecting tube out , this is because the tube is 4.5 mm and the adaptor is preventing it to move out.
I have owned some of TL175 test leads for some time as I got some of them before getting them with this meter and I must say that I am not a fan of them if your primary work is as an electricians, the issue is that small adaptor, they are simply too small and gets lost.
I have already lost a number of the adaptors because over time I find that they are unscrewing them self and just fall of or get stuck inside the socket that I have just tested, you can tighten them but again this works only for some time and if you don’t retighten them often then they gets lose and fall of.
The idea is good if your using them for electronics and works in some lab, but not for work with mains so I don’t know why Fluke has not made them in a way where the protected tube is spring loaded so it is always out over the tips and then the twist function then moved a 4mm tube over the 2mm tip, so the 4mm tube is fixed in the probe and cannot fall of, but it can only be moved in and out via the twist function.
So my opinion is that it is the TL175E are good and nice probes, but they are the wrong ones for this multimeter and it will have been better if they have been with fixed 4mm tips.

  

Battery and Power consumption
it is using 3 AA batteries and the units that I got come with some Energizer cells there already was put in.
3 AA batteries seems a bit low as this meter is design to have wireless communication and for long term monitoring, so maybe Fluke will at a later point come out with a battery pack to put on the back side to expand the capacity just like the Fluke 189 where you can add an expansion battery pack.
But maybe it is not an issue because as you see later on, Fluke has done a great job with the power consumption

For the power consumption testing then I have used an external power supply to have a very stable and known power input instead of using the batteries.
The volt level is measured with a Fluke 8845A and the Amps is measured with a Fluke 8846A, both meters are 6.5 digs and the measurement is an average value of 1000 samples via the stat function in the Fluke 884xA. This should give a very precise measurement and this hopefully make it very correct and without too much deviations.

ModeVoltAmpWatt
Power on and are not doing anything4.798112 V0.00389075 A18.67 mW
Power on and are not doing anything but backlight on4.796759 V0.02063398 A98.98 mW
Sleep mode (after 20 minutes)4.799252 V0.00006231 A   0.30 mW
Measure DC from a battery and no wireless links4.798756 V0.00389818 A18.70 mW
Measure DC from a battery and 1 wireless link4.798009 V0.01160974 A55.70 mW
Measure DC from a battery and 3 wireless link4.797920 V0.01163699 A55.83 mW

Just for comparing, let’s see what the other Fluke meters are using
Meter and ModeVoltAmpWatt
Fluke 287, Power on and are not doing anything8.496117 V0.02079550 A176.68 mW
Fluke 287, Power on and are not doing anything but with backlight on (half-light mode)8.494907 V0.03487912 A296.29 mW
Fluke 287, Power on and are not doing anything but with backlight on (full-light mode)8.493191 V0.05485517 A465.90 mW
Fluke 287, Power on and measure DC from a battery8.495886 V0.02080948 A176.79 mW
Fluke 179, Power on and are not doing anything but with backlight on8.496507 V0.01181525 A105,92 mW
Fluke 179, Power on and are not doing anything8.497410 V0.00208279 A17.70 mW
Fluke 179, Power on and measure DC from a battery8.497318 V0.00206821 A17.57 mW
Before you look too much at the numbers here then note that even that I have tried my best to get the correct values and used some very good bench multimeter to do the measurement with, it is very small values and down in the noise and there for they have high degree of inaccuracy.
The watt value is calculated to milliwatt so it is easier to read and compare the values.

If you look at the wattages that this new multimeter is using then I think that it is very nice to see that this new multimeter with new functions is still basically using the same as the older Fluke 179 and it is not as power hungry as it bigger brother the Fluke 297.
So the electronic engineers at Fluke have done a great job with the power consumption.

 
 

Sleep mode
If you not using the logging mode and don’t use the meter for more than 20 minutes then it goes into a sleep mode where it is only using 0.30 mW and if you press any of the keys then it wakes up again ready to use.
This is very cool that it is using so little in sleep mode as I am often use the multimeter and then doing some other stuff and forgets the multimeter.

  

  

Fuse for mA range

The input fuse for the mA range is placed just below the input jacks and as you can see here by the instructions from the manual then you have to take the meter apart by removing the back cover, It have been nice if Fluke has been able to place the fuse above the input jacks and then just high enough so it was accessible from under the battery cover, so it had been a lot easier to change it.
But then again how often do you need to change it, I cannot remember when I have last blown a fuse so maybe it is not that big deal.

  

  

Display
the display on the multimeter is looking nice and easy to read when using the meter at a close distance but before we are talking about the quality of the display and how good or poor it is then let’s see the specs from Fluke.

The specs of each function. (Please read the manual for all the specs – this is just short list)
FunctionResolution / countsAccuracy
Volts6000AC: 1-2% + 3
DC: 0.09-0.15% + 2
DC Amps60000.5-1.5% + 3
Ohms6000Low ohm: 0.5 % + 1
high ohm: 1.5 % + 3
Frequency100000.1% + 1
Capacitance1000Less than 9999uf: 1.2 % + 2
9999uf or more: 10 % typical

Display update rate
The display update rate is 4 times per second (every 250ms) and from my point of view that is very nice and perfectly usable, but you can say that it will have been better if the display was updating a lot faster, but I think it is more important that the reading is correct, clear to read and there is no blur or ghosting.
The blur or ghosting when the display is updating is linked to the display contrast level, so if the contrast level is low then there is more blur/ghosting and if the contrast level is high then it is almost gone, I think it is because the display contrast level is set by the volt level the display is getting and when the volt is high then it is easier for it to change the pixels fast and there for less blur/ghosting.

Here is a video there is showing the display update (open in an new window)

Display quality and readability
First, before you look at the photos and judge them by that, then please note that it is very difficult to take a photograph there is showing how it is looking as if your was sitting with the multimeter in reality but I have tried to take the photograph so it appears mostly true to the reality.

Here you can see how it is looks likes when the backlight is off and I have placed it in this lineup with its brothers as you most likely know and have used some of them.
If you look at the CNX meters display and compare it to the others then you see that the background of the display is a little darker than the other ones, so this make it harder to read and it is getting a bigger issue when you have larger distance to the meter and an electrician do plug the meter at some socket and then from the other side of the rum will click on the switch to see if it working, so the distance is an important thing….
Even that the manual don’t tell it, you can control the display contrast and you do this when the wireless radio is not enabled then you can click on the [UP/Down] bottom and then it will cycle through the contrast steps by very small step at the time and it can help some but it is still darker then it brothers as you can see at the above photo.

Here is a photo there is taking from a long distance where it is more clear that the old displays on the Fluke 179 and 789 is working better than the newer displays on the Fluke 287 and Fluke CNX 3000.
But then again this is where the wireless modules come in, now the electrician will just plug in the wireless AC module in the socket and then walk around with the CNX 3000 multimeter and get the reading via the wireless connection.
So to be fair it is not that big a deal and it is obvious that Fluke is forced to use this display type on the new meters as there is a requirement to have more advanced graphics and not just letters and symbols as there is on the old displays.
Now let’s look at the backlight and how well it is working and if it’s make the display more clear.

The backlight is actually really good and make it very clear and easy to read and from the power consumption testing above it is only using very little power, so cannot complaint about that.

So what is the verdict of the display, even that I think that the content in the display is not as clear as it is on the older display and the back ground is darker, I still like the display and I am sure that Fluke has used a lot of time to find the best display there is fitting well to this meter.
My verdict on this display is that I like the display and think it is very good choice that Fluke has made here and as we are in a time where multimeter are changing from been number displays to have more advanced graphics.
The backlight is also very good so all in all, it is a good display.

  

Now let’s look at each measurement function this multimeter can do

Measurement function: AC Voltage
The AC volt measurement is in the range from 60 mV and up to 1000V, there is nothing to say about this function as it is doing it very well so not anything to complaint about here.
This function does also exist as its own wireless module but we look at that later on.

Measurement function: DC Voltage
The DC volt measurement is in the range from 60 mV and up to 1000V, as with the AC measurement it is just working and is very precise, so I will not go deeper into that.
For now this is the only DC measurement function there exist in the Fluke CNX as there is not a wireless module there can do DC, but my guess is that there will come a wireless DC module in the future, but time will tell.

Measurement function: Frequency
The Frequency range is listed to be from 2 Hz to 99.99 kHz, so I have tested this with my Agilent 33522A function generator by using a sine wave starting from 0 Hz and going up until the display writes over limit.
It is starting to show the correct value at 0.38Hz and indeed it is going up to 99.99 kHz and more than that it just shows OL.

Measurement function: Voltage over hertz AC ratio (V/HzAC)
This is a function that you don’t see on meters and is used mainly by industrial electrician when working on something like adjustable speed motors where there is a driver to control things like the motors volt, Hz and amps in order to get the correct speed and motor torque.
So the Voltage over hertz is just the relations between them and is as simple as 240V/50Hz = 4.8V/HzAC-ratio.
The function seems that it will only work if the volt range is between 20-1000V and I guess that it then have the hertz range of the 2Hz to 99.99kHz.
It is nice to see that Fluke has add this small function, but important to industrial electricians there is working with motor drives and need this.
According to Fluke this is first time the function is put into a multimeter, but it is not an all new function because it is in some of the Fluke Scopemeter already.

Measurement function: HzDC
On the function selector switch at the DC voltages then there is also a hertz measurement function and is to see if you have some alternating voltages there are mixed with the DC voltage, again this function is mostly aimed at the industrial electricians there is working with DC systems.

Measurement function: Ohm
Resistance goes up to 50 Megaohm and as you can see here with my small 10K resistor standard then it is spot on and when testing it with my decade resistor box then it is also spot on and it is fast to select the correct range and it is quick to display the correct ohm value.
So the resistance function is working very good and seems to have high accuracy, nothing to complaint about here.

  

Measurement function: Capacitance
The capacitance function can measure from 1nF to 9999 uF and when it is in the low ranges the accuracy is listed as 1.2%+2count and when it is at the high range then the accuracy is dropping to 10% typical.
It is my experience that handhold multimeter are not very good at doing the capacitance measurement and if you like to get the correct value then you need a good LCR meter there is design to do good capacitance measurements, but let’s see how good or bad the function is, I do not have top range dedicated LCR meter so I will compare it to my PEAK Atlas LCR R40 meter and to my Fluke 8846A

Let’s measure some of the big boys and see how it goes.

Here is a list of the capacitors VS the multimeter measurement.
CapacitorFluke CNX 3000Fluke 8846APEAK Atlas LCR 40
5.6 nF – 10 VDC6 nF5.6 nF5.5 nF
22 nF – 25 VDC28 nF27.2 nF25.7 nF
100 nF – 35 VDC107 nF 104.8 nF101.4 nF
470 nF – 35 VDC462 nF455.9 nF449 nF
680 nF – 35 VDC698 nF647.3 nF577.4 nF
1 uF – 25 VDC1.1 uF1.1 uF1.1 uF
15 uF - 470 VAC 14.9 uF14.8 uF14.7 uF
50 uF – 240 VAC 60 Hz49.5 uF49.5 uF49.1 uF
220 uF – 400 VDC 204.1 uF200.3 uF192.2 uF
680 uF – 200 VDC644 uF628.8 uF639.4 uF
1000 uF – 100 VDC1165 uF1268 uF1178 uF
3300 uF - HCGF5A 3300 uF 450 VDC3257 uF3204 uF3348 uF
9900 uF - 3 of HCGF5A 3300 uF in parallel9865 uF9784 uF10280 uF
10000 uF – 40 VDCOL (Over limit)10138 uF10721 uF
13200 uF - 4 of HCGF5A 3300 uF in parallelOL (Over limit)13022 uF13590 uF
I am very surprised that the Fluke CNX 3000 is so close to the same values as the other meters and it is nice to see that that the capacitance function is working so well, so the only thing to say is that it is limit to 9999uF.
So the verdict is capacitance is that it is very good and Fluke has done a great job here.

  

Measurement function: Continuity Test
the continuity test uses a beep sound when a closed circuit is sensed, but multimeter are not all create equal as some are slow and some are faster.
So let us measure how good or bad the Continuity test function is in the Fluke CNX 3000 Multimeter and to do this I use a Agilent 33522A function generator there is making a pulse to driving a simple PC818 optocoupler there is basically working as a relay and the optocoupler is closing the circuit for the continuity tester of the multimeter, there is also connected a scope to the optocoupler output to measure the pulse time.
The function gen is set to pulse mode at 1 Hz and then I am just changing the pulse width to test when it starts and stops with the beeping.

Here is a simple diagram of how the test setup is.


Here is photo of the setup with the meters, function gen, scope and the breadboard with the optocoupler.

Test result of the continuity test time.
MultimeterStabile detection and good beep sound
(More than x ms)
Very random and sounds is weak or wrong
(Between x and y ms)
Stop detection and no sound
(Less than x ms)
Fluke 1790.49 ms0.49 – 0.43 ms0.43 ms
Fluke CNX 3000 Multimeter0.68 ms0.68 – 0.59 ms0.59 ms
Fluke 7890.88 ms0.88 – 0.86 ms0.86 ms
Fluke 2871.17 ms1.17 – 1.03 ms1.03 ms
Fluke T5-10004.05 ms4.05 – 2.03 ms2.03 ms
Fluke 2769.05 ms69.05 – 49.09 ms49.09 ms
Fluke 8846A79.06 ms79.06 – 6.07 ms6.07 ms
So the result is that the new CNX 3000 is almost twice as fast as it bigger and older brother, the Fluke 287 and it is only a small bit slower than the Fluke 179 and it is fast then the Fluke 789.
Overall I think the Fluke CNX3000 has a very good continuity test.

 

Measurement function: Diode
The diode test function can check the forward-bias and reverse-bias on diodes and other semiconductors junction there is like a diode, the function is working well from the tests that I have done and I have compared the results to a PEAK DCA55 and it is looking good, so I will not go into more testing or details of this function as it seems to work as it is intended.

 

Measurement function: Current
The current function is working with both DC and AC voltages but it is limit to max 400 mA and there is no 10 A current range as you often see on other multimeter and the reason for this is that this multimeter is design mostly for electrician, so the current function is now moved to two wireless clamp modules, the CNX a3000 and the CNX i3000 clamp meters.

So as you can see here in the photo I have used my BK 8500 dummy load to test the current measurement and it is very precise from 0 mA and all the way up to 400 mA, in fact it will go up to 440 mA but then you need to change the fuse and it is never a good idea to go over the rating that Fluke has printed on the front.
I think it is good decision that Fluke has made here by only having the mA current in the multimeter and having the two wireless current clamps, because let’s face it that 90+% of the time an electrician will be using just the voltage and continuity test functions and when needing the current measurement function then it is not a big deal to have an extra device with the current function, having the current function in another device also give the ability that you now can make more than one measurement at the time so it can measure current and voltages at the same time.
So all in all I think it is a good decision that Fluke has made here and it make the CNX kit more flexible to use.

 

Logging
so how is the logging function in the CNX 3000 multimeter you ask? It is easy to answer because the multimeter cannot do logging! When we look at the slave devices later on in this review you will see that, they can do logging to its own internal memory chip and you can then download this to an PC but the CNX 3000 multimeter cannot log anything because it do not have the memory chip or the LOG button to activate the function.

The CNX 3000 multimeter can only be used as a monitor device where you can see its own measurement and the values from up to 3 slave devices.
As you can see from the photo it is showing 4 measurements, the first is the meter it self connect to the first phase and then there is connect two slave devices for the other phases and the last slave is measuring the current.
So it is sad that it not can do logging and it will have been a nice thing to have so there has been the option to log data from the functions there only exists in the multimeter like the continuity test, mA, Ohm and so on.
But I guess the Fluke has decided that it will just add too much to the price and there is maybe not so many there does need this function anyway and if you do then you can just buy another slave device.

 

Wireless
as you just have seen then the multimeter can be connected with 3 slave devices and used as a monitor and I will look more into that later in this review.
But one last important function is that the CNX 3000 multimeter can work as a slave device, to use a CNX 3000 multimeter as a slave you then hold down the wireless button and then turn the rotary switch to power on the multimeter, when the multimeter is power on then it will in the display show MOD there is short for module mode.

as you can see here, the multimeter on the left side with the MOD in the display is in module mode and is measuring some AC voltages, at the center is the T3000 thermometer and on the right you can see a CNX 3000 multimeter there is by itself measuring the 10k resistor and getting the two other measurements from the CNX3000 multimeter on the left and the thermometer meter in center.
Only the T3000 thermometer of the tree can do logging and the two multimeter can show the live data.
But before looking too much on how the wireless functions works then let’s first look at the other modules there exist and then it is easier to understand how it is all working.

 

Fluke CNX v3000 Wireless Voltage Module

First we start with the CNX v3000 wireless voltage module there is only having one function and that is AC voltages measurement, as you can see in the photo it is coming with a magnetic hanging Strap, two alligator clips and test leads.

AC measurement
The AC voltages range goes from 0 and up to 1000V and it is very precise, so there is not much to talk about here as it just works very well and it is updating the display quickly.

Standalone device
Because each module do have its own display then you can just use this module as a meter by itself and this is very nice because than it make the modules more useable, think if the opposite has been the case then you was force every time to first setup the wireless device to be linked to the multimeter and you have two devices in the hand and then you can do the measurement, but with the display on the unit it is easily giving a quick way to see the status of it and you can use it as just an volt meter.
Let’s say that you need to do some logging of the mains then all you need to buy is the AC voltages modules there is doing the logging and then you need the USB dongle for the PC, so you don’t need the multimeter to get it working.
Think this is nice and good decision that Fluke has made here.

Magnetic hanging Strap

It is coming with this nice magnet and a Velcro strap for easily placing the module to the cabinet door or anything metal where you doing the measurement.
Inside the case at the top of the device there is a small metal disc for the magnet to stick to and it is working very well and it can easily hold itself in a stabile way, it will not fall off just because you’re looking at it.
When the magnet hanger is not used then it will stick nicely to the back side of the battery compartment because the magnet is sticking to the batteries inside.
so all in all this is well designed and works great, it is nice that you’re getting one magnet hanger with each wireless module except for the CNX 3000 multimeter and I think that it is a mistake because when your hanging the tree AC modules at the cabinet and then don’t have a nice way to hang the multimeter alongside it friends, so it will have been nice to see a magnet hanger included with multimeter also.

Test leads and two alligator clips
The test leads are very nice silicon leads and the alligator clips are very good and can open wide up, so they are very good if you’re working as an industrial electrician, but if you more working as an domestic electricians then it can become an issue with the test leads that Fluke as selected to include with this device because how to plug in the alligator clips into a power outlet on the well with 4mm round wholes.
So I think that Fluke has include the wrong test leads here because it will have work better if they have include the same type test leads as there is coming with the multimeter and then you can still be using the alligator clips with them or Fluke can just add some extra Test Probes there be used with the test leads.
So I don’t like the selected test leads there is included, but it can very easily be fixed so it is not a big issue.

Module build and case

the ruler the guys are holding are 15.5 cm.

When picking up the module device for the first time I was thinking that this is very nice and well build, it is a bit on the heavy side but again that is what gives it strength and it gives the felling that you can drop this many times down on a concrete floor and it will not break. I guess that if you drive over it with your car then it will not be damage by it, the front is also designed so if it falls with the front down then the display and bottoms are protected by the rubber edge of the case.
On the case back side in the top where it is the dark gray plastic with the round indentation, there is inside the case a small metal disc for the magnet to stick to and that of course give it a little extra weight but it is not much.
The weight of the module is 271g with the batteries but just for fun let’s see what the weight of the circuit board and battery is and how much weight the case has…

PartWeight
2x AA Battery47.2g
Circuit board with display40.6g
Case183.7g

The top slot for the Velcro strap are also big enough that a padlock can get through and you can lock it if the module most be secured at the location for some time when logging.
So I really like this design and thinks it is very well done by the Fluke guys and it is built to last every day with an electrician on the battlefield.

Power bottom
With just a quick push it will turn on the module and if you push and hold it down for some time then it is turning the module off again, but I have some times seen the modules have accidentally been turn on when they was in the CNX bag there is coming with the kits.
It most have been turn on when I was moving the bags around to get the devices out of it, because if the modules is power on and not used then it will go into sleep mode after some time, but the thing is that it was accidentally turn on by itself, so when you need the modules for work then the batteries are empty.
So I think this is an error in the design and Fluke has to rethink this, maybe just make the bottom lower so it is the same high as the surface and this will protected the bottom from the accidentally push or maybe Fluke can fix this by updating the firmware.

Battery and Power consumption
it is using 2 AA batteries and the units that I got come with some Energizer cells there already were put in.
Let’s measure how much it is using.
ModeVoltAmpWatt
Power on and are not doing anything3.008156 V0.00323457 A9.73 mW
Power on and are not doing anything but backlight on3.005796 V0.02530434 A75.05 mW
Measure AC and no wireless links or logging3.007732 V0.00329065 A9.89 mW
Measure AC with logging at 1 sec. interval and no wireless3.007521 V0.00348834 A10.49 mW
Measure AC and 1 wireless link3.006370 V0.01491237 A44.83 mW
That is nice to see that it is only using 9.89 mW when using it as a standalone device and when the wireless communication is used then it is using 44.83 mW and it is only using 10 mW when logging, so again Fluke has done a great job with the module power consumption.

Logging bottom
I will not talk about the logging function here because I will go into details about that later in this review.
But the bottom also has another function and that is to access the extra functions, this is done by holding down the log bottom and then power on the module.

It is now displaying a test image on the display and each time you click on the LOG bottom then it changes to the next one, it can maybe be a bit different from module to module but it is basically the same things.
Select the function you need and then push the backlight bottom to continue.
[ Test image ] – This is so you can verify the display is working.
[ 1.0 ] – This is the firmware in the module, can be update via the software.
[ Poff ] – Turn off the sleep mode so it will be always on.
[ Loff ] – This disable the timeout of the backlight, so it will stay on if used.
[ Light testmode ] – This lights up the display and bottoms to verify they are working.
[ CAL ] – Calibration menu, for this please read the calibration manual for each module.

Wireless function and bottom
as with the logging function, I will cover this in more details later in this review so I will skip it for now.

Backlight and backlight bottom

the backlight is nice and clear, the bottom just turn on and off the backlight, so it don’t have other functions then that.
When it is turn on then it will go off again after 40 second except if you have disabled the timeout of backlight when you have turn on the module with the “Loff” selected then it will stay on until you turn it off or it run out of batteries.
It will have been nice if you somehow can select how many seconds that you like the timeout to be because for me the 40 second is to short time and I like it to be longer, so it has been nice if the backlight button to be pressed several times and that gives different backlight timeouts like first click is 30 sec., next click is 60 sec. and so on and if you hold the down to turn off the backlight or you can change the backlight timeout via the software, but you cannot do this now but we can hope this is coming in the future firmware, it will be easy for Fluke to fix..

 

 

Fluke CNX t3000 K-Type Wireless Temperature Module

As this module is a clone of it brother the Fluke CNX v3000 Wireless Voltage Module that I just have talked about in this review, then I will not repeat the same again but only go into the details of this Fluke CNX t3000 K-Type Wireless Temperature Module there is different.
So this Fluke CNX t3000 K-Type Wireless Temperature Module is the thermometer module there can take temperature measurements via a K-type probe that you plugin to this module.

Thermometer button
when pushed then is just changes between the Celsius and Fahrenheit, but it can only be change as long as logging is not active.

K-type probe
The probe there is coming with the module is an very basic on and it is the Fluke 80PK-1 K-Type Bead Thermocouple, it is good quality and very small so it can be placed just where it is need to take the measurement.
But that probe is not easy to use because I always having issue doing a setup to get a stabile reading, as you can see in this photo with the temperature sensor is on the side of this motor then I have used a magnet to hold it stabile on the side but it is not always that easy to solve and I think that Fluke could have chosen a better probe.


My probe choice would have been the one that Fluke is calling the “80PK-11 Type-K Flexible Cuff Thermocouple Temperature Probe”

This probe does have a Velcro strap there is making it easy to mount on things where you can get the strap around, but what could make it even better is if there was placed some small flexible magnet pieces inside the Velcro strap so it also can stick to things like the side of this motor.
So I am not a big fan of the probe that Fluke has include with the kit and think it would have been better to include the one with Velcro strap, but you can always just buy it as accessory.

 

 

Fluke CNX i3000 iFlex AC Wireless Current Module

As this module is again just a clone of it brother the Fluke CNX Wireless Module that I just have talked about in this review, then I will not rewrite the same things again but go into the details of this Fluke CNX i3000 iFlex AC Wireless Current Module where it is different.
So this is the Fluke CNX i3000 iFlex AC Wireless Current Module, there is a current clamp meter with a flexible current clamp sensor there is making it a lot easier to use then the normal current clamp sensors.
The current module has tree functions, the first one is current and then it can measure frequency and last it can get the inrush current.

iFlex current clamp
The flexible current clamp is very nice and it is easier to get them into the place where you need to measure the current where the classic current clamp is often not able to get into the right place.

As you can see here I have got the clamp into a location where there is not enough space for the classic clamp and if I had tree more of the iFlex clamps then I am sure that it will have been easy to get them around the 4 wires of that fuse breaker

Current function
it is measuring the current from 0 to 2500 A with a 0.1A resolution with accuracy of 3%, so it is a high current clamp and that gives it a bit less precision then the other current clamp that we look at later in this review.

Frequency function
this function is frequency measurement of the wire that the current clamp is around.

Inrush current function
there is not many details about this function in the manual so I don’t know the specs or how to can changes any settings for it, it seems that it can only be turn on be click the Inrush bottom and the display will now show the inrush symbol, next you turn on the load and then it shows the inrush current.
I have not been very successful with the Inrush current function as it seems not to get the inrush current on the things I have tried like a 1700w electric kettle where the CNX 3000 i3000 is saying the current is 6.9A and the inrush is 7.0A, but when I test the same kettle with the Fluke 345 Power analyzer then it tells me that the current is 6.93A and the inrush current is 10.23A.
I am seeing the same pattern when testing with other things, that the inrush current is just too low every time but I have not tried it on very heavy machinery there is using many amps, maybe it is working better there.

Logging
the logging is working fine with the current and frequency functions but you cannot log the inrush function.
I will look more at the logging later in this review.

 

 

Fluke CNX a3000 AC Wireless Current Clamp Module

this wireless current clamp meter is having a different design then the other wireless modules and is having a jaw clamp in the meter itself.

Module build and case
the yellow part is a bit smaller than the other wireless modules but with the jaw it is longer, it is built in some hard plastic and do not have the rubber case as the other modules.
It is a very nice build quality as always with Fluke, but the module with it plastic case feels a bit out of place when it is next to the other modules and multimeter there is having the rubber case and this do not have the rubber edge on the front as on the other module there is protection the display and button’s if the modules falls down on the front side.
It is not as strong build as the other modules but all in all it is very good.

Jaw clamp meters
I always find the jaw clamp meters a bit hard to use because it is always hard to get the current clamp into the right place.

As you can see in this photo it will be hard to fit four of the jaw current clamps in there but it will be no problem with the iFlex current clamps, so this is why I in general find the iFlex current clamps to be better than the jaw type even that the jaw clamps normally has a better accuracy.

Current function
the current function goes from 0 to 400A with a resolution 0.1A and an accuracy of around 2%, so compared to the iFlex it is a lower range but with a little better accuracy.
There is not much to say about the current function as it just works and the measurements seems to be very accurate when I comparing it to my Fluke 345 power analyzer.

Inrush current function
just as with the Fluke i3000 iFlex current clamp it doesn’t seems to pick up the inrush current very well.

Logging
only the current can be logging and not the inrush function, I will look more at the logging later in this review.

  

  

Fluke CNX 3000 USB dongle for PC

This is the wireless USB dongle that you plug into the PC when using the CNX 3000 series devices with an PC there is having the CNX 3000 software, each USB dongle can talk wirelessly with up to 10 CNX devices at the same time and if you need more than the software supports that you can use two USB dongles witch make it possible for the software to talk with 20 CNX devices.
But for now I will not talk more about the software as I will cover that later in this review in details.

USB dongle build and case
It is made in hard plastic and well design for an USB dongle, but I don’t like this and thinks that Fluke has made an design error here as I think it could have been made much better and I am a bit disappoint with this.
So what is it that I don’t like you’re asking… I have had many USB keys, dongle and so on over the years and the most common things that get them damage and stop working, it is the USB connector there is getting bad connections on the circuit board because the connector get pushed/bent when the USB device is transported between locations or when it is inserted into the PC and then it gets pushed. The first thing is that it is not coming with an protection cap that you can place over the connector when it is not used, most USB memory keys do have an protecting cap like that.
The next thing is the dongle is thicker than a normal USB keys so if you on the PC has USB ports there is like two of the USB ports right above each other than you cannot plugin the two USB dongles in because the they are just too thick.
The other thing is that an electrician is most often not are working in an nice office with a clean desk but is working in locations which is more like a building site with dirt and the pc there is used is often placed on things there is not design for working with an PC on.
Just like this metal workshop table where the pc is placed between a vices and drill press plus a lot other things on the table.

As you can see here the USB dongle in the PC it is very prone to be damaged if it is hit by some other objects or the pc is move around on the table, yes on modern PC there is more USB ports but it is really not helping to place the USB dongle in a port on the back side or somewhere else, it will protrude out from the pc and be prone to be damage.
So what do I propose as the solution to this, for me the best way will simply be to remove the USB connector from the USB dongle and add what is known as a pig-tail and that is just a short cable with the connector at the end.
The pig-tail is moves the vulnerable plug away from the circuit board by adding the cable between them, it will make the connector a lot stronger and it will also be better for the USB dongle because if some object hits it then it will not break off the connector and the pig-tail also solves the issue with two thick USB dongles not can fit into two USB ports do to size.

Here is a mockup photo that I have made to better show how I think it will look like.

So I hope that if Fluke at some point decide to update this USB dongle then they will change it to the pig-tail version like this to make it better, but then again the price for a CNX 3000 USB dongle is not that much but that is not a reason not to make it better.

 

 

Fluke TI 1xx and Fluke TIR 1xx Thermal Imagers

The Fluke thermal imager 1xx series is also part of the CNX 3000 family.
I don’t have one for review so I can only give the details that you can find at the Fluke site in the manuals, but according to the manuals then you can connect up to 5 slave devices to the camera and when you take an image then it stores the point-in-time values from the CNX slave devices with the image file, but for more details I will suggest to read more about it at the fluke website to learn how it works.
I think it is very smart that you now can capture the voltages and amps when taking images of things like a motor, so this is nice and good to see that Fluke are adding the CNX wireless function to more than just the multimeter.

  

  

Ingress Protection rating code (IEC 60529)
One thing I have noted when looking at each CNX device is that they are not having the same IP code, the IP code is an code there is telling you how protected the unit is from the environment in the form of solid particle as the first number and the liquid as the second number.
To better understand the IP codes, please read more at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IP_Code
Fluke CNX unit IP code
3000 Wireless MultimeterIP 54
i3000 iFlex AC Wireless Current ModuleIP 42
v3000 AC Wireless Voltage ModuleIP 42
a3000 AC Wireless Current Clamp ModuleIP 42
t3000 K-Type Wireless Temperature ModuleIP 30
Ti1xx Thermal ImagerIP 54
So if you’re using different CNX devices in the same environment then just note that they are not created equal and something like the temperature module is not as well protected as the multimeter.

  

  

Wireless
Now we have been over all the units in the Fluke CNX 3000 series and it is now time to look at the wireless function that are one of the primary new things.

The wireless function is the new main function for this Fluke CNX series and what make this very different from other multimeter on the market.
The wireless function gives this multimeter at whole new level, because before you only have a multimeter to do one measurement at the time and the only way to have multiple reading at the same time was to use multiple meters and then look at them side by side, but with the CNX multimeter and like tree AC modules you can easily see all 3 phases at the same time and log the measurements to the internal memory.
The CNX wireless system is not a proprietary wireless system that Fluke just has invented, no Fluke have clearly been testing and evaluated what good systems there already existed on the market and Fluke has used a lot of time to select the system there using low power for the radio, works well in environments with radio noise and just works well.
Fluke has selected to use the radio system there is called ZigBee there is operating at the 2.4 GHz frequency band, Fluke is using the ZigBee as the radio communication with their own proprietary software protocol on top of it to exchange the data between the units.
I guess that now you’re thinking that, is this new radio system any good and can I trust it day in and day out to just work and be sure that Fluke has well tested this??? I will say yes because this radio system is not that new at all in fact it is has now been used for more than 5 years in Fluke test gear…. Yes that is correct because Fluke Biomedical has in June 2008 release an test device that they are calling “TNT 12000 X-Ray Test Device” and this device is used to test x-ray imaging systems and maintain them, if you look at the TNT12000 system you will see that it is in fact it is a multi-device test system there is using ZigBee between the devices just like the CNX 3000 series are.

http://www.flukebiomedical.com/biomedical/usen/x-ray-test-tools/tnt-12000-x-ray-test-tools.htm?PID=56783

So if Fluke trust this radio system to be used in an device for testing x-ray systems in hospitals and gets the devices approved in the Medical industry then I am sure that you can trust it to work well for you and it is a well-tested stabile system.
So I think it is a good decision that Fluke has selected to use this well-proven radio system for this new product series like this CNX 3000 series and my guess is that there is more wireless gear to come.
So how do it work and interconnect
The devices are interconnected in the way there is called a star topology and what that means is that if you look at the images above then you can see that there is one master unit, the master then talks with each slave unit and gets the data from them and can then show it on the display.
So slave devices can only talk with one master and the master can talk with more than one slave device, how many slaves a master device can talk to is depending off what master device it is.
But let’s start by see how a master is connected to one slave device

On the slave devices like this temperature T3000 module then you just click on the Fluke radio button and you will then see the little radio icon in the display been showed, the ID number will first be there when it is connection to master device.
Then on the master device like this CNX 3000 multimeter you just click on the Fluke radio button.

When the radio is on then the discovery process is scanning for slave devices and when they are found they will get an ID number and be listed in the display, click the “select” button to select the devices you like to monitor and when finish then holding down the “Up/Down” button.
Now the two devices are linked and the master device will show the values in the display from the slave device.
So this is basically how you connection the wireless devices and the process is the same if you have let’s say 3 slave devices then you just start the radio on all 3 slaves and then they will show up on the master devices like with the multimeter there maximum can talk with 3 slaves at the same time.
The reason that you first have to select each device is that maybe you have many slave devices powered on but you only like to connect to some specific ones, so you just use the Up/Down button to go to the next found devices and use the “select” button to select them and when your finish then just hold the UP/Down button down for 2 seconds and it will begin to show the values from the devices that you have selected.
This is not in the manual but there is also easy ways to quickly select the first three found devices, when the devices are discovered then don’t select any of them, but just hold the UP/Down button down for 2 seconds and it will automatically select the first three devices found.

Master devices
It is important to understand that master devices can monitor the values from slave devices but master devices cannot do logging, the logging is done by each slave devices by them self and the logging function has nothing to do with the wireless communication.
If the master device is an USB dongle in the PC with the CNX 3000 software then it can change the settings in the slave devices.
But later in this review I will look more at the logging and the software.

Master as slave
The CNX 3000 multimeter normally functions as a master devices but it can also work as a slave…

Here you can see that I am using an multimeter as a slave device, So by holding the Fluke radio button down when power-on the multimeter it will then start up as an slave device and show MOD in the display there is short for Module mode, then just turn on the other slave devices and then the master multimeter to discover the three slave devices.
In this setup I am measuring the three main phases and the current from one phase, all four values are then nicely displayed on the master multimeter.

Wireless range.
Fluke are listing the ranges to be 20 meters, but as with all wireless communications then it depends a lot of the environment that you are using the devices in and what construction materials there is used.
If you look around the Internet for other ZigBee devices then they are listed as having an indoor range of 10 to 100 meters and a lot longer if your outside in an open environment, so it seems to me that the numbers that Fluke are saying here is on the low side and when I have used the devices at 20 meters and less then they have work perfectly every time and seems to have a stabile communication without any losses, but if you’re using it at ranges bigger than the 20 meters then it can be unstable and again depends on the construction materials of the building you’re in.
There is unfortunately not radio level indicator in the displays so you can see how good the signal is or if your is just at the edge of the range of the wireless range, it have been nice if Fluke has add an indicator to tell you the status just like there is on mobile phones.
So all in all I think the wireless communication is working fine and as expected, it will have been nice with longer ranges but then again it will just cost more on the battery, only thing is the missing radio signal indicator but this can maybe be added in a later firmware version.

Wireless modules ID numbers and naming
when connection the slave modules to the master then each slave is given an ID number and it seems to be completely at random and there is no way to make sure that lets say the voltage module on phase 1 is always given the number 1.
The discovery of the modules and numbering process is like this, when you turn on a slave module and enable the radio then it is in waiting mode and don’t has an ID number, then when the master device’s radio is turn on then it is broadcasting to any slave module to report back to the master and the first module to announce itself to the master is given the ID 1 and the next slave device is given ID 2 and so on.
I am not a big fan of the ID numbers been random and will have like to be able set some fixed numbers or at least that the slaves was given an ID number in the same order as they was powered on, this will have been more logic to me.
But it is not all bad because you can just give each device its own name, via the CNX 3000 software you can give each module a nice name like “Voltage main 1” and this name is stored in the modules configuration so when your connecting the slave modules to the master then you can see the names, on the software you can use long names but on master devices like the CNX 3000 multimeter then it can only show the 5 first characters of the name, so it is best to keep the names short like “Volt1”.
So if you give each device a name there make sense then it is easier to setup, but you have to add an plastic label to each device with the name because the modules can unfortunately cannot show it name it is given, hope that Fluke can fix that in the next firmware version.
So it is not a big deal with the ID numbers been random when you can give the devices names, but you have to add a label with the name to the device.


Displays update rate and wireless.
In the Fluke CNX 3000 multimeter manual there Fluke is writing the display update rate to be 4 times per second and it seems to be correct for the multimeter own reading, but the wireless values from the slave devices seems to be updating a bit slower but it is not much and it is still very usable.
The display on each slave module is updating faster than the wireless values it is showing on the master multimeter so I believes that the slave modules display is also updating at 4 times per second.
But if you look at this small video clip you can then see how it is updating.

Here is a video there is showing the display update (open in an new window)

This CNX 3000 series is design for electricians there is working with mains power and there it is not so important to have very fast updating on the display as it is when you’re working with electronics and signals there is changing fast, So for an electricians the 4 times per second is just fine and it is more important to have a good and stabile reading then a fast updating display there is blur/ghosting to it is hard to read.
So all in all I think the display update rate is fine and works well, it will of course have been nicer with very fast update rates both for measurements on the devices them self and via the wireless connection but it will just cost more on the battery life.


Logging

One big part of the CNX 3000 functions is that it can do logging, but it is only the slave modules there can do logging and the CNX 3000 multimeter is not able to do logging as it don’t have the LOG button and the memory.
Each slave module has an button on the front there is called LOG and when you push it, it’s start logging data and is showing the logging symbol in the display with the text MEM and the bars indicate how much of the memory there is used, If you push the LOG button again then the logging stops.
The data is stored in the internal memory chip there can hold 65000 data set as Fluke is calling them, a data set is four values and they are the time stamp, min, max and average values.
The logging interval for each data set and for how long time the logging is done cannot be change on the devices them self, but if you connect the device to the PC with the CNX 3000 software then you can change the logging interval and for how long time you like to do the logging, but we will look more at this later in this review when looking at the CNX 3000 software.
So it is very easy to start and stop the logging on the slave devices but I must say that I am missing the logging function on the CNX 3000 multimeter and thinks it is a pity that it not can do logging for the functions in the multimeter, so this mean that you cannot log Ohm measurements.
The logging in the modules is always stored in the internal memory chip and then you can download the data to a PC, so you cannot log data over the wireless connect to the PC.

Software
Before talking more about the logging then we have to look at the CNX 3000 software as this is an very important part of the logging and managing the slave devices.
With the kits there is a CD-ROM with the CNX 3000 software V1.0.0.16 and the manuals and it is nice that they include an CD-ROM but it have been better if the software was not include on the CD-ROM and there just have been a link to the Fluke home page where you can download the newest version.
I always go the product home page and look for the newest version and sure enough there was a V1.0.0.17 there was released the 12 February 2013 but there don’t seems to be an include release doc with the details about what has been change and fixed in this release, so it is unknown what the change are between the versions.
It is fairly easy to install the CNX3000 application and the requirements there is installing MS .Net Framework 4.0 there is included if it is not already installed in Windows, when the application is installed then you get an icon on the desktop and in the start menu as you can see here, but the start link is called “SW3000.exe” so it seems that Fluke not even bother to give it a real name and that it's a bit disappointing, they can at least give it a more meaningful name like “Fluke CNX 3000 Application” or another name like that.

Now that the software is installed then we can plug in the USB dongle to the PC and now Windows are doing the plug and play to finding the drivers for it and it finds the driver without any issues, because Fluke has built the USB dongle with the FTDI chip called FT232r there is a well-known serial-2-USB chip and it is very nice to see the Fluke has selected to use a standard FTDI chip because it is having a well working and digital signed drivers there is just working without issues, So it is a good decision that Fluke has selected this chip and not tried to make their own thing and an driver for it there not will have been as well working and stabile as the FTDI chips are it.
So now let’s look at the interface of the CNX 3000 application.

This is the main interface in the CNX 3000 application and it is fairly simple in its design, in the top there is a small status window there is showing how the communication with the USB dongle is going.
On the top right there is two buttons, the first one “Discover Devices” and when it is click then it then release the devices it may be talking to and then resetting the USB dongle, then it is starting to do the discovery process by broadcasting to any device to communicate and then each found device will be listed in the list below, the button “Release All Devices” is just doing what the button says it is releasing the devices from USB dongle and CNX 3000 application.
In the next row of buttons there is the “Adaptor-1” and “Adaptor-2”, the adaptor is an reference to the USB dongles and as you can see the application can talk with two USB dongles and each USB dongle can connect to 10 devices, so in total the application can talk with 20 devices but there is a catch here and I find it misleading because yes you can connect two USB dongles and each dongle can have 10 devices but the application can only talk and use one adaptor at the time, so you can click on “Adaptor-1” and then you can see and manage the 10 devices connected to it and see the 10 devices via the liveview and when you like the access the other 10 devices on the other adaptor then you click on the “Adaptor-2” and then the application changes the list to the 10 devices on the second adaptor and now you can use them, so as you can see here it is not just plug in the second adaptor and then you device list can have 20 devices.
So it is disappointing to see that this new application is design in this way and I cannot believe that it is because the application not can talk with the two USB dongles at the same time, so I think it is just do to the limits in the GUI design of the application that it is made this way, but again this is just software so let’s hope that Fluke fixes this in the next version of CNX 3000 application.
The button “Update PC adaptor software” to updating the firmware of the active USB dongle and is only used when Fluke at some point comes with a new firmware, so it is a bit odd the Fluke has placed this button in the center of the application in the top when it is not something you’re using very often, think it will have better to have in some sub menu or something for functions there is not that often used.

The LiveView
In the list of devices select each checkbox in the list for the devices you like to see and then click on the button “LiveView” in the upper right side.

Here you can see the LiveView there is very clearly showing the values of each devices and it is made so it is very clear and can be seen from an distance, so this is very good and I think it is useable when debugging systems where you need to monitor many things at the same time, but it is limit to 10 devices.
If you click on the “View Graph” under one device reading, you will see this popup window

Here you can see an nice live graph of the T3000 devices there in this setup is monitoring the outside temperature of an motor and it is an nice function there can show the last 255 live readings from the device, but it can only show one device at the time so you cannot have more than one device in the graph.
The “Save” button can save a copy of the graph as an image file so it can be used later in some documentation.
So the LiveView is a very nice function but the graph is a bit limit when it only can show one devices at the time.

Device list

in the application is there a list of the devices there is connected and each device has its own line there is showing the symbol for the device, its Device ID, Device name, Connection status, Log download and liveview checkmark.
If you click on the device name link then you get a popup window like this.

Here you can see the config interface for each device where you can change the name, update the firmware and manage the logging settings.
Changing the name is very usable because if you have multiple modules like let’s say three of the voltages modules V3000 then you can change the names to match each phase of the mains like “V L1” for voltages module with the first mains phase, the names are stored in the module itself so if you move modules to another setup or share the modules with your colleagues in the firm then it is distinguish them from each other, but the name cannot be seen in the modules own display so you have to add an label to the device with the name or write it with a permanent marker pen.
The button “Update firmware” do only have the function to load a firmware file from disk and sending it to the device and then the device firmware is update, but this is not tested as there is not yet an released firmware update for any of the devices.
For the logging settings, this is the only way that you can change them as nor the Multimeter or devices itself has the options to change any of the settings other then start/stop the logging, the logging interval can be set from 1 second and up to 60 minutes.
Logging duration can be set to all zeros for unlimited which means until the memory is full and then it stops, if the logging duration is not set to unlimited then it can be set to an duration between 1 minute and 99 days.
Below the logging settings there is a status bar showing how much of the memory there is used and there is also the function to clear memory and there is a button to start and stop the logging function on the device.

Connection symbol
if you click on the connection symbol with each device then you can disconnect the device you have selected, this is smart if you like to disconnect just one device without doing a new rescan for devices.

Logging download

for each slave device there can do logging is having the option to click on the download symbol and then it is asking you where to save the file and then it is downloading the logging data from the device to a log file.
It is downloading the data via the ZigBee wireless connection there is having a max throughput at 250 Kbit/s but that is in best case, so it is often lower than that and there is some protocol overhead.
So when testing this logging and download function I was just doing some short logging like 5 minutes and then download it and that all worked fine without any issues, but when I tried to first fill the log memory completely and then download the logs, then I was surprise on how much time it toke to download it, because from clicking on the download button to it was finish it then toke 36 minutes so that was a bit long time for one device and then imagine that you have 10 devices to download from, so that is 6 hours of download time and this is because you can only download from one devices at the time and is not able to select multiple devices like when using the LiveView function.
But let’s look more into this because I have discovered that it is not all do to the Fluke CNX 3000 application but that there are other factors in this. When you click the download button and begin the download of the data then it is first written to one file in an RAW format there is in the format as the data is stored in the device, when the data is finish downloading to the raw file then the Fluke CNX 3000 Application is converting the RAW data into an text file that you can import to Excel and so on, it is in this last process of converting the data where it can be very slow on your PC depending on what antivirus application you have and this is because the fluke CNX 3000 application is converting the data one line at the time and when it is writing it to file one line at the time instead of make the data ready in memory and then just stream the whole file to disk in on go, I think the streaming write will speed up the things but that is just guessing from my side.
But lets us look at the numbers for the same log download first with all antivirus applications disabled and then with the Microsoft Security Essentials antivirus enabled.

Here is the numbers with all antivirus software disabled.
Downloading 2.392.082 byte RAW Data to file13 min 49 sec.
Converting the RAW file to a 7.628.253 byte text file18 sec.
Total time to download and converting data14 min 07 sec.

Here is the Microsoft Security Essentials antivirus enabled.
Downloading 2.392.082 byte RAW Data to file13 min 51 sec.
Converting the RAW file to a 7.628.253 byte text file22 min 11 sec.
Total time to download and converting data36 min 02 sec.
As you can see here it is a big change in time and if you don’t know this then you can waste a lot of time when downloading the log data from the devices.
So it is an good idea to clear the memory of the device before doing the logging so you only has to download the logging data you need and not also data from some other old log.
but all in all even with the Antivirus software disabled then it is taking a long time to download the logs and it is something you have to take into account if your logging with many devices for a customer and you need to give the customer an copy of the data that it can take some time to download the data.

Device logging time sync
There is no place to set the time in each devices so I am guessing that when you connect the devices to an PC with the Fluke CNX 3000 Application then it automatically setting the internal time of each device to be the same as the PC time and that will be a good thing, but if you borrow some devices from your colleagues then remember to connect them up to your PC so you’re sure they all have the same time sync.

 

 

Log format
after the log data has been download and then converted into an text format so you can import the data into your favorite data analyzer application like Excel, SQL database or something other so that is a good thing.
but the format that Fluke has selected here is not very good and I don’t like it because is it not formatted as good CSV file because if you look at the screen dump below then you will see a couple of problems, first problem is that if you have done multiple loggings then it is all stored in the same file like the one below where you can see two loggings there stored into the same file, it will have been a lot better if it has stored each logging into its own file so when you import it later to an data analyzer application then you only get what you need.
The next problem is that each log section begins with some summery text and it is a good thing there is this summery section but because it is not out-commented like you normal do in CSV files then it will gives issues when importing it.

Another thing is an bug in the date/time format, because if you look at the text in the summary section then it is very clearly saying that the date/time format is “Month/Day/Year Hour:Minute:second” but if you look at the log lines it is using the Danish Date/Time format where it is “Day-Month-Year Hour:Minute:second”.
It is not big deal but it have been better if the log was using the common ISO standard date/time format where the format is “Year-Month-Day Hour:Minute:Second” because it is the format there is working best when importing into data analyzer applications like databases and so on.
But again this is just issue with software so it is easy for Fluke to get this fixed in the coming versions.

 

Blinking button
normally when something is blinking it is because it likes your attention to something, but in the Fluke CNX 3000 application when you have click on an button then after it has done it function then it start blinking.

So here you can see that I have click on the “Adaptor-1” button and then it is starting to blink, so it is not because it like you to click it again, it is just telling you that you just have click on it, if you have forgotten it.
I really don’t understand what the reason is for a button to start blinking after it has been click and I think it is a bad design and hope this will be changed in next version of the application as I think it is misleading for the user.

   

Multiply CNX 3000 kits in one firm
I like the Fluke CNX 3000 concept as it is making the measurement tools very versatile for the electrician and now giving the electrician a lot more options to make multiple measurements and it is opening up for whole new measurements like measuring three main phases at the same time and if you have multiple CNX 3000 kits in the electrician firm then it is easy to share the devices between the colleagues.
So the CNX 3000 devices is like an electrician LEGO toys set that can be put together in many ways to get the combination there is needed.
It is also making sense as the investment because you can buy the devices as you need them and if let’s say the CNX 3000 multimeter is damaged then you can just buy a new multimeter and reuse the modules with it.

 

Missing modules
The CNX 3000 devices are primary design for the AC voltages world for electrician and it is very clearly there is that lacking modules for the DC voltages, it will have been nice if let’s say an Solar panel installer was able to use the CNX 3000 kit by put DC voltages modules on each panel and current sense at the inverter, then read the 10-20 devices in the PC CNX 3000 application.
An LUX meter module will also have been nice to see both for the solar installer but also for the normal electrician work to measure the light level in the installation.
But I am sure that when you’re reading this review then you can think of other modules that you think is missing from this CNX 3000 series and we can hope that this is only the beginning and Fluke will in the future come out with more modules.
Modules there are maybe coming?
When looking at the software I then note that in a subfolder there were all the images used in the CNX 3000 application and there was symbols for each devices that I am testing but there was also some extra files there is looking very interesting in the filenames and symbols.

SymbolFilename
Humidity.ico
volts_dc_32px_x_32px_icons.ico
amps_dc_high_32px_x_32px_icons.ico
Based on the extra icon files in the CNX 3000 application folder then it looks like they are coming with a Humidity sensor module and then there are coming two modules for DC, one for voltages and another for current.
So if I am guessing correctly here then there is coming tree nice members to the CNX 3000 series family and it will add the missing DC measurements that I have talked about in this review, so I am hoping this is true.
But your guess is as good as mine here but we can hope.

  

Fluke public price list
Here is the prices from Fluke public price lists from there’s website.
ItemUK list price
(ex. VAT)
EU list price
(ex. VAT/TAX)
DK list price
(ex. Moms)
Fluke CNX 3000 CNX Wireless Digital Multimeter259 GBP299 €2229 DKK
Fluke CNX i3000 CNX Wireless iFlex AC Current Module129 GBP159 €1189 DKK
Fluke CNX a3000 CNX Wireless AC Current Clamp Module109 GBP139 €1029 DKK
Fluke CNX v3000 CNX Wireless AC Voltage Module109 GBP139 €1029 DKK
Fluke CNX t3000 CNX Wireless K-Type Temperature Module109 GBP139 €1029 DKK
Fluke CNX pc3000 CNX Wireless PC Adapter39 GBP49 €365 DKK
Fluke CNX 3000 ind CNX Wireless Industrial System739 GBP899 €6699 DKK
Fluke CNX 3000 gm CNX Wireless General Maintenance System519 GBP629 €4689 DKK
Fluke CNX 3000 HVAC CNX Wireless HVAC System499 GBP599 €4469 DKK
Fluke CNX t3000 KIT CNX Wireless Basic Kit with t3000359 GBP429 €3199 DKK
Fluke CNX i3000 KIT CNX Wireless Basic Kit with i3000379 GBP449 €3349 DKK
Fluke CNX a3000 KIT CNX Wireless Basic Kit with a3000359 GBP429 €3199 DKK
Fluke CNX v3000 KIT CNX Wireless Basic Kit with v3000359 GBP429 €3199 DKK
Fluke CNX c3001 CNX Module Soft Case15 GBP19 €139 DKK
Fluke CNX c3000 CNX Premium Modular Tool Bag59 GBP 79 €589 DKK
Fluke CNX c3002 CNX DMM Soft Case 25 GBP29 €215 DKK
Fluke CNX c3003 CNX 3-Compartment Soft Case 29 GBP35 €259 DKK
Because this CNX series is a modular system and you very likely need to buy more than one devices for your needs and an good start will be the “CNX Wireless General Maintenance System” or one of the “CNX Wireless Basic Kit with module” then the starting price will be higher than if you just buy a Fluke 179 or similar.
So I think the new Fluke CNX series seems to be fairly priced between the multimeter that an electrician normally will buy, also the slave modules seems to be fairly priced so if you start with an CNX kit and will add some modules at a later point then it don’t looks that bad.
If Fluke is coming with new modules later like the DC modules that I hope will come then I guess the price range will be the same as the other modules.
Fluke is not known to be the cheapest but they are known to make some of the best multimeter and even it is a bit high start cost to begin with the CNX 3000 series, I still thinks it is fairly priced and it is not too expensive for an electrician to get started with CNX 3000.

  

  

Conclusion

Pros and cons

+ Wireless makes it more flexible
+ Make more than one measurement at the same time
+ Expandable with new futures when Fluke makes new modules
+ Well design hardware
+ Very good build quality
+ Power consumption is low
+ Good displays even they don’t match the older displays.
+ Measurement functions is very good
+ Fluke thermal imager 1xx can talk with CNX 3000 modules
+ Module device custom name function, make it easier to identify them.
+ Display update speed is nice

- USB dongle is not a good design
- Software is the first version, the GUI design need more work
- Software can use two dongles but only one at the time.
- Fuse location inside the multimeter
- TL175E test lead with the lantern tip
- Display is not as easy to read as on older Fluke meters
- Missing DC voltages and current modules
- CNX Multimeter cannot log, only the modules can do logging.
- Missing magnet hanger for Multimeter
- AC module only comes with alligator clip, not easy with domestic power outlet.
- Module power bottom, too easy to get pushed so it can turn itself on under transport
- Inrush current don’t seems to detect the current very well.
- Slow log download
- Log format

So my conclusion about the Fluke CNX 3000 series, I really like this new Fluke CNX 3000 and the concept of the wireless communication between them and that this will give a benefit for the user in the everyday use of it over what a normal multimeter is giving.
If you have reader the whole review and has looked at the list of pros and cons, then you can see that all the hardware is very good and there is only an small number of things that I don’t like and all the other things that I don’t like is mostly about the firmware in the devices, the CNX 3000 software and the accessories there is coming with the kits, so for the firmware and software then it is something that fluke can easily resolve by releasing new versions of it and maybe some of the things that I have talked about is already on the to-do list at Fluke and it is coming in later versions.
The accessories are really a minor issue because it is easy to resolve by either Fluke or you can simply buy the things that you think will be working best for you.
So all in all the CNX 3000 is a great concept and it is really well design by Fluke, it is working very well and it is useful test gear there is very versatile for the user of it.
So will I recommend this test gear, yes it is great and think that this is just the beginning and that we will in the future see more gear in the CNX 3000 series so that makes it an good investment.

Tooms @ 18 August 2013 18:16 | Comment | Direct link


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