How to Connect the Leads in Digital Multimeters

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Digital multimeters are highly accurate in making voltage, resistance and amperage measurements when testing electronic circuits. The digital multimeter consists of a rotating selector switch, an LCD digital readout screen and three sockets on the front in which to connect the wired test leads into the device. The test lead plugs must be placed into the proper sockets for general use.

Things You'll Need

  • Multimeter
  • Red multimeter lead
  • Black multimeter lead
  • Turn the multimeter dial so its white or yellow indicator mark is pointing to the meter's "OFF" position.

  • Install the leads. If measuring for voltage, resistance or amperage below 10 amps, connect the elbow-shaped ends of the red and black lead, as follows, pressing them into the sockets until snapped firmly into the sockets: red lead in the socket labeled "V ma"; black lead in the socket labeled "COMM" (stands for COMMON or GROUND). If measuring amperage of 10 amps or higher, keep the black lead plugged into "COMM" but snap the plug of the red lead into the socket labeled "10A."

  • Check to ensure the leads are plugged into the multimeter completely by turning the multimeter selector from the "OFF" position to the "OHMS" position and touch the pointed metal tips of the red and black leads together. If the digital display shows a reading of "0.000" when touching the leads together, the installation of the leads is successful. If the display shows a reading of "1 -" when touching the tips together, follow all three steps once more, as this means the leads aren't snapped into the sockets completely.

Tips & Warnings

  • The narrow, sharp ends of the leads are called the "probes" and the wider ends are the connection plugs. Never poke the sharp probe ends into the multimeter's connection sockets as this may bend the socket receptacle springs. Always press only the wide plug ends into the sockets.
  • Never use test leads that have damaged insulation on the wires allowing the internal wire to be visible. This may lead to short-circuit of the lead wires, causing electrocution and possible death.

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