David:

Welcome to the wonderful world of film developing.

I don't think I've ever encountered someone who bought a pH meter for use with their first development - that is impressive!

As has been posted earlier, unless your water source is really challenging, you shouldn't have to worry about using the pH meter when you use commercially prepared photo chemistry. Most commercial chemistry is designed (with buffers?) to deal with the usual pH and other variations encountered by most users.

With respect to your question about using the pH meter, I would suggest starting another thread for that purpose - if you use a title that is fairly specific, you are much more likely to receive replies from APUG members who have a lot of experience using pH meters in labs (of which there are a few).

Who knows, your pH meter thread may end up on a number of "subscription" lists.