• EEVblog #137 – BK Precision 879B Handheld LCR Meter Review

    Dave reviews the new design BK Precision 879B handheld LCR meter.
    How does it differ from the legacy Escort design?

    BK Precision have confirmed the MIN/MAX bug and now have a fix available:

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      • Alexander

        Hi Dave!

        What happened with your other mobile phone, which consumed too much power in normal operation mode ( Nokia it was i think)?

        How is the Android OS?

        With best regards,

        • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

          I ditched it for the HTC Android Desire, I like it. The HTC is a battery hog too, but it’s much more powerful and useful.

      • firewalker

        Happy new Year to everyone!

      • http://www.sgtech.com.ar sgtech

        Excellent review as allways!! It’s a real shame that BK used that crappy display with such thin digits. At first it didn’t seem that horrible, but when you put it side to side with the Agilent one, it was plain to se how awful and hard to read that thing is.(yes, i went into yoda mode). Anyways,? Happy new year and I’ll be eager to see more awesome blogs on this 2011!!

      • Dan

        Hi Dave.
        I found your blog some days ago – I realy like it!
        When you are in the recording mode: Maybe you have to unplug the last Cap instead of pressing the button first…

      • John
      • wilfred kazoks


        You seem impressed by the high degree of display precision, particularly with the PC interface. However, if it exceeds the meters accuracy, what is the value of it?

        • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

          Ah, that’s what resolution is all about. You can have for example a 6 digit meter that is only 10% accurate, but all those digits are still useful because it allows you to measure relative difference between components to that resolution. (assuming the ADC is suitably linear of course). That’s why you can have a very high end meter that has say +/-100 counts, but it’s still useful to have those last two digits.

      • Richard C

        Something I noticed when it was connected to the PC interface: Assuming that the PC display is accurate, then the meter’s LCD display appears to be truncating the final digit instead of rounding. The LCD display would be, on average, closer to the accurate value if it rounded the last digit. Of course, this may be totally irrelevant if the meter’s accuracy is such that the final digit on the PC display is pure noise anyway. But if the final digit is meaningful, it seems like a less than optimal display algorithm. If the display says 2.545, then I would normally assume that means somewhere between 2.54450 and 2.54549. But in fact, it seems like 2.545 means somewhere between 2.54500 and 2.54599

      • David C

        Several days ago i bought LCR meter APPA703. Frequency range works up to 100KHz. fully automatic. Accuracy 0,2%. All inputs are 4W.

      • Jeremy

        The USB and power connectors at the bottom make sense when operating the unit using the stand. Having a cord coming out higher on the unit would result in a higher torque and cause the unit to tip.

      • http://www.test-equipment-shop.com.au Duncan Livingston

        Thanks for the review Dave. I’ve always wondered what BK Precision gear is like, I’ve not seen much of it here in Australia and the prices seem reasonable and the quality seems to indicate good value for money too.

        • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

          Yeah, BK Precision gear is quite good value and quality, and typically fairly well designed. A good mid range choice.

      • ac

        For the price I’d have liked some elaboration on whether and when you need 100 KHz measurement. Many of the ESR test results that can be found on the net use 100 KHz like those on the capacitor manufacturer specs.

        • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

          Handheld meters have traditionally not done 100KHz, that’s the realm of bench LCR meters.
          100KHz is the nominal standard for capacitor ESR, but it’s moot whether or not you actually need to use that frequency. If you do, usually for comparative reasons, you’ll know it.
          10KHz in the handheld instruments typically gives you greater resolution, and that’s the advantage over 1KHz.

      • ac

        David could you take some photos of how the APPA terminals are internally done? There’s a blurry internals picture on their site supposedly of the 300 series multimeter (not lcr meter) and it’s hard to say from that whether it’s any good.

        Funny thing about this BK precision reviewed, the blue variable resistor looks a lot like what I got into my junk box from ebay at 0.2$ a piece. They’re probably fine soldered but on a breadboard they’re tricky to adjust due the small size of the screw.

        • David C

          Some photos of appa + 0,1% resistors…
          it is funny that there is nothing inside 😀 LCR meters made by agilent or BK are full od SMDs.

          • Laichh

            Seems like the APPA 703 is utilizing one of the chip from Cyrustek, but I can’t find the detail for that particular ES51920M from Cyrustek website…

      • http://www.zarthcode.com Anthony

        Dave, concerning the display contrast/glare issue – it appears that you left the protective plastic film on the screen. I’m sure removing it would improve things – either a little or a lot.

        • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

          Nope, removing it hardly makes a difference.

      • shazaduh

        Hi Dave,

        Love your blog so far and excellent review of BK LCR meter. It would be awesome if you can do a video where you can explain accuracy and precision spec of the meter.i.e what is exactly it means to be 1.5% + 3 digits and counts?

        This is something they do not teach in schools.


      • spark

        Hello Dave,
        you were unhappy about recoding mode in the blog. I notices that you still had capacitor inserted while you were trying to show min/avrg/max value. Could it be the issue ? Perhaps the device was still in measuring mode ?

        PS: Happy new year 😉

      • sdscotto

        I noticed that Agilent came out with some new LCR meters, the U1732A/B.

        From what I understood from your review, the older products were all by Escort, and Escort was now Agilent.

        Did BK actually design and make the 879B or is it related to the new Agilent?


        • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

          I also have an Agilent U1732B for review. And as you saw in the video, it is still essentially the old Escort design, even with an Escort branded chip.

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      • Rasto

        Does any1 know which store has this in stock now in US? I’ve called about 10 stores today and all are out.

      • http://www,ambientsensors.com Bob

        the empty pads look like they were for the ON Semiconductor DCtoDC converter part NCP1400, which seems to not be available recently. Maybe that’s why it’s blank.

      • Marcel

        Hi Dave

        Nice review.
        I found out about your review after I bought this one.

        I really like this device for detecting bad caps in guitar tube amps and my ham radio stuff.

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      • stoianchoo

        They should pay you instead of their QA’s :) You are very good at bug hunting.

      • jarvis

        Hello David,

        I am interested in your APPA 703 LCR meter. Is it good ?

      • Phil Reynolds

        When connected to a PC, the resolution in capacitance mode is a staggering 100aF! How low does it go in other modes?

      • tassos

        hello David
        is first time I sow your presentation
        fine work

        I will need your advice as I don’t have any were else to ask and it will be very kind of you to assist

        I am interested to be making coils for induction heating the power supply frequency generator operate on 25 khz
        I get the power supply from china company’s and not able to work out with them good assistants
        the coil I will be making will be 50 uH, 80uH, 160uH and 180uH (micro Hunry) as the coils every time will be winded in pipes with deferent metal property’s is very important to have a lcr meter to be measuring the coil to the appropriate uH every time as above

        I have seen a lcr meter appa 703 for 50% discount on eBay and price less than 200$ I have seen your extech lcr presentation video as well and cost of it in ebay 230$ . I was thinking as I am just starting and no much capital to go for a low cost as dm4070 close 34 $
        kindly I will need your advice as I am new on induction and no idea of what meter will do the job for as less as possible bat in the same time not throwing away money on something very bad quality not able to do the job (as well then country I am from economy is in very bad condition and money resources mast be very carefully handled )

        if I have to give you more detail of the project so you advice me properly on what meter to use kindly let me know


        Tassos from Athens Greece

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      • Jeff

        Well I got my 879B in today, sadly it’s DOA. Even tried the wall power pack. Going to RMA and hope for the best. Never had a problem with B&K before. Guess their is always the first time.

      • Iliya Osnovikov

        Have any of you guys noticed that the ESR readings for capacitors are all over the place? That could be seen even in this video (15:30-16:30). For some cap values and test frequencies I am getting completely erroneous ESR readings. For example, I have just measured one 4700pF Polysterene cap. And at 100Hz I am getting ESR readings anywhere from 227.8 Ohms to -(negative)90.4 Ohms within a few seconds (50 log records in the BK Precision software). At 10kHz test frequency I am not getting negative ESR readings, but the readings also are not stable at all and almost randomly fluctuate from 0.167 Ohms to 0.400 Ohms within 37 software log records. At the same time the capacitance value and DF readings remain pretty stable. Is my meter defective or what?

        BTW, the meter has the 2.1 version of firmware.

      • Natacha

        Nice video! Very useful, thanks! I’ve seen some other great LCR meters here: http://www.directindustry.com/industrial-manufacturer/lcr-meter-84863.html

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