Author Topic: What's your favorite little inexpensive ESR, etc. tester?  (Read 11966 times)

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Offline dentaku

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Offline Mr Smiley

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There is enough on this planet to sustain mans needs. There will never be enough on this planet to sustain mans greed.
 

Offline JFA

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Re: What's your favorite little inexpensive ESR, etc. tester?
« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2014, 10:42:51 AM »
I have a Peak Atlas LCR45

I had an LCR40 and I wrote to them to ask if they had an update program, and my calibration date was already six months old when I bought it. This calibration date does not disable the machine, it's just a reminder, and they advise recalibrating it yearly.

I sent it and paid for simple recalibration, without certificate, and they updated the board inside the yellow casing (instead of the standard orange casing) to the LCR45, which has ten times the sensitivity of the LCR40, has a lot more measurements (complex impedence, conductance, resistance and phase angle, etc).

Also, the old one was strictly auto-select measurement (R-L-C), this one you can manually force one type of measurement.  It is a much better machine.

http://www.peakelec.co.uk/acatalog/lcr45.html

My hunch is, buy an LCR40 and for the price of a recal, you might sweet talk them into getting an LCR45 board.

They also changed the faceplate sticker from LCR40 to 45.  They really aim to please and deliver a good product.

In my case, I bought the LCR because I had boxes and boxes of old components (WW-II) from my father that I wanted to possibly reuse.

I also own a DCAPro 75 which is very useful to quickly identify and recycle those boxes of old semiconductors components...
It can figure out BJTs, fet, jfets, mosfets, igjt, zener, scr, voltage regulators under 7V, diodes, and maybe a few other types. It tests germanium devices too.
All of it is clearly displayed. It interfaces very neatly with a PC and can plot transistor curves.

http://www.peakelec.co.uk/acatalog/dca75-dca-pro.html

I have no link at all with the company.  I just like their product.
 

Offline Shock

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Re: What's your favorite little inexpensive ESR, etc. tester?
« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2014, 11:45:03 AM »
I'd like to see the Peak Atlas LCR45 ($170 USD) face off against the DER EE DE-5000 (~$80 USD)

But as the poster said $20 budget, there isn't anything better than those bare Chinese multifunction ESRs for that price and the next best is the DER EE DE-5000.

Offline Flump

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Re: What's your favorite little inexpensive ESR, etc. tester?
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2014, 01:31:38 PM »
I have one of these
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/321388682846?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1439.l2649

I mainly got it because i get sick of looking for datasheets to get transistor pinouts and gain figures
it's a good little unit, the case and button could be better but for the price cant grumble.

not sure how much you can get them from where you live.
 

Offline zapta

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Re: What's your favorite little inexpensive ESR, etc. tester?
« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2014, 01:47:28 PM »
I have a Peak Atlas LCR45 ...

I like the small size (the DE-5000 is much larger).

How do you measure smd components? Do they come with tweezer probes?  (the DE-5000  does).
Drain the swamp.
 

Offline Joule Thief

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Re: What's your favorite little inexpensive ESR, etc. tester?
« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2014, 03:08:08 PM »
I find the $20 unit suits my meager needs rather nicely.

I just finished recapping 2 HP power supplies and the $20 component tester found all the bad caps in circuit. It does have a tendency to identify failed caps as diodes - but does force you to further investiagte the suspect cap.

I also find it very handy for cleaning up the stray components on my benchtop after a "design by substitution" session. Small resistors with poor color coding are identified in a few seconds. I do find the ZIF socket a little tedious and tend to make more frequent use the triad of solder pads to the left of the socket.

Works wonders on sorting out components in the junk box too.
Perturb and observe.
 

Offline Psi

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Re: What's your favorite little inexpensive ESR, etc. tester?
« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2014, 03:17:57 PM »
I have the Atlas Star Pack  LCR40 & DCA55 in a box.

It does everything i need except ESR, I will be buying an esr meter when i get around to it.
Not sure if i will get the Peak Atlas ESR or a more conventional multimeter style one.

Greek letter 'Psi' (not Pounds per Square Inch)
 

Offline dentaku

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Re: What's your favorite little inexpensive ESR, etc. tester?
« Reply #8 on: June 27, 2014, 10:39:14 PM »
I have one of these
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/321388682846?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1439.l2649

I mainly got it because i get sick of looking for datasheets to get transistor pinouts and gain figures
it's a good little unit, the case and button could be better but for the price cant grumble.

not sure how much you can get them from where you live.

I noticed that one while looking on Ebay and I like the look of it but I'm assuming it's just the same as all the other ones on the inside.
 

Offline dentaku

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Re: What's your favorite little inexpensive ESR, etc. tester?
« Reply #9 on: June 27, 2014, 10:41:29 PM »
I find the $20 unit suits my meager needs rather nicely.

I just finished recapping 2 HP power supplies and the $20 component tester found all the bad caps in circuit. It does have a tendency to identify failed caps as diodes - but does force you to further investiagte the suspect cap.

I also find it very handy for cleaning up the stray components on my benchtop after a "design by substitution" session. Small resistors with poor color coding are identified in a few seconds. I do find the ZIF socket a little tedious and tend to make more frequent use the triad of solder pads to the left of the socket.

Works wonders on sorting out components in the junk box too.

From videos I found last night I'm thinking these inexpensive testers don't do well with big 1000uF and larger caps?
 

Offline wilfred

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Re: What's your favorite little inexpensive ESR, etc. tester?
« Reply #10 on: June 28, 2014, 12:10:17 AM »
I built the Bob Parker one from a Dick Smith Kit, same as Dave's. I bought it when DS were clearing all their kits for $14.95. So it was inexpensive and as it is the only one I have it is also the favourite.
 

Offline opty

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Re: What's your favorite little inexpensive ESR, etc. tester?
« Reply #11 on: June 28, 2014, 12:30:24 AM »
Hi,

I second Mr Smiley with the one described here http://www.eevblog.com/forum/testgear/$20-lcr-esr-transistor-checker-project/

It's open source and open hardware. Pretty easy to understand. (I would even recommend reading the pdf manual first).

If you go for that one remember to make sure you get one with ATMega328P and holes for ISP socket (if you want to upgrade software yourself in the future). Obviously nice box and component holder/hooks would come handy as well ;) You know plenty of clones on ebay... gl

 

Offline abaxas

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Re: What's your favorite little inexpensive ESR, etc. tester?
« Reply #12 on: June 28, 2014, 12:55:03 AM »
Got to admit the $20 (or cheaper) magic box of tricks is truly amazing. Not sure how it would cope with larger caps but 2200uf was fine.
 

Offline all_repair

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Re: What's your favorite little inexpensive ESR, etc. tester?
« Reply #13 on: June 28, 2014, 12:59:02 AM »
I built the Bob Parker one from a Dick Smith Kit, same as Dave's. I bought it when DS were clearing all their kits for $14.95. So it was inexpensive and as it is the only one I have it is also the favourite.

I bought it at normal price and it has paid itself back many time over.  I did not study the circuit but I fround this a more rugged unit than those kits from China and the one from Mike ESR-cap (Russia).  Too many time, I or someone had put the meter to measure un-discharged capacitor, the Bob Parker's meter is the one left standing without damage. I don't think it is worth spending too much time in pondering over the purchase of  the China meter.  They are just too good value for the money if one has none.   A better PCB or kit is also in the brewing by free electron.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2014, 01:01:36 AM by all_repair »
 

Offline xwarp

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Re: What's your favorite little inexpensive ESR, etc. tester?
« Reply #14 on: June 28, 2014, 04:14:17 AM »
While it's takes a little manual math work, I use w2aew's method with a scope since I have a scope and sig/gen:



 

Offline dentaku

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Re: What's your favorite little inexpensive ESR, etc. tester?
« Reply #15 on: June 28, 2014, 01:10:42 PM »
While it's takes a little manual math work, I use w2aew's method with a scope since I have a scope and sig/gen:



Alan's video is what made me wonder if it would be good to have a meter to do this :)

I'm going to have to try out his method, but since  don't have a function generator I guess I'll have to make a square wave generator out of a 74C14 Schmitt trigger first. That's usually my favorite and simplest way of doing it (one cap and one resistor).
 

Offline Joule Thief

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Re: What's your favorite little inexpensive ESR, etc. tester?
« Reply #16 on: June 28, 2014, 02:12:14 PM »
I find the $20 unit suits my meager needs rather nicely.

I just finished recapping 2 HP power supplies and the $20 component tester found all the bad caps in circuit. It does have a tendency to identify failed caps as diodes - but does force you to further investiagte the suspect cap.

I also find it very handy for cleaning up the stray components on my benchtop after a "design by substitution" session. Small resistors with poor color coding are identified in a few seconds. I do find the ZIF socket a little tedious and tend to make more frequent use the triad of solder pads to the left of the socket.

Works wonders on sorting out components in the junk box too.

From videos I found last night I'm thinking these inexpensive testers don't do well with big 1000uF and larger caps?

Good question.

The HP power supply I recapped did have a 3300uF cap present and the tester did not have any issues measuring either the capacity or ESR.

I'll have to see if I have any 4700uF caps to try.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2014, 07:59:22 PM by Joule Thief »
Perturb and observe.
 

Offline SeanB

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Re: What's your favorite little inexpensive ESR, etc. tester?
« Reply #17 on: June 28, 2014, 02:53:53 PM »
I tried it on a 150000uF cap I got from Toploser, and it was not happy about it, but not surprising as most really high value caps are hard to test. But those are often the easiest to test just by having it in circuit powered up and measuring ripple voltage across it, using either a scope or a meter on AC volts with a 100n capacitor in series with the one lead to block DC.
 

Offline Retep

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Re: What's your favorite little inexpensive ESR, etc. tester?
« Reply #18 on: June 28, 2014, 08:42:11 PM »
I have a variant of the Bob Parker ESR meter, the $20 tester and the DER DE-5000 LCR meter.

For repair jobs I still prefer the Bob Parker meter, primarily because it can handle some abuse and it is very fast and easy to use. It has earned itself back many times. OTOH as far as bang-for-the-buck goes; it is an one trick pony and isn't terribly cheap compared to the more versatile alternatives we have these days.

If you are really on a shoestring budget, the $20 tester is the one to go for. It isn't very robust or fast and has its limitations, but it is versatile and after calibration reasonably accurate (well within a couple of %) and you can tinker with it. The confidence factor isn't very high with this tester, but it is absolutely amazing what this thing can do with just a bog standard micro-controller and a couple of resistors.

Of the three, the DER DE-5000 LCR meter is no doubt the best and most accurate meter for measuring the various parameters of capacitors and inductors, but I don't find it very useful for repair jobs. It is not as rugged or fast as the Bob Parker meter, and all the additional things it can do aren't that relevant for repair jobs.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2014, 12:21:14 AM by Retep »
 

Offline dentaku

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Re: What's your favorite little inexpensive ESR, etc. tester?
« Reply #19 on: June 29, 2014, 02:31:46 AM »
I have a variant of the Bob Parker ESR meter, the $20 tester and the DER DE-5000 LCR meter.

For repair jobs I still prefer the Bob Parker meter, primarily because it can handle some abuse and it is very fast and easy to use. It has earned itself back many times. OTOH as far as bang-for-the-buck goes; it is an one trick pony and isn't terribly cheap compared to the more versatile alternatives we have these days.

If you are really on a shoestring budget, the $20 tester is the one to go for. It isn't very robust or fast and has its limitations, but it is versatile and after calibration reasonably accurate (well within a couple of %) and you can tinker with it. The confidence factor isn't very high with this tester, but it is absolutely amazing what this thing can do with just a bog standard micro-controller and a couple of resistors.

Of the three, the DER DE-5000 LCR meter is no doubt the best and most accurate meter for measuring the various parameters of capacitors and inductors, but I don't find it very useful for repair jobs. It is not as rugged or fast as the Bob Parker meter, and all the additional things it can do aren't that relevant for repair jobs.

There's so many of those little $20 ones that it's hard to choose.
 

Offline Retep

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Re: What's your favorite little inexpensive ESR, etc. tester?
« Reply #20 on: June 29, 2014, 05:34:59 AM »
There's so many of those little $20 ones that it's hard to choose.
The most important thing to look for is if it has a ATMega328 micro-controller; the ATMega168 and smaller micro-controllers don't have enough memory to support all features of the recent firmware versions. If you intend to update the firmware (which is still actively developed), make sure that it has at least a ISP socket or that the micro-controller is socketed. I prefer the socketed ones so I can flash the firmware in another ATMega328 without risking bricking the tester.

Recent firmwares do seem to support graphical LCD's as well but I'm not sure if the ones with a graphical LCD are support by the official firmware, so if you might want to go for a version with a 16x2 character LCD which is certainly supported.

I got this one: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=231056057317 and I'm happy with it, but as you have noticed there are plenty of others of which many of them are no doubt fine as well. We are talking about only 20 USD or so; it is not the end of world if you don't pick the "best" one.
 

Offline dentaku

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Re: What's your favorite little inexpensive ESR, etc. tester?
« Reply #21 on: June 29, 2014, 08:27:44 AM »
There's so many of those little $20 ones that it's hard to choose.
The most important thing to look for is if it has a ATMega328 micro-controller; the ATMega168 and smaller micro-controllers don't have enough memory to support all features of the recent firmware versions. If you intend to update the firmware (which is still actively developed), make sure that it has at least a ISP socket or that the micro-controller is socketed. I prefer the socketed ones so I can flash the firmware in another ATMega328 without risking bricking the tester.

Recent firmwares do seem to support graphical LCD's as well but I'm not sure if the ones with a graphical LCD are support by the official firmware, so if you might want to go for a version with a 16x2 character LCD which is certainly supported.

I got this one: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=231056057317 and I'm happy with it, but as you have noticed there are plenty of others of which many of them are no doubt fine as well. We are talking about only 20 USD or so; it is not the end of world if you don't pick the "best" one.

Great info. I like the socket on that one and I noticed that the first thing they mention in the descriptions is that it's the ATMega 328 version so I figured that was something to look for.
While I'm ordering cheap Chinese stuff I might as well get one of those inexpensive DDS function generators from the same seller :)
 

Offline Flump

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Re: What's your favorite little inexpensive ESR, etc. tester?
« Reply #22 on: June 29, 2014, 12:32:43 PM »
 

Offline JFA

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Re: What's your favorite little inexpensive ESR, etc. tester?
« Reply #23 on: June 29, 2014, 12:40:59 PM »
I have the Atlas Star Pack  LCR40 & DCA55 in a box.

It does everything i need except ESR, I will be buying an esr meter when i get around to it.
Not sure if i will get the Peak Atlas ESR or a more conventional multimeter style one.

As I said, ask them if they have upgrade programs (with puppy eyes)... And tell them that you'd like a recal on the LCR40.
My hunch is, they'll offer you a free board upgrade to LCR45, which is one order of magnitude better than the LCR40, and has a seriously extended menu and capabilities.
They'll probably return you the upgrade in your yellow case, with an LCR45 faceplate and upgraded circuit...

As for the DCA55, the new ProDCA75 is also quite improved both in sensitivity and capabilities.
It's worth a shot to sweet talk them!
Best of luck
 

Offline dentaku

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Re: What's your favorite little inexpensive ESR, etc. tester?
« Reply #24 on: June 29, 2014, 08:50:47 PM »
some inside pics of this version

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/321388682846?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1439.l2649

I like that it comes in a case and includes mini grabbers. From the description it's exactly same as all the other 328 versions.
 


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