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SDGEE #013 Peak Electronics DCA75 Pro Analyser Review and Teardown

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I've just uploaded a new blog video of the DCA75 which some of you may find useful. It's potentially pricey compared to some of the analysers on eBay, but it's quite well made and they do release firmware and software updates reasonably regularly.  :-+


Thanks for the video  :-+

As you know I now have one of these little gems in my equipment inventory.

For the general readership.......

On another thread that discussed a fraudulent ebay sale involving the DCA75, there has been a decent discussion regarding the unit and even direct comment from PEAK  :-+

Take a look here:$59-really/msg646847/#msg646847

I also provided my first impressions today as my DCA75 arrived this morning. I will repeat them here for ease of reference:

Aurora said .......

Well I have had a play with the DCA75.

My opinion of it ? ........ very neat  :-+

What I like:

1. The units broad DUT testing and identification capability
2. The amount of data provided by the tests
3. The graphical representation of the DUT
4. The software with its excellent graphical representation of the DUT and commentary.
5. Portability
6. Reasonable cost. Not to be understated here as this is a wholly UK designed and built unit.

What I do not like so much:

1. The case shape. Sorry but I have always disliked the cases used by PEAK. They may have been designed to look 'funky' but, to me, they look like typical Chinese cheap plastic cases. The shape offers me nothing in ergonomics and does not sit well on my lap or bench. Sorry but this is an ergonomics fail for me. I can understand why a cheaper type of case was used for the £40 units as margins are very low, but part of me wishes that the DCA75 was a new product in a new case format for 'professional' users. It is a leap forward in that it has PC connectivity, so why not a change of case to go with such advances ?
2. No LCD backlight. Understandable to save battery power but backlight is expected these days for use in less than ideal lighting conditions and to aid legibility of the graphics. The option to have the backlight on should be a user choice.
3. The need to open the case and expose the PCB in order to fit the battery. Sorry that is less than ideal and it should be a closed case operation. This flaw is dictated by the cheap case used.
4. Fixed probe leads. I understand the intention to make the solution neat but sockets on the units case improves the useability as various test jigs for specialist DUT contacts may be connected. Not a biggy as the test clips can connect to jigs, but still less than optimum.
5. Case size. As already stated, I dislike the cases used, but the size is also an issue for me. A larger, more conventional rectangular case design would offer the possibility of a larger battery (and so backlight capacity ), integrated DUT test socket(s), test lead sockets and a more 'industrial' appearance, often associated with fine engineering, rather than cheap Chinese wares. Such a case should be both hand portable yet bench mountable to meet the needs of a broad customer base.

My comments on having used the unit:

I grabbed my 'odds & sods' semiconductor storage box and started testing the components on the DCA75. I was very impressed with the capabilities of the unit and its graphical display. I missed a backlight though. The software connectivity was flawless and the software installation simple. For me, the PC connectivity makes this unit so much more than other competing semiconductor testers and analysers. The PC software can display large clear colour coded pinout diagrams and a small commentary to the side explaining what the component is. There is then the capability to plot the various I-V graphs for the DUT and even plot more than one DUT on each graph for comparison purposes. In short, I love the PC software and will likely use the DCA75 in PC connected mode most of the time in my lab. I will only use the small internal LCD when out mobile. 

IMHO this is a very capable and useful little component analyser that has been built to a price that is still affordable to the hobbyist. It is designed and built in the UK and that is quite a feat in itself when wishing to keep costs down. Some of the design aspects are not to my liking, such as the case, but that does not stop the unit being excellent in terms of its abilities and performance. It should also be noted that the additions that I would like to see, such as a better case, backlight and DUT test sockets would all add to the BoM cost and so may take the unit out of the hobbyists price range. 

For those who really cannot live with the case design, it would not be difficult to  transplant the PCB into a posh instrument housing. The bad news is that such instrument cases can cost almost as much as the DCA75 !

I would heartily recommend the DCA75 to anyone who regularly works down to component level in repair or reverse engineering.

In spite of my less positive comments above I still wish to say "Thank you Peak for a great semiconductor analyser"

I also ordered the Peak SOT-23 adapter to enable easy connection to these fiddly little fellows. Not cheap at £20, but the test clip adapter is an expensive part. As you will see in the other thread I have also purchased some SMT adapter boards with plated pads to enable either pressure or solder contact with other small SMT devices. They are good value at $5 from adafruit or £5 from a UK seller. The price is for a set of 13 small adapter PCB's.
Finally I purchased some 18 pin ZIF sockets to enable fast insertion of through hole components. I intend to make up a small jig with the adapter PCB's and ZIF socket mounted on the top and all wired out to decent test pins for the test clips to attach to. With such a jig I can quickly connect any common devices to the DCA75 with no messing with test clips.


Pictures of SOT-23 adapter attached and taken from PEAK web site page:

Thanks mojo-chan.

Aurora, that SOT-23 adaptor looks great and actually reasonably priced. Along with that for the DCA75, the little tweezers and probes look like good accessories for my LCR40.


--- Quote from: SteveyG on April 05, 2015, 12:07:55 am ---I've just uploaded a new blog video of the DCA75 which some of you may find useful. It's potentially pricey compared to some of the analysers on eBay, but it's quite well made and they do release firmware and software updates reasonably regularly.  :-+

--- End quote ---

Very nice review.

Please help to convince me to get a DCA75 Pro, I have 3 of the other transistor analyser. 1 by a defunt French maker, and 2 from the China $20 tester.  My heart badly wants one, my head is telling me to wait for the next improved $20 tester.


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