Author Topic: SDGEE #013 Peak Electronics DCA75 Pro Analyser Review and Teardown  (Read 43697 times)

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Offline SteveyG

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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.  :-+

« Last Edit: June 09, 2015, 08:51:01 am by SteveyG »
 

Online Fraser

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Re: New Video - Peak Electronics DCA75 Pro Semiconductor Analyser
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2015, 05:01:36 pm »
SteveyG,

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:

https://www.eevblog.com/forum/buysellwanted/peak-dca75-for-$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.

Aurora

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

http://www.peakelec.co.uk/acatalog/pca23-sot23-test-adapter.html
« Last Edit: April 08, 2015, 07:10:21 pm by Aurora »
 

Offline SteveyG

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Re: New Video - Peak Electronics DCA75 Pro Semiconductor Analyser
« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2015, 06:06:26 am »
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.

Offline economist

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Re: New Video - Peak Electronics DCA75 Pro Semiconductor Analyser
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2015, 08:03:17 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.  :-+



Very nice review.
 

Offline all_repair

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Re: New Video - Peak Electronics DCA75 Pro Semiconductor Analyser
« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2015, 09:16:32 am »
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.
 

Offline SteveyG

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Re: New Video - Peak Electronics DCA75 Pro Semiconductor Analyser
« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2015, 10:02:22 am »
It's a difficult sell if you already have a transistor tester. However, the curve tracing features are potentially a differentiator here - if that's not important to you then really it comes down to the specs and the types of devices that are supported.

Offline Kjelt

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Re: New Video - Peak Electronics DCA75 Pro Semiconductor Analyser
« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2015, 10:18:16 am »
Thanks for the video.
The bad thing for me is that the EUR crashed against the GBP and for Peak that is also bad news for their sales to Europe.
Lets wait awhile.
 

Offline madires

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Re: New Video - Peak Electronics DCA75 Pro Semiconductor Analyser
« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2015, 11:18:20 am »
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.

We're working on it ;) Some features are still unique for this class of testers, like PWM generator, squarewave signal generator and frequency counter.
 

Online Fraser

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Re: New Video - Peak Electronics DCA75 Pro Semiconductor Analyser
« Reply #8 on: April 09, 2015, 12:39:29 pm »
@kjelt,

Understood, but I remember when the 1 GBP was worth 1.6 Euros .....those were happy days for UK buyers from Europe  :-DD 

For me, buying from Europe has been too expensive in recent years due to the strong Euro and I have been buying from the USA instead.

Aurora
UK
 

Online Fraser

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Re: New Video - Peak Electronics DCA75 Pro Semiconductor Analyser
« Reply #9 on: April 09, 2015, 01:05:13 pm »
The Peak SOT-23 adapter has just arrived.

First impressions..... its is very nicely designed and built. I suspect that the test socket is a significant part of the production cost. It is marked with a large 'Q' but I have not identified the supplier yet.

It costs almost 20% of the DCA75 price and that was why I baulked at ordering it, but then I realised how useful it will be. It is very well made and should last a long time in my lab. It may also be used with my other test equipment when working with 3 pin SOT-23.

UPDATE: Aliexpress is showing the test socket is available at $44 per pair ($22 each). The part number is 499-036-00. $22 is approx £14 so, as I suspected, the test socket dictates the price of the Peak adapter.

Two:

http://www.aliexpress.com/item/499-036-00-499-036-10-499-P36-00-For-SOT23-3-SOCKET-SOT23SOCKET-100-NEW/1671825480.html

One:

http://www.aliexpress.com/item/499-036-00-499-P36-00-For-SOT23-3-SOCKET/1582940793.html

Vena are the supplier on Aliexpress and they have a web site with many different test sockets available.

http://vena.en.seekic.com/product/connectors_interconnects/

http://vena.en.seekic.com/product/connectors_interconnects/499_036_00_499_036_00_499_P36_00_For_SOT23_3_SOCKET.html

Manufacturer is shown as Wells-CTI

Aurora
« Last Edit: April 09, 2015, 02:37:54 pm by Aurora »
 

Online Fraser

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Re: New Video - Peak Electronics DCA75 Pro Semiconductor Analyser
« Reply #10 on: April 09, 2015, 02:32:52 pm »
Just found the 6 pin version of the Wells-CTI SOT-23 test socket on Farnell's web site......

Yowser!  its priced at £32+VAT (@20%)  :scared:

http://uk.farnell.com/wells-cti/499-p44-20/socket-6-lead-sot23/dp/1297055

A data sheet is also offered.

Aurora
« Last Edit: April 09, 2015, 02:36:17 pm by Aurora »
 

Offline tom66

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Re: New Video - Peak Electronics DCA75 Pro Semiconductor Analyser
« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2015, 03:16:57 pm »
I like Peak products a lot. I have an ESR meter and the original DCA from them. I've always found that the pricing is very reasonable, especially considering they are high quality instruments. Especially, unlike other manufacturers, they don't charge over the odds for some of their accessories.

A little caution with the DCAxx is that it cannot test parts in circuit - I can understand it may be difficult to characterise the device, but it would be useful if it said "this looks a bit like a FET/BJT, and it seems to work" rather than just saying "Unknown component". I've also found that it can sometimes pick up power BJTs as dual diodes due to the very low gain.
 

Online Fraser

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Re: New Video - Peak Electronics DCA75 Pro Semiconductor Analyser
« Reply #12 on: April 18, 2015, 11:04:48 am »
For those unaware, there has been a conversation with Jez of Peak on another DCA75 related thread. Link: 

https://www.eevblog.com/forum/buysellwanted/peak-dca75-for-$59-really/

I and others provided Jez with some feedback on the DCA75 and this included ease of screen viewing when the unit is sat on a bench. Well the good news is that Jez has very kindly designed a bespoke bench stand for the Peak products that tilts the unit to a perfect LCD viewing angle. He has also generously supplied the 3D print file so that owners can have their own stands made. Peak are not selling the stand at this time as there would need to be a cost benefit analysis for such.

Jez's post is to be found here:

https://www.eevblog.com/forum/buysellwanted/peak-dca75-for-$59-really/msg652994/#msg652994

My stand arrived today thanks to the kindness of a friend. Pictures attached. It comes in two pieces and is held together with four self tapping screws. Small rubber feet attached to the bottom plate stop the unit drifting around on the bench  :-+

IMHO this stand is a very worthwhile addition to the Peak products especially when, like mine, they are used mainly on the bench.

This is clear evidence that Peak do listen to feedback and do support the user base where possible. A very good British company to deal with  :-+

My sincere thanks to my friend (you know who you are !) on this forum who supplied the stand so quickly.

Aurora
« Last Edit: April 18, 2015, 11:05:23 pm by Aurora »
 

Offline ElektroQuark

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Re: New Video - Peak Electronics DCA75 Pro Semiconductor Analyser
« Reply #13 on: April 18, 2015, 12:57:16 pm »
Thank you for the heads up Aurora.
And tahnk you Jez for the STL files.
Mi printer is working now...

Offline madires

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Re: New Video - Peak Electronics DCA75 Pro Semiconductor Analyser
« Reply #14 on: April 18, 2015, 02:01:14 pm »
A little caution with the DCAxx is that it cannot test parts in circuit - I can understand it may be difficult to characterise the device, but it would be useful if it said "this looks a bit like a FET/BJT, and it seems to work" rather than just saying "Unknown component".

The problem with in-circuit detection is that you have to work with 5V at least (sometimes even more would be nice) to be able to switch or trigger most semiconductors, especially FETs, SCRs and such stuff. And all the components attached to a transistor make this task much harder.

I've also found that it can sometimes pick up power BJTs as dual diodes due to the very low gain.

The Transistor Tester detects BJTs with base-emitter resistor, freewheeling diode and freewheeling diode on the same substrate (quite special case).
 

Offline PeakAtlas

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Re: New Video - Peak Electronics DCA75 Pro Semiconductor Analyser
« Reply #15 on: April 18, 2015, 10:26:06 pm »
Thank you SteveyG for posting your review of the DCA75. I'm delighted that you like the unit and I'm grateful for all your observations, comments and suggestions, you are very thorough too! I shall have to visit eevblog more often so I don't miss anything!
All the best,
Jez
 

Offline PeakAtlas

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Re: New Video - Peak Electronics DCA75 Pro Semiconductor Analyser
« Reply #16 on: April 18, 2015, 10:38:37 pm »
Hi Aurora,
Thanks for posting your photos, looks great. If you or anyone else have any tweaks to suggest for the stand then do let me know. I did consider some options for making it adjustable, a bit like old fashioned deck-chairs, but hinged parts are not always straightforward to design and print. So I kept it fairly simple to ease printing and assembly.
By the way Edonork, if possible, please post pictures of your 3D print when it has finished, I'd love to see it.
Cheers all,
Jez
 

Online Hydrawerk

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Re: New Video - Peak Electronics DCA75 Pro Semiconductor Analyser
« Reply #17 on: April 18, 2015, 11:20:33 pm »
Any comparison to that Karl Heinz Kubbeler AVR tester?
https://www.eevblog.com/forum/testgear/$20-esr-lcr-transistor-npn-pnp-mosfet-meter/
https://www.eevblog.com/forum/testgear/$20-lcr-esr-transistor-checker-project/
Well, this DCA75 has some more sophisticated circuitry.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2015, 11:24:52 pm by Hydrawerk »
Amazing machines. https://www.youtube.com/user/denha (It is not me...)
 

Online Fraser

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Re: New Video - Peak Electronics DCA75 Pro Semiconductor Analyser
« Reply #18 on: April 19, 2015, 10:46:18 am »
Whilst I like the DCA75 in its mobile format, I believe PEAK have massively enhanced it with the PC connectivity. Such connectivity has enabled them to use some pretty tidy looking software to not only present the data in a large format, but also provide the curve tracing display. IMHO any competing product would also need such a capability to be considered in the same league. There is only so much you can do with a small format LCD display.

Aurora
 

Offline ElektroQuark

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Re: New Video - Peak Electronics DCA75 Pro Semiconductor Analyser
« Reply #19 on: April 19, 2015, 04:01:18 pm »
Quote from: PeakAtlas on Yesterday at 22:38:37
HBy the way Edonork, if possible, please post pictures of your 3D print when it has finished, I'd love to see it.


Here you have Jez:



I will buy the needed screws tomorrow, but I have test the fit and it is perfect.

Waiting for the Peak Atlas EevBlog discount for the ZEN. ;)

Online Fraser

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Re: New Video - Peak Electronics DCA75 Pro Semiconductor Analyser
« Reply #20 on: April 19, 2015, 04:31:19 pm »
I was Sooooooo tempted to buy the ZEN today. I already have alternatives to Peaks other offerings but not the ZEN unit. Still very good value at £39 though. If there was a discount in the offing....every penny helps when you are retired like me  ;D

Aurora
 

Offline ElektroQuark

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Re: New Video - Peak Electronics DCA75 Pro Semiconductor Analyser
« Reply #21 on: April 19, 2015, 05:07:42 pm »
I will bought it. Only waiting for Jez. Hobbyist here, every euro counts too with SWMBO.
The stand is for the  DCA75 Pro I already own.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2015, 05:13:52 pm by EdoNork »
 

Online Fraser

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Re: New Video - Peak Electronics DCA75 Pro Semiconductor Analyser
« Reply #22 on: April 19, 2015, 05:19:02 pm »
@Edonork,

Your stand print looks very good. What printer did you use please ?

Best Wishes

Aurora
 

Offline ElektroQuark

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Re: New Video - Peak Electronics DCA75 Pro Semiconductor Analyser
« Reply #23 on: April 19, 2015, 08:29:49 pm »
@Aurora,

It's a Wanhao Duplicator 4X, a chinese copy of the Makerbot.

Online Fraser

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Re: New Video - Peak Electronics DCA75 Pro Semiconductor Analyser
« Reply #24 on: April 19, 2015, 08:51:03 pm »
Excellent, thanks. Looks a nice unit  :-+

Aurora
 


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