A Cheap Yet Useful Capacitance Meter

I remember John AE5X blogging a while ago now about a cheap capacitance meter that read the capacitance values out in Morse code.  Some time later, on searching around online, I found a cool-looking and cheap meter  on Sparkfun. John blogged about this meter too. More recently, anticipating an upcoming need for such a device, I shopped around to see if I could find the one that SparkFun offers anywhere else. I found it for a little less money, so for $11 plus $5 shipping, a small bag of parts arrived in the mail from Amazon just a few days later.  I won’t show you what a small bag of parts looks like, as I’m sure you can visualize it yourself, but when I stuffed the parts in the board, here’s what it looked like:

I plugged it into a power supply (8 – 16V DC through a 2.1 x 5.5mm jack, which is a popular size) and well, there’s not much to say – it works. I tried a variety of different capacitors from a few pF to several hundred uF, and they all measured within their tolerances. The meter is auto-ranging, so all you do is plug the capacitor into the socket at the bottom-right of the board (the one marked J5) and read the value from the display. It will measure from 1pF to 500uF – a range that will encompass pretty much anything the home-brewer is likely to come across.

My motivation in getting this is my eventual desire to build a K2. The manual for the K2 recommends the use of a meter to check the cap values, and with a kit like that which has so many parts, I want to be armed in case any doubt exists as to the value of any particular capacitor.

In other news, Jason NT7S is putting in a lot of work solving issues with the first beta of the CC-series of kit transceivers and it looks like he has one of the major issues solved.  I’m very much looking forward to building another CC-series transceiver and then seeing as it becomes available to the public in kit form.  He’s aiming to put it on the market in January 2012.

Had a very enjoyable, yet all-too short QSO with KI6NTB Shin recently. Shin lives in Huntington Beach, CA because he’s a surfer and well, Huntington Beach is a very good place to live if you love to surf. Shin – it looks like you have a great life there – and living in a smaller community like Huntington Beach is definitely a great way to live in SoCal without living in the general sprawl that much of SoCal is.  Not that I dislike the general sprawl – I lived in LA for over 20 years and loved it. Shin reads  this blog – so hello Shin and thanks very much for the QSO.


One thought on “A Cheap Yet Useful Capacitance Meter

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