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Cheap ESR Meter

Discussion in 'Electronic Repair' started by [email protected], Feb 9, 2006.

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  1. Guest

    Looking at two budget meters, the Dick Smith, available from AU for $44
    US + shipping and the MATelectronics MUL-3333 for $50 + shipping.
    Anyone have experience with either? Is the kit doable for a rank
    beginner? I do have a Weller station, will travel...
     
  2. Arfa Daily

    Arfa Daily Guest

    The Dick Smith meter is the one designed by Bob Parker, who pops up on here
    from time to time. I have had one in daily use now for several years, and I
    can recommend it without reservation. It has a very clear unambiguous
    readout, and is autoranging. It also has an automatic offset feature to zero
    out the probe and lead resistances. It has withstood everything that a busy
    workshop has thrown at it, without once failing on me. It paid for itself in
    the first couple of repairs that it was used for.

    The kit does not contain any particularly small parts, and is well
    documented. If you can solder reasonably well, and your iron has a
    reasonably small tip, and you can carefully follow a set of instructions, I
    think that you would be able to manage it just about. I think that it is
    also available ready built for a very reasonable extra amount, if you really
    weren't confidant to build it.

    Arfa
     
  3. My worst experience with the Dick Smith one was that I screwed up and
    grabbed those leads instead of my VOM. Consequently I put 120VAC across it
    and severely let the smoke out - time for a new one. Now I have two red
    leads on it to make it more apparent that I don't have the VOM leads.

    Other than that, it has worked well for me. Oh, the kit was also fine -
    just follow the directions and put on the smallest items first. That way
    it's easier to have the board be stable for soldering. I also decided that
    I would take one value of resistor, and install all of that value at one
    time. Kind of helped me make sure that I got the right ones in the right
    places. I knew that I had to find enough homes for them until I ran out.

    WT
     
  4. spudnuty

    spudnuty Guest

    I'll second that, my experience with this meter is exactly that of
    Arfa's. It's paid for itself 50 times over. I would emphasize "solder
    well" tho'
    Richard
     
  5. Mr. Land

    Mr. Land Guest

    Looking at two budget meters, the Dick Smith, available from AU for $44

    US + shipping and the MATelectronics MUL-3333 for $50 + shipping.
    Anyone have experience with either? Is the kit doable for a rank
    beginner? I do have a Weller station, will travel...

    I just built the Dick Smith kit. Very nice kit, I thought. The parts
    seemed high quality, except for the battery holder arrangement, which I
    thought was pretty lame (two multiple AA cell holders "mechanically
    connected" by soldering a pin of one to the other). The instructions
    weren't bad, although the reference numbers for the figures were
    mismatched, which was a bit confusing at first.

    The PCB layout matched the provided parts very well, and it ran
    perfectly the very first time I powered it up (which, I should probably
    add, does not happen to me very often.)

    Cheers.
     
  6. Ken Weitzel

    Ken Weitzel Guest

    What!?! For shame! Total disregard for the *supposed* to be parts left
    over rule? :)

    Ken
     
  7. Guest

    OK, sounds like the Dick Smith kit is the way to go. Now to decide
    whether to get it from Canada or our world cup bound friends at the end
    of the earth...
     
  8. Bob Shuman

    Bob Shuman Guest

    Please post the source ... at $44 for the kit you found a bargain.

    I too built the kit and had no problems. Took about an hour or two as I
    recall and worked first time. My only complaint with the kit was the poor
    color coding on the resistors was hard to read and required constantly
    removing my glasses ... but then again my eyesight isn't what it used to be
    either.

    Bob
     
  9. Yes. I've recently built one and it's very good. But why supply standard
    test leads while the sockets are the same colour? Surely you could open
    the test lead packs and pair them up to the same colour - wouldn't matter
    if red or black.
     
  10. Guest

  11. Jim Yanik

    Jim Yanik Guest

    Just put some colored heat-shrink tubing on the ESR meter's leads at the
    probe end;that IDs them.

    Paint is not going to stick well to flexible plastic insulation.
     
  12. Jim Yanik

    Jim Yanik Guest

    *My* DSE ESR meter is powered by a single 9v battery -with the usual 9v
    battery clip. (free-floating under a piece of foam)

    What's this about AA batteries? Did the meter kit change?
     
  13. Don't think it's just you. Those metal film ones with the blue body are
    near impossible to read. I just measured them - after eliminating the
    obvious ones which were more than one and still on their paper links . ;-)
     
  14. Mine came with AAA holders. Something about there being a confusion about
    using a PP3 in the instructions. I don't like AAA unless size matters as
    in the UK they cost the same as AA. So I changed to AA since I had holders
    'in stock' ;-)
     
  15. Arfa Daily

    Arfa Daily Guest

    Mine's a few years old now, but came with a standard 9v battery holder.
    Mind, I did have to complain to Bob about poor battery life. My first
    battery only lasted about 2 years ... !!

    Arfa
     
  16. bigdaddy

    bigdaddy Guest


    Hi, are these meters available in UK.
     
  17. GregS

    GregS Guest

    I use some short leads with two small alligator clips.

    greg
     
  18. Bob Parker

    Bob Parker Guest

    I don't know anyone who doesn't have difficulty reading those
    atrocious blue-bodied 1% resistors, me included/especially. That's why
    the Mark 2 meter's kit notes includes this little caution:

    "Note that the kit for the Mk.2 version
    contains 1% resistors. It’s notoriously
    difficult to correctly identify the colour
    bands on these, so check each one’s
    value with an ohmmeter before soldering
    it to the board."


    Bob
     
  19. Bob Parker

    Bob Parker Guest

    Apologies about that! :)
    I was replacing the batteries about once per 3 months with typical
    use, though some people complain that they hardly last any time at
    all. Maybe they always leave the meter on until it turns itself off?
    The 78L05 regulator can be replaced with a low dropout voltage one,
    which extends battery life a bit.

    Cheers
    Bob
     
  20. Think I heard they are, but I imported mine from Canada.
     
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