Well anyone who dabbles alot in
electronics will tell you that it can be very useful to have an esr
meter to test for bad capacitors. When the hobbyist then researches to
get one of these handy items for the toolkit they can be quite
expensive and sometimes quite difficult to understand. So what is esr
and its revelances on a capacitor.
ESR can be explained as follows. A
capacitor consists of metal plates, which are filled with a dielectric
that separates the plates consisting of an oxide layer on the lining,
and the electrolyte. All this is placed in an aluminum at the
connection plates. This, in turn, causes resistance to form a pathway
deterioration for the alternating current within the capacitor, causing
heat, and consequently, accelerates the processes described above. All
losses may be summarized in the so-called equivalent series resistance
(ESR) - an imaginary resistor in series with the capacitor itself.
When you google esr meter for info on
these items you will find quite a few. I found that these meters can be
quite expensive and also not very user friendly for the lame hobbyist.
I however came along one such meter
which was not only within my tight budget but very user friendly to use. The esr meter that i found on google
and bought was a little device called EsrMicro V4.
At the time when i bought this it
cost 75US Dollars which included taxes and shipping. If you need one
you just fill out the order form and a chap called Mike will email you
back on how to complete your order. I also found Mike very good
at communicating with any queries relating to the product or order.
Mike also frequents occasionally at
the http://www.badcaps.net/where he has acquired a very good reputation. Just do a search for
esr meter on the site and you will note the very happy customers around
the world he has sold these meters to.
The order took 10 days for delivery
which is not bad for delivery to the UK. The meter will come without
batteries and a very basic manual.
Using the meter is very easy. You can
use the meter probe lead or you can use the meter socket pins to check
a capacitor. The meter will give a very clear reading of the esr
reading and the capacitance reading.
One very important thing to bear in
mind is that you must ensure that when testing existing capacitors that
they have been fully discharged. The meter incorporates only a very
simple protection by the use of diodes. This minor protection against a
capacitor discharging on the meter can quite easily cause major damage
to the meter. But comparing this to other meters which can literally
cost hundreds of dollars if you ensure that you carryout discharging of
your electronic component capacitors this meter will serve you well.
I have now used this meter a few times and can say it greatly helps in
the diagnostics of my electronic projects very well.
I will in time post further blogs on how this meter helped and the kind
of bad readings of a capacitor which can only be found by using such
instruments as this. For now you can watch the video on the earlier ESR Micro V3.1