Elektor 500ppm LCR meter case tips

LCR meter

NopHead wrote a blog post review of Elektor 500ppm LCR meter:

I recently bought a 500ppm LCR meter from Elektor because I didn’t have anything for measuring inductors or the ESR (equivalent series resistance) of capacitors, both of which are important for modern electronics, particularly switch mode regulators that have become ubiquitous.
It is also more accurate than any of my multimeters and has wider measurement ranges. For example it can measure resistance from 0.1mΩ to 1GΩ and capacitance between 0.1pF and 0.1F. This means I can now measure parasitics like contact resistance, stray capacitance and lead inductance. The principal reasons it can do this while my multimeters can’t is because it uses a four wire Kelvin connection to the device under test, and as well as measuring voltage and current, it also measures the phase between them.

More details at HydraRaptor blog.

1″ 100W hot-plate for SMT reflow


kevinhub88 over at the Black Mesa Labs writes:

Black Mesa Labs has been using a $20 hot plate for a year now for soldering QFN ICs to PCBs. Only issue so far has been the size ( 10″x10″x3″ ) and thermal mass of the thing as it consumes precious microscope work area and unfortunately stays quite hot for 30+ minutes after a quick 4 minute reflow job. BML boards are mostly 1″x1″, so a 800W hot plate with a 6″ diameter heating surface is overkill for most jobs.
Wanting something much smaller for a typical BML PCB – stumbled across this 24V DC heating element on Amazon for only $14. It is rated for 24V at 5-7 ohms ( or 4.8Amps ). A surplus 19.5V DC 5A laptop power brick laying around BML seemed like a perfect match for this element. BML has safety rules avoiding designs above 48V – so the 100Watt 20V DC supply coupled with the 24V element seemed like a great way to make a lot of heat in a small surface area in a short amount of time.

Details at Black Mesa Labs project page.



Bus Pirate v3.8 free PCB build


Hector built a free Bus Pirate v3.8 PCB.  The Bus Pirate is an open source hacker multi-tool that talks to electronic stuff.

If you build a free PCB we’ll send you another one! Blog about it, post a picture on Flicker, whatever – we’ll send you a coupon code for the free PCB drawer.

Get your own handy Bus Pirate for $30, including world-wide shipping. Also available from our friendly distributors.

App note: WM9712 Jack plug auto-detection, hookswitch detection and microphone headset detection


App note on Cirrus Logic’s WM9712 jack plug auto-detection by monitoring the connected headphone resistance. Link here (PDF)

This application note describes two operations associated with using headset. The first is the facility to automatically switch between a mono ear speaker and stereo headphones for use in a Smartphone, PDA etc. The second operation is a method which can be used to detect if stereo headphones have been attached or if a mono headset with microphone has been attached.

App note: An Introduction to MEMS Microphone Specifications


An application note from Cirrus Logic on their MEMS microphones, which are small and perfect for wearables devices. Link here (PDF)

MEMS microphones are small form factor microphones, which translate acoustic sound pressure input into an electrical output response. They utilise the silicon wafer processes from the microelectronic industry to create high performance microphones of increasingly smaller geometries.

These processes give MEMS microphones a number of advantages over conventional electret condensing microphones (ECM), which has resulted in a general market transition to MEMS technologies for many of the latest consumer applications, including those requiring multi-microphone support or high quality capture.

The aim of this applications note is to enlighten readers with little or no experience of MEMS microphones to a point that they are confident in basic terminology and able to understand datasheet information to make product selections.

App note: Ultrasonic sensing basics for liquid level sensing, flow sensing, and fluid identification applications


Here’s an app note from Texas Instruments: Ultrasonic sensing basics for liquid level sensing, flow sensing, and fluid identification applications (PDF!)

One of the most effective areas of sensor technology is ultrasonic, the science that measures the time interval between an ultrasonic signal that is sent and received, or what is commonly referred to as “timeof-flight” (TOF). TI is leveraging its ultrasonic expertise to deliver new signal conditioning solutions to fluid level sensing, fluid identification, flow metering, and distance sensing customers with its latest products (TDC1000 and TDC7200) based on time-to-digital converters (TDCs).
This application note provides an introduction to how Texas Instruments Ultrasonic Sensing solutions (TDC1000 and TDC7200) can be applied to popular applications such as liquid level sensing, flow sensing, and fluid identification.

Hacking DTM0660L based multimeters


Kerry Wong writes:

In my previous post, I did a review of the 6000 counts ennoLogic eM860T true RMS multimeter. This meter is based on a signal chip design using the versatile DTM0660L DMM chip. Besides the ennoLogic eM860T, several other multimeters such as UNI-T 139C, Velleman DV4100, Tekpower TP40 etc. are also based on the same chip.
One key feature of this chip is that most of the configurable parameters as well as the calibration data are all stored in an external EEPROM. This means that we could potentially change certain settings and enable certain settings (e.g. enabling UART communication, backlight duration, auto power off duration, etc.) by just changing values in the configuration EEPROM without having to do any hardware modifications. We will take a look at how to make these configuration changes in this post.

More info at Kerry Wong’s blog.

Modifying RAM SPD data


Zak Kemble wrote a post on his blog showing how he modified the RAMs Serial Presence Detect (SPD) data:

Recently I brought some low-power Mini-ITX motherboards; a Gigabyte GA-N3050N-D3H and a Biostar N3050NH. These boards take SO-DIMM DDR3 RAM, the sort found in laptops. The boards are both pretty much the same, however the Gigabyte board lacks quite a few BIOS features and settings that the Biostar board has. One of those missing features was being able to set the RAM frequency. I wanted to run the RAM at its lowest frequency of 800MHz, but the Gigabyte board would run it at the its normal frequency of 1600MHz. Running at 800MHz reduced idle power consumption by about 0.12W on the Biostar board, a ~2% reduction… yeah ok, it’s a teeny tiny amount, but it was just a matter of flicking a switch.
To remedy this it looked like I was going to have to modify the RAMs Serial Presence Detect (SPD) data.

More details at Zak’s blog.

ChipStick – A small scale experimental Forth machine


Ken Boak blogged about his ChipStick PCB build:

The ChipStick design has the following features:

  1. MSP430FR2433 with 15.5K FRAM and 4K SRAM
  2. External SRAM or FRAM device connected via SPI on USCI B0
  3. CH340G USB to serial converter IC on detachable section of board
  4. 3V3 voltage regulator
  5. Reset Switch and User LED
  6. 20 Pin DIL footprint to allow insertion into G2 Launchpad socket
  7. Programmable by SBW or BSL

Project info at Sustainable Suburbia blog.

Having cheap PCB’s made, part 2


Batches of PCBs from Ivo of Knutsel.org:

The first batch was a new run of the LivingColors Arduino shield.
The second batch was a breakout board for the NiceRF SX1276 LoRa module. Here I experimented a little with contour routing.
The third batch was an adapter board to use no-name CC2500 modules in boards designed for the Quasar QFM-TRX1-24G. The boards are small (about 20 mm x 25 mm) and the minimal size for dirtypcbs PCB’s is 100 mm x 100 mm. Here I experimented with breakout panels, putting 4 PCB’s in one design.

More details at Ivo’s project page.