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Capacitor Tester / Capacitance Meter

DPReview Digital Photography. East Dane Designer Men's Fashion. Shopbop Designer Fashion Brands.If, like myself, you've got an enormous stash of unlabelled electronic components that seem to look like capacitors, it's probably a good idea to either throw them away or test them with a capacitance tester. Furthermore, there's no need to go out and buy an expensive proprietary meter as the lowly Arduino will do a very good job just by adding a few resistors and using some clever coding.

I'm not saying it was me who did the clever stuff and most of this project was borrowed from the interweb from the following people:. Actually this is a really easy project and you may even learn something about capacitors and microcontrollers.

Just for my own curiosity, I had a go at using the Autodesk Circuits Lab to create the schematics and even design a PCB, which, sadly will probably never actually be manufactured, but whatever! Test any capacitor with this circuit - even down to 1 pico Farad. The secret behind this gadget is to swap out the 'charging resistor' into the realm of the mega Ohms to slow down the charging speed of small capacitors.

I got so fond of this resistor that I even gave it a name - 'Charlie'. Did you use this instructable in your classroom? Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson. Most things in life require energy and charging a capacitor is no exception. We need to shove a load of electrons into this gadget with a certain amount of voltage in a similar way to a battery except that no chemical reaction occurs. In the capacitor, electrons, or charge, is stored in a material called a dielectric sandwiched between two electrodes.

As with charging a battery, if we put a resistor in the charging circuit the charging can be slowed down and if the resistor is absolutely enormous ie mega ohms, we can slow the charging to such a speed that even an Arduino can measure. The Arduino has analogue circuitry that can read the value of any voltage between 0 and 5v so if the capacitor itself is slowly charging from 0 to 5v through an enormous resistor this voltage change can be watched and the time taken to charge up measured, as long as it is not too fast.

A very small capacitor such as one having a value of 10 pico Farads will normally charge extremely quickly as it has almost nothing inside it - too quick for an Arduino - which is where our friendly resistor comes into play. However, one thing that we may well forget is that the capacitor does not charge at the same rate all the time.

Arduino Capacitance Meter

It starts off charging pretty quickly and then gradually falls off exponentially as it becomes more and more saturated. What this means in reality is that we should not wait until the capacitor becomes fully charged, but pick an arbitrary cut off point where we say 'OK, it's charged enough now'.

When we code the Arduino we don't want to time the charging to a full 5v, but around about 3 volts instead.Posted by Circuit Basics Arduino This graph shows the range of values each capacitance meter is able to measure accurately:. Each Arduino capacitance meter relies on a property of resistor capacitor RC circuits- the time constant. Insert an unknown capacitor into the breadboard as shown in the diagram above. The units will change automatically from microFarads to nanoFarads. To use this meter with an LCD output instead of the serial monitor, use the code below.

Since the LCD uses pin 2, use pin 8 instead of pin 2 in the diagram above. Upload this code to the Arduino:. This capacitance meter had the greatest range of the three I tested. It also had the highest accuracy with smaller capacitors. I hope you found this project as useful as I did. Just let me know in the comments if you have any questions or need help setting it up.

See this thread on the Arduino. Thanks for posting this! I found a kludgy way to compensate for the errors in sketch 3. I did try sketch 1 to figure out what the readings were for large capacitors I had uF, uF, and uF capacitors on hand.

So I tried to put in two calibrations, one for values less than uF, and one for values greater than or equal to uF this split point was based on what I observed with the capacitors I had on hand. For values less than uF, the readings produced by sketch 3 were at about 1. For values greater than or equal to uF, the readings from sketch 3 were about 1. I also created a correction variable of type float, declared at the start of the loop function, and assigned the correction factors depending on the capacitance value read.

Calibrated against the Arduino. Obviously, using this method you could add many more split points given an accurate capacitor meter to calibrate the output from sketch 3. I also modified the code from sketch 1 a little, so that my LCD screen would display something rather than a blank screen while it was figuring out the values of large capacitors.

I noticed that it is best to wait for several readings from sketch 1 because it tends to "converge" on the correct value after some time could take several minutes before you get a reading for large value capacitors. In the setup function, I added lcd. I took out all delay function calls; within the loop function, after microFarads has been calculated, I cleared the screen using lcd.

The next if block contains display of capacitance in microFarads and nanoFarads; I issued a call to lcd. Finally, I removed the lcd. These changes allowed me to get faster feedback that the Arduino was working, and I could see both the elapsed time on row 1 and the capacitance value on row 2 on my LCD.

capacitance meter

Hi, can you share the modified project? Can it test a wide range with a single project and Math? Sorry if I misunderstood, I just want to test some capacitors from a old monitor to know what to change and I suck at electronics.Updated February 10, by Brett Dvoretz. This wiki has been updated 12 times since it was first published in October of From checking the charge of those old batteries to gauging the current of a circuit board, capacitance meters, which are used to test the energy in an object, are a necessity for anyone who works regularly with electrical tools and equipment.

We've put together a list of the best models on the market, encompassing everything from standalone units to more multi-featured devices.

When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best capacitance meter on Amazon. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

Unfortunately, the dot matrix screen isn't high resolution and makes it seem a bit dated. This basic model can give you extremely precise readings and doesn't complicate things with all kinds of added bells and whistles.

The Honeytek AL appx. With nine measurement ranges from pF to 20 mF and a pocket-size design that allows it to be stored anywhere, it's a handy tool to have around. The display of the EnnoLogic eMT appx. It also features handy onboard probe storage and a flip-out kickstand that makes for more convenient use.

The Amprobe CR50A appx. It also has a diode tester and an audible continuity check mode that lets you know whether or not a particular circuit can conduct currents. The Morpilot appx. It is rated as a category IV tester, which means it can handle the largest of voltages, making it suitable for practically any application.

It is extremely compact, so you can keep it handy on every job, and provides a true RMS response. It can be used to test extremely low-capacitance objects, has modes for DC and AC voltages, and includes a protective sleeve. From a renowned brand in the industry, the Fluke appx. It can test various electronic states and features integrated, non-contact voltage detection, helping you get the job done quicker.

February 03, As with any testing tool, accuracy was our top priority. After all, using an inaccurate meter is not much better than not having one at all. After accuracy, we wanted to balance additional functionality and price. We realize some users may prefer a dedicated capacitance meter, while others may want the ability to test for a variety of other electrical readings.

Finally, we made sure to find options perfect for the home hobbyists, as well as commercial-quality units for professional contractors.A capacitance meter is a piece of electronic test equipment used to measure capacitancemainly of discrete capacitors.

Depending on the sophistication of the meter, it may display the capacitance only, or it may also measure a number of other parameters such as leakageequivalent series resistance ESRand inductance. For most purposes and in most cases the capacitor must be disconnected from circuit ; ESR can usually be measured in circuit. Some checks can be made without a specialised instrument, particularly on aluminium electrolytic capacitors which tend to be of high capacitance and to be subject to poor leakage.

A multimeter in a resistance range can detect a short-circuited capacitor very low resistance or one with very high leakage high resistance, but lower than it should be; an ideal capacitor has infinite DC resistance.

A crude idea of the capacitance can be derived with an analog multimeter in a high resistance range by observing the needle when first connected; current will flow to charge the capacitor and the needle will "kick" from infinite indicated resistance to a relatively low value, and then drift up to infinity.

The amplitude of the kick is an indication of capacitance. Interpreting results requires some experience, or comparison with a good capacitor, and depends upon the particular meter and range used. Many DVMs digital volt meters have a capacitance-measuring function. These usually operate by charging and discharging the capacitor under test with a known current and measuring the rate of rise of the resulting voltage ; the slower the rate of rise, the larger the capacitance.

DVMs can usually measure capacitance from nanofarads to a few hundred microfarads, but wider ranges are not unusual. It is also possible to measure capacitance by passing a known high-frequency alternating current through the device under test and measuring the resulting voltage across it does not work for polarised capacitors. When troubleshooting circuit problems, a few problems are intermittent or only show up with the working voltage applied, and are not revealed by measurements with equipment, however sophisticated, which uses low test voltages.

Some problems are revealed by using a "freezer" spray and observing the effect on circuit operation. Ultimately, in difficult cases routine replacement of capacitors relatively cheap components is easier than arranging measurements of all relevant parameters in working conditions.

Some more specialised instruments measure capacitance over a wide range using the techniques described above, and can also measure other parameters. Low stray and parasitic capacitance can be measured if a low enough range is available. Leakage current is measured by applying a direct voltage and measuring the current in the normal way.

More sophisticated instruments use other techniques such as inserting the capacitor-under-test into a bridge circuit. By varying the values of the other legs in the bridge so as to bring the bridge into balancethe value of the unknown capacitor is determined.

This method of indirect use of measuring capacitance ensures greater precision. The bridge usually can also measure series resistance and inductance.Capacitance Meter, as the name suggests, is a device that is used to measure the Capacitance of a Capacitor. There are many Capacitance Meters available in the market but we have built an Arduino Capacitance Meter in this project.

A Capacitor is an electrical device that stores electric charge and this ability of the capacitor to store the electric charge is known as its Capacitance. With the help of a Capacitance Meter, we can measure the rate of charge storage of the capacitor and based on this, we can get the Capacitance of the Capacitor. Simple Digital Multimeters DMMs cannot measure the capacitance and in order to find the capacitance, you either need to go for an advanced, expensive DMM or find a dedicated Capacitance modules.

The dedicated capacitance meters often come with a wide range of measurements of different parameters like Capacitance, inductance, resistance, hFE of a transistor etc.

Excelvan M6013 Capacitance Meter

In this project, we will try to build a simple Arduino Capacitance Meter for two different ranges of capacitances. The other circuit will be used to measure smaller capacitance i.

Warning: If you want measure the capacitance from an old circuit or board, be careful as a capacitor in working condition may store charge even if the power supply is removed. Discharge the capacitor properly before touching it. Before explaining the working of the project, we will first see the principle behind this method of capacitance measurement. The principle behind this capacitance meter lies in one of the basic property of the capacitor: The Time Constant.

Smaller capacitors will have less time constant as they take less time to charge. Similarly, larger capacitors will have higher time constants. The following circuit and graph will show you the time constant curve for a Capacitor C, charging to supply voltage V through a Resistor R. We use the same concept in our Arduino based Capacitance Meter. We will charge an unknown capacitor through a known resistance using Arduino pins and calculate the time it takes to reach The charge and discharge pins on Arduino are 8 and 9 respectively.

The voltage across the capacitor is measured using the Analog Input pin A0.

Capacitance Meter

Now, we have to monitor the voltage across the capacitor at the analog pin and once it reaches This circuit is suitable for comparatively higher capacitance values as we can clearly measure the time constant. For smaller capacitance values, this circuit might not be suitable. For measuring smaller capacitances, we will use a different concept. For this we need to understand a little bit about the internal structure of ATmegaP.

We will be using the internal pull — up resistor and the stray capacitor in this circuit. Ignoring the diodes in the above circuit, the circuit for our project can be redrawn as follows.

capacitance meter

Here, CT is the capacitor under test and CI is the internal capacitor. We need not worry about the internal capacitor and its value can be anywhere between 20 pF to 30 pF. The unknown capacitor is connected between A2 and A0 Positive lead to A0, in case of polarized capacitor. Here, A2 acts as the charging pin and A0 acts as the discharging pin.

Initially, we will charge the unknown capacitor by setting A2 as HIGH and measure the voltage at A0 from the following formula. But we already know voltage at A0 with the help of analog read function.

Hence, using that value in the above equation, we can get the unknown capacitance as follows. Hello Anusha mam……im monika we r looking for ur project I. Restaurant menu ordering system. So, can you give a solution for it?

Your email address will not be published.You know, capacitance measurement can be done with different approaches. One can use a multimeter or LCR meter. However, having a decent meter can a tricky task to complete. There a lot of meters out there in the market. A beginner or any person might get confuse which one to select. It is a specifically designed tool for measuring capacitance only.

You can use it to repair your old electronics devices, or just having fun measuring the capacitance of various capacitors. If you are an instructor, you can use it to conduct various lab activities, that students gonna love and appreciate. Usually, in electronics devices, capacitors are the most frequent devices that fail to work with the time and you have to replace them. To know to weather the capacitor needs replacement or not you have to test it.

And this testing is done by measuring its capacitance and see if its value is drifted from its written value or not. If the drifted value is in the given tolerance range, a capacitor is considered good, else it is a bad one and needs to be replaced.

The above discussion is true when a capacitor is outside the circuit. I mean you can use a capacitor meter to test or measure the capacitance when it is outside the circuit. You have to desolder the capacitor first from the circuit to test it. To measure a capacitor inside a circuit you need an ESR meter. To know more about how to measure a capacitor without desoldering it from circuit check out my this post. Now, the questions arise why we need capacitance meter, why a multimeter is not good for measuring capacitances?

In the rest of the article, I try to answer it for you. You may have seen, every multimeter has a capacitance measuring option. I am not saying you cannot use it to measure your capacitance. But the following are the problems I see.

There are many devices out there in the market or on Amazon.

How to test a capacitor / how to test smd capacitors with a multimeter

You will see a lot of products from a different manufacturer. They may all claim to do the same job.

capacitance meter

You have to be very smart to find out the best one among them all. According to my study and knowledge, I found Excelvan M the best capacitor meter out there. I think it is great for DIY to professional engineers.