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ACapacitorEquivalentSeriesResistanceTester,andanintroductiontomakingaPCB,by David,M0XUK.

Firstly,thetechnicalinformationforthisarticleisnotoriginal!ItcamefromVE7ITspageat http://members.shaw.ca/SWSTUFF/esrmeter.html. Iwantedtobeabletotestelectrolyticcapacitorsincircuitasanyofyouwillknowwhostriedto dothiswithaconventionalDVMthatjustdoesntalwayswork. IquotefromLawrencesarticle:

WhatisESR?
"ESR"standsforequivalentseriesresistance.ESRisoneofthecharacteristicsthatdefinesthe performanceofanelectrolyticcapacitor.LowESRishighlydesirableinacapacitorasanyripple currentthroughthecapacitorcausesthecapacitortoheatupduetotheresistiveloses.Thisheating acceleratesthedemiseofthecapacitorbydryingouttheelectrolyteataneverincreasingrate.Over thelifetimeofacapacitor,itisnotuncommonfortheESRtoincreasebyafactorof10to30timesor evengoopencircuit.Typicallifetimeratingsforelectrolyticsare200015000hoursandarevery dependentonambientoperatingtemperature.AstheESRincreases,thefilteringoperationofthe capacitorbecomesimpairedandeventuallythecircuitfailstooperatecorrectly. WhyareESRMeterssoUseful? Atypicalcapacitorcheckermeasuresthecapacity(usuallyinmicrofarads)ofthetestcapacitor. Someadvancedunitsalsotestforleakagecurrent.Mostofthesetestersrequirethatthecapacitor beremovedfromthecircuit.Unlessthecapacitorhastotallyfailed,theywillnotdetectahighESR value.Inatypicalcircuit,theremaybe10'sor100'sofcapacitors.Havingtoremoveeachonefor testingisverytediousandthereisagreatriskofdamagingcircuitboards.Thistesterusesalow voltage(250mv)highfrequency(150khz)A/CcurrenttoreadtheESRofacapacitorinthecircuit. Theincircuittestingispossiblebecauseofthelowvoltageusedforobtainingthemeasurement.The voltageislowenoughthatsolidstatedevicesinthesurroundingcircuitryarenotactivatedanddo notaffectthelowresistancereadingweareattemptingtoobtain.Alotofcapacitorcheckerswillbe damagedifyouhappentotestachargedcapacitor.ThiscircuitisA/Ccoupledandwillwithstandup to400vdcofchargeonacapacitor(butwatchyourfingers!).TheESRcheckerwillnotdetectshorted capacitorsastheywillreadwithaverylowESRvalue.Ifyouaretroubleshootingacircuit,youwill havetouseseveralinstrumentsincludingyournose,voltmeterandoscilloscopetolocateallthe possiblefailuremodes.MyexperiencehasfoundthattheESRmetercatchesabout95%ofcapacitor problemsandpotentialproblems Features *Testselectrolyticcapacitors>1ufincircuit. *Capsmaybetestedincircuitorbybridgingthemacrosstheterminalpostsorusingtestleads. *Polarityinsensitivetesting. *Tolerateschargedcapacitorsupto400vdc. *Lowbatterydraw(approx25ma)resultinginabout20hoursofbatterytimewhenusing4cheap AAnicads. *Easytoreadanalogmeter.

*MeasuresESRrangefrom075ohmswithanexpandedscaleA/Cohmmeter. CircuitDescription Seetheschematicforcomponentdesignations.Thecircuitstartswitha150khzoscillatorusingone gateofa74hc14.Therestofthegatesareusedasbufferstoincreasethecurrentdrivetothelow passfilter.Thesinglepolelowpassfilterisnecessarybecausethesquarewavesignalcontainsalot ofenergyinhighfrequencyoddorderharmonics.Theoutputofthefilterisappliedacrossa10ohm loadresistorthatprovidesthelowimpedancedrivesignaltothetestcapacitor.DiodesD5andD6 protectthecircuitfromdischargespikesifyouhappentotestachargedcapacitor.R18isusedto dischargeC5sothatyoudon'tblowupanythingifyoualternatelytestchargedhighandlowvoltage caps.C5isolatesthetestcircuitfromDCvoltagesupto400volts. Becarefulifyouaretestinghighvoltagecapacitors...thesafestwaytoworkistomakesurethetest capacitorsaredischargedbeforetestingthem.Beawarethathighvoltagecapacitorscanholda lethalchargeforseveraldaysdependingonthecircuitdesign.Ilearnedthisfirsthandinhighschool electronicsclass.Students(nottobenamed!)usedtochargethecapsandputthembackonthe shelfforthenextunsuspectingvictimtopickup. Therestofthecircuitisaverystraightforwardtransistoramplifierwithagainofabout10.5.This amplifiestheA/Csignalpassedthroughthetestcapacitoruptoseveralvoltsinamplitude.Thesignal isthencoupledtoafullwavebridgerectifierthathasthemeterasitsload.Thethresholdvoltageof thebridgerectifierisusedtoanadvantageandprovidestheexpandedscalefunctionoftheohm meter.Theamplifiedvoltagefromthetestcapacitormustbegreatenoughtoovercome2diode dropsbeforethemeterwillstarttorespond.Thissetsthehighresistancethresholdforthemeterat somewherebetween75100ohms.Themeteriszeroedbyshortingthetestleadstogetherand adjustingthepotinthemetercircuitforafullscale(0ohms)readingonthemeter.Proper operationofthecircuitcanbeverifiedbycheckingseveralvaluesofresistorswiththemeter. Shortedleadsshouldindicatefullscale,a1ohmresistorshouldreadabout90%offullscale,a10 ohmresistorshouldreadabout40%offullscaleanda47ohmresistorshouldbarelymovethe needletoabout10%ofFSD.Theabsolutereadingswillvarywithtemperatureandbatteryvoltage, buttheideaisthatmostESRvaluesshouldbemuchlessthan10ohmswhichmeansgoodcapstest atveryclosetofullscaleandbadcapstestatlittleornodeflection.

So,Idecidedtorecordmyprogressontheproject,includingmakingthepcbasthisiswhatalotof peoplefightshyof.Youwillneedsomekithowever,butifyouregoingtogetseriousabout homebrewingyouregoingtohavetobitethebulletsometime!Hereswhatyoullneed: AUVlightbox Transparencymaterial(&aprinter!)forprintingthepcblayoutonto. SinglesidedlightsensitivePCBmaterial(IuseFotoBoard) FerricChloride(etchingfluid).Youcangetthispremixedorinpelletform.Ipreferthepremixed, andifyouredoingalotitsmuchmoreeconomicaltobuyabigcontainer.Thesmall(egMaplins) bottlescostnearlyafiver,whereasIbought5litresforabout17quidfromRapidElectronics. Developerbesttobuytheproperstuff,asSodiumHydroxideismuchtooviciousand unpredictable! Sundryglassorplasticmixing/developingvessels.Iusepyrexdishesastheyreeasytoclean afterwards.Also,thelidsmakeaniceshallowtrayforreasonablesizePCBssoyoudontusetoo muchetchant. Cheapplastictweezers.(seephotolater) Polifixblock.Thisisasolidblockofmaterialforcleaning/polishingthecopperafteretching.Not

essential!Maplinsetc. Measuringjugfordilutingetchantifneeded,andgettingcorrectamountofwaterformixing developer. Smallscalesforweighingdeveloper. Sundryhandtools. OptionalforthisprojectIdecidedtohaveagoattinningthepcbusingimmersetinpowder. Thisleavesaverythinlayeroftinonthecopperwhichstopsitdiscolouringwithtime,andisniceto solderto. Herestheprocedure: 1. Markoutthecorrectdimensionsofthepcbontheboard.ScorethelineswithaStanley knifeorsimilar:

2. Cutoutcarefullyusingajuniorhacksaw:

Fileofftheseedgestogetthemniceandcleanandstraight. 3. PrintoutyourtransparencyandaimtohavetheprintedsideonthePCBside(when exposing)ofthefoilsothatthelightdoesntdiffuseovertheedges.Difficulttoexplainthis, butiftheprintedsideisabout1mm(thicknessofthefoil)awayfromthepcb,youllseethat lighthasachancetocreepinontheedges.Notcriticalonapcbwithnicebigtracks,but essentialwithveryfinetracks.

4. Heresanearlyversionofthefoilonmylightbox.Remembertoputitonthecorrectway round,andyesIvedoneitthewrongwaymorethanonce!Ididntlikethepadsonthis layoutIdownloadedfromLawrencespagesoItookthepictureintoPhotoshopand thickenedupsomeofthepads.

Takeofftheblackprotectivelayerofthepcbandexposefortherecommendedtime.Ifthis isyourfirsteffortIstronglysuggestyouplaywithexposuretimesusingaspeciallycreated foil(usingyourimageeditingprogram)thathasverythinandsomethickertracks.Youdont necessarilyneedtodevelopthepcblookatitwithamagnifyingglassandyoushouldbe abletoseethetracksasgreenyyellowlinesonthepcb.Ifyouremissingthefinetracks youveprobablyoverexposed. 5. Chemicals

Mixupthechemicalsaspertheinstructions.Thisparticularetchantcanbediluted30%,and withthedeveloperImeasureout25gmstodissolvein500mLofwater.Payattentiontothe recommendedtemperatures.Iamnotgoingtogiveyousafetyinstructions;thatsyour responsibility.HeedtheprintedwarningsbothofthesesubstancesareDANGEROUS!Wear oldclothesasstainsfromFerricChloridedontcomeout. 6. Developthepcb.Donthavethedevelopertoohotoritwillallhappentooquick!Holdthe pcbwithyourfingers(withsuitableglovesonofcourse)andswishittooandfro.Youshould

seethetracksturninggreenandamistygreencloudwillliftfromthepcb.Oncethetracks lookniceandgreenremoveimmediatelyandwashincoldwater.Ifyouoverdevelopthe trackswilldisappear,andifyouunderdeveloptheetchantwontbeabletoremoveany copper. Thisiswhatitshouldlooklike:

7. Getyouretchantniceandwarmthisiswherethepyrexdishsucceedsasyoucanput boilingwaterinthemaindishsothatitjusttouchesthebottomoftheupturnedlid,which fitsnicelyonthetop.Putinyourpcbandcarefullyswishtoandfro.Itwillbeawhilebefore anythinghappensdependingonthetemperature,butyoushouldseetheetchantgoing blackaroundthecopperareasthatarebeingetched.Iactuallykeepthefaceofthepcb turneddownwardsoitisgettingmaximumheatfrombelowandjustturnoveroccasionally withthetweezerstocheckprogress.Whenmostofthecopperhasgone,Ithenkeepthe otherwayupsothatIdontoveretch.Heresthepcbhalfetched:

Youcanclearlyseethatthebulkofcopperhasgonefromthelargeareas.Keepyoureyeon itcarefullyfromthispointasyoudontwanttoetchoffyourfinetracks.Note:onFotoBoard thesubstratehassomeinternaltrademarkmarkingswhichiseasytomistakeforcopperstill ontheboard.Ifindoubtwashtheboardinwaterandlookcarefullyatit.Herestheboard fullyetched:

Iwasnttoopleasedwithitassomeofthetracksontherhsweretouchingwherethecopper hadntetchedproperly.Ithinkthiswasduetounderexposure.However,Ifiguredfora simplejoblikethisitwoulddo,andIjustcarefullyremovedthebridgedcopperwitha Stanleyknife.(Hey,Imonlyhumantoo!). Heatupyourdeveloperifitsgonecoldandputthepcbbackinthiscleansoffthechemical fromthetracksandinmyopinionmakesiteasiertosolder.Irubitwithmyfingersandyou canusuallyseemoregreenstufffloatingoff.Ditchthedeveloper,andsaveyouretchantina plasticscrewtoppedbottleawayfrombrightlightandanyonespryingfingers.Godforbid yourchildrenshouldgettheirhandsonit. 8. Drythepcbandgiveitarub(notessential,butessentialifyouregoingtotinit)withthe Polifixblock.Asnotedabove,Idecidedtohaveagoattinningtheboardforthisproject:

Andthisishowitturnedout:

Verypleasing! 9. Nowyouneedtodrillalltheholes.Averyboringjob.Sothatthedrilllocatescorrectly,usea sharppointedobject(eganoldjewelersscrewdriverwiththeendfiledtoasharppoint)to makeapilotforthedrill.Failuretodothiswillleaveyouverydisappointedwhenyourdrill skidsacrossafinetrack!

IjuststeadytheboardwithonehandanduseaDremeldrillwitha0.8mmbit.Youcanusea standbutIfinditquickerthisway.WhenIfirststartedanddidnthaveaDremel,Iusedone ofthoselittlebitholderswithapumptypeactioncheapaschips.Dontbetemptedtouse abiggerbit0.8mmiswideenoughformostleadedcomponentsandyoucantputitback whenitsgone!1mmistoowideinmyopinionandleadstobad/dryjoints.Foranyoneinmy area,youcanbuytheseverycheaplyatBlunsdonMarket.Safetyyouredrillingfiberglass here.Inspectthepcbwithamagnifyingglasstomakesureyoudonthaveanybridgedor brokentracks.Usethefoilasareference. 10. Hurrahsolderingatlast!Thisismyfavouritebit.Thisprojectisnotcriticalwithwhatsort ofcapacitors,soIjustusedwhatIhadintheshacknoneedtofollowmyexample. Carefullycheckyoursolderingwithamagnifyingglass,particularlylookingforbridges betweentracks.

Thepintopleftisjustashortwherethetestleadswillgo,justtotestthemeter.Nexttwo holesdownforpower,andthebottomtwoforthemeter.Testthecircuitusingabout5v withthemeter(50microamps)connected,andyoushouldgetafullscaledeflection.Atthis stageyoucancarefullyadjustthevoltagetogettheexactdeflectionrequired,butdontgive itmorethan6.5Vasthatiswhatthechipsmaxvoltageisratedat,notthatyoushouldneed it.Ifyouregettingnothingthenbacktocheckingeverything! 11. OK,heresthebitIhateputtingitallintoabox.ThisistheplasticboxIused,cutoutfor meterandswitches.Icouldntfindonequitebigenoughforbatteriesaswell,soIdecidedto addacoupleofholesontheendforaDCfeedfrommyvariablePSU.ThatalsomeantI wouldntneedthezeroadjustpotjustadjustusingvoltage.

Sprayedoutinthegardenwithacoupleofcoatsofmattblackprimer,thensome Hammerite:

12. Andheresthefinishedproject.Secondpicshowstestingwitha1.5ohmresistor

Totheleftof25uAwillrepresentbadcapsandtotherightOKneedtouseGalvatodoa meterpanel.OK,OK,Illprobablynevergetroundtothat! Havefunmakingthisproject,butifyougetstuckfeelfreetoemailmem0xuk@sdarc.net Thepcblayoutforprintingisathttp://www.sdarc.net/m0xuk/esrPCB.jpg Ihaventpastedthisintothisfileasyouwouldhaveproblemsprintingitatthecorrectsize. Circuitdiagramfollows(VE7IT).Youcanmakeyourcomponentslistfromthisandtheboard layoutfollowing.

PCBlayoutfollows(VE7IT)