Capacitance Meter

Posted on Feb 7, 2014

The common 555 timer IC forms the heart of the circuit. Its function is to charge the unknown capacitor (Cx) to a fixed voltage. The capacitor is then discharged into the meter circuit. The meter measures the current being drawn through the 47 ohm resistor. The 555 repeats the process several times a second, so that the meter needle remains steady

Capacitance Meter
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. The deflection on the meter is directly proportional to the value of the unknown capacitor. This means that the scale is linear, like the voltage and current ranges on an analogue multimeter. The capacitance meter has five ranges, from 100pF to 1uF, selected by a five position two pole switch. In addition, there is a x10 switch for measuring higher values and a divide-by-two facility to allow a better indication on the meter where the capacitor being measured is just above 100, 1000pF, 0. 01, 0. 1 or 1 uF. Component values are critical. For best accuracy, it is desirable that the nine resistors wired to the Range switch have a 2% tolerance. If 0A47 diodes are not available, try OA91 or OA95 germanium diodes instead. Construct the meter in a plastic box; one that is about the size of your multimeter but deeper is ideal. The meter movement should as large as your budget allows; you will be using it to indicate exact values. A round 70mm-diameter movement salvaged from a piece of electronic equipment was used in the prototype. The meter you buy will have a scale of 0 to 50 microamps. This scale needs to be converted to read 0 to 100 (ie 20, 40, 60, 80, 100 instead of 10, 20, 30, 40, 50). Use of white correction fluid or small pieces of paper will help here. The components can be mounted on a piece of matrix board or printed circuit board. Use a socket for the IC should replacement ever be needed. Keep wires short to minimise...

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