[sdiy] ESR meter review

epeasant at telusplanet.net epeasant at telusplanet.net
Thu Jun 6 05:59:10 CEST 2002

Yesterday morning I received the Dick Smith K7204 ESR kit 
that I had ordered. As I had promised to report to the 
list, here is what I have found:

I ordered the kit from Main Electronics in Vancouver
(www.mainelectronics.com/)(Thanks, Mike!). John's Jukes 
(www.flippers.com/esrktmtr.html) in the same city also 
sells it, but for a few dollars more. The kit is also 
available from Australia (www.dse.com.au), but I am not 
aware if there are any U.S. or European distributers. The 
person I spoke to at Main was courteous and helpful, the 
costs were reasonable, the item well packed, and it was 
shipped quickly.

While the instructions were not quite "Heathkit Quality" 
(my gold standard for kits), all the necessary information 
was present in a reasonably clear and logical form. There 
was a basic kit building guide included as well for the 
beginner. More construction information and hints are 
available on the various net sites for this meter as well.

Parts were of an acceptable quality, and there was nothing 
missing.  Everything fit together as it should, and it 
functioned perfectly the first time. Calibration was quick 
and easy with the supplied resistors. The only area of 
concern for me pertained to mounting the 9 volt battery. 
The instructions were a bit vague here, so I ended up 
lining the bottom of the case with 1/4 inch foam rubber and 
then cut out a section for the battery to fit into. Total 
building time was about 5 hours, this is what an 
experienced builder should expect to take if they go slowly 
and carefully.(I like to take my time and enjoy building 
something like this)

I have not had much time to use this meter yet, but have 
been impressed so far.   Comparing different capacitors has 
been interesting, although the inexpensive test leads 
supplied with the unit sometimes have trouble making a good 
contact, better tips would help. As well as measuring ESR, 
the unit also functions as a low resistance ohmmeter, and 
so can be used for tracing shorts on circuit boards, and 
can even check nicad batteries for high internal 
resistance. If one wanted to upgrade the unit, there are 
various modifications available on the net for an audible 
indicator, input protection, power saving, and others.(See 
www.ozemail.com.au/~bobpar) Some of the hardware can be 
upgraded as well. Since this unit functions in the range 
of .01 ohms, poor test lead connections can cause problems. 
Installing top quality connectors and using better leads is 
an easy upgrade.

Overall I am quite happy with the unit, and I feel it is 
good value for the money. If you have ever built anything 
electronic before, you should have little problem putting 
together this kit. A valuable addition to the workbench, I 
highly recommend this meter.

***Disclaimer*** I have no connection with the 
manufacturer's or distributer's of this product, I just 
bought one because it looked like the best deal out there 
for an ESR meter.

Take care,

The Electronic Peasant



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