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This instructable will guide you through diagnosing and possibly repairing

of a USB keyboard.
In today's throw away society, we tend to run out and buy a cheap $15
keyboard to replace our previous high quality keyboard. This is fine as a
temporary solution, but eventually we're going to want that quality feel and
function back.
Most of the time, quality keyboards die because of abuse. Not necessarily
intentional, but abuse nonetheless. A few drops of any beverage with acid
it in will surely cause an eventual failure. This would include almost any
juice (most are "vitamin fortified" which included citric acid) or soda.
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Step 1: Supplies

We're going to need drivers for our specific keyboard. Most need only a
small Phillips screwdriver. Some, such as this one, may also need a tiny
Allen or Torx driver. I have a kit that has about every tiny driver one would
ever need... It's handy to have.
We'll also need an Ohm Meter or Multimeter and a computer. I'm using a
Mac here, but any Computer will do. We'll also need an On-Screen
Keyboard for testing.
Lastly, we'll need about 6-8 inches of 30 guage insulated wire, commonly
called wire-wrap wire and a conductive pen (available from Radio Shack).

Step 2: Prepare the Computer.

The first thing we need to do to is diagnose the keyboard. Find out what'
wrong with it. Otherwise, we'd have no hint as to what to fix.
On a Mac, we need to enable and bring up the Keyboard Viewer. Open
theInternational preferences pane located in System Preferences (under
the Apple menu). Place a checkmark next to Keyboard Viewer. Close the
preferences pane. Now, we can select the Keyboard Viewer from the Flag
menu.
On a Windows machine, go to the Start menu, point to All Programs,
point toAccessories, point to Accessibility and finally select On
Screen Keyboard. Note: A message box with a link to more
information about the OnScreen Keyboard may appear. To close
the box, select OK.

Step 3: Test the Keyboard

Plug the keyboard into an available USB port. It's okay to leave another
keyboard attached. The computer can see both simultaneously. To prevent
entering erroneous data into an important document, we may want to open
a new text file in TextEdit, WinWord or our favorite text editor...
Starting from any corner, start pressing one key at a time and note that the
same key displays grey on the screen keyboard. Proceed testing every key
and note those that don't respond. On this keyboard, keys 'minus', 'left
bracket', 'semi-colon, and Space failed.

Note how the bad keys follow a pattern. This is indicative of a failure in the
keyboard matrix. Just one trace would suffice to cause this failure.

Step 4: Disassemble Keyboard

Disassemble the outer case. This consists of removing three Allen screws
from the underside of the keyboard. The keyboard assembly then lifts out
of the base.
Note that two ribbons are coming from the keyboard assembly and
connected into the keyboard encoder circuit. Remember that keyboard
matrix from the previous step? These ribbons are the X and Y axes of that
matrix.
Depending on the manufacturer of our keyboard, these ribbon cables may
be latched in or held with a pressure connector. In this case a pressure
connector was used. To remove these, just pull on the tabs on both sides
on the cable. Pull straight back to avoid damaging the cable. On the
latched type connectors, we would need to open the latch on both sides of
the connector. The ribbon should then slip easily out of the open
connector.

Remove all screws holding the encoder board into place. We need to
access the "solder side" of the board.

Step 5: Construct Test Jumper

Now we need a jumper wire to test the keyboard encoder.


Simply cut a 6-8" length of 30 guage wire and strip about 1/32nd to 1/16th
of an inch from each end. Using your finger and thumbnail, curve one end
of the exposed wire to form a tiny hook. This will help us hold that end in
place while we probe with the other end.

Step 6: Test the Encoder Board.

Using the jumper wire from the previous step, we will test the Keyboard
Encoder. If this test is successful, our chances of successfully repairing the
keyboard just went through the roof. A failure here would normally mean
the keyboard's a doorstop.
Examine the two connectors. One will be smaller than the other. Since the
failing keys are positioned vertically from each other, the failing line will
likely be one from the larger connector. If the failed keys had been across
the keyboard, we'd look for the bad line on the smaller connector. We will
use the hook on the suspect connector and use the other to test it.
Using one hand, hook the hooked end of the jumper onto pin one (it should
be marked) and hold it reasonably tight. Too tight, we'll straigten the wire
and have to fix it again. Too loose and it falls off the pin.
Now carefully drag the other wire across each side of the other connectors
pins, watching for flashes in the Screen Keyboard. Pay particular attention
to the failed keys.

If you see any flashes at all, that line on the hooked connector is good. If it
turns on the Caps Lock key, touch that pin again to turn it off. This way we
avoid shorting out the Cap Lock LED.
Proceed to move the hook to pin number 2 and retest. Continue with each
pin of the suspect connector. If they all pass but none of your bad keys
appear to be pressed, test again then reverse your wire and test the other
connector the same way.
If any of the lines produce no reaction at all when jumped; Note that line. It
may not be a problem, but a ground line for the assembly. But then is could
be our entire problem too.
When you do see one or more of our problem keys appear during this test,
mark down the number of the hooked pin that it appeared on. Recheck that
line to verify that all of the problem keys appear when jumpered with
different lines on the other connector.
In this case, the problem keys all appeared when testing line 18 (of 19) on
the large connector. This is good! It means a lot more work, but the
problem is in the matrix itself and probably fixable.
If the bad keys did not appear while testing either connector than the
Encoder chip is bad. We could carefully examine that all the traces on the
Encoder Board are intact and repair any break we find. Then test again.
We're not going to go into detail of that rare problem because it isn't the
situation here.

Step 7: On to the Keyboard Assembly

Okay... In the previous step, we determined that pin 18 of the large


connector is the culprit. That trace is damaged somewhere within the
Keyboard Assembly. We now need to disassemble the keyboard assembly.
Take care that there are a lot of little pieces in this assembly. Don't loose
any of them! Use a parts box, dish or other organized container to hold
parts.
There are 33 screws on the metal plate of this keyboard assembly. This is
quite typical of keyboards. All of them have to be removed. There are three
additional raised screws that should be left alone. These "extra" screws act
to ground the plate with the encode board when the keyboard is
assembled.
When you remove the screws make sure that the keyboard is laying on a
stable surface. Don't use your lap!
Once all of the anchoring screws are removed, carefully lift off the plate to
expose the flexible printed circuit boards. These are the actual matrix of

the keyboard. Look carefully for any discoloration that would possibly
indicate the problem area.
When we lift off the matrix take great care. There is a tiny flexible cap at
every key position. These must be collected and stored safely while we
work.
We can set aside the keys after we've put away the little caps. We only
need to work with the matrix sheets.

Step 8: Follow and Test the Bad Trace.

Yes. We already spotted where we think the problem is, but we could be
wrong! Note that each ribbon connector lead to opposite matrix sheets.
There's an unprinted sheet between them with holes at each key position.
Turn the sheet so the suspect connector is on top.
Note that the three sheets are attached together. DO NOT SEPARATE
THEM! We can pull them apart where they aren't melted together, but if we
break the bond(s) they will never align properly again.
Follow the trace from the ribbon connector that we noted from the Encoder
test. It should eventually lead to one of the offending keys. Actually it will
lead to all of them, but we're satisfied when we come to the first one with
the problem.
In this case, that line also led to the Asterisk (*), Plus, Minus and Enter
keys on the Numeric Keypad before leading to the offending Space key.
Since we had no problem with the aforementioned keys, we can assume
the problem is in the trace somewhere between the Enter and Space

keys.
The previously noted discoloration happens to be right on this trace! So we
know just where to test.
Using our Ohm Meter, measure the resistance between two previous
known good key points. In this case, it reads about 5 ohms. Now measure
from the last known good key point to the first bad key point In our case,
this reads about 85K ohms. Yep! The trace is bad!
Use a cotton swab dipped in clean water and lightly clean the bad area.
Let it dry completely.
Remeasure the trace from before the bad spot to after the bad spot. Here
we read about 76 K ohms. This needs repair!

Step 9: Repair the Trace

Using the Conductive Ink Dispenser, carefully dab the ink from a good spot
of the trace before the problem area, over the problem area and into a
good spot after the problem area.
Don't "draw" it on like an ink pen or felt marker! The liquid component in
this pen will dissolve the original tracing material and break it if you scratch
across it. Just dab lightly to cover the area. Also be careful not to get too
near another trace.
Use a weight to hold the other sheets away from this area for at least 10
minutes to let it dry.
After 10 minutes, test across the problem area. Don't measure on the
patched area, but the original traces before and after the patch. We now
measure about 2 ohms. I'd call that a success!
Now for the hard part! :)

Step 10: Reassemble the Keyboard Assembly

Return the keyboard to the solid surface and carefully place the flexible
caps at every key position. Note that some keys on the edges are pushed
up by the weight of the assembly. Make sure that the little nub on the cap
is in the key's hole. On the others the caps simply need to fit the recess.
Make sure that every key has a cap! If we're missing any, get on our knees
and find them! They're easy to bounce away.
Take extreme care that there are no cat, dog, human or whatever hairs
anywhere around the caps or on/in the matrix sheets! If there are, clean
out the hairs with that wet cotton swab.
Now we need to place the matrix sheets exactly in the right position. Note
that there are a number of "keys" that appear as raised plastic on the Key
Assembly. These will pass through matching holes in the matrix sheets.
Also note the position of the Caps Lock LED. There will be dark contacts
on the matrix sheets that will line up with the LED perfectly.

Very carefully place the matrix sheets in the proper position. Don't slide it
around or we'll likely move our caps from where they're supposed to be.

Step 11: Reattach the Back Plate

Carefully place the backplate over the Matrix Sheets in the correct position.
Note how the anchor holes line up.
This plate was attached with "self-tapping" screws. For this reason, we
must align the threads before feeding the screws in. We do this by turning
the screw counter-clockwise until we feel the click of the threads lining up.
Then carefully turn clockwise to screw in the screw. If the screw starts to
tip, pull back and realign the screw. Any cross-threading (cutting new
threads) could destroy the keyboard.
Note how the holes in the plate are elongated. when we're done, they
should all be roughly centered.
Start with a corner hole and screw in the screw most of the way. We want
all the screws slightly loose to do our final alignment. Proceed to the
opposite corner and insert the screw (most of the way). Now do the other
two corners. Continue adding screws at least two holes away from the
previous screw until they've all been placed.

As you're adding your screws, note where the plate seems to have the
largest gaps from the screw hole. Add your next screw there. This way
we're balancing the plate as we add screws.

Step 12: Test the Repaired Keyboard


Assembly

Carefully reattach the Keyboard Assembly to the Keyboard Encoder board.


Neither has to be screwed down... We're just testing.
Check every key and make sure it works. If any new keys don't work or two
keys press each other, you've got a hair in there! Remove the screws
surrounding the problem area to the side of the keyboard. Hold it slightly
open on the edge and blow hard into the space. Don't spit! We really don't
want to start over! :) Now, put the screws back in.
Once the keyboard tests okay, disconnect the Keyboard Assembly and
tighten the screws using the same every other screw technique. This
process aligns the torque across the plate, much like tightening a car's
wheel.

Step 13: Reassemble the Keyboard

Now reinstall the keyboard encoder, making sure the tension relief on the
USB cable is correct.
Reattach the Keyboard Assembly cables and finish putting the keyboard
back together.
One last test, of every key and we're Done!
Pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
HOW TO HACK A KEYOARD
How to hack a USB keyboard or any keyboard for that matter. Send inputs into the computer
without a pesky microcontroller.

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Step 1: Open up the keyboard

Open up the case. You can use a screwdriver or an any ridiculous looking
multi-purpose tool. Sometimes even after all the screws are removed the
keyboard still won't open up. In this situation, don't worry, just forcefully pry
the case apart with your screwdriver. It doesn't matter if you break the
case. You don't really need it.

Step 2: Trace the letters back to the pins

The inside of the case should have two plastic sheets (one on top of the
other). One plastic sheet will have printed conductive tracings that go to
one set of pins on the circuit board and the other sheet will have tracings
that go to another set of pins on the circuit board.
When you press down on a key, the tracings on both sheets will touch
each other. This completes the circuit and tells the board to send a letter,
number or command back to the computer.
What you need to do is to label each conductive circle on both sheets with
the letter key that corresponds to it. So, for instance, if you were to press
down "A" on the keyboard, label the plastic circle on both sheets of plastic
that would be pushed together if the "A" key would strike (see picture of
labeled sheets).
Once you have labeled both plastic sheets with all of the corresponding
keys (that you plan to use in your project), the next thing you need to do is
to trace the letters back to the circuit board with a Sharpie (see notes on

pictures).
One way to simplify the matter is to consider one sheet "SIDE A" and the
other "SIDE B" .
Below is a chart that I made for the particular keyboard I was working on.
Please remember that all keyboards are different. It will help you
immensely if you make a similar chart for the keyboard you are working on.

PIN LAYOUT:
| | | | | | | | XXXXXX | | X | | | | | | | | X
1234 5678 12 11 10 98765 432 1
SIDE A SIDE B
PIN SIDE A

A01 - 0, 9, 8, 7, 4, 3, 2, 1
A02 - 6, 5, A03 - N, B, ?(slash)
A04 - (period), (comma), M, V, C, X, Z, (enter)
A05 - H, G, (space), '
A06 - L, K, J, F, D, S, A, ;
A07 - Y, T
A08 - P, O, I, U, R, E, W, Q
PIN SIDE B

A02 - 1, Q, A, Z
A03 - 2, W, S, X
A04 - 3, E, D, C
A05 - 4, 5, R, T, F, G, V, B
A06 - 6, 7, Y, U, H, J, N, M

A07 - 8, I, K, (comma)
A08 - 9, O, L, (period)
A09 - P, 0, ?, -, ', ;
A11 - (enter)
A12 - (space)

Step 3: A note on pin layouts and shift


registers

Basically a keyboard is a specialized shift register. It takes in a lot of inputs


and sends out one output to the computer (that being a an ASCII code or
control command).
When a switch is closed, the shift register processes which two pins are
connected and interprets it as one particular output.

So, if you had ten pins going to each plastic sheet, then you would have
one-hundred possible combinations. This is because every single pin on
one sheet can be comined with every single pin on the other side. This
would produce ten rows of ten possible combinations. In other words, you
have just produced a "10 X 10" 2-dimensional array.
For instance, if you connect "Pin 4" on SIDE A and "Pin 6" on SIDE B you
will produce the letter "M" on the computer (see picture).
If you connect "Pin 8" on SIDE A and "Pin 7" on SIDE B you will produce
the letter "I" on the computer (see picture).
It's really quite simple.

Step 4: Attaching wires

So, now you know which pins produce which letters. Now you need to
connect your own mad creations to the boards.
But wait!
Before you can connect things to the board, you need to connect wires to
the board!
Sigh...
You're going to need:
wire (ideally in a number of colors)
quick setting epoxy (from your local Radioshack or Home Depot)
a razor blade
a soldering iron
So, here is what you do. Count the number of pins you need to attach

wires to. Once this is done, prepare all of the wires you're going to need.
They need to be stripped on both ends about a quarter of an inch and
should be about five to six inches in length. Try to use many different
colors of wire so you can tell them apart later. On one end, bend the
stripped part of the wire so that it can hold itself to the board (see picture).
Wrap the wire around the board so that the stripped part is touching one
and only one of the pins that it needs to be connected to. Make sure none
of the wires are touching. When all of the wires are in place (touching the
pins and not touching each other), you're going to need to glue.
Prepare some epoxy and cover the back side of the board in epoxy so that
the wires are glued in place on the side opposite from the conductive pins.
Leave it for how ever many hours the epoxy says it needs to sit for for
maximum strength.
Sixteen to twenty hours later or so, you're going to need to solder. So,
solder the wire to the pin. If the solder won't stick to the pin, scratch the pin
with a razor blade a couple of times and try again. If the pin is coated with
something, scrape off the coating with a razor blade and then solder to it.
If you have a lot of money, just glue the wire to the pin with conductive
epoxy very, very, carefully.
When everything is dry and in place, test the keyboard. If it works, then
you're more less done.
Put it in a nice case or put it in a radioshack case. It doesn't matter.

Step 5: Other keyboards and considerations

Some keyboards have sockets. If it does, it saves you a lot of work. What
you need to do is get your own socket or set of header pins and solder
wires to each connection. Once you have a socket or header pins with
wires attached, plug it into the socket on the board. Test it to see if it works
by touching a wire on each side together. If it works, glue the header pins
or socket into the socket on the board and you're done. It's so simple to
connect, in fact, that you may not even want to bother tracing the plastic
sheets and just try to figure out the key combinations by trial and error.
Also, there are Mac USB keyboards that allow you to connect other USB
devices to the computer through them. I wish I could tell you something
more enlightening about the USB connections on those boards, but I can't.
Maybe you can do something profound with them. Otherwise, you can just
attach wires to it using the method shown in Step 4.
other considerations:
-The USB cable has a tendency to rip off the shift register board. You may

want to glue it in place.


-USB devices are 5v 100ma
-Some boards have LEDS attached (see picture). You may be able to send
data back from the computer to light them up. If you can control the LEDS,
then you can attach low voltage relays to them and have outputs as well as
inputs. I haven't tried to figure it out yet, but if you want to give it a go, a
good place to start may be here:
http://www.beyondlogic.org/keyboard/keybrd.htm

Step 6: One step beyond!

Once you have a hacked keyboard you can use it for a number of
functions and attach a number of different types of switches.
You can build your own typewriter keyboard. Check the picture and video.
It may not auto-load and it may take a long time to load when it does (it's
around 20 MB), but here is the video of the typewriter:
http://a.parsons.edu/~randy/video/typewriter.mov
You can use a photocell as a switch (as seen in the picture and video).
You can hook it up to a capacitance sensor and use just about anything to
trigger an event in a Flash movie.
You can hook it up to some floor switches and develop your own DDR
game.
You can do more things than I could ever dream up.

Build an ohmmeter

A very simple circuit to measure low resistance values from 0.001 up to 1.999 Ohm.
With a "Direct Resistance Readout in Ohms". You must use two separate batteries.
One for the DMM and one to supply power to the LM317LZ. I recommend the
LM317LZ, which is the 100 mA, T0-92 version of the normal LM317. But you can also
use the LM317, in the T0-220 package, if you want. The trimpot must be set
precisely to deliver 100.0 mA out to get truly accurate resistance measurements. So
you need a very accurate Milli-Amp Meter to adjust this Correctly. (And like Any Test
Equipment, This Calibration should be Re-Checked once a year or so.)

** My Calibration Meter is a 4 1/2 Digit DMM, "So 100.00 mA setting Capability".


The Meter Leads MUST Connected DIRECTLY Across the Resistor or Wire to be
Tested. DO NOT CONNECT IT to the Clip On Leads, that connect to the Resistance
under test, As this will give FAULTY Readings, as a Result of Contact Resistance.
You Could use a DMM instead of this Panal Meter, But you will Probably Lose One
Decimal
point
of
Sensitivity.
The Front Decal was created in a small Cad Program and Reverse Printed on
"Transparency
Film".
Than Sprayed with "3M's Spray Mount Adhesive", let dry and than applied to the
front.
Because
it
is
Reverse
Printed,
the
writing
Can't
rub
off.

The Display will read out Directly in Ohms, Between 0.001 up to 1.999 Ohms.
AS A OUALITY TEST: I connected my 100 mA current across a Single Conductor of 22

AWG Bare Copper wire that was about 16 inches long, "but exactly 12 inches long
between my Meter Test Leads". And it measured 0.016 Ohms. Looking at my Copper
wire Chart, it tells me: 22 AWG has 16.46 Ohms per 1000 feet. So that is 0.01646
Ohms
per
Foot.
So
I
AM
HAPPY
with
this
result!
I could also create a Milli/Micro-Ohm Resistance Meter, But the real Problem would be
the Accurate Calibration of the current source.

Low-Ohm Meter
Back to the British Amateur Electronics Club.
If you need a rough check on the value of a resistors the ohms ranges of your
analogue multimeter will provide it, so long as the resistance value is between
10 ohms and one or two megohms, but the non-linear scales reduce the
accuracy of the higher readings. A digital multimeter will provide greater
accuracy - perhaps 1% but neither meter can be used for values below 1 ohm. It
may be argued that one does not very often need to measure such values, but
the emitter resistors of output transistors in power amplifiers fall into this
category, and so do many coil and transformer resistances. It is also useful to be
able to check the resistance between switch contacts, especially if you suspect
that a switch is faulty.
There are a number of ways of measuring low resistance, and for many years I
used a shunt ohmmeter with mid-scale readings of 10 and 1 ohms on its two

ranges. I described this in a workshop article in the January 1984 Newsletter


(No. 72).
On the ohms ranges of a normal multimeter the unknown resistance is
connected in series with a battery and the meter and the scale reads backwards.
A variable resistor is included in the circuit so that the meter can be adjusted to
read full scale with the test terminals shorted (Fig 1). In the shunt ohmmeter a
battery and variable resistor are connected across a milliammeter and the
resistor is adju ted so that the meter reads full scale with the test terminals
unconnected (Fig.2). Any resistance across the test terminals will bypass some
current so the meter reading will fall. No commercial meter that I have
encountered uses this circuit. In my case the shunt ohmmeter uses the two
lower ranges of a three range milliammeter (Fig 3).

In April 1981 a design for a low ohmmeter by Ray Marston was published in
"Electronics Today International". I built a modified version of this meter and
found it very satisfactory. It will measure resistance from 100 ohms down to a
few milliohms, and has a linear scale. A short while ago I was asked about
measuring low resistance by a B.A.E.C. member and recommended this circuit
to him. I thought it might interest other members so I obtained permission from
the editor of ETI to publish details in the Newsletter - and here they are.
The meter contains two independent and independently powered circuits: a
multi-range constant current generator and a D.C. millivoltmeter with a full
scale sensitivity of 10mV. The generator is used to apply a known fixed current
to the resistor being measured, and the millivoltmeter measures the voltage
developed across the resistor, eliminating the effects of the test leads.

The complete circuit is shown in Fig 4. A 5V regulated supply feeds the


constant current generator and the output test current is determined by resistors
R1 to R4. On each range the value of Rx is very low in relation to the current
limiting resistor, and the full scale test voltage (lOmV) is very small compared
with the 5V regulated supply. As a result, the test current is virtually
independent of the effects of lead resistance's etc.; on the most sensitive range
(lOOmV) one ohm of lead resistance will introduce a maximum full scale error
of 2%. On the other ranges the effect of lead resistance is negligible. In
practice, the reading errors are primarily determined by the accuracy of the
resistors R1 to R4.
The D.C. millivoltmeter is based on a CA3140 operational amplifier, which can
respond to inputs down to zero volts. To allow the output to go slightly negative
for zero setting, a -600mV supply rail is generated by R11 and D1. The
sensitivity of the meter is variable over a limited range by the calibration
control VR1; zero setting is provided for by the multiturn potentiometer VR2.
Components list
R1
47 W VR1
R2
470
VR2
R3, 10, 11
4K7
R4, 6
47K
C1
R5
1M
C2
R7
82K
R8
1K
IC1
R9
10K
IC2
D1
1N4148
S1
Resistors R1 to R4 should

47K horizontal preset


10K multiturn preset
330n polyester
10n polyester
78L05
CA3140
1 pole 4 way rotary switch
preferably be of 1% accuracy.

The PCB track layout is shown in Fig.5, and Fig.6 shows the component
positions I used a 1" multiturn pot for VR2 but the commoner size is ",
which would require slight repositioning of the pads for this component. R1 to
R4 can conveniently be mounted on S1.
If batteries are used to power the meter, B1 must be capable of providing a
current of l00mA on the lowest range, and a PP9 is recommended. The op-amp
current is only around 5mA so here a PP3 would suffice. To power my version
of this meter I use a power supply which provides 5V and 9V regulated
supplies; in this case all the components to the left of the dotted line in Figs. 4,
5 and 6 can be omitted. The 5V supply should be connected at the points
marked x.
The meter M should have a full scale reading of 1V; the 1v range of a
multimeter is perfectly satisfactory. If the meter has a sensitivity of 10K/V or
better, R9 should be l0K as shown; for lower sensitivities R9 should have twice
the ohms-per-volt value of the meter.

The various flexible leads from the ohmmeter should be terminated


appropriately. Those for connection to B1 and B2 should have battery clips (or
suitable plugs if a mains power supply is used). The MS leads can have plugs to
fit the meter sockets. Probably the simplest way to terminate the V and I leads
is to use crocodile clips, though these are liable to come off at a vital moment.
When construction is finished, connect batteries or power supply to the unit and
connect the M leads to a 1V D.C meter or multimeter. Short the V leads
together, and adjust VR2 for a zero reading on the meter. Then turn S1 to the
100 ohm range and connect the I leads across a 100 ohm resistor (1% if
possible). Connect the V leads across the resistor on the resistor side of the I
leads, with like polarities, and adjust VR1 to get a full scale reading on the
meter. The unit is now calibrated and ready for use on all ranges.
Make a Workbench Multimeter Circuit With the IC 741
Posted by hitman

Testing and troubleshooting electronic project circuits requires a multimeter, so


why not make the circuit of a homemade multimeter itself as your next electronic
project. Interesting homemade circuits like an Ohmmeter, voltmeter, ammeter are
discussed here using the IC 741 and just a few other passive components.
Although multimeters are available plentifully in the market today, but building
your own homemade multimeter can be real fun. Moreover the attributes involved
can become thoroughly useful for the future electronic circuit building and testing
procedures.

Circuit Illustrations

A simple configuration for measuring DC voltages is shown below using the IC


741. A couple of resistors Rx and Ry are introduced at the input in a potential
divider mode at the non-inverting pin #3 of the IC. The voltage to be measured is
applied across the resistor R1 and ground. Through proper selection of Rx and
Ry, the range of the meter can be varied and different voltages can be
measured.
In case you want to measure alternating voltages then the circuit illustrated below
can become useful. The wiring is similar to the above wiring, however
the positions of Rx and Ry have changed and also a coupling capacitor comes
into the scene at the inverting input of the IC. Interestingly the meter here is now
connected across a bridge network enabling the meter to display the relevant AC
potentials correctly.

Another circuit to measure Direct current or Amps using the IC 741 is shown
below. The configuration looks pretty simple. Here the input is applied across the
resistor Rz i.e. across the non-inverting input pin #3 of the IC and the ground.
The range of the meter can be simply varied by changing the value of
the resistor Rz.

Resistors are one of the most important passive components which inevitably
become an integral part of every electronic circuit. A circuit may be virtually
impossible to build without accompanying these amazing current controlling
devices. With so many resistors involved, a possible fault can always be on the
cards. Identifying them requires a meter an Ohm meter. A simple design using
the IC 741 is shown below just for the purpose.

Unlike most of the analogue designs which tend to have a rather non-linear
behavior, the present design very efficiently tackles the problem to produce a
perfectly linear response with the corresponding measurements. The range is
pretty impressive, it can measure values of resistors right from 1K up to a

staggering 10 M. You may go on to modify the circuit for enabling the


measurement of more extreme values.
The range is selected by moving the rotary switch switch into the
relevant positions. Calibreating th instrument is simple and is done with the
following points:
Adjust the selector switch to the 10K position.
Trim the base preset of the transistor until its emitter voltage shows exactly 1 volt
(measure using a digital multimeter.)
Next, Fix an accurately known 10 K resistor into the measuring slot.
Adjust the trimmer associated with the moving coil meter until the meter shows a
full scale deflection.
All the circuits discussed above use dual supply voltages. The meter used is a
moving coil type and is specified as 1mA FSD.
The preset across the pins 1, 4 and 5 of the IC 741 used for this homemede
multimeter is used for adjusting the initial condition meter to exactly zero.

Relevant Values of Rx and Ry


The following are the values of the resistors required for varying the range of the
respective meters.
DC Voltmeter
Rx--------------------Ry--------------------Meter FSD
10M-----------------1K--------------------1 KV
10M-----------------10K-------------------100V
10M-----------------100K------------------10V
900K----------------100K------------------1V
NIL-------------------100K-----------------0.1V
DC AMMETER
Rz--------------------Meter FSD
0.1-------------------1A
1---------------------100mA
10-------------------10mA
100-----------------1mA
1K-------------------100uA
10K-----------------10uA
100K---------------1uA
AC VOLTMETER
Ry---------------------Rx-------------------Meter FSD
10K-------------------10M----------------1KV
100K-----------------10M----------------100V
1M-------------------10M-----------------10V
1M--------------------1M------------------1V
1M--------------------100K----------------100mV
1M--------------------10K------------------10mV
1M--------------------1K--------------------1mV

A request from one of the keen followers of this blog:

Hi Swagatam
Is it possible to design a small circuit module which can be used with a
multimeter to measure minimum/maximum voltage of a fluctuating signal at any
point of a circuit under observation.
For example, we can switch a toggle switch in our module at MIN position and
measure the voltage at point (A). The volts shown by the multimeter would be
LOWEST voltage of the signal. And when the toggle switch is positioned at MAX,
and the voltage is measured again at point (A) the meter will show the HIGHEST
voltage of the signal.
The Design

This is a simple ohm meter that is small to build. The circuit operates
with a constant current around T1. The current depends on the emitter
through S1 can be chosen. These are the ranges of the meter. The
constant current through T1 causes a voltage drop across Rx, the
measured resistance. This voltage is measured by M. D2 is a
germanium diode. You can try a 90 or OA 118 using AA. The resistance
value is the range times the meter reading in volts. visit page.

R1 = 1.5 kOhm R2 = 820 kOhm R3 = 82 kOhm R4 = 8.2 kOhm R5 =


820 ? D1 = 9.1 V zener D2 = germanium diode T1 = BC 547B M =
meter 0-15 V

Ohm Meter
The circuit diagram of the ohm meter in this site is very usefull for measuring
the low resistance range form 0 to 1 and and 0 to 10. You can adjust the range
according to your wise. The circuit for a low Ohm meter described here is
simple and has the following advantages over other meters:
1. Do dont need to see it again and again just set it once and forget it forever).
2. Scale reading capacity of this circuit is from zero to a fixed value rather than
infinity.
3. This meter is low power consuming as it uses a 1.5-volt penlight cell, two
scales (0-1 ohms and 0-10 ohms) over a dial and a push-to-on switch large
power consumption by the circuit.

Part List

RESISTORS
R1
R2
R3
R4
VR1

27K
3.3K
3.3K
330K
100 OHM
DIODES

D1
D2

1N4001
1N4001

CIRCUIT DIAGRAM

Ohm meter Circuit

CIRCUIT DESCRIPTION

The circuit diagram that you can see below is the ohm meter which can
measure the resistance for 0 to 10 ohm . You can see the selector switch over
there the circuit diagram which can select the measuring rang form 0 to 1 ohm
and 0 to 10 ohms. Transistor T1 works as a constant current generator which
passes a know current through the resistors which resistance is to be measured.
If the maximum drop of the voltage across the emitter of the transistor T1 will
be more than 100 mV and the ground is displayed on the meter whose internal
resistance is much higher than the testing resistance that is 10 ohms. Because of
which this ohm meter can not load the circuit.

There is a diode D3 across the micro ammeter which is use to protect the oh
meter form the overload during the the absence of the testing resistor which
resistance is to be measured.

Resistors R1, VR1 , R2 , R3 , D1 , D2 and R4 are biased by the transistor T1.


Diodes D1 and D2 are use for holding the bias level constant inspite of the
decaying battery.
The scale of the meter in this project should have 0-500 A . The shunt
resistance in this project can be any general propose meter. Transistor T1 is the
silicon npn with a high gain factor.

Now the meter should be adjust by shorting probes A and B. If the meter is
adjust before the it shows a zero resistance. You only have to adjust in 0 to 10
ohm scale first and other adjustments will be follow automatically. This can be
easily built within a few minutes. This is the very useful project for the
electronics beginners.

..Read more http://electronicsproject.org/ohm-meter/