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# / RCL-meter

(version 1.10)

RCL-meter is a
low cost and
minimal
hardware
solution for
measuring:
- capacitances
(5pF to 5uF)
- inductances
(5uH to 50mH)
- resistances (5
Ohm to 50
MOhm)
using the PC
soundcard.

The required
external
hardware is just
2 resistors and 2
capacitors.

Version 1.10
includes an
improved phase
shift
measurement,
making the
software less
critical toward
the quality of
the soundcard.

## how it works &

system
requirements

meter v1.10
la8ak/k51.htm RCL-meter
How it works & system requirements

How it works
The working principle is simple: an AC
voltage, with a known frequency, is
applied over a known resistor (R) in
series with an unknown impedance (X).
Based on the voltage ratio (Ux/Ur), the
phase shift between Ux and Ur the
unknown impedance (X) can be
determined.
However, implementing this principle
using a soundcard is not so easy. At high
impedances (X) Ur is close to 0 while at
low impedances Ux is close to 0. In both
case it is difficult to get a sufficient
accuracy. Mainly because of the
inaccurate phase measurement.
In addition the soundcard inputs have a
rather low input resistance and a
significant input capacitance, appearing
in parallel to X.
In fact a soundcard is not really suited to
build a RCL-meter, in particular due to
the low input impedance and relatively
large input capacitance. In addition there
is a lot of variation between soundcards
in regard with the input impedance,
input capacitance, line-in sensitivity and
speaker out level.
But it is probably the nature of a radio
amateur to try to use things for purposes
they are not designed for ...
These problems were solved by taking
the Fourier Transforms of Ur and Ux and
use these to calculate the voltage ratio
and phase shift. After using some tricks
and a lot of calculations it seems
possible to build a relative accurate (and
very cheap) RCL-meter.

System requirements
- As a lot of math is involved (3 FFT's per
measurement) at least a Pentium
200MHz with 8MB RAM (16MB or more
preferred) is needed.
- Of course a soundcard that can handle
16 bit ADC / 44kHz sample rate. With
older / cheaper soundcards the
measurement accuracy can be limited,
due to a strong internal coupling
between speaker out and line in (see
help file for details). In addition the
soundcard MUST have a line-in input, as
2 signals must be measured at the same
time the microphone input (as it is
mono) cannot be used.
- At least Win98.

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