Welcome to the Thursday Toolkit series, about tools for building Physical Computing projects.
Today’s episode is about a little gadget called the DCA55 Semiconductor Analyzer from Peak Electronics:
It’s a nifty little self-contained unit, which identifies a range of 2- and 3-pin semiconductors, their pinouts, and some useful characteristics:
- NPN and PNP Bipolar Junction Transistors and Darlingtons
- Various types of MOSFETs and Junction FETs
- Low-power thryristors and triacs
- Diode and diode networks, as well as LEDs
The convenient bit is that you just hook up all the pins, press ON, and this gadget will figure it out, all by itself.
Here’s a BC549C transistor, i.e. a very common high-gain NPN transistor:
And here’s an example from the datasheet, showing all the info you get:
I wouldn’t call this unit indispensable – most of this can also be derived with a battery, a few resistors, and a multimeter – but it’s darn convenient, if you regularly re-use stuff from your spare parts bin, as I often do.