Computing stuff tied to the physical world

TK – Semiconductor Analyzer

In Hardware on Apr 26, 2012 at 00:01

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:

DSC 3053

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:

DSC 3051

And here’s an example from the datasheet, showing all the info you get:

Screen Shot 2012 04 17 at 18 10 49

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.

  1. If you’d like to make your own device like this, here’s a similar project (German webpage): http://www.mikrocontroller.net/articles/AVR-Transistortester

  2. Thanks! Hm, this would be an easy fit on a JeeNode, using a Proto Board – except for the 5V iso 3.3V requirement.

  3. I see DangerousPrototypes is also developing something similar; preview video here: http://dangerousprototypes.com/2012/04/26/workshop-video-part-ninja-v1-testing-and-overview/

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