30
Oct
13

ESR Meter, Logic Probe and a Sun Frame Buffer

Recently I built two kits that I was given for my birthday. I had asked Dad for them as they will later help me diagnose and hopefully repair old computer electronics, well at least I hope so. The first kit is a simple logic probe, the second an ESR meter. I’ve assembled a few kits before so I’m not the best at soldering but I’m good enough for through hole components. Fortunately these kits were through hole only.

Kits

Kits

The logic probe was by far the easier one to build, mostly because of the smaller number of components. It consists of a single logic chip filled with NOR gates and some basic passive components around it. It took about 2 and a half hours to complete with pretty much no problems. For those who don’t know a logic probe basically will tell you is a line is high or low, and with this probe it can also detect floating lines (a voltage that is neither high or low). It is a pretty simple device to build and use.

The ESR meter was a completely different kettle of fish. For starters it has many more components, it took me an hour just to position all the resistors on the board there were that many! The size of the pads for the components also seemed closer together and smaller making any soldering work much tighter and more fiddly. Controlling the amount of solder applied to joints helped form, but it was easy to use too much. The chips and display were all socketed which whilst isn’t easier to solder, it does mean you’re less likely to overheat the components. In hindsight I probably could have foregone the sockets as I can solder IC’s with out too much trouble now.

An ESR meter is a useful bit of kit to have for a few different scenarios, the most common being detecting faulty electrolytic capacitors. These caps (as they are commonly known) are a common cause of faults with power supplies, CRT’s, main boards, you name it. It is often an easy fix if you can identify the faulty cap. This is where the ESR meter makes things easier as it can test caps in circuit. If you want to know more about ESR meters look here.

I hope to use both these new tools to solve some issues with some of my older machines.

Frame buffer

Frame buffer

Finally, a PCI frame buffer card that I got off ebay recently. It is a Wildcat Expert3D-Lite which has some basic 3D acceleration, I’m hoping to be able to use it as a frame buffer for either my Sun Fire R280 or Sun Fire V440. Unfortunately I did some web searching and it seems unlikely that it will be compatible, but one can hope. In either case it’s a nice addition to the collection.

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