Check any Electrolytic Capacitor “in-circuit” with 100% accuracy in 3 seconds – Guaranteed!
Solving problems caused by electrolytics has never been easier, now that you can locate these bad capacitors easily without having to unsolder them, and without spending time troubleshooting, by using the CapAnalyzer 88A Series II
As a cap ages, it can cause problems in the particular circuit it is in. In a CRT vertical section, it can cause underscan or overscan problems. In audio or mpx circuits it can cause distortion or low audio. In the syscon supply it can cause intermittent functions and mpu confusion. In the video circuits it can cause a fully scrambled picture. In VCR or camcorder servo circuits, it can cause unstable speeds. Most VCRs and big screens also use surface mounted electrolytics in the sound MPX decoder module and video PIP and convergence circuits. High-end audio, video and computer products use tantalum capacitors that can become leaky by as much as 500 ohms. Computer motherboards are another user of electrolytics that must have super-low ESR, or else strange problems and freezing can occur.
Measuring a cap in circuit is more difficult than measuring a resistor, because circuit resistance and capacitance can affect readings. Some “capacitor checkers” claim to work in circuit, but they give such erroneous readings you have to unsolder and re-measure each cap out of circuit anyway. Some of the most expensive LCR meters will not measure capacitors accurately in circuit. Some meters measure the capacitance at two different frequencies, and show it as two different readings!
The trick to locating bad capacitors in circuit is not just to measure capacity, but instead, to measure Equivalent Series Resistance (ESR) and DC Resistance (DCR) in relation to capacitance. A perfect capacitor will measure as an open circuit at DC, and will show less AC resistance as the frequency across it increases. Most cheap cap meters utilize this fact by measuring a cap’s impedance at a fixed frequency such as 1 KHz and translating the reading to capacity. In reality, checking a cap at 1KHz is pointless because in TVs, video monitors, and PWM power supplies, frequencies of 100 KHz and higher are used. The CapAnalyzer 88 was the first and only test instrument that would discharge, then measure both DCR and ESR of capacitors automatically, in or out of circuit.
The current CapAnalyzer 88A Series II has a DCR range from zero to 500 ohms, ESR range of zero to 20 ohms, and a battery-saving quick ESR test mode InstaESR that bypasses the DCR test for the quickest ESR-only test, and updated LED display drivers that increase accuracy and decrease battery drain.
Other ESR meters have their limitations; they don’t check DCR for leaky or shorted caps and you must discharge each cap before testing, or risk damage to the meter. Their test probes add their own capacitance, and readings vary depending on the position that the probes are held. Also, these meters usually don’t use a frequency high enough to isolate the specific capacitor to be tested. Their Chinese quality also can’t compete with the American-made CapAnalyzer 88A.
The CapAnalyzer 88A uses a test frequency higher than any other DCR/ESR meter (over 100KHz), automatically discharges the cap under test, checks DCR first (up to 500 ohms), then checks and displays ESR on a 20 segment LED bar scale, and beeps from one to five beeps depending on the ESR condition of the cap. Both DCR and ESR measurements are made at levels that isolate the cap under test from the rest of the circuitry. Because it checks DCR first with its exclusive “DCR Set Alert”, it will alert the technician immediately if the cap or anything else in that circuit is shorted or leaky, before it checks ESR. Range covers just about any electrolytic or tantalum capacitor you will come across, from 0.47uF to 2200uF.
Be aware that there are many fake knockoffs and look-alike meters trying to fool you, like the B+K Precision 881 and GME Technology 236, that hope to lure you into buying what you think is our CapAnalyzer 88A. These won’t check tantalums in-circuit, and because of limited DCR range of only 30 ohms and lower-quality circuitry, you will never be 100% assured that you’ve found every leaky capacitor. The omission of the DCR set alert, special beryllium copper tipped tweezer one-handed probe and many other qualities that have made our made in USA CapAnalyzer 88A the choice of tens of thousands technicians throughout the world, should make your choice obvious. In fact, our CapAnalyzer 88A is the number one asked-for-by-name cap checker by professional technicians; see the short list of major users (above left) that buy the CapAnalyzer 88A in large quantities for their technicians. Why? Because only the EDS-88A CapAnalyzer guarantees 100% accuracy.
CapAnalyzer 88A includes a special beryllium copper tipped low-capacitance one-handed tweezer test probe for accuracy and ease-of-use. Because it is dual-microprocessor controlled, it has more features and is much more accurate than other cap testers. A three-color chart on the front panel shows typical ESR readings of good and bad caps in relation to their capacitance. Portability and battery operation make it ideal for repairs on site, eliminating a double service call and valuable technical travel time. An AC adapter is available for continuous use on your bench.
No other test equipment on your bench will make you a hero for so little money. No wonder that the CapAnalyzer 88A is the most widely used and asked-for-by-name capacitor tester in the world. Still not convinced? Click the Reviews tab from owners and companies.
Although production ceased in 2014, all parts required to build your own (including the special tweezer probes), except pc boards, are in stock. Any parts order that includes the programmed mcus also includes all data to build one: pcb gerber and drill files, BOM, layout, overlay pdf, etc. Contact us if you are interested.
BTW it is officially 20 years ago that the very first CapAnalyzer 88 was designed by Dave Miga. It made its official debut at the CEDA/NASD trade show in St. Louis in late 1997. Happy New Year!
Designed and built in the U.S.A. in our ISO9001:2000 registered and certified plant.