Tag Archives: Multimeter

Small craft project for the summer time

solar module
As a mini – craft project for the summertime I call the following tinkering. A small monocrystalline solar module called “SM 6” from a well-known large electronics distributor starting with “C” and ending with “d” plays the main role in the project. The module has a nominal power of 6Wp with a maximum current of 320mA. The rated voltage is 17.3V. The open circuit voltage is 20.8V. The silicon cells are embedded in an EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) plastic sheet and are UV and moisture resistant. The whole module is about 25cm x 25cm in size. It is thus ideally suited to provide the power to power USB devices. For example, I thought about WIFI IP cams. It should also be possible to charge smartphones or tablets.

In order to be able to do this, the operating voltage of the USB standard (5V) must be generated from the rated voltage of the photovoltaic cell. You could do that easily with a 7805 controller and convert the difference into heat. But this is the least efficient way to get the panel’s energy into a cell phone. Firstly, the internal resistance of the panel depends on the light intensity, which has a major impact on the efficiency of unmatched load resistors. On the other hand, a series regulator is a power shredder, since the difference between input voltage and regulated output voltage is converted into power loss, ie heat, during the flow of current. Here you are better served with a switching converter (buck converter).


In a simple laboratory setup, the behavior of the panel can be examined. For this purpose, the open circuit voltage of the panel is measured at different illuminance levels. Subsequently, the panel is loaded with different resistance values ​​and the current through the load as well as the voltage at the panel are measured. The measured values ​​are recorded and the Ri (internal resistance of the source) is calculated. The following circuit diagram shows the measurement setup:
measurement setup – schematic
The ammeter is an Agilent and Voltmeter Keithley 2701 table multimeter. These gauges can both be controlled via SCPI commands. The interface is a LAN port. This makes it easy to implement an automated measurement process via a PC and a suitable script. And since Matlab offers a very convenient way to script, it’s also used right now. In order to be able to measure in a laboratory and have approximately the same environmental conditions, a table lamp with halogen bulb is used instead of the sun. The brightness of the lamp is easily adjusted by supplying it with a laboratory power supply of 0-13V. Of course, the laboratory power supply can also be controlled by Matlab.
measurement setup with lamp as “sun”

The lamp is placed at a distance of 25cm in the middle of the panel. In order to get a feeling of which illuminance is achieved with the lamp, a reference measurement is taken with a luxmeter. That is, the lamp goes through the power ramp of 0-13V and the lux meter measures the illuminance at a distance of 25cm under the lamp. The whole thing is resolved in 0.5V steps. This results in a curve that looks like this:

Voltage on the lamp results in illuminance

Now the measurement can begin. Resistors are manually connected to the panel as a load resistor and current and voltage are measured at each brightness level. There are eleven load resistance values ​​ranging from 4.7 ohms to 220 ohms connected in sequence. An idle measurement is then of course made without load resistance. The following graph shows the calculated internal resistance for two loads of the panel over the brightness curve of the lamp in lux and in the other graph over the voltage at the lamp (for better scaling). The internal resistance of a source is calculated from the open circuit voltage of the source minus the voltage under load, divided by the current. With the difference between the no-load and load voltage, the voltage drop at the internal resistance is obtained. Since the load is also known as the current, it is only necessary to use Ohm’s law to obtain the resistance value …

Internal resistance vs. illuminance
Internal resistance vs. Voltage on the lamp

Since some clarifications about the behavior of the PV cell have now been eliminated, I can briefly report on the structure of the voltage converter. As previously announced, a switching converter is the more efficient way to adapt the energy to the consumer. Here comes an LM2596S used. The LM 2596 is a “Simple Switcher Power Converter” that switches at 150kHz and can supply a load with 3A.) Here is an overview of the functions:

  • 3.3-V, 5-V, 12-V, and Adjustable Output Versions
  • Adjustable Version Output Voltage Range: 1.2-V to 37-V ± 4% Maximum
    Over Line and Load Conditions
  • Available in TO-220 and TO-263 Packages
  • 3-A Output Load Current
  • Input Voltage Range Up to 40 V
  • Excellent Line and Load Regulation Specifications
  • 150-kHz Fixed-Frequency Internal Oscillator
  • TTL Shutdown Capability
  • Low Power Standby Mode, IQ, Typically 80μA
  • Uses Readily Available Standard Inductors
  • Thermal Shutdown and Current-Limit Protection

(source: datasheet from vendor TEXAS Instrument)

With this switching converter and a few other components can quickly assemble a circuit and transform with the layout tool “Eagle” into a board. However, this circuit is so simple that it only works as efficiently as possible with the advantages of the LM2596, but does not perform any power tracking. This means that the load representing the circuit for the solar cell is not adapted to the internal resistance of the solar cell.


Circuit diagram of the DC-DC converter

From this circuit, a simple layout was created, a board etched and equipped. A USB socket on the output allows the direct connection of USB devices. To make the whole thing look a bit reasonable, I have donated the board still a small plastic casing …

Measurement of illuminance

measurement setup
Switchable load resistors
Layout on the computer
Foil for creating the printed circuit board
Etched PCB
Etched PCB
Finished circuit
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analogue multimeter – Goerz Minitest

Goerz Minitest
Goerz Minitest

The Goerz multimeter, model: Minitest FE5101 dates from 1969 and was manufactured by the company Goerz Elektro Ges.m.b.H from Vienna.

Introductory sentence from the operating instructions: “It is a multi-measuring instrument, which is particularly suitable for service work in the field of news and radio technology and electronics due to its small dimensions and low weight as a pocket instrument It allows the measurement of: equal and AC voltages, DC and AC, resistance, capacitance and frequency. “

The internal resistance is 20kOhm for DC and 4kOhm for AC. The achieved accuracy is 2.5%

inside view

As overload protection, the moving-coil meter is equipped with antiparallel-connected diodes.

In this model, the measuring ranges are not to be selected by a selector switch, but each individual measuring range is designed as a socket on the device. The sockets themselves are suitable for 2mm banana plugs. The power supply for the resistance measurement comes from a 3V dry cell battery (type 2R10 duplex battery).



For the measurement of the capacitance with this device an external voltage is necessary, because here no own alternating voltage generator is installed. This said external voltage is the 50 Hz mains voltage which is connected to the device via its own supply cable. So a capacity measurement up to 500nF can be achieved. Measurements greater than 0.5uF are no longer possible due to the low measuring frequency. Goerz supplied a polystyrene transport case for storage and transport.

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analogue multimeter – Unigor 3n

Unigor 3n
Unigor 3n

From the years from 1964 comes the analogue multimeter Unigor 3n from Norma, respectively Goerz-Metrawatt. It was characterized by the large measuring range of 52 measuring ranges, all of which can be selected with just one selector switch. The measuring mode and polarity reversal is realized with a push-button switch. All measurements (except the 10A range) are possible on just one terminal pair.

The measuring mechanism is a “clamping band measuring unit” with a very good vibration resistance and low self-consumption.

The internal resistance for voltage measurements is a maximum of 4MOhm in the highest measuring range (see photo technical data). The voltage drop in current measurements is given as 12mV in the 120uA range and 120mV in the 30A range. The measuring accuracy is 1% for DC and 1.5% for AC measuring ranges.

Like the Unigor 6e, the 3n model is also equipped with various safety features.

The power supply of the multimeter takes over a 1.5V mono cell.


Technische Daten
technical specification



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Multimeter analog

Unigor 6e (ca. 1970)

A good friend of the older generation of technicians is certainly the analog multimeter of the manufacturer Unigor. In this case, it is the model Unigor_6e from the 70s.

An excerpt from the preface of the operating manual:

The electronic instrument Unigor 6e combines the advantages of classical measuring technology with those of modern electronics.

It was specially developed for measurements in the field of electronics and for all those applications where practically no power is required. The high sensitivity is achieved by means of a battery-powered transistor amplifier.

The field effect transistor chopper for DC measurements and the multiple negative feedback guarantee high stability and negligible drift. The large measuring range and the high accuracy of 1% at AC and DC, allows universal use in the radio and television service in test field and laboratories.

The “6e” offers a total

  • 54 DC and AC / voltage ranges
  • 13 dB ranges
  • 12 resistance and capacity ranges
  • 2 temperature ranges

measuring ranges

The electronic components of the meter are powered by four 1.5V batteries and take a current of about 2.5mA. The working range of the electronics is between 4V and 7V. The battery is switched on with the rotary switch (which also represents the R, C adjustment knob at the same time). To check the battery voltage, a check position is provided on the measuring range shutter.

The Unigor 6e also offers a variety of protective devices and is therefore protected against damage caused by incorrect handling and overload. (I can remember quite well from my school time that this is not always the case: D)

The Unigor 6e has an electromechanical circuit breaker function. Its relay responds to overloads with DC and AC and requires no auxiliary power. The protection therefore remains fully effective even when the battery switch or battery is switched off. The restarting in case of permanent overload is prevented by a special switching mechanism.

Furthermore, fuses provide protection at the higher current ranges to respond in the event of a short circuit or tripping of the circuit breaker.

Against overvoltages at the inputs are voltage arresters at the input terminals whose breakdown voltage is lower than that of the internal circuit.

Scale sheet of the Unigor 6e


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