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News Link • Testing

Marshall's Plans: Advanced Testing For DIY Projects

•, By Vin Marshall
 I’m always tinkering with cars and building strange machines, so it’s crucial that I have the right electronic test and measurement equipment handy. Last month I showed off the gear I use the most often in my shop. But at times, I need more specialized gadgets to make sure my projects are the right length, speed or voltage. This is the gear I turn to when the basics aren’t enough.
When it comes to estimating the intensity of loud sounds, the ear is not very reliable. A sound-pressure meter can help. My American Recorder Technologies meter will measure anything between 30 dB and 130 dB.
The things with rotational speeds I want to measure also tend to be things I don’t want to put my hands into, so I stay safe by using my Monarch noncontact tachometer.

When working with digital circuits, I use a logic analyzer to translate communication between chips. For example, I’m working on a project with sensors speaking SPI to PICs, which in turn speak Modbus to a master over an RS-485 serial bus. In English, that’s a lot of chatter between chips, and my Saleae Logic16 tells me what they’re saying.


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