0

Building a nano current meter #measurement #EE @technoblogy

The Technoblogy blog describes a simple low-current meter to check the sleep current of different microcontroller circuits, such as ones based on AVR microcontrollers. It’s capable of measuring currents of between 10µA and 30nA with reasonable accuracy, using an ATtiny84 and a few other low-cost parts.

Measuring very small currents accurately is notoriously difficult with normal digital multimeters; they either don’t provide a low current range at all, or if they do, they create a voltage drop referred to as the “burden voltage” which can render the display inaccurate. One way round this is to use a precision current adapter, such as David L. Jones’s µCurrent, but such circuits are expensive.

Since I didn’t need high accuracy I decided that an alternative approach would be to calculate the current draw based on the time it takes a capacitor to discharge. A capacitor discharging into a resistive load is exponential, like radioactive decay. The voltage halves for successive fixed time intervals, so if the voltage starts at 5V, after a certain time t it will drop to half this value, 2.5V. After a further time t it will drop to 1.25V, and so on. The time t is called the half life.

The half life is log(2) of the time constant RC, or 0.693 x RC. So for a fixed capacitor C, by measuring the time taken for the voltage to drop to 50% of its initial value we can calculate R, the effective resistance of the load, and hence the current consumption.

Using a microcontroller with ADC inputs it’s easy to do this, and few other components are needed apart from the capacitor; the downside is that measurements of currents in the nanoamps may take a few seconds while the capacitor discharges.

NanoCurrentMeter.gif

The circuit is based on an ATtiny84 and a 0.28″ three-digit common anode seven-segment LED display.

See the blog post for more details and the code here.


Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.

Join 14,000+ makers on Adafruit’s Discord channels and be part of the community! http://adafru.it/discord

CircuitPython 2019!

Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7:30pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.

Join us every Wednesday night at 8pm ET for Ask an Engineer!

Follow Adafruit on Instagram for top secret new products, behinds the scenes and more https://www.instagram.com/adafruit/


Maker Business — Robotics manufacturer Anki is stripped for parts

Wearables — Form a flame

Electronics — Lead-free Soldering Temperature

Biohacking — Vitamin-C + Gelatin for Accelerated Recovery

Python for Microcontrollers — See you at Supercon, Python #2 language on GitHub and more! #Python #Adafruit #CircuitPython #PythonHardware @circuitpython @micropython @ThePSF @Adafruit

Adafruit IoT Monthly — Helping Harry's Heart, CircuitPython meets AWS IoT and more!

Microsoft MakeCode — Lenticular Art Display with Crickit

Get the only spam-free daily newsletter about wearables, running a "maker business", electronic tips and more! Subscribe at AdafruitDaily.com !



No Comments

No comments yet.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.