An Ultra-Low-Cost RCL-Meter

Inácio, P.M.C., Guerra, R., Stallinga, P. (2022)


An ultra-low-cost RCL meter, aimed at IoT applications, was developed, and was used to measure electrical components based on standard techniques without the need of additional electronics beyond the AVR® micro-controller hardware itself and high-level routines. The models and pseudo-routines required to measure admittance parameters are described, and a benchmark between the ATmega328P and ATmega32U4 AVR® micro-controllers was performed to validate the resistance and capacitance measurements. Both ATmega328P and ATmega32U4 micro-controllers could measure isolated resistances from 0.5 Ω to 80 MΩ and capacitances from 100 fF to 4.7 mF. Inductance measurements are estimated at between 0.2 mH to 1.5 H. The accuracy and range of the measurements of series and parallel RC networks are demonstrated. The relative accuracy (ar) and relative precision (pr) of the measurements were quantified. For the resistance measurements, typically arpr < 10% in the interval 100 Ω–100 MΩ. For the capacitance, measured in one of the modes (fast mode), ar < 20% and pr < 5% in the range 100 fF–10 nF, while for the other mode (transient mode), typically ar < 20% in the range 10 nF–10 mF and pr < 5% for 100 pF–10 mF. ar falls below 5% in some sub-ranges. The combination of the two capacitance modes allows for measurements in the range 100 fF–10 mF (11 orders of magnitude) with ar < 20%. Possible applications include the sensing of impedimetric sensor arrays targeted for wearable and in-body bioelectronics, smart agriculture, and smart cities, while complying with small form factor and low cost.

Keywords: impedance meter; RCL-bridges; portable instrument; AVR® micro-controller; low-cost; internet of things

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