Electrical test and measurement equipment reviews.

  Digital Multimeter, Clamp on meter, Oscilloscope, Electronic component testing tools, all measuring equipment for demanding applications of our times:  Switching or Uninterruptible power supply, PV Inverters, VFD motor controllers, industrial electronics repair & HVAC.

Written by Kiriakos A. Triantafillou, Industrial maintenance electrician, Hellas.

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DER EE/ DE-5000 LCR review – By the eye of the Industrial electrician.

 By Kiriakos Triantafillou ©2012   December 29 2012  

Part - 1 Intro

Part –2)  L (inductance), C (capacitor), R (resistance), few thoughts.

Part – 3) DE 5000 LCR specifications

Part - 4) What is in the box?

Part - 5) DER EE, DE 5000 VS Agilent U1733C (all around comparison)

Part - 6) Plus and minus of the design and in relation with LCD resolution.

Part -7) Software PC connectivity & Over all experience

Part 8) Conclusion


1) Intro:

The specific LCR is a product of 2011 and it has received rapid recognition, and there a good reason for that.

It comes with high accuracy & manufacturing quality, plus one rich pack of accessories in a single hard case.


The suggestion about getting this LCR sample for review it was my own and I believe that it did caused some surprise to DER EE electrical instrument co. ltd. but they did agree and kindly offered the sample.

 

All those recent multimeter reviews in a way acted as one awakening about to discover even more regarding the world of electrical measurements, which is an extremely interesting one.

This time I wanted actually to discover what I was missing by not having touch all those years one LCR meter which considered being the holly grail regarding components testing in electronics and the key for sophisticated electrical measurements.


The preparation that I did so to be able to touch this subject leaded me in to the deep waters regarding the secrets of capacitors, and it was also a huge personal challenge about expanding my personal knowledge range in such of a sort time.


In order to make this evaluation more interesting I will try to present and some LCR handling tips for the repair man (electrician / electronics) who has no prior experience about using an LCR.

And naturally the side by side comparison of the DE-5000 LCR with the Agilent U1733C it will make this evaluation to look even more interesting.


It is almost a fact that in the decade in which we are crossing the true modern portable LCR meters is not more than five, and I am counting only the solutions which come from reliable manufacturers which have active R&D that follows closely the latest trends and needs of the industries who are manufacturing the latest electronic components.

Those recently made LCR meters they are here to help the modern repair man so to troubleshoot problems caused by our modern electronics parts.

It is more than clear that we are all links in the same chain which starts from the components manufacturing the T&M industry follows and gets involved by making  tools for us, so to be capable to repair the modern technology and to bring food in our table by doing that.

Those latest LCR offer high accuracy and they are capable for components testing up to the 100 KHz mark, and also they are accepted for accuracy verification due calibration labs.


By studying the theory behind those LCR meters (bridges), I got inspired to write some personal thoughts which are actually examples and suggestions regarding their usability, you may skip it but I think that it would be a bud idea if you are a novice.

2) L (inductance), C (capacitor), R (resistance), few thoughts.


C (capacitors)

The most common type of capacitors that an electrician will find in most electrical installations are two.

a) Motor Start Capacitors

b) Lamp Capacitors Fluorescent Lighting

All those capacitors are working at 50/60 Hz and they are rated up to 300V.

The LCR meter by having as minimum testing frequency the 100 Hz the capacitance of those capacitors can be measured far more accurate that what a multimeter can do. I was able to prove that and you will find those proofs bellow in the capacitors testing section.   


In electronics there are three basic categories of electrolytic capacitors.

a) A common type (audio/video) application (10 – 63V) where about the small in capacity ones are measure by the Dissipation Factor.  

b) High voltage (160 - 450V) used at AC/DC pulsing power supply. (Low ESR)

c) Low voltage (high ripple) used in computer motherboards & VGA video cards (Very Low ESR).  


In our modern industrial electronics, there are many chances to find most of the above types of capacitors to coexist under the single case of one machine.


Most multimeter's today is capable to measure just the capacitance of most capacitors but this measurement it is not a valid indication that this capacitor is also 100% healthy.

There is more than one parameter which must be checked so to evaluate properly one capacitor.


In the data sheet of its one capacitor you will notice that the manufacturer presents specifications according the type and the size of the capacitor:

a) Number of thousands of hours of operation.

b) Technical specifications about Dimensions

c) Test frequency

d) Dissipation factor Or Typical ESR & Max ESR or both.

e) RMS ripple current

f) Impedance Z


Depending the type and size of the capacitor some of the above data will be given.

The realization that the ESR (Ohms impedance) comparison are useful only for the low ESR capacitors when the Dissipation factor serves a wider range of  capacitors, makes the LCR to look invaluable in comparison with a simple dedicated ESR meter.   


The only common point among one LCR and one dedicated ESR meter is the use of AC voltage in a range of frequencies’ about measuring the resistance in series of one capacitor (Rs).

Even so there is even some smaller secrets regarding measurements of components on the PCB and this has to do with the voltage of the AC volts that its device is using as test signal, the DE-5000 uses 0.5V which is ideal if germanium diodes are not present.   


The modern LCR meters are capable for highly accurate measurements over Resistance by scaling up from the 100 Hz all the way up to 100 kHz.

The 100 KHz is the latest addition in the portable LCR meters which serve as test frequency for the most modern capacitors.

Generally speaking the LCR Bridge is not something new, but it is one design under constant development so to serve at it best the measurements of the most recent made components.   


The DE-5000 belongs in the group of the most recent made ones, and so it is capable for measurements which some years back was considered as possible only with the use of very expensive bench top LCR.  


Regarding the LCD counts resolution the 20.000 counts for the primary parameter it can be found in all the recently made portable LCR, the competition in those meters are coming from no more than five manufactures in which only one offers a 40.000 counts model.

Regarding the counts for the secondary parameter, there is a battle among 1000 counts & 2000 counts (dual display mode).

From the other hand it is known that the very high resolution is unwanted if it does not come with stability and accuracy plus fast settle time, and in this evaluation all those parameters they will be examined too.   


 

L (inductance)

By getting in my hands one LCR meter in my first happy thoughts was that now I am no longer blind regarding inductors and coils.

Fluorescent Lighting Ballast, electrical noise suppression filters, Transformers, relay coils, impedance of cables, can now be measured with extreme accuracy.

 

Inductance measurements of motors with permanent magnets are also possible, by rotating the rotor position you can compare the max inductance of the windings and by doing this you can check and locate even half damaged windings.


It is not fresh news the fact that regarding transformers and cables they can be measured using  one L Bridge regarding  inductance and  Dissipation factor (Tan delta), but I have no experiences on this field and I will not pretend that I do have, this is why I am just mentioning it.


In electronics the LCR is a key tool that with out it, you are totally blind about inductors and RF "chokes".


My own happy thought regarding electronics is that with the LCR at hand I can finally measure and inspect inductors, and even reuse components from damaged PCBs in to other projects.

   


R (resistance)

The LCR is one of the few instruments which come well prepared for very low and very high Ohm measurements.

It uses two basic methods so to measure accurately resistance.

The first is the Resistance in Series (R in series at AC Volt) measurement at a given frequency which is exclusively for capacitors (ESR measurement).


The second is the DCR mode, which is what the multimeter's use too so to calculate the resistance value under a known voltage by measuring the current.

Only the top range multimeter can achieve high accuracy and high LCD resolution regarding such measurements.


The specific LCR meter is capable for four wires measurement / Kelvin method, which offer a significant advantage at measurements below the one Ohm.

Only high-end bench top multimeter's can do four wires measurements even today.    


The bellow chart will answer quickly the question of what a portable LCR can do compared to a portable multimeter's (DMM).


Function: __________LCR / DMM

Common resistors:  Yes DCR mode / Yes (ohms mode)

Capacitors size:    Yes at selectable Freq / Yes at low test frequency

Lowest test Frequency:  100 Hz / 1 - 30 Hz vary among manufacturer & model

Capacitors resistance: Yes (with AC volt) / No

Inductance:  Yes / No

Relative mode:  Yes Open-Short calibration / REL button (removes test leads resistance)

Four wires Kelvin method: Yes (With proper test leads) / No  

 

The LCR meter unlocks the door for advanced measurements and the user will need some learning curve.

The good news is that you do not have to jump in to the deep waters of getting familiar with every secondary parameter.

You may skip them and use what ever is the most important to you, all those meters today comes with the Auto-mode and they are capable to configure them selves automatically depending the device under test.  


3) DE 5000 LCR specifications

• Auto L.C.R. check
• 100 / 120 / 1k / 10k / 100k Hz test frequency
• 20,000 / 2,000 counts display
• Backlit
• Ls / Lp / Cs / Cp / Rs / Rp / DCR with D / Q / θ / ESR measurement
• Relative mode
• Series / Parallel modes
• Components sorting function *Selectable tolerance ±0.25%, ±0.5%, ±1%, ±2%, ±5%, ±10%, ±20%, -20% +80%
• Low battery indication
• Optical IR to USB PC link (optional)

DC Power:  9V Battery / External 9V DC stabilized power pack

Viewable LCD dimensions 60 mm wide x 40 mm high.  

Keypad: Rubberised soft buttons  

LCR + TL21 = total weight 430 grams.


4) What is in the box?


The first positive impressions by getting in my hands one DE-5000 came from the plastic suitcase that the meter comes with.

This suitcase is designed by having in mind the word quality.

It haves real moving parts as locking spots and hinges, which translates that is capable to withstand allot of use with out failing apart.

All the accessories and the meter and everything related to it are well placed in it, the all concept is very wisely designed but I did find something to nag about, there are no anti-slip pads in the corners of the suitcase.

I believe that just one mm in thickness of a rubber strip as pads in the four corners it would be all that it needs so to become 100% perfect.    


TL-21   Test Lead Case (alligator clips)

The DE-5000 is designed to perform high accuracy lows resistance measurements by using four wires / Kelvin method.

Its one alligator clip it is connected with the TL-21 case by using a coaxial cable which includes two active wires plus shield.

The TL-21 haves on it an additional female banana input described as Guard which is there as one external ground point for the Device – Under – Test  (DUT) when the measurement is performed in a room where there is strong electrical interference by near by sources.

In my hands the length of those test wires felled a bit sort if they were three cm longer I would be happier.


The TL-23 accessory (alligator clip to male banana) is the cable which will be used for the connection among the Guard plug and the device under test.  


TL-22 SMD Tweezers (Surface-mount devices)

The specific accessory also follows the four wires / Kelvin method, the cable has the length of 60 centimeters, and it is also coaxial with four active wires in it.

The engineers’ of  DER EE made this accessory by taking under consideration the ultimate detail, by opening the TL-22 case I did discovered that they have connect the coaxial shield in two places on the PCB (connection box) instead of using just one.    

The cable is also securely attached from the inner side of the connection box with a plastic cable tie which is holding the cable on the PCB, I do consider this connection method as well made, but I would prefer additionally and a second strain relief material, an identical one with the one at the tweezers end.

The tweezers are top grade from any aspect.

Mechanically it is nor soft nor hard and I am talking about the feeling in my fingers, high quality copper as tip and also at the correct dimensions so to be considered as indestructible and easy to use.


Switching power supply 9V DC

By just looking at it you have a 50/50 impression which brings you close to describe it as cheap.

Well the importance of one stable and clean DC power supply is enormous when a meter comes with the expectation to offer stability and high accuracy.

This light weight power supply it is extremely well stabilized at 9.02V.

My first quick test was to use the meter in one low Ohms measurement at 0.060 Ohm and I did switch on and off the back light many times and the measurement was 100% unchanged.

Another simple test was to check the temperature of it after using the LCR for two hours, and it did not even get warm.

My personal conclusion is that it does perfectly well their job about keeping the DE-5000 always on.


The 9V Battery

The LCR came with one Duracell alkaline made in USA at 8/2011 and good up to 2015.  


Instruction Manual

The Instruction manual or user’s guide comes printed and I am very satisfied regarding dimensions and fonts size.

But yes there is a small but, there is an extended reference about most of the specification, but it does not include some explanatory descriptions about the basic terminology regarding LCR measurements.

In a way I would prefer the manufacturer to add in the instruction manual and some more educational facts, or better said explanations in favor of the novice user.

In my case after reading the DER EE instruction manual in full, I did read also the Agilent U1733C instruction manual in full, and the one about the Tonghui TH2822C so to get a better picture about the LCR measurements and key features.

     

CD Software / USB cable

When I wrote the review about the DE-208A professional grade multimeter, the software of it and the design of the IR to USB module were among the stronger positive points, in the next pages it is a full evaluation about this subject too.



5) DER EE, DE 5000 VS Agilent U1733C (all around comparison)

Test Frequency on test.


DE-5000


Listed Hz / Actual Hz _ Volts AC

 

100 Hz / 100.03 _ 0.577V


120 Hz/ 120.03 _ 0.572V


1 kHz/ 1.0003 _ 0.597V


10 kHz/ 10.0035 _ 0.626V


100 kHz/ 100.035 _ 0.642V  


DCR mode 0.850V



Agilent U1733C


Listed Hz / Actual Hz _ Volts AC

100 Hz / 99.998 _ 0.730V


120 Hz/ 120.48 _ 0.730V


1 kHz/ 999.98 _ 0.732V


10 kHz/ 9.9998 _ 0.712V


100 kHz/ 99.998 _ 0.705V  


DCR mode 1.21V






20 minutes warm up time in both LCR


Test No-1

1000 uF 10V 105C Panasonic / FC series, 8 × 20 mm

Dissipation Factor: 0.19 / (Tan δ at 120 Hz, at 20 Celsius)

ESR / Impedance (Ohm)/(100 kHz)= 0.065


Mode / DE-5000 / Agilent U1733C

Capacitance 120 Hz: 917.2 / 914.8

Dissipation 120 Hz:  0.078 / .078

ESR at 100 KHz

U1733C ESR mode: .0711

DE-5000 Rs mode: 0.074

DE-5000 Rs (Due PC software): 0.0740





Test No-2 verification of open/close test leads calibration after one hour at 1k Hz Rs Mode.

DE-5000 VS U1733C

Start up: 0.000 / .0001

60 min later: 0.000 / .0007



My personal thoughts after this comparison  

Regarding the warm up time of 60 minutes and by retesting the open/close leads calibration the Agilent LCR jumped 7 counts and naturally due the fact that DE-5000 has one digit less in Rs mode I was unable to verify such a detail on it.

But 90 minutes later and the DE-5000 jumped one count, and by using my simplified language I will describe it as 0-0 tie.

Both meter drift a bit but even so the truth is that DE-5000 drifted last.





Test No-3

(Low- ESR series) 470 uF 25V LXY series 105C by ELTEC

Specs:   

D=0.14 Max (120 Hz)

Impedance  (MAX) 100K Hz:  0.072 Ohm

Z=2 (120 Hz)


DE-5000 / U1733C


120 Hz:  452.6 uF / 450.8 uF

120 Hz D: 0.031 / .031

At 100 KHz the secondary parameter (ESR) on the DE-5000 display is incapable to operate when the capacitance is out of range (Over Limit), and so the Rs mode will be used instead.

100K Hz U1733C / ESR mode: .0230

100K Hz DE-5000 & U1733C ESR at Rs mode: 0.027/ .0236

Agilent Z mode 120 Hz: 2.946 Ohm

DE-5000 Z mode (Due PC software) 120 Hz: 2.9480

 

Test No-4

Motor start capacitor by General Electric 85 x 46 mm

64-77MFD 250 VAC 60 CPS, Part Code: 35F1108BB4 Made in USA.


I had never searched before for data sheets for such capacitors about to find specific data regarding ESR or Dissipation Factor, even so I did find very few data sheets about them but even so no one had such information’s.   


And I came up with a better idea which is to compare the measurement that you get by multimeter's with the ones of those LCR.

And I will go even a step further (like always) and I will list the test frequency used by all those meters.

Display resolution / Test frequency / DMM model & maker.


66.2 uF / 1.0Hz / BM869 BRYMEN

65.0 uF / 2.9 Hz / 28II FLUKE

65.4 uF / 4.6 Hz/ DE-208A DER EE

63.52 uF / 29.5 Hz / U1273A Agilent

62.66 uF / 100 Hz / U1733C LCR Agilent

62.71 uF/ 100 Hz / DE-5000 LCR DER EE


The quick answer regarding the health of this specific old capacitor is that it is still usable but it is far out from the specified range.


Regarding the meters, when the test frequency is closer to the one which the capacitor operates the measurement is always more precise and more realistic.

The accuracy specifications regarding the capacitance range on the multimeter's never were that tight compared to other ranges like DC or AC volts or Ohms.   

Personally I had been wonder and in the past of the why?  There in no common ground about the selection of the test frequency among the DMM manufacturers.  

 


Test No-5

Inductance comparison Auto- mode

Before some time I was ready to make my own analog ESR meter and I did found one schematic about it and among the parts was one transformer with ferrite core.

I did make this transformer by winding it by my self, but even so I was unable to test the final result with out the proper tool, basically this is the problem with DIY projects if you do not have the proper tools.

Either way this transformer will become now the test bed.   


Primary

Frequency - U1733C mH & Q / DE-5000 mH & Q

100 Hz:   Ls 4.294 & 2.73 / Ls 4.300 & 2.72

120 Hz:   Ls 4.302 & 3.29 / Ls 4.301 & 3.26

1K Hz:    Ls 4.301 & 26.1 / Ls 4.301 & 25.8

10k Hz:   Ls 4.294 & 126  / Ls 4.294 & 152.3

100k Hz: Lp 4.355 & 34.7 / Ls 4.356 & 46.3  


Secondary

Frequency - U1733C uH & Q / DE-5000 uH & Q

100 Hz:  Ls 098.6 & 293 / Ls 99 & 0.292

120 Hz:  Ls 098.6 & 354 / Ls 99 & 0.351

1k Hz:    Ls 98.66 & 2.93/ Ls 99.1 & 2.93

10k Hz:  Ls 98.56 & 29.0 / Ls 98.53 & 27.2

100k Hz: Ls 98.98 & 39.7 / Ls 100.25 & 41.7




Test No-6

Resistor measurement, DCR mode / comparison

At 8/2010 I made my DIY resistor box and my primary idea was to be an item of ultimate quality.

The part list was had the best material that I can get with out thinking the cost.

In my selection regarding Ohm ranges, I did add and one at below the one Ohm, actually they are nine DALE resistors LVR-5 0.1Ohm 1% at 5W

The total resistance of all seven stages (switches and silver plated bridges) is 0.060 Ohm

Today with those LCR meters at hand, the wide range that my decade box can offer it just makes it more precious than ever 0.1 Ohm up to 900K.

Regarding M Ohm measurements I have combine five resistors that their sum is 12.1M = 12.180K Ohm        

For this DCR comparison I have select values of resistors which represent the behavior of the meters between ranges.


Expected / DE-5000 / U1733C

0.050 Ohm: 0.05 / .0423

0.150 Ohm: 0.15 / .1425

0.250 Ohm: 0.25 / .2426

0.350 Ohm: 0.35 / .3431

0.450 Ohm: 0.45 / .4433

0.550 Ohm: 0.55 / .5441

0.650 Ohm: 0.65 / .6450

1.0 Ohm: 1.04 / 1.0441

10 Ohm: 10.04 / 10.056

100 Ohm: 100.06 / 100.16

1K: 1.0002 / 1000.0

10K: 10.002 / 10.001

100K Ohm: 99.95/ 100.03

900K Ohm: .9009M/ 900.2

12.18M Ohm: 12.250M / 12.155M       


Yes both LCR was warmed up and open/short calibration was performed 30 seconds before its meter start the measurements.  

Even if the Agilent meter were side by side with the DER EE meter I did not enjoyed the ride with it, the settle time of the last digits was slow especially at the lowest range.

The 12M Ohm measurement it does not look correct in my eyes.

Even after test leads open/close calibration (power up option) the U1733C never zero out at 100%, some counts are added by it self on the display (last two digits) and I can not tell if this is affecting the measurement in any way, and this doubt injures my confidence to it.

  

The DE-5000 are far more stable from every aspect and even the test leads open/close calibration is a solid operation, and it is holding the calibration up to the last count in DCR mode and in Rs at 100K Hz in which has the full 20,000 counts resolution.

No matter if it gets powered the next day or many days after, it holds the test leads calibration up to the last count.

6) Plus and minus of the design and in relation with LCD resolution.


The truth is that when you are becoming a first time user of one LCR you are a bit lost, the set of the primary parameters are easy to identify and from the secondary parameters only ESR is the most easily recognizable.


If the primary plan is to use this LCR exclusively as capacitors tester, very shortly you will realize that the Dissipation Factor also called as Tan δ (delta) is the king among the secondary parameters, and in a way the mathematical understanding of it will cause a significant amount of confusion to most people.

I did found the proper practical explanation after searching for days, and I have to admit that the searching on the Internet for the right answers it took more time that the actual testing of the above components.

 

Thanks to Conrad R. Hoffman (USA) a man who served at several technology companies at customers service in the past, he is now days an experienced designer of analog electronics, optics, and complex mechanics.

Well, that man wrote a long but simple to understand article regarding capacitors testing with the simplified title: How to Check Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitors


Regarding the Dissipation the most unknown part is how to relate what you read at the data sheet with the measurement on the LCR display.

If I was aware from the start that the expected range which it can baptize one capacitor as bad is between 0.29  up to 1,2,3,4,5, or even 6 as max (depending the cap) at 120 Hz as test frequency for a common electrolytic, my life with a LCR at hand would be 1000 times easier.


For example and after the above realization, when I have a capacitor which I need to confirm their health status, when the manufacturer suggests a Max (D) Tan δ (delta) the value of 1.3 (according the operating voltage of my cap), and the screen of the DE-5000 measures 0.018 I am finally aware that this cap is still far from been called as bad, or better said not even close.  




DE-5000 and Inductors

Regarding inductors (L) the measurement looks in a much simpler than what looked previously with the capacitors.

The LCR-Auto mode at the DE-5000 it will select the secondary parameter Q by default.

If you need another secondary parameter you will have to select it manually.


The amazing thing with those LCR is that they do not perform a single measurement in the unit of time as one multimeter do.

They calculate all the parameters instantly and the user just selects which one he need to have displayed.

The above realization brings as main subject again the Dissipation Factor which is a parameter that is constantly calculated no mater the selection of the primary parameter, one good example when this is extremely useful is the below.


The measurement of the Dissipation Factor of oversized capacitor is a tricky measurement, especially at the size of 22,000uF or more were the capacitance mode stops working due the over limit of the range.

When the LCR is set in the Ls primary parameter the Dissipation Factor is still active and it is capable to measure any capacitor by bypassing the limits of the capacitance range.

I did follow this method and managed to measure my large FRAKO (W.Germany) Elko 22,000uF 25V (In aluminum can with screw terminals).

I did the measurement in the LS mode and the results were 81uH with a Dissipation Factor of 0.159 at 120 Hz and just by the low dissipation factor now I can tell that this capacitor is still in excellent condition.


The above example demonstrates clearly the benefit which the Ls parameter offers regarding measurements of capacitors too, not to say that now it is more obvious the gain which hides behind the LCR combination.

And even more obvious than ever the fact that just a L-C dedicated meter or a dedicated ESR meter are actually crippled versions of the ideal LCR Bridge and is no wonder the reason of why those devices come in a lower pricing.


I am capable to understand fully the need of the young people and hobbyists for budget meters, I do watch them to seek for an advice in forums, and they describe as Help any information which will point out in to a low-cost miracle (less crippled due functions meter).

Even so the LCR is a very complex design and not easily replicable by a single person who makes electronics in his own back yard.

I am in favor of DIY electronics, but even this path it does have limits which are good to be aware of , I am strongly believe that when it comes about measuring instruments with recognizable accuracy at 0.3% there is no room for DIY electronics.    


I have one last tip to share regarding capacitor measurements and LCR meters, there is one type of capacitor that is not able to been tested even by a mighty LCR meter, and those is the high voltage capacitors made by Polypropylene film.

Those capacitors have usually a blue color and were used in circuitry of flyback transformers (televisions with glass tube).

Those MKP 1840 and similar they can be tested regarding their Maximum Pulse Rise time, due personal interest I am just a bit familiar regarding RC circuit: qualitative analysis, but just as concept and nothing more.

An interesting find is the information that those capacitors are not any more in production world wide.    


DE-5000 ESR and resistor measurements


The DE-5000 does not come with a ESR fast access button like the U1733C has and so you will need to do some extra key pressing so to activate it and to be displayed at the secondary display.

From the other hand the U1733C does not seems to offer ESR mode and dual display mode which makes impossible to see capacitance and ESR at the same time, and this  translate to more key pressing in the end.

Naturally the quick access button looks as more fool proof concept in the eyes of the novice user, but this is a temporary state for any novice user, or better said he will not stay novice for life.


In the Rs parameter is where the DE-5000 offers the highest resolution as ESR meter, the resolution varies according the test frequency but at the high ones which the high resolution is more important it works beautifully.

The dual display ESR mode on the De-5000 hides and a small annoyance which I must point out, when the capacitor exceeds the capacitance range of the meter, the ESR parameter does not get calculated at all, by getting in the Rs primary parameter you can continue the measurement.

I am close to believe that Agilent followed this different design on their meter (dedicated ESR parameter) so to avoid such limitations, but even so this minor limitations are unable to cause harm in the overall positive picture of the DE-5000.       


Regarding the measuring speed I did discovered that the most advanced bench top LCR they are capable to operate in three speeds defined as Slow / Medium / High.

As Slow considered the one measurement per second (actual 1.2 times per second), the Slow speed is required for extremely accurate measurements, and by having in mind this piece of information it is easy to understand the why both of those LCR meters are using the Slow speed.



The Impedance Z parameter managed to confuse me a bit and even send me back at the school desk which I was before 25 years ago.

By getting the Agilent LCR in my hands the first foolish reaction was … aha this one comes with an additional function which the DE-5000 LCR does not have.

My next automated thought was to find out of where this parameter it can look as useful regarding components testing.

Well only very few manufactures of capacitors, offer among other technical specification and the information regarding Z impedance at the test frequency of 120 Hz.


By exploring the LCR meter regarding capacitors testing /measurements, it is obvious to me that the parameters by significance they could be lined up as follow:

1) Dissipation Factor (as leading parameter) 2) ESR (follows close and behind) 3) Z Impedance (far behind).

I do simplify things allot but I like to help the common mind to see the picture by not getting lost in the detail.


What is worth to be noted is the fact that the parameters have some value only if the industry is using them as reference point, by inspecting around 25 data sheets of capacitors from several manufacturers I came to the above conclusion.


By moving away from the connection regarding Z impedance and capacitors, the picture changes allot.

The Z impedance of cables which transfer RF signals it is just one example of where this parameter it can found as handy.   

 

The good news is that the DE-5000 is also capable to calculate and measure the Z impedance parameter, but it can display it only due the PC software which comes with it.

One side by side comparison of the two LCR regarding accuracy in the Z impendence parameter, it shown that both were spot on.

What is worth to be noted is the resolution of the Z impedance parameter which the DE-5000 was capable to deliver due the software.

Generally speaking the DE-5000 with the help of the software looks to come closer to the offerings of the 100 KHz bench top LCR which their dedicated large LCD makes the difference.    


7) Software PC connectivity & Over all experience


The PC connectivity Kit of DER EE it is something known to me from the previously evaluated DE-208A, a professional grade multimeter which also use the same Kit.

In my evaluation regarding the multimeter I did pointed out how wise this solution is made regarding the hardware and the software.

The hardware follows a smart design in which the meter can carry the IR to USB module in the back of it even with out the cable been attached, and additionally this Kit does not influence the free placement of the meter when is flat down or by standing on their tilting bail.


The software that came with the LCR was easy to install but I did faced two annoyances.

The first is that the driver file for the USB module it was not on the CD, Windows did searched automatically and downloaded the proper file from the Internet.

Even so the annoyance is about the fact that there is no prediction or thought regarding off line installation.


The second annoyance does not have to do with DER EE and the actual responsible is Microsoft, and it has to do with one known bug between the .Net (2.0) framework and the exportation engine to MS Excel, I own the English version of MS Office small business 2003, and the regional settings of my English XP Pro operating system is set to Greece.

This combination was the correct one so to get a Error: 0x80028018 Description: Old Format or Invalid Type Library, every time that I was trying to export to Excel.

All the non multilingual versions of MS Office since the 2003 and older they have issues which remain unfixed, and Microsoft has a dedicated page regarding this BUG.  

The only work around that actually is a 100% personal thought, is to create one additional new user profile on you PC (name it as Measurements) , and to set the regional settings to English US or UK at the specific profile, by doing so you will overcome this bug.

 

The main software is more than fantastic regarding the displayed information’s and operation, the only ugly duck is a bit the look of the interface regarding the buttons on the tools bar.   

The first step is to press and begin the PC mode on the DE-5000 the second step is to press the run (record button) on the software.

The software becomes alive and offers a significant quantity of data of the primary parameter and the sum of all the secondary parameters are displayed too, among them and the Z impedance which does not have a dedicated button at the face plate of the meter.


Even if the software records the primary parameter at the same resolution (counts of the LCD display of the meter), the primary is also displayed with all the secondary ones in a stylish spreadsheet cells diagram in which all the data are instantly refreshed.


The interesting observation is that in those cells the data look to not be limited by a specific resolution of counts, and it is true about the secondary parameters.

But when it comes about the primary ones it looks that this is a mirage which helps the software to maintain lined up vertically those numbers by filing the empty space with zeros.

I will post a picture bellow regarding this subject, as they say one picture worth more than 1000 words.


The software was hiding and another surprise for me, in the data logging mode if you remove the component under test from the test leads, the software pause the recording automatically.

Naturally there is the option in the software to pause manually but I liked more the automated functionality.

  

The ability of this software to export directly the recorded measurements in to a spreadsheet (.XLS file) is just another highly appreciated feature regarding the easy to use part and a major boost regarding productivity.

I believe that this example should be followed by all the T&M brand names at their software packages.

I am unable to understand even today of the why they expect from an electrician to learn .CSV importation to Excel spreadsheets in order to use their software?   


8) Conclusion  

I believe that I was very lucky to have next to its other two of the most modern portable LCR meters of 2012.

The direct comparison reviled that regarding accuracy in their primary and secondary parameters the meters were very close in most of them.

Regarding the U1733C I will use Spartan style about my descriptions mostly because this sample did not came in my hands directly from Agilent.

I have some indications which caused me negative feelings regarding the test lead calibration and the behaviour of it at the 100 KHz, the settle time, the stability at the last two counts.

This time I got more in depth to it than the first time, in which I just scratched the surface of it, and today my opinion is that it did not satisfy my expectation by 100%.


What those indications caused to me is to motivated enough so to ring the bell of Tonghui so to ask a sample of their meter which they proudly present in their pages as top dog with much higher display resolution, so to see with my eyes if it can truly perform what it promises by been at the same time stable and accurate from top to bottom, even their listed accuracy of 0,25% VS the 0.3% of all the other portable LCR in the same quality range is not enough to win the world cup.    


The Agilent meter made the difference regarding their mechanical design mostly, the push buttons even by been made by rubber they did have a stiff touch which I prefer too, and the back light is truly exceptional, the ESR easy access button did not impressed me that much so to baptise it as major advantage.


The DE-5000 showed a remarkable behaviour regarding stability and settle time at every frequency or parameter or range.

The meter got tested for days and I got amazed by how well it holds the open/close test leads calibration even been powered by battery or DC power supply.

The small issues which I found on the U1733C made me to appreciate even further the stability of DE-5000 and to become more forgiving on my criticism regarding areas which does not have major impact with the measurement it self.


The back light on the DE-5000 has a soft blue color and even by been well made and uniform, is not powerful enough to create the needed contrast which will satisfies the eye.

Even if the low-contrast back light it can serve a multimeter, when it comes to a LCR with dual display and many small active annunciators the bright orange color makes a significant difference and receives more appreciation.


About the display of the DE-5000 and the U1733C I do not have any complains, both meters has been carefully designed so their annunciators (digits & words) to have the correct dimensions and the result to not be an overcrowded screen.

Another interesting find is that both meters has an identical viewing angle on their LCD which leads to an identical contrast ratio.


The DE-5000 came with a slim screen protector on the display which I do favor extremely as concept, even if this screen protector takes away some contrast, I am in denial to remove it for just taking pictures with out it.     


Externally the DE-5000 is well designed and heavy!!

The printing on face plate regarding the button labels are at the correct size and with the bright yellow as background color it becomes visible from a distance, I bet that old and young technicians they will highly appreciate this successful combination.


Regarding the stability of the meter when is in use with the tilting bail, my opinion is that the design needs some further improvement, the meter it can easily tilt to left or right when components gets added or removed from the test leads.

In my sample it took me 60 seconds to add two thin rubber pads with dual side sticky tape which solved the problem for good,  I did informed DER EE about that and they will investigate and  improve further the design.



This is it, the end of the road regarding the secrets of the DE-5000 LCR.

Did I really like it?  YES

100% satisfaction?  Those very soft buttons

95% satisfaction? The back light

90% satisfaction?  prone for Soft tilting when stands with tilting bail

88% satisfaction?  YES

How do you rate the U1733C? 75%


The DE-5000 is a solid performer and I hope and wish to see this LCR to be available at the stores of Europe.

Currently the specific sample which came for evaluation is the first DER EE / DE-5000 ever imported to Europe, and naturally I am full of pride about this significant lead for the ITTSB.


Regarding the pricing of this LCR all that I can mention is that DER EE electrical instrument co. ltd. had in mind from the start to deliver acceptable quality in a very competitive pricing, and they did succeed it amazingly well as ODM.


I like to thanks DER EE and Miss Vicky Yen/ Sales Dept for their cooperation with the ITTSB.

And I hope in the beginning of 2013 the DE-5000 to circulate in Europe, and about DER EE as Original Design Manufacturer to gain a wider recognition which it deserves.    


It is a true personal honour to be the first who wrote a review about the DE-5000.
This is another one of the few and truly worthy technical & educational experiences in a lifetime.
Thank you DER EE.


KIRIAKOS TRIANTAFILLOU
GREECE

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