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This image is copyright © by Ian C. Purdie VK2TIP - electronics tutorials for ham radio



Test equipment is the life blood of every design engineer, technician, radio amateur and the venerable electronic hobbyist. Over time I propose to produce an array of tutorials on test equipment. Because many, if not all functions today tend to become either dedicated integrated circuits or even microprocessor based, I will still provide very basic circuits constructed from discrete components.

My hopefully logical reasoning is two fold. Firstly it should allow newcomers as hobbyists and more importantly in this particular area, the student to further understand the rudiments of electronic test equipment, its origins and secondly how the "black box" emerged.

So far the tutorials below have evolved as responses to specific questions I have been asked, mainly by students. Rather than go into a long winded email reply I found it more beneficial to spend a bit more effort and create the page concerned. For the short term I will maintain this approach.


Meters are used to measure current and voltage. Strictly speaking the meter actually only reads current The meter most likely encountered will be a single low range meter such as 0 - 1 ma full deflection meter of the D'Arsonval type. Other popular types will be 100 uA or other micro-ampere types. The D'Arsonval type meter works on the principle a coil of wire to which a pointer is attached is pivoted between the poles of a permanent magnet. When current flows through the coil, it sets up a magnetic field that interacts with the field of the magnet to cause the coil to turn. The meter pointer deflects in direct proportion to the current. This meter is called an ammeter.


Meter shunts are a useful means of extending the current range of an ammeter. As current divides between two resistors in parallel it is possible to increase the sensitivity of a DC microammeter or milliammeter by paralleling an additional resistance with the inherent DC resistance of the meter itself. This is called a meter shunt.


An electronic project to construct an LC meter project kit of exceptional accuracy to measure both inductance and capacitance - an inductance meter and capacitance meter all in one unit. It also is readily available as a comparatively inexpensive kit which is sure to prove a boon for the average home constructor. The LC Meter Project by Neil Heckt of AADE.


Spectrum Analyzer Project. A Spectrum Analyzer is a very special kind of superhetrodyne receiver which receives a chosen range of signals and displays the relative signal strength on a logarithmic display, usually a cathode ray oscilloscope - CRO. In a dedicated Spectrum Analyzer the CRO display is incorporated into the instrument itself. Presented here is a review of a project presented by the masters themselves, Wes Hayward, W7ZOI, and Terry White, K7TAU. This Spectrum Analyzer project was featured in the magazine QST during August and September, 1998. This Spectrum Analyzer project is available as a relatively inexpensive kit and is highly recommended as probably the best piece of test equipment you will ever construct and own.

This image is copyright © by Ian C. Purdie VK2TIP - Book cover - Introduction to Radio Frequency Design

The first thing I sincerely recommend you do is buy this excellent reference book through my amazon affliate program. Introduction to Radio Frequency Design - Wes Hayward W7ZOI - highly recommended. Paperback and published by ARRL - delivery 3 to 5 weeks. Wes Hayward probably taught me 30% of what I know in electronics - an even better reason.

Why do I personally highly recommend this book? Wes Hayward is the sharpest designer I know and is highly respected as the "guru" and I don't make strong recommendations lightly. At the price ($US 30.00) it is literally the cheapest investment you will ever make in your electronics education - believe me, even if you are not especially interested in radio frequency design you will learn a lot of basic principles which are universal in electronics. And you will write and thank me for doing us both a favour.

- All the best Ian Purdie VK2TIP.

This image is copyright © by Ian C. Purdie VK2TIP - electronics tutorials by Ian Purdie VK2TIP

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Updated 1st January, 2001


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