An IC (integrated circuit) tester is invaluable if you’ve got a lot of IC components rattling around in your parts bin. IC testers help you identify an unknown IC by testing its input and output against a database of known components, and more advanced models can even give you additional information on their pinout, resistance, and so on. While basic models are inexpensive, nice ones tend to be pricey. Luckily, you can follow Akshay Baweja’s tutorial to build your own.
There are two major advantages to building your own IC tester: the first is that you can make a high-end model at a basic model price. The second — and probably more important — reason is that you can update the database as you see fit to add new devices. The total build cost should be around $25, and you’ll need a Arduino Mega 2560, a touchscreen display with an SD card slot, an SD card, and a handful of discrete components.
You’ll also need a custom PCB (printed circuit board), which sounds expensive, but which Baweja recommends ordering from JLC PCB for about $2. Once the components and PCB arrive, all you need to do is solder them all together. With the tester assembled, you just have to load the provided code onto the Arduino, and you’ve technically got a working IC tester.
But, the IC tester won’t actually do anything useful until it has a database to reference. The database is just a simple text file loaded onto the SD card, and Baweja has provided a somewhat limited database for basic ICs. You’ll definitely want to add entries to the database to make it more comprehensive, but that should be enough to get you started.