DIY Guy Chris' "Octopus" VI Curve Tracer Draws Oscilloscope Patterns to Identify Component Types

With just four components, plus connectors, this compact test device turns an oscilloscope into a quick tester for unknown parts.

Gareth Halfacree
2 months agoHW101 / Debugging

Mononymous engineer Chris, also known as "DIY Guy Chris," has designed an "octopus" VI curve tracer tool to make it easier to identify unknown components with an oscilloscope — by looking at the pattern drawn on the display.

"[This is] a components tester circuit based on the Current vs Voltage curve tracing technique, an indispensable tool for diagnosing and troubleshooting electronic circuit boards," Chris writes of the compact gadget. "At the heart of our project lies the Octopus VI curve tracer circuit – a multifaceted tool designed to revolutionize electronics testing."

This "magical octopus" aims to make it easier to identify unknown components with an oscilloscope. (📹: DIY Guy Chris)

"By generating an AC excitation signal and plotting voltage against current in real-time using X-Y display mode," Chris continues of the compact test tool, "this circuit empowers us to analyze the behavior of electronic components with unparalleled precision and efficiency."

The device itself is relatively straightforward: the main component on the board is a Myrra 44126 6V AC transformer, with three resistors. The only other parts to to the "octopus" device are a figure-eight power connector at one end and four banana plug connectors at the other — two for the probe and two for connection to any oscilloscope with an X-Y display mode.

"During testing, interpreting the displayed curve is key," Chris explains of the tool's use. "A resistor manifests as an oblique line, while a short circuit appears vertical, and an open circuit horizontal. Capacitors form circular curves, with size indicating capacitance. Whether you're a seasoned electronics enthusiast or a novice, the Octopus VI curve tracer circuit is a must-have addition to your toolkit."

The full project guide, including a circuit diagram and links to have a board produced at JLPCB, is available on Chris' Hackster.io project page.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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