SparkFun's SparkX Current Sensor Makes USB Power Draw Readings a Cinch, Up to 2A

"Ultra-precise" current sensor spits out 1V per amp — but as a SparkX design, supplies are likely to be limited.

Gareth Halfacree
14 days agoSensors / Productivity

SparkFun has launched an "ultra-precise" sensor for measuring current over a USB connection, based around the Texas Instruments INA290 current sense amplifier — but it could be a time-limited offering.

"Do you want to be able to measure what current your board is drawing in real time," the company asks of its latest product. "Maybe it is a board that draws short bursts of current? Or maybe you want to investigate what in-rush current your board draws? If so, this is the product for you!"

Built around what SparkFun describes as the "ultra-precise" Texas Instruments INA290 current sense amplifier, the compact board is designed to measure voltage drops across shunt resistor across a wide common-mode range — outputting 1 volt per amp, meaning a draw of 100mA is reported as an output of 100mV.

The sensor is capable of measuring up to 2A, SparkFun writes, with a 2A resettable fuse in case the target device exceeds the maximum. Power is accepted on a USB Type-C connector at one side of the board, and spat out on a USB Type-A socket at the other; the measurement voltage, meanwhile, appears on 0.1in breakout pads and Gator pads "to make it easy to connect up your multimeter or oscilloscope."

SparkFun is selling the new board at $9.95 with immediate availability, though supplies are limited: The sensor is part of the company's SparkX range of experimental products, which may or may not ever make the jump to a red circuit board as a regularly-stocked design.

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