Monday, January 27, 2014

Test Equipment: Atlas DCA Semiconductor Analyser Review

Atlas DCA - Semiconductor Component Analyser - Model DCA55
I saw this advertised in the back of QST magazine a while back and it looked very interesting, so I just picked one up from a Canadian supplier. For the money (less than $100 CDN) it has pretty amazing capabilities. To quote directly from the manufactures website:
"The Peak Atlas DCA
A fresh approach to component analysis has resulted in the fantastic Peak Atlas DCA, an intelligent, slim and invaluable tool. A world of detailed component data has never been so accessible. Just connect your component any way round and press the test button. The Atlas DCA will then present you with detailed component information in concise, easy to read, scrollable pages. The displayed information will include: the component type, special component features, component pinout, and measured parameters (such as gain, leakage current, gate threshold voltages, volt drops etc...). No more searching through data books and catalogues in order to identify components and pinouts, the Atlas DCA does it all.

Analysis Portfolio
It doesn't matter how you connect the test clips to the component, the Atlas DCA can analyse a vast number of different component types including bipolar transistors, enhancement mode MOSFETs, depletion mode MOSFETs, Junction FETs (only gate pin identified), low power thyristors and triacs (less than 5mA trigger and hold), diodes, multiple diode networks, LEDs, bi-colour and tri-colour LEDs. It will even identify special component features such as diode protection and shunt resistors in transistors. For two-leaded components such as diodes and LEDs, any pair of test clips can be applied to the component any way round, the Atlas DCA sorts it all out for you.
There is no on/off switch, power is automatically turned on at the start of an analysis and then automatically turned off if inactive for more than 30 seconds. Each page of displayed information is presented in manageable amounts, with each page being displayed when you want it. If you want to concentrate on the "pinout" page then just select that page, you don't have to see information that you don't need."
In my tests, it does exactly as described above. I tried a few new semiconductors I had on hand, and it measured them perfectly. I especially like the fact that you don't have to worry about how to connect the leads.
I then grabbed a few components (from scrapped devices) from a box in my junk closet labelled "unsorted semiconductors". First one I took it determined to be an "Enhancement mode FET", and it rattled off all the parameters. Next one was a Silicon Transistor. Next I grabbed something that looked pretty old and probably was socketed, and it said it was a Germanium Transistor. Next it found a Darlington Transistor and even told me that it had a base to emitter resistor and a back connected diode from emitter to collector. I'm impressed. The wonders of cheap computer chips and clever software that make all this possible.
So if you are looking for a nice little semiconductor tester for building and repairs, this is just the ticket, IMHO.

Note that they have other test equipment, including a more advanced semiconductor tester that connects to your computer USB port, LCR and Impedance Meters, Capacitor Analysers, Network Cable Analyser, Thyristor and Triac Analyser and some other things.

Eric Pierce VA3EP - See the Disclaimer in the Introduction

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