Not too long ago, if you wanted to accurately measure your resistors and test your transistors, you bought a multimeter for about £20, but if you wanted to have something that automatically identified the transistor type, told you its pin out, and its beta, you needed a tester that cost near a hundred pounds. Add to that if you wanted to measure the equivalent series resistance of your capacitors, that was another £50 or so for a ESR meter, and if you wanted to measure inductance without messing about with noise bridges and tuned circuits, probably another few hundred!
This week, after only 8 days in a container from China, and for a fraction under £8 all in, I took delivery of a ATmega microcontroller based component tester. These are available in various forms, various connections, and as ready built modules or kits. I bought mine ready built, off ebay.
Most of the electronics are under the LCD, which is very well backlit. There is a contrast control preset at the top of the board. The module can be supplied either by a PP3 battery or an external supply. Ive been using a PP3 as I happened to have one handy. This version has screw terminals for the test connections which are a bit awkward, so i'll be adding test clips later. Initially it did some odd readings on inductance. I later found out that there is a calibration method using a three way shorting link. Once this is done, it reads quite accurately, certainly enough for most jobs, although there is a 35pF offset on the capacitance readings which is a bit annoying for dealing with small values, and its lower limit on inductance is 10uH, a bit too high for a lot of radio work.
Heres it measuring an unknown vintage Germanium transistor, just look at that atrocious Beta!
Capacitance & ESR
Inductance & series resistance
Diode polarity, capacitance and forward voltage
Transistor type, pinout, beta and base/gate forward bias