### How to Measure Capacitors and Inductors with an Oscilloscope

**Table of Contents:**

- Introduction
- How to measure capacitors using an oscilloscope
- Basic principle of using a simple RC circuit
- Using a fast edge pulse generator as a TDR
- Calculating capacitor values

- How to measure inductors using an oscilloscope
- Forming an LC tank circuit
- Ringing frequency and resonant frequency
- Calculating inductor values

- The circuit setup for capacitor and inductor measurements
- Components and connections
- Building the fixture

- Step-by-step guide to measuring capacitors
- Connecting the unknown capacitor
- Adjusting the oscilloscope
- Measuring the rising edge and calculating capacitance

- Step-by-step guide to measuring inductors
- Connecting the known capacitor and unknown inductor
- Adjusting the oscilloscope
- Measuring the ringing frequency and calculating inductance

- Accuracy and limitations of the measurement technique
- Precision and margin of error
- Recommended applications and scenarios

- Conclusion
- Additional resources and references

**Article:**

# How to Measure Capacitors and Inductors Using an Oscilloscope

Can you imagine being able to measure the values of capacitors and inductors using just your oscilloscope and a few basic parts? It may sound too good to be true, but it's actually possible. In this article, we will explore a simple yet effective technique for measuring capacitors and inductors using an oscilloscope. Not only will we learn how to use basic circuits like a simple RC circuit and an LC tank circuit, but we will also discover how to leverage the power of a fast edge pulse generator as a time-domain reflectometer (TDR) for precise measurements. So, let's dive in and uncover the magic behind this fascinating process.

## 1. How to Measure Capacitors Using an Oscilloscope

### 1.1 Basic Principle of Using a Simple RC Circuit

To measure the value of an unknown capacitor, we can leverage the simple principle of an RC circuit. By connecting the unknown capacitor in series with a known resistor and applying a fast rising edge pulse, we can observe the response across the capacitor and calculate its value. The exponential rise of the response reaches 63% of its final value over a time period equal to the product of the resistor and the capacitor. By measuring this time period on the oscilloscope, we can calculate the capacitance value. This technique provides a straightforward way to determine the values of unknown capacitors accurately.

### 1.2 Using a Fast Edge Pulse Generator as a TDR

In addition to the RC circuit method, we can also utilize a fast edge pulse generator as a time-domain reflectometer (TDR) to measure capacitors. This versatile circuit, based on a Schmitt trigger oscillator and parallel buffers, can serve as a source for measuring both capacitors and inductors. By connecting the unknown capacitor to the pulse generator and analyzing the response on the oscilloscope, we can extract valuable information about its capacitance. This dual use of the fast edge pulse generator adds another layer of functionality to your lab setup.

### 1.3 Calculating Capacitor Values

Once we have gathered the necessary measurements and captured the response on the oscilloscope, we can proceed to calculate the value of the unknown capacitor. By adjusting the oscilloscope settings to ensure the signal occupies eight divisions on the screen and measuring the time it takes to go from the baseline to five divisions, we can extract the time period. Using this time period and the known value of the resistor, we can apply a simple formula to calculate the capacitance value. This straightforward calculation allows us to determine the values of unknown capacitors with ease.

## 2. How to Measure Inductors Using an Oscilloscope

### 2.1 Forming an LC Tank Circuit

When it comes to measuring inductors, a different approach is required. By forming an LC tank circuit with a known capacitor and an unknown inductor, we can take advantage of the circuit's high impedance at its resonant frequency. This property allows us to detect the inductor's presence and measure its value. By applying a high-frequency signal through a differentiating capacitor, the circuit will ring like a bell, producing a unique response on the oscilloscope. Understanding and harnessing this ringing frequency is the key to measuring unknown inductors accurately.

### 2.2 Ringing Frequency and Resonant Frequency

To extract the valuable information about unknown inductors from the ringing frequency, we need to measure it precisely. By rearranging the formula for the resonant frequency of an LC tank circuit, we can derive an equation that relates the frequency, capacitor value, and inductor value. With the known capacitor value and the measured ringing frequency, we can calculate the inductor's value using this equation. By plugging in the values and performing the necessary calculations, we can determine the inductance of unknown inductors with remarkable accuracy.

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