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Last updated on . August 5, 2014

ESR & Low Ohms Meter Page
K-7204 original, K-7214-MKII, and now Bob Parker introduces the:
Anatek BLUE ESR meter kit!

New BLUE ESR Kit (Mark III)The MARK 2 Meter KitFirst generation meter MK1
The BLUE kit contains all required components (click for an exploded kit), but you will need to provide a 9V alkaline battery. The floppy disk is shown for size comparison only! Second picture is Mark 2 - it is the same size as the original.

Why Testing Capacitors is IMPORTANT

Like most people we go through life blindly trusting all of our electronic devices to work perfectly and when they go bad we are both surprised and annoyed. One of the principle causes of device failures are the Electrolytic Capcitors used inside. Everything from Electronic Ignition to Flat Screen TVs to computers needs reliable capcitors for the lonest life. This tool(the BLUE ESR kit) is one of the cheapest ways to check the condition of your capacitors if the device is giving trouble and enable you to repair it in a timely fashion.
A great website showing the theory of capactiors (every tech should know this!) is from United Chemicon. This is a bit of a slog, but you will gain a great appreciation of how a capacitor should be used, how to replace a failed one and clues on how to improve on a manufacturers original part selection (happens ALL the time in our shop!) by careful selection.

Brief Specifications

Measurement range: 0.01 to 99 ohms, auto-ranging
Peak probe-tip voltage @ full scale: 100mV
Update speed: 4 readings/second
Power supply: Internal 9V alkaline battery or external 9V DC
Controls: Single push button for power on/off and zero
Designed by Bob Parker and produced by ANATEK in the USA

BLUE ESR Meter (Mark III) Features (same as Mark I & II)

* Tests electrolytics in-circuit <100mV test voltage, & test leads are non-polarized
* Auto-ranging to cover 0.01 - 99 ohms 
* Single pushbutton to easily control all functions
* Test lead resistance zeroing compensation
* Automatic power off when reading is unchanged for 3 minutes
* Low battery voltage warning ('b' flashes on right-hand digit)
* Big, easy to read 0.5 inch (13mm) LED displays
* Table of typical good capacitor ESR readings on the front panel
* Built-in self test to aid in troubleshooting kit assembly
* Tests electrolytics in circuit, & test leads are non-polarized.
* Kit contains all hardware and components, except probe/alligator clips and batteries - prohibited in some postal systems.  
* Note: Potentiometers are labelled as follows,  201 = 200 Ohms (200R), 103 = 10K Ohms (10,000R).

* Kit Options:
Very nice sharp point $10/pair The kit can be ordered with this probe (pair) $12US extra
Good grip! - $10Or a pair of alligator clips for $12US Please state at time of order which you prefer.
Handy Plastic Stand - $10 The stand is an extra $10US if desired.
To check if the capacitor is shorted, simply put the ESR probes in parallel with a simple ohm-meter. The ohm-meter will read the DC resistance, while the ESR meter reads the high frequency resistance, if both are similar then the capacitor is shorted!

Important Ordering Information- please read carefully!

This meter is available as a kit (or assembled for a little more) from John's Jukes Ltd. (We've sold over 600 to date!) You can order online now...
If you have questions which I haven't already answered, you can send an e-mail to John's Jukes.
In all correspondence with John's Jukes, especially about existing orders, please tell us your company name, your last invoice number if you've ordered from us before, and all other relevant information. We have many hundreds of customers, and our mind-reading powers aren't very good!

 Customers include: The Boeing Company (Kennedy Space Center), Canadian Government, and numerous TV repair shops, plus many TV transmitter service centers.

Here are a couple of unsolicited accolades for the original K-7204 (Mark I) ESR kit:

Dear John,  (June, 2001)      
I meant to send this sooner, but have been enjoying my new ESR meter.  Words are barely adequate to describe the praise I offer on this grand piece of test equipment.  It works exactly as described.  This I expected, but there are several outstanding things I noticed that I must comment on:
The P.C. board is a true work of excellent quality.
The front panel is gorgeous.....well printed, neat, silk screened (maybe?), but nonetheless of super quality.
The entire item is a masterpiece.
Absolutely no missing parts.
Worked first time without any problem at all.
All of this I truly appreciate. 
Also, it arrived only 6 days after you sent it, so evidently customs didn't open it.
Thank You, 
Fredrick Howe
2850 North County Road 1500
Niota, Illinois 62358
I must go on to tell you that I lost my job in February at age 60.  This necessitated going back into the TV repair business so I know for certain what I'll be doing for the next 5 years or so.  If I'd had an item such as this 25 years ago, It would certainly have been a big help.  After 40 years experience as an electronic tech, this is certainly one of the ultimate tools of this trade.

March 19, 2003) Dear John,   The K7204 ESR meter kit I ordered arrived day before yesterday, and I assembled it yesterday. This email is just to tell you how pleased I am. Excellent quality kit, perfect PCB quality, and all parts there in the box. Worked perfectly first time, no troubleshooting required.   I am a television broadcast engineer for our local government TV station, and my hobby is restoring old audio tape recorders. I have wanted an ESR meter for years, but locally the only unit parts distributors carry is the B & K 885/6 at over $750.00US. Way too much for a hobbyist! Thanks for making this kit available in the North American market. I'm sending a Cc of this message to Bob Parker to convey my thoughts about his meter and to thank him also.   Sincerely,   G H L  Miami, FL 33184-2004 USA
Subject: Report by happy customer
(Aug 8, 2007) (Mark II K-7124 Kit)

Hey John - -

Yes, the kit arrived quickly and in perfect shape. I put it right together in about 5 hours and it worked perfectly the first time I turned it on. I really like it - - very accurate after calibration with the very accurate
cal resistors. I use it to see that my ham antenna is making good contact through the joints to each element as well as a check on the state of computer power supplies. You can measure the ESR of the computer output
filters by probing the contacts of the big connector that plugs into the mother board (after unplugging it and all the drives that also use power).

It's worth keeping track of these ESR readings every 6 months or so to keep from having hard drive failure due to power supply problems. I also use it to check the ESR of Zener regulators and newly charged AA and AAA cells. I took about a week to look at all the ESR circuits on the web and competing
ESR Meters. Yours stood out strongly from the rest with the 99 + 90 + 90 = 279 reading resolution of the three ranges, the zeroing, and the auto turn-off feature. I preferred it to the EVB design out of Portugal because
of its stronger case, larger battery and no input protection diodes on the PCB (I'd rather add them externally).

I'm completely satisfied with my purchase and happy with its performance. Thanks for following up - -

Chuck Olson W6PKP

Important note about resistors supplied with kits,
by Jim Lagerkvist!

There seems to be a common mistake when building this kit that perhaps I can clear up. My purchased kits included two extra resistors that were intended to be used only for final calibration. You'll see them in the parts list under 'miscellaneous' as 82 ohms and 5.6 ohms. The problem is that the 82ohm resistor has a gray band that almost looks brown, and some people have confused it for the 1K resistor (R8).

The 1K film resistor (R8) is brn-blk-red-brn. The 82ohm film resistor is grey-red-blk-brn. Mistaking the borderline gray for brown and reading the bands in reverse seems to be the problem some folks are having.

Jim Lagerkvist

Thanks, Jim! Now you've read that......
Click here for Bob Parker's writeup on the ESR problem, and the story of this meter
Check here for troubleshooting your ESR kit 
Includes PCB diagrams (Thanks Bob!)
Click here for lots of tips about using the meter!
Another neat kit for testing FLYBACKs (LOPTs) in circuit is also something to consider...
A copy of the oringinal K-7204 ESR kit's manual for downloading. This is about 0.5megs in size! You will need Adobe Acrobat's free PDF reader to see this.
The 2 PDFs (Pages 1 - 7, pages 8 - 14) of the MARK II version of the ES KIT manual - model K7214 ~600K each
Here is Doug Jones' excellent articles on ESR and a link to his highly rated ESR meter the "Cap Wizard".
The cheapest ESR measuring method - $0.99! Link now dead, but thanks to you can see it here

FAQ/Trouble with your Blue ESR?  Here are some answers.


Question: Where is IC1? Parts list says "LP2950CZ-5.0 3-terminal regulator low-dropout (IC1) Some are marked 78MCYFE KY5050" but I only see a KY-5050 with a different code.

Answer: No problemo! The KY 5050 is the critical part fo the number, the rest is simply a manufacturers code - perhaps a date code...

Question:  There seem to be two parts missing, 27 pf capacitors mounted just below the 3.58Mhz crystal.

Answer:  You must be referring to these: The pc board provides for two kinds of crystals, one that needs external capacitors (that is the two caps) and one that has internal capacitors.  If you got a kit with a 3 leaded crystal resonator then it does not need the external 27 pf capacitors.  If you got a kit with a two leaded crystal (the outside holes) then you should have also received two 27 pf capacitors.


Question:  If I press and hold the pushbutton switch I get an "F2" error code even though my unit seems to be working OK.  Why the code?

Answer:  If you engage the diagnostics by pressing and holding the pushbutton switch for more than 5 seconds with a normal battery connected you will get an erroneous "F2" error code.  Ignore it.  The onboard diagnostics will only work properly if the 9 volt battery is replaced by a voltage source in the range of 6.2 to 6.8 volts (nominal 6.5 volts).

Jon xxx wrote:
> Hello, I'm quite interested in Bob Parker's ESR meter, and although the blue beast is pretty funky, I wondered if it was still possible to get my hands on the Mark II model? Could you advise?
> Many thanks indeed, and best regards
> Jon

Hi Jon,

Actually the Mark III looks better than the Mark II to me.

*The case is stronger and easier to handle.
*The power switch is recessed and is unlikely to be pushed accidentally in your tool kit/bag.
*Displays are brighter.
*The probes are FAR superior to the DSE ones, and are banana plugged to the cables so you can get both probes and alligator clips and switch between or mix as you wish.
*Bob Parker also redesigned the circuit board to help protect the chips from voltage surges.

I'd have to ask why would one want go back to the earlier design as this one is clearly superior...

John :-#)#

Dave wrote:
> What size MOV are you putting in these units? I bought one from you and am now finally doing the diode update and while I am picking up the diodes I could pick up the MOV. I also think I have a bunch of MOV's in my electronics drawers.
> Thanks,
> Dave in Florida
> I bought the MK2

Hi Dave,

The MOV is not essential, if you do the back-to-back diode update across the inputs then the MOV is not needed.

Any MOV up to 50V trip should do the job. Use a 18V or higher if you wish to check 12V batteries for their ESR.

John :-#)# wrote:
> Hi. The order page seems to indicate that only blue mark III’s are being sold. Any Mark II’s for sale? (black?) Kits or otherwise? Is there any benefit to the Mk III vs Mk II? Any better functionality? Or just changed packaging and led?
> Thanks

Hi Eugene,

The Blue kit has replaced the K-7214 - all of these have been designed by Bob Parker with the latest incantation being his piece-de-resistance! (ducking).

This kit is improved a bit with better damage avoidance when faced with charged capacitors, plus the case is much cooler and includes a more convenient battery access hatch!

Functionally it is identical to the Mark II, no change as far as the use(r) is concerned.

John :-#)#

RAY wrote:
> What is the highest value electrolytics-ie 20,000+mfd--it can measure ESR ? Also can it function correctly reading ESR of film capacitors in the range of 1mfd to100mfd--I use for precision crossover design. Thanks. Ray ,Texas

Hi Ray,

It is not the size of the capacitor, rather it is the internal resistance that the device measures. So, if your capacitor typically has a value of around 0.01R, then the kit is not of much use as it only reads down to 0.01R...

If, on the other hand your capacitors read above 0.01R then the kit may be of use. Think of it more as a very accurate ohm-meter for low value resistance and that may help your decision of buying or not.

Check with the manufacturer of the capacitors you wish to test to see if their ESR falls within the range the meter is useful for ~ 0.01 - 99R. Remember too that the kit has only a two digit display, so that limits the available accuracy for values above 0.99R.

You can calibrate this kit, but it is NOT a high precision instrument (Fluke/HP/Etc.) - it is an inexpensive method of verifying if capacitors have drifted outside their normal ESR range.

John :-#)#

Photographs courtesy of Bob Parker, Anatek, and John's Jukes.

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