This USB Power Meter is a versatile little tool that can provide voltage readings down to 0.01V and current to 0.001A, displayed on the built-in color TFT LCD, while your device is connected through it to a power source. You can also measure the capacity and power of battery packs/power banks as well as temperature and cable impedance!
In addition to the main numeric measurement interface, you can also toggle to voltage and current bar graph interfaces (because who doesn't like a good graph?), quick charge identification mode, wire group impedance measurement, and a simple settings screen. And with the recording option, you can easily record your data. Mmmmm data...
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If you notice your USB Power Meter is not turning on when connected to a USB Type-C power source that can deliver multiple voltages depending on what device is connected, simply plug in whichever device you want to measure the power consumption of and the USB Power Meter should turn on. The issue seems to stem from USB Type-C handshaking protocol to confirm the proper voltage for a device attached to a USB Type-C power supply. The USB Power Meter passes these connections through the USB C input to a device connected to one of the outputs so without a device connected to the output of the Power Meter, it does not know what voltage to request from the power supply and will not turn on.
If it requires power, you need to know how much, what all the pins do, and how to hook it up. You may need to reference datasheets, schematics, and know the ins and outs of electronics.
Skill Level: Competent - You will be required to reference a datasheet or schematic to know how to use a component. Your knowledge of a datasheet will only require basic features like power requirements, pinouts, or communications type. Also, you may need a power supply that?s greater than 12V or more than 1A worth of current.
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I bought this to verify the charging current on a USB device that has a design flaw where a lithium ion battery is charged at an very inappropriate rate on some of the units sold-depending upon where the battery in each particular unit was sourced. For simple USB voltage and current measurements it appears to work well. No convenient way to verify accuracy. The minuses: no manual so it is left to the user to figure out some of the other features. Also some of these default to Chinese for the user interface. Thanks to the Sparkfun community that pointed me to a youtube video explaining how to change the language setting. In a nutshell, as you are plugging it in to power hold the tiny button above and to the left of the screen. As it powers up a menu will appear. As long as you hold the button in the unit will slowly scroll through the 2 or 3 language choices. Here is a link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99qP7rXDOyU Please note that the unit shown in the video will look different from the one sold by Sparkfun. As soon as you get the unit into a language that you can read I recommend pressing the help button. The help screen is pretty basic but helpful. I would have given this 3 stars, however it comes in a very nice tin for storage. Like an Altoids tin but with a window.
Edit: Exploring this device further it seems that most of the other functionality is pretty straightforward. It has some graphing functions that seem to work as expected, although you may need magnifying glasses to make sense of the graphs, they are pretty tiny. I am not sure if there is a way of getting the data out of the device, there is a microUSB IN that is not matched by a corresponding output.
Does a great job of telling you what's going on with regards to power, highly recommend if you need to figure out what kind of power is being supplied or drawn from a USB port.
I bought a couple to verify power brick capacities. They are doing that job well enough. I have no real need to measure the resistance of cables but maybe one day. The trends are pretty useless to me so far but add a gee-whiz factor. Between the manual and contextual help I have 80% of my questions answered. It does the job and has a fancy screen. If that isn't worth 4 stars, what is?