Digital Decade Resistance Box On The Cheap

[Stynus] has finished a unique decade resistance box which doesn’t use conventional rotary switches to select the appropriate resistors. These switches are old fashioned and expensive, so [Stynus] built this decade resistance box that uses a microcontroller and a series of relays to switch the resistors.

Simply selecting a resistance on the screen tells the microcontrollers which resistors need to be switched in order to provide the proper resistance. The box uses relays to do switching instead of transistors because the transistors don’t handle high frequency AC as well as the relays. The device is powered by an 18V transformer and rectifier and, as a bonus, [Stynus] got all of his parts on the cheap which made this a great solution to the expensive resistance decade box problem.

This is a very well-polished piece of test equipment. We’ve featured other decade resistance boxes but never one that was controlled by a microcontroller. All of the PCB layouts and the code for microcontroller are available on the project site if you have a desire to make your own.

Seven Decade Programmable Resistor


[Gerry Sweeney] was tired of messing around with resistors while prototyping his projects, so he decided he wanted a resistor decade box. The problem is they are typically big and rather expensive ($100+). Unhappy with the selection available for purchase, he decided to design his own.

In the accompanying video, he shows off his first attempt after being inspired by a past post we covered that used a combination of resistors and thumbwheel decimal switches. He modified the design a bit and used surface mount resistors instead, which made for a fairly compact and convenient seven decade resistor box. But he still wasn’t happy with it.

He decided to design his own PCB instead. The simple design utilizes surface mount resistors to conserve space, and jumpers to select the resistance. No bulky switches get in the way and it’s fairly cheap to produce.

Check out the great video explanation of the project after the break. He also shows off the insides of a commercial resistor decade box!

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Resistance Decade Box Using DIP Switches


Here’s a simple piece of equipment which you’ll be proud to display on your electronics bench. It’s a resistance decade box. The concept has been around forever — it offers the ability to tune a wide range of resistance values just by adjusting the controls. We especially like the clean look of this one, and think the use of DIP switches is a nice touch.

Check out the toggle switch at the top. It lets you disconnect the resistance values from the output in order to test them with your meter. It may not seem like much, but fudging your switch settings could end up smoking your target project. The value of that feature isn’t lost on us.

The DIP switches are mounted to some Radio Shack breakout boards which work perfectly for hosting the resistors as well. This keeps the inside of the enclosure nice and tidy. The final touch is the printed face plate applied to the cover of the box.

Like we’ve said, this one is nice but our favorite is still this one that uses thumbwheel switches to dial in a value.

Resistor Substitution Box

[Vincent] on the EEVblog forums had an idea for an inexpensive resistor substitution decade box.

The build uses cheap decimal thumbwheel switches he bought on eBay. Each switch is wired up with resistors for each digit, and each switch is wired up in series. The result is a small, easy to read resistor box with a range of 1 Ω to 10 MΩ.

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