Why Is My 470uF Electrolytic Cap More Like 20uF?

Inductors are more like a resistor in series with an ideal inductor, resistors can be inductors as well, and well, capacitors aren’t just simply a capacitance in a package. Little with electronics is as plain and simple in reality as basic theory would have you believe. [Tahmid Mahbub] was measuring an electrolytic capacitor with an LCR and noticed it measuring 19 uF despite the device being rated at 470 uF. This was because such parts are usually specified at low frequencies, and at a mere 100 kHz, it was measuring way out of the specification they were expecting. [Tahmid] goes into a fair bit of detail regarding how to model the equivalent circuit of a typical electrolytic capacitor and how to determine with a bit more accuracy what to expect.

The basic equivalent circuit for a capacitor has a series resistance and inductance, which covers the connecting leads and any internal tabs on the plates. A large-valued parallel resistor models the leakage through the dielectric in series with the ideal capacitance, which is responsible for the capacitor’s self-discharge property. However, this model is still too simple for some use cases. A more interesting model, shown to the left, comprises a ladder of distributed capacitances and associated resistances that result in a progressively longer time-constant component as you move from C1 to C5. This resembles more closely the linear structure of the capacitor, with its rolled-up construction. This model is hard to use in any practical sense due to the need to determine values for the components from a physical part. Still, it is useful to understand why such capacitors perform far worse than you would expect from just a simple equivalent model that looks at the connecting leads and little else.

See This Casio? Watch It Unlock My Tesla!

The whole point of gaining the remote unlock ability for our cars was to keep us from suffering the indignity of standing there in the rain, working a key into the lock while the groceries get soaked. [Mattia Dal Ben] reports that even Teslas get the blues and don’t unlock reliably all the time, in spite of the price tag.

[Mattia] decided that a spare key card might be good to have around, and that building it into his Casio F-91W watch would put the key as close at hand as it could be without getting an implant.

After programming a new J3A040-CL key card to match the car, getting the chip out was the easy part — just soak it in acetone until you can peel the layers apart. Then [Mattia] built a fresh antenna for it and wound it around the inside of a 3D printed back plate.

The hardest part seems to be the tuning the watch antenna to the resonant frequency expected by the car-side antenna. [Mattia] found that a lot of things mess with the resonant frequency — the watch PCB, casing, and even the tiny screws holding the thing together each threw it off a little bit.

Since the watch is less comfortable now, [Mattia] thought about making a new back from transparent resin, which sounds lovely to us. It looks as though the new plan is to move it to the front of the watch, with a resin window to show off the chip. That sounds pretty good, too. Check out the secret unlocking power after the break.

Casio watches are great, though we are more into the calculator models. Someone out there loves their F-91W so much that they made a giant wall clock version.