Fixing a broken BK Precision 879b LCR meter

Broken BK879B
Broken BK879B

Some time ago I got what I thought was a score on Ebay – a really nice LCR meter at a very good price. Ok, it was broken, but the error message indicated it was just the fuse that was gone.  Looked like on the right.

According to BK’s help site, this error could be caused by a busted fuse. It’s an SMD fuse, but not too hard to replace. Unfortunately that didn’t solve the problem… the meter was still dead after fuse replacement.

So, enter a new toy I got recently: A FLIR TG165 IR camera. Did an unboxing of it recently, it’s a very nice piece of gear. Got it from SOS Electronic, it cost a fair bit of money, but still nothing compared to what FLIR cameras cost just a few years ago.

After replacing the fuse I powered the meter from a bench supply, and noticed a couple of things:

  • Both +5V and -5V rails were showing way different values, compared to their nominal ones.
  • The meter pulled more than 200 mA from the supply.
Toasty voltage regulators!
Toasty voltage regulators!

Considering the meter normally runs off a standard 9V battery, 200 mA didn’t seem realistic. Something was wrong.. But all that energy has to go somewhere, and eventually turn into heat. So it’s just a matter of pointing the FLIR to the PCB and look for hot spots. And sure enough, two small SOT23-5 packages are way hotter than anything else on the board. The right, more prominent hotspot is a Texas Instrument TPS60400DBVT, which is a voltage inverter. Following the PCB traces from the -5V test point on the board, they ended up at that right hotspot – it was now a strong candidate for replacement.

Desoldering it was easy, it was then just a matter of powering the meter from a bench supply, providing +9V into the meter’s regular battery terminals, and -5 into the -5V test point. No problems, the meter came alive just fine.

A replacement regulator arrived a few days ago, soldering it in, re-assembling everything, adding a fresh 9V battery, and everything works great again. Win!


13 Replies to “Fixing a broken BK Precision 879b LCR meter”

  1. Hi, thank you for this very informative article. I have the same intrument which produces the same error. The fuse is OK. After contacting BK Precision I found out that they ask almost half the cost of the instrument for repair and they do not provide any service info on request. So you article will be helpful to repair mine also provided it has the same fault.
    My Flir camera is on it’s way by the way.
    May I ask if you have any service info for this instument?

    Besat regards
    Yiannis SV1EEZ

    1. Glad you liked it!

      Sorry, I don’t have a service manual or similar. I’d recommend measuring current consumption as a first step. If it’s too high (as it was in my case) the energy has to go somewhere… And then your FLIR will be most useful 🙂

      1. Thank you so much. I managed to fix my meter by using this article and of course your talent. I didn’t have a FLIR on hand, but through some voltage tests and using my finger on the suspect component, it was confirmed that it indeed had failed. My fuse blew as well, unfortunately it was not enough to protect these components.

        Thanks again, you saved me from buying another meter, a $2 part versus a $300 replacement.

  2. I know this is an old post but I wonder how you ever figured out the part number of the TPS60400DBVT voltage inverter. Did you have a schematic? I couldn’t find one.

    1. Brad,
      I had no schematic, sorry. When I repaired that meter the TPS… part was readily available from… somewhere. Not sure where I got it from, probably one of the big/global distributers.

  3. What kind of wattage soldering gun did you use to remove component. What was your removal strategy? Any suggestions?

  4. Are U602 and U603 the same chipset? I have both that were overheating? If not, do you know what U602 is?

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