Milliohm Meter Version 1.5

Update to the Milliohm Meter Project

Side view of the V1.5 Milliohm Meter Project board, with shield.

Updated V1.5 board assem­bly for the Milliohm Meter Project.
The Milliohm Meter board V1.41 is fea­tured in Scullcom’s Milliohm Meter Udpdate YouTube video.
I had already start­ed on the ver­sion 1.5 board update a week ear­li­er and was about to send the pro­to­type files out to OSH Park for man­u­fac­tur­ing, when I noticed a new Scullcom video thru my YouTube sub­scrip­tion notice. I was pleas­ant­ly sur­prised to see that it was an update to the orig­i­nal Milliohm Meter and it was fea­tur­ing the V1.41 board that I had designed. Louis had made some sim­i­lar updates to com­po­nents, so I quick­ly updat­ed the V1.5 board file to match before send­ing it off.

Milliohm Meter Version 1.5 circuit board bare component side view
Milliohm Meter Version 1.5 cir­cuit board bare com­po­nent side view
Milliohm Meter Version 1.5 circuit board bare back side view
Milliohm Meter Version 1.5 cir­cuit board bare back side view

The only major dif­fer­ences in com­po­nents, are some even larg­er capac­i­tors in the +/- 10 volt pow­er sup­ply sec­tion, and a PTC reset­table fuse on the 9V bat­tery sup­ply sec­tion.
I had been putting togeth­er a BOM (bill Of Materials) for the 1.5 board and found that the 33uF capac­i­tors were the same size and price as the 22uF capac­i­tors that were orig­i­nal­ly used in the V1.41 board. Using a larg­er capac­i­tor reduces the out­put rip­ple even fur­ther and also slight­ly increas­es effi­cien­cy for no addi­tion­al cost in size or mon­ey, a win — win design change.
I have also been want­i­ng to get some pow­er pro­tec­tion added to the board for a while and should have includ­ed it in the 1.41 board. I tend not to include it in the ear­li­er pro­to­type­’s until I am hap­py with the design, and can mea­sure the cur­rent used under actu­al oper­at­ing con­di­tions. While pro­to­typ­ing I will often use a cur­rent lim­it­ed pow­er sup­ply, or an exter­nal fuse.
The V1.5 board now has a PTC fuse to lim­it cur­rent, in case of a cat­a­stroph­ic fault on the board.

Polyswitch PTC fuse. photo from Wikimedia Commons
Polyswitch PTC fuse. pho­to from Wikimedia Commons

For those not famil­iar with PTC fus­es, they are a resetable fuse, some­times called poly­fuse,  poly­switch, or poly­mer­ic pos­i­tive tem­per­a­ture coef­fi­cient device (PPTC). They pro­tect a cir­cuit by chang­ing from a low resis­tance at room tem­per­a­ture when oper­at­ed at or below their rat­ed hold­ing cur­rent, to a high resis­tance if the cir­cuit exceeds the trip cur­rent. The excess cur­rent caus­es the device to heat up, great­ly increas­ing it’s resis­tance under fault con­di­tions and lim­it­ing the cur­rent. After the fault has been removed, and the PTC fuse has cooled down it will nor­mal­ly return to it’s low resis­tance state allow­ing the cir­cuit to oper­ate.
Other updates to the V1.5 board include larg­er traces in the 100 mA cur­rent source cir­cuit­ry to reduce resis­tance and trace heat­ing to less than 0.005°C. The small via’s are now masked to reduce the pos­si­bil­i­ty of shorts, and I also includ­ed a two pin 5V head­er for those want­i­ng to pow­er the pan­el meter direct­ly from the on-board 5 volt sup­ply.
A word of cau­tion, some pan­el meters can gen­er­ate sig­nif­i­cant noise back thru the 5V sup­ply. Additional inline fil­ter­ing for the dis­play may be nec­es­sary.

Milliohm Meter V1.5 front panel from Front Panel Express in shipping pack
Milliohm Meter V1.5 front pan­el from Front Panel Express in ship­ping pack

I cre­at­ed a new front pan­el for the V1.5 Milliohm Meter using “Front Panel Designer” to fit a stan­dard Hammond 1455N1601 extrud­ed box with met­al end plates 6.299″ L x 4.055″ W x 2.087″ H. Link to design file
The pan­el is made from “Medium bronze” anodized alu­minum and is 2.5 mm in thick­ness. It has a rec­tan­gu­lar cutout for the pan­el meter, D‑holes for the four banana jacks, and coun­ter­sunk holes for box mount­ing.

4.5 digit front panel meter 1.9999 volts full scale, back component view
4.5 dig­it front pan­el meter 1.9999 volts full scale, back com­po­nent view
4.5 digit front panel meter 1.9999 volts full scale, front view
4.5 dig­it front pan­el meter 1.9999 volts full scale, front view

The front pan­el meter was again pur­chased from ColdfusionX on Ebay and is a 2 Volt full scale meter that oper­ates from a 5 volt sup­ply.

Bill of Materials for the Version 1.5 board includ­ing banana jacks and bat­tery pack.

Milliohm Meter V1.5 board with surface mount components reflow soldered
Milliohm Meter V1.5 board with sur­face mount com­po­nents reflow sol­dered
Milliohm Meter Version 1.5 circuit board ready to install in enclosure
Milliohm Meter Version 1.5 cir­cuit board with cop­per shield, ready to install in enclo­sure

I ordered 100 of the 56.2 Ω resis­tors, and 20 of the 60.4 Ω resis­tors and then picked the best of the group by mea­sur­ing the resis­tance at two dif­fer­ent tem­per­a­tures 15° C apart for the low­est tem­per­a­ture coef­fi­cient. The board has an area for adding a cop­per shield around the dual charge-pump volt­age con­vert­er +/- 10 volt sup­ply sec­tion, which has a switch­ing fre­quen­cy of around 8 kHz. I used a 1/2″ strip of 26 Gauge cop­per sheet from Integrity Beads on Amazon to form the shield, and sol­dered it in place using the thru-hole grounds.

Preparing to connect the wires to the front panel of the Milliohm Meter
Preparing to con­nect the wires to the front pan­el of the Milliohm Meter

Front pan­el banana jacks are con­nect­ed using sil­ver tinned Teflon 22 AWG wire, with a fer­rite bead on each wire. I also used fer­rite beads on the pan­el meter con­nec­tions, along with a 2 pin jack for the pan­el meter pow­er con­nec­tion.

All front panel connection made on the Milliohm Meter, and ready for testing
All front pan­el con­nec­tion made on the Milliohm Meter, and ready for test­ing
First milliohm resistance check of a 0.01 ohm 1% resistor after calibration
First mil­liohm resis­tance check of a 0.01 ohm 1% resis­tor after cal­i­bra­tion

Calibration was fair­ly easy with two trim poten­tiome­ter’s to adjust. To cal­i­brate the zero read­ing, short the Sense (S) + and — jacks and adjust the zero trim pot to read 0.0000 on the pan­el meter. Then con­nect a high qual­i­ty mul­ti­me­ter for mea­sur­ing mil­liamps and con­nect the leads to the Current Source © + and — jacks and adjust the 100 mA trim pot to read 100.00 mA on the mul­ti­me­ter. Disconnect the cal­i­bra­tion leads to pre­vent drain on the bat­tery as soon as the 100 mA cal­i­bra­tion is com­plete, and con­nect your 4‑wire kelvin leads to the meter and you should be ready to mea­sure a known mil­liohm resis­tance as a check.

Be sure and watch Scullcom Hobby Electronics — Milliohm Meter Update on YouTube as he explains the the­o­ry of how the meter, and dif­fer­ent devices in the cir­cuit work.

Link to orig­i­nal Milliohm Meter Project page.
OSH Park print­ed cir­cuit board Milliohm Meter V1.5 project page.
EagleCAD Milliohm Meter V1.5 board files ZIP

Open Hardware


27 Replies to “Milliohm Meter Version 1.5”

  1. Hi Greg,

    This project is com­ing togeth­er real­ly nice. Thank you for improv­ing on an already good project!

    (I just missed your PCB update to 1.5, my order for the 1.41 ver­sion was already in process, but that is no major prob­lem for me)

    In any case, I found an alter­na­tive source for the pre­ci­sion resis­tors at Mouser that have the same price as the ones you got and select­ed. I added a note on the web­site from Louis and explained that there too.

    The NEOHM YR1B series are only 0.18–0.25 Euro cents a piece, depend­ing on the val­ue. They are 0.1% and have a TC of 15PPM/C.


  2. Hi,
    Just want­ed to give you a heads up. We’ll be putting up a blog post on your build over at — should be pub­lished in a few days. Kudos, to you and Louis too, for a great project with good doc­u­men­ta­tion.

    1. Hi Grant,
      Current pric­ing from Front Panel Express is $42.14 USD + ship­ping.
      You can reduce the price by going to a thin­ner pan­el and remov­ing the out­side bev­el though.

      Greg (Barbouri)

    1. Almost any 4–1/2 Digit 2 VDC LED or LCD meter dis­play will work. A required fea­ture is a sep­a­rate pow­er sup­ply input for pow­er­ing the meter (ie not input pow­ered).
      Also good lin­ear­i­ty and accu­ra­cy and sized to fit the pan­el. An option that some have used is an exter­nal mul­ti­me­ter to view the out­put.
      Greg (Barbouri)

  3. I’m sor­ry but I’m con­fused!!!
    what is the cor­rect val­ue of R10?
    in your pho­to it appears to be 499 ohm
    Great project, thanks

  4. I’m prepar­ing to make this in about a month. Any updates? This is going to be so use­ful! Thank you for putting this togeth­er!

  5. Hello,
    Not sure if this would be the right place to trou­bleshoot pcb. I put togeth­er the com­po­nents and adjust­ed the 100mA cur­rent but con­nect­ing the LED meter. I get ‑0.000 and does not change when the sense pins are short­ed to adjust zero.

    I even put 0.01R resis­tor to test and no luck on the read­ing.

    Any help would be appre­ci­at­ed.

    1. Hi George,
      The first things I would check would be the 5 volt reg­u­la­tor IC1, and the dual charge-pump volt­age con­vert­er for +/- 10 volts.

      Greg (Barbouri)

  6. Hi,

    I’m try­ing to import the Eagle files into DipTrace, but it gives me an error.
    “The num­ber of lay­ers in the man­u­fac­tur­ing rules does not match the num­ber of lay­ers on the cir­cuit board.”

    Can you please check this, or pro­vide Gerbers so I can get PCB’s made?

    1. Hi NFM,
      Checked the board file and it only includ­ed two lay­ers. Top lay­er is #1, and bot­tom lay­er is #16.
      I only have the EagleCAD files avail­able.

      Greg (Barbouri)

  7. Greg,
    I am look­ing for the 4.5 dig­it dis­play for the Milliohm meter but can not find it on e‑Bay or else where. Do you have a source?


  8. Hi,

    Thank you very much for shar­ing this. I made a set of these and they work flaw­less­ly, also with a wall-wart pow­er sup­ply (bat­ter­ies are imprac­ti­cal for my pur­pose). I was in need of a mil­liohm-meter with volt­age out­put for DAQ-pur­pos­es. All the com­mer­cial meters only have a dis­play (or their own expen­sive and shit­ty soft­ware). I was able to cap­ture changes of 1 mOhm in a fatigue test. This file shows the (0,01Hz Low-pass fil­tered) sig­nal over a few hours. Y‑axis is in Volts:

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