• The extremely high input resistance of this sensor also makes it sensitive to stray electrostatic fields in its immediate vicinity. To minimize the influence of static fields, follow these guidelines:


    1. Before taking measurements short the crocodile clips together to remove any held charge, and if necessary, link the black lead to a good earth point and short.
    2. Better results are obtained if, whilst conducting the investigation, the user is connected to a good ground or earth point. The electrostatic discharge apparatus (e.g. wrist band, grounding cord and earth bonding plug) used by circuit board assemblers will provide a good link to earth. Be careful not to touch any voltage sources while you are grounded. 
    3. If it isn’t possible for the user to connect to an earth point, then they should keep as still as possible with their feet on the floor.
    4. Movement from people or equipment in the locality can produce static, which will disrupt readings.
    5. When conducting investigations where the quantity of charge needs to be measured accurately (and not comparatively) mount the Charge sensor, so it won’t be moved during an investigation e.g. in a retort stand and clamp.
    6. The Charge sensor is sufficiently sensitive to detect charge accumulation on the leads. Leave the crocodile clips at the end of the lead set connected together, so they are shorted out.
    7. In some circumstances wrapping the sensor in aluminium foil may help stabilise readings.
    8. Weather conditions can have an effect on readings. In dry weather keep body movement to a minimum to reduce the effect of stray static charge. In humid weather the charge may leak too rapidly to get reasonable results from some investigations. 

  • Equipment used for static investigations must be clean and dry. It must be kept dry even whilst working under humid conditions. Putting the cloths, rods, and other equipment on a metal plate above a radiator works well. A warm air blower (e.g. a hairdryer) can be very useful.
  • If the equipment being used proves difficult to discharge, breathe gently over it. The moisture and heat in the breath will be enough to carry any remaining charge away. A yellow Bunsen flame will discharge insulators very effectively, when used with care. The hot gases rising from the flame are ionised and will neutralise surface charge on insulators.
  • The Charge sensor will be affected by devices that use electromagnetic fields. The equipment that can produce interference includes computer monitors, mobile phones, televisions, switching power supplies, electric motors, etc.
  • Even after shorting out the terminals, there can be a small offset voltage recorded, the reading may not be exactly at zero. This offset can be subtracted using a calculation function or using the tare function in the software. 
  • High frequency fluctuating fields (such as 50 Hz or above) will usually not be detectable. The sensor has a low pass filter to ensure that any 50/60 Hz mains signal is attenuated. Input signals with a rise/fall time quicker than approximately 80 ms will be significantly reduced in value.
  • When used to measure the potential difference between the ends of an electrical component the Charge sensor should be connected in parallel i.e. across the component. 
  • For reasons of accuracy, if the Charge sensor is used with another Charge or Voltage sensor in a circuit, ensure they share a common earth (the same black lead). 
  • The Charge sensor can be used to measure d.c. circuits, or potentials of half cells.

SAFETY: Never use with high voltages. 

  • The Charge sensor can be used to look at low-voltage a.c. signals if the following is followed:-
    • The maximum voltage is 5.5 Vpp (peak to peak) i.e. low voltage, low frequency a.c. signals. It is not suitable for looking at mains supply voltages. 
    • The signal frequency is recommended to be below 12Hz.
  • When measuring the charge on a capacitor, it is necessary to use capacitor values significantly less than 33 nF. For good results use low current leakage capacitors below 1 nF. The error in this case will be less than 3%. The lower the value capacitor the more accurate the results. 
  • Do not connect the charge sensor to high voltage static generators such as Van der Graaf generators or similar apparatus.
  • The SI unit of electric charge is the Coulomb. It is equal to the amount of charge which passes a point in a conductor if one ampere flows through the conductor for one second.