I just found a link to this unique little device and had to blog about it right away. The PowerPole Polarity and Voltage Tester is similar to one of those little devices that you plug into an AC outlet that tells you if the outlet is wired correctly. Except that you plug this device into an unknown PowerPole outlet.
What surprised me is that this little device actually uses a microcontroller to measure the voltage. I guess that I really shouldn’t be surprised, though. Microcontrollers come in very small packages now, and programming them is very simple to do .
Because microcontroller are programmable, you could extend the functionality of this device. For example, you could add a small alpha-numeric display or more LEDs to indicate different voltage ranges.
While the circuit is very simple, and is easily fabricated on some perfboard, the author of this Instructables project, has indicated that he intends to make a PC board and kit available. I’ve e-mailed him about this, and will report on what he has to say about price and availability.
Another thought that occurs to me is that I could make one of these with the Arduino that’s been languishing beneath my workbench for the last year or so. Basically, I’d just take the front end circuitry from this project and connect it up to my Arduino. I’d have to do some programming, but I think I can handle that. :)