Measuring Capacitance (fwd)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 24 Apr 1998 00:23:53 +0000
From: "Patrick J. Gustafson" <gustafpj-at-uwec.edu>
To: Tesla List <tesla-at-pupman-dot-com>
Subject: Measuring Capacitance

Hello All:

    What is the preferred method of physically finding the actual
capacitance of a capacitor?  Does anybody still use impedance bridges?
I use an impedance bridge that I use in conjunction with a frequency
generator, then I can do both capacitance and inductance measurements
(comes in real handy for finding the inductance of chokes with different
cores).  However, here is my situation:  I made a couple of rolled
capacitors using LDPE as the dielectric.  Using the k-value of 2.2 and
the physical dimensions of the capacitor, I have a calculated
capacitance to be approximately .00644 micro-farads for each.

    Now when I use the impedance bridge on the capacitance setting, I
run an audible frequency through the capacitor and search for nodal
points in the amplitude of the sound wave (indicating matching
impedances for the plates), I then get a capacitance value of .021
micro-farads!  This was certainly an unexpected surprise.  A gain of
almost .015 micro-farads!

    I have not directly measured the actual k-value of the LDPE, but I
suspect that it does not deviate far from the 2.2 mark.  If in fact the
bridge is working properly, I believe that the real culprit of the added
capacitance is in the oil that I used (Caltron 60/30).  I received 10
gal. from the local power company for free. They use the same oil in all
of their high voltage pole transformers.  I now of course would like the
determine the value of this oil, but I am hesitant to use the bridge.
So, back to my original question, what does everyone else use to measure

Patrick Gustafson, Capacitance to Spare in Eau Claire.