After a bit of a struggle through Australian Customs (for no known good reason) resulting in a delay of a week, the box has finally arrived, so let’s take a look at what it looks like and what’s inside.
The unit comes packed in a recognisably blue-and-white box, branded proudly with the B&K Instruments logo. On the side, the product name, barcode, serial and voltage setting are clearly shown. This is potentially important as the fuse and holder orientation needs to be changed to ensure proper protection depending on which voltage is to be used. The item claims to be Made in China.
Opening up the box, we are greeted by a manila folder with a few papers in it – feels a bit like a mission briefing. Underneath this is the analyser and bundled accessories, kept clear of the box sides by generous moulded foam ends.
Inside the folder is instructions for obtaining the user manual, software and drivers including a direct link, a certificate of calibration and the test report for the calibration.
The supplied cable for the 220V version seems to be an EU plug cable. The cable itself feels to be of high quality – it’s a 3 x 1.0mm2 cable which is much better than the 0.75mm2 that we often get. As I’m in Australia, it was easier just to replace this with a local IEC lead, although the 220V did make me somewhat nervous as we are a 240V country (although, officially harmonized to 230V).
The Kelvin clip test fixture was provided in its own bag with a silica gel packet to protect against humidity.
The Kelvin clip test fixture is important to get reliable low-resistance measurements by separating the drive leads from the measurement leads, allowing us to ignore the resistance contribution of the wires.
To ensure quality connections, the analyser uses the centre pin of four BNC connectors for the connections and the clips themselves are gold plated. The wires themselves are fairly flexible and the leads are of a moderate length. The attachment to the analyser is configured as a block, allowing for faster connection without needing to worry about getting the order of connections right.
In case it matters, the side of the clips are also marked with the function of that particular leg of the clip. The jaws themselves are ribbed along the whole clip area to allow for good grip and they also flex slightly to conform to a terminal or wire securely.
The wires from the clips are joined to a sheathed lead in a plastic junction box. The connections from the wires to the clip legs are done through soldering with strain relief where the cable enters. The clips also feature soft-touch rubber handles.
The main attraction, the BA6010 Battery Analyzer, is well protected inside a thick plastic bag which is more like a shower curtain. Inside, we can see the large LCD display which is also protected with a film and each of the BNC terminals with a cover.
From the front, I am immediately impressed by the large matte finish LCD screen which takes almost half of the front panel. Being matte, it doesn’t seem to reflect much glare, which should make it easier to read. Underneath are the “soft buttons”, along with more traditional number key entry and cursor keys to the right side. There is a pass/fail indicator light and a USB host for saving screenshots and data. The input terminals are four BNC connectors, using the centre pins only, rated at CAT I.
From the rear, there is a grounding point, a fused IEC receptacle for power, an external trigger BNC connector, a USB-B device port, an RS-232C port and a “handler” interface. There is a blanking plate where a GPIB connector could have been fitted, although it doesn’t seem B&K Precision are offering this option at this time. Each end has a distinctive blue rubber surround.
From the sides there are a number of odd shaped vents but it doesn’t seem there are any fans, so this should be a quiet instrument.
As expected, there’s not much to see on the top or underside, although the carry handle/stand also does have the B&K Precision logo.
This is what it looks like when the probes are hooked up ready to go.
An Issue with the Calibration Certificate?
While examining the calibration certificate, I noticed a few issues. The first, and most problematic, was that the certificate was not for my unit as the serial was for 520L17104 and the unit I have is 520L17113. Upon contacting B&K Precision, it seems that this may have been a manual mix-up which might have occurred at their office as this was one of the early units that they had inspected. Unfortunately, by the time this review was published, I was not provided with the calibration certificate nor test report for my particular unit.
The other concern was that the test report shows that the calibration date was 16th October 2017 with a due date set a year ahead. As I only just received the unit, it means that calibration is practically due within about a month or two. Some other instruments may have a “calibration grace period” where calibration is due one year after the instrument is placed into service – I’m not sure if this applies to the BA6010.
The BA6010 comes packaged in a distinctively blue-and-white box which proudly shows its B&K Precision branding. The unit, Kelvin clip test fixture, EU power cable (220V) and limited documentation are packed within, along with instructions to obtain full documentation online. It was quite well packed and protected, surviving the journey to Australia.
The instrument has a gorgeously large matte-finish LCD screen which is glare-resistant, with soft-keys and more traditional keypad entry to the right. There is a USB-host connector for screenshot and data saving to USB memory and a pass-fail indicator. Connections are made using the centre-pin of BNC connectors to ensure quality connections.
The unit also sports a good variety of interfaces including USB host (USB CDC/USB TMC), RS-232C, remote trigger and handler interface. There is also a grounding point and fused IEC power inlet on the rear.
The Kelvin clip test fixture provided has a very flexible lead of an adequate length, with gold plated clips that have grooved surfaces for more reliable connections. Each side of the clips is labelled with its function and the clips even have soft-touch rubber handles.
As for downsides, it seems that my unit was shipped with the wrong calibration certificate and test report, possibly due to a one-off inspection mix-up as an early unit. Owing to its “early” nature, the calibration is believed to expire soon as well.
I would have liked to see a set of Kelvin probes with pogo-pin style contacts for other types of battery without flat terminals to clip to It would also be nice to include a USB cable and/or serial null modem cable(due to the configuration of the instrument’s port and/or a Centronics 36-pin connector for the handler interface(as these are getting hard to find However considering the price and the nature of the instrument it’s quite likely that users would end up building their own test fixtures to meet their application-specific needs.
This blog is part of a series of posts for the B&K Precision BA6010 Battery Analyser RoadTest, where you will find all the links to the other parts of the review.