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32A Bench PSU Build

Load Test

Since I’ve discovered some nice high power PSUs in the form of Playstation 3 PSUs, it’s time to get a new Bench PSU Build underway!

Specifications
Specifications

I’ve gone for the APS-227 version as it’s got the 32A rail. This makes things slightly beefier overall, as the loading will never be anywhere close to 100% for long, more headroom on the specs is the result.

Desktop Instrument Case
Desktop Instrument Case

The case I’ve chosen for this is an ABS desktop instrument case from eBay, the TE554 200x175x70mm. The ABS is easy to cut the holes for all the through-panel gear, along with being sturdy enough. Aluminium front & back panels would be a nice addition for a better look.

PSU Mounted
PSU Mounted

The PSU board is removed from it’s factory casing & installed on the bottom shell half, unfortunately the moulded-in posts didn’t match the screw hole locations so I had to mount some brass standoffs separately. The AC input is also fitted here, I’ve used a common-mode filter to test things (this won’t be staying, as it fouls one of the case screw holes). The 40A rated DC output cable is soldered directly to the PCB traces, as there’s no room under the board to fit the factory DC power connector. (This is the biggest case I could find on eBay, and things are still a little tight). Some minor modifications were required to get the PCB to fit correctly.

Output Terminals & Adjuster
Output Terminals & Adjuster

I decided to add some limited voltage adjustment capability to the front panel, I had a 100Ω Vishay Spectrol Precision 10-turn potentiometer in my parts bin, from a project long since gone that just about fits between the panel & the output rectifier heatsink. The trimpot I added when I first posted about these PSUs is now used to set the upper voltage limit of 15 volts. (The output electrolytics are 16v rated, and are in an awkward place to get at to change for higher voltage parts). The binding posts are rated to 30A, and were also left over from a previous project.

Vishay Spectrol 10-Turn
Vishay Spectrol 10-Turn

 

Addon Regulator Components
Addon Regulator Components

This front panel potentiometer is electrically in series with the trimpot glued to the top of the auxiliary transformer, see above for a simple schematic of the added components. In this PSU, reducing the total resistance in the regulator circuit increases the voltage, so make sure the potentiometer is wired correctly for this!
After some experimentation, a 500Ω 10-turn potentiometer would be a better match, with a 750Ω resistor in parallel to give a total resistance range on the front panel pot of 300Ω. This will give a lower minimum voltage limit of about 12.00v to make lead-acid battery charging easier.
I’ve had to make a minor modification to the output rectifier heatsink to get this pot to fit in the available space, but nothing big enough to stop the heatsink working correctly.

Terminal Posts
Terminal Posts

Here I’ve got the binding posts mounted, however the studs are a little too long. Once the wiring is installed these will be trimmed back to clear both the case screw path & the heatsink. (The heatsink isn’t a part of the power path anyway, so it’s isolated).

Power Meter Control Board & Fan
Power Meter Control Board & Fan

To keep the output rectifier MOSFETs cool, there’s a fan mounted in the upper shell just above their location, this case has vents in the bottom already moulded in for the air to exit. The fan is operated with the DC output contactor, only running when the main DC is switched on. This keeps the noise to a minimum when the supply doesn’t require cooling. The panel meter control board is also mounted up here, in the only empty space available. The panel meter module itself is a VAC-1030A from MingHe.

Meter Power Board
Meter Power Board

The measurement shunt & main power contactor for the DC output is on another board, here mounted on the left side of the case. The measurement shunt is a low-cost one in this module, I doubt it’s made of the usual materials of Manganin or Constantan, this is confirmed by my meansurements as when the shunt heats up from high-power use, the readings drift by about 100mA. The original terminal blocks this module arrived with have been removed & the DC cables soldered directly to the PCB, to keep the number of high-current junctions to a minimum. This should ensure the lowest possible losses from resistive heating.

Meter Panel Module
Meter Panel Module

The panel meter module iself is powered from the 5v standby rail of the Sony PSU, instead of the 12v rail. This allows me to keep the meter on while the main 12v output is switched off.

PSU Internals
PSU Internals

here’s the supply with everything fitted to the lower shell – it’s a tight fit! A standard IEC connector has been fitted into the back panel for the mains input, giving much more clearance for the AC side of things.

Inside View
Inside View

With the top shell in place, a look through the panel cutout for the meter LCD shows the rather tight fit of all the meter components. There’s about 25mm of clearance above the top of the PSU board, giving plenty of room for the 40mm cooling fan to circulate air around.

Load Test
Load Test

Here’s the finished supply under a full load test – it’s charging a 200Ah deep cycle battery. The meter offers many protection modes, so I’ve set the current limit at 30A – preventing Sony’s built in over current protection on the PSU tripping with this function is a bonus, as the supply takes a good 90 seconds to recover afterwards. I’ll go into the many modes & features of this meter in another post.

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Sony PS3 APS-231 Power Supply Voltage Mod

PSU Ratings
PSU Ratings
PSU Ratings

I was recently given a Sony PS3 with a dead disc drive, and since I’m not a console gamer I figured I’d see if there were any handy parts inside. Turns out these units contain a rather nice SMPS, the Sony APS-231 with a high power 12v rail, rated at 23.5A. A bit of searching around discovered a thread on the BadCaps Forums about voltage modding these supplies for a 13.8v output, suitable for my Ham radio gear.
These supplies are controlled by a Sony CXA8038A, for which there is very little information. Active PFC is included, along with synchronous rectification which increases the efficiency of the supply, and in turn, reduces the waste heat output from the rectifiers.

Regulation Section
Regulation Section

Like many of the SMPS units I’ve seen, the output voltage is controlled by referencing it to an adjustable shunt reference, and adjusting the set point of this reference will in turn adjust the output voltage of the supply, this is done in circuit by a single resistor.

Here’s the regulator section of the PSU, with the resistors labelled. The one we’re after changing is the 800Ω one between pins 2 & 3 of the TS2431 shunt reference. It’s a very small 0402 size resistor, located right next to the filter electrolytic for the 5v standby supply circuit. A fine tip on the soldering iron is required to get this resistor removed.

Attachment Points
Attachment Points

Once this resistor is removed from the circuit, a 1KΩ 18-turn potentiometer is fitted in it’s place, from the Anode (Pin 3) to the Ref. (Pin 2) pins of the TS2431 shunt reference. I initally set the potentiometer to be the same 800Ω as the factory set resistor, to make sure the supply would start up at a sensible voltage before I did the adjustment.

Potentiometer
Potentiometer

The pot is secured to the top of the standby supply transformer with a drop of CA glue to stop everything moving around. The supply can now be adjusted to a higher setpoint voltage – 13.8v is about the maxumum, as the OVP cuts the supply out at between 13.9v-14v.

Modded Voltage
Modded Voltage

After doing some testing at roughly 50% of the supply’s rated load, everything seems to be stable, and nothing is heating up more than I’d expect.

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Bargain Bin USB-ODB Interface

ODB Adaptor
ODB Adaptor

This is a little bit of kit I got to talk to the Webasto TT-V I salvaged from a scrap Jaguar S-Type, and converts USB-RS232 to the standard car diagnostic ODB connector. (These are a much cheaper option at £4 than the official Webasto diagnostic adaptor & loom which is over £90.

PCB Top
PCB Top

There’s really not much to this adaptor, the only signals that are routed to the ODB connector seem to be the +12v on pin 16, K-Line on Pin 7 & L-Line on pin 15. The main IC here is a CH340 USB-Serial interface, with some glue logic in the form of an LM339 quad comparator.

PCB Reverse
PCB Reverse

The reverse side of the PCB only has the power indicator LED.

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Anker PowerPort Speed 5 USB Rapid Charger Teardown

Front
Front

Here’s a piece of tech that is growing all the more important in recent times, with devices with huge battery capacities, a quick charger. This unit supports Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3 standard, where the device being charged can negotiate with the charger for a higher-power link, by increasing the bus voltage past the usual 5v.

Rear
Rear

The casing feels rather nice on this unit, sturdy & well designed. All the legends on the case are laser marked, apart from the front side logo which is part of the injection moulding.

Specifications
Specifications

The power capacity of this charger is pretty impressive, with outputs for QC3 from 3.6-6.5v at 3A, up to 12v 1.5A. Standard USB charging is limited at 4.8A for the other 3 ports.

Ports
Ports

The two of the 5 USB ports are colour coded blue on the QC3 ports. The other 3 are standard 5v ports, the only thing that doesn’t make sense in the ratings is the overall current rating of the 5v supply (4.8A), and the rated current of each of the ports (2.4A) – this is 7.2A total rather than 4.8A.

Top Removed
Top Removed

The casing is glued together at the seam, but it gave in to some percussive attack with a screwdriver handle. The inside of this supply is mostly hidden by the large heatspreader on the top.

Main PCB Bottom
Main PCB Bottom

This is a nicely designed board, the creepage distances are at least 8mm between the primary & secondary sides, the bottom also has a conformal coating, with extra silicone around the primary-side switching transistor pins, presumably to decrease the chances of the board flashing over between the close pins.
On the lower 3 USB ports can be seen the 3 SOT-23 USB charge control ICs. These are probably similar to the Texas Instruments TPS2514 controllers, which I’ve experimented with before, however I can’t read the numbers due to the conformal coating. The other semiconductors on this side of the board are part of the voltage feedback circuits for the SMPS. The 5v supply optocoupler is in the centre bottom of the board.

Heatsink Removed
Heatsink Removed

Desoldering the pair of primary side transistors allowed me to easily remove the heatspreader from the supply. There’s thermal pads & grease over everything to get rid of the heat. Here can be seen there are two transformers, forming completely separate supplies for the standard USB side of things & the QC3 side. Measuring the voltages on the main filter capacitors showed me the difference – the QC3 supply is held at 14.2v, and is managed through other circuits further on in the power chain. There’s plenty of mains filtering on the input, as well as common-mode chokes on the DC outputs before they reach the USB ports.

Quick Charge 3 DC-DC Converters
Quick Charge 3 DC-DC Converters

Here’s where the QC3 magic happens, a small DC-DC buck converter for each of the two ports. The data lines are also connected to these modules, so all the control logic is located on these too. The TO-220 device to the left is the main rectifier.

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IR Remote Control Repeater

IR Remote Repeater
IR Remote Repeater

Here’s another random gadget for teardown, this time an IR remote control repeater module. These would be used where you need to operate a DVD player, set top box, etc in another room from the TV that you happen to be watching. An IR receiver sends it’s signal down to the repeater box, which then drives IR LEDs to repeat the signal.

Repeater Module
Repeater Module

Not much to day about the exterior of this module, the IR input is on the left, up to 3 receivers can be connected. The outputs are on the right, up to 6 repeater LEDs can be plugged in. Connections are done through standard 3.5mm jacks.

Repeater PCB
Repeater PCB

Not much inside this one at all, there are 6 transistors which each drive an LED output. This “dumb” configuration keeps things very simple, no signal processing has to be done. Power is either provided by a 12v input, which is fed into a 7805 linear regulator, or direct from USB.

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Project Volantis – Storage Server Rebuild

For some time now I’ve been running a large disk array to store all the essential data for my network. The current setup has 10x 4TB disks in a RAID6 array under Linux MD.

Up until now the disks have been running in external Orico 9558U3 USB3 drive bays, through a PCIe x1 USB3 controller. However in this configuration there have been a few issues:

  • Congestion over the USB3 link. RAID rebuild speeds were severely limited to ~20MB/s in the event of a failure. General data transfer was equally as slow.
  • Drive dock general reliability. The drive bays are running a USB3 – SATA controller with a port expander, a single drive failure would cause the controller to reset all disks on it’s bus. Instead of losing a single disk in the array, 5 would disappear at the same time.
  • Cooling. The factory fitted fans in these bays are total crap – and very difficult to get at to change. A fan failure quickly allows the disks to heat up to temperatures that would cause failure.
  • Upgrade options difficult. These bays are pretty expensive for what they are, and adding more disks to the USB3 bus would likely strangle the bandwidth even further.
  • Disk failure difficult to locate. The USB3 interface doesn’t pass on the disk serial number to the host OS, so working out which disk has actually failed is difficult.

To remedy these issues, a proper SATA controller solution was required. Proper hardware RAID controllers are incredibly expensive, so they’re out of the question, and since I’m already using Linux MD RAID, I didn’t need a hardware controller anyway.

16-Port HBA
16-Port HBA

A quick search for suitable HBA cards showed me the IOCrest 16-port SATAIII controller, which is pretty low cost at £140. This card breaks out the SATA ports into standard SFF-8086 connectors, with 4 ports on each. Importantly the cables to convert from these server-grade connectors to standard SATA are supplied, as they’re pretty expensive on their own (£25 each).
This card gives me the option to expand the array to 16 disks eventually, although the active array will probably be kept at 14 disks with 2 hot spares, this will give a total capacity of 48TB.

HBA
SATA HBA

Here’s the card installed in the host machine, with the array running. One thing I didn’t expect was the card to be crusted with activity LEDs. There appears to be one LED for each pair of disks, plus a couple others which I would expect are activity on the backhaul link to PCIe. (I can’t be certain, as there isn’t any proper documentation anywhere for this card. It certainly didn’t come with any ;)).
I’m not too impressed with the fan that’s on the card – it’s a crap sleeve bearing type, so I’ll be keeping a close eye on this for failure & will replace with a high quality ball-bearing fan when it finally croaks. The heatsink is definitely oversized for the job, with nothing installed above the card barely gets warm, which is definitely a good thing for life expectancy.

Update 10/02/17 – The stock fan is now dead as a doornail after only 4 months of continuous operation. Replaced with a high quality ball-bearing 80mm Delta fan to keep things running cool. As there is no speed sense line on the stock fan, the only way to tell it was failing was by the horrendous screeching noise of the failing bearings.

SCSI Controller
SCSI Controller

Above is the final HBA installed in the PCIe x1 slot above – a parallel SCSI U320 card that handles the tape backup drives. This card is very close to the cooling fan of the SATA card, and does make it run warmer, but not excessively warm. Unfortunately the card is too long for the other PCIe socket – it fouls on the DIMM slots.

Backup Drives
Backup Drives

The tape drives are LTO2 300/600GB for large file backup & DDS4 20/40GB DAT for smaller stuff. These were had cheap on eBay, with a load of tapes. Newer LTO drives aren’t an option due to cost.

The main disk array is currently built as 9 disks in service with a single hot spare, in case of disk failure, this gives a total size after parity of 28TB:

The disks used are Seagate ST4000DM000 Desktop HDDs, which at this point have ~15K hours on them, and show no signs of impending failure.

USB3 Speeds
USB3 Speeds

Here’s a screenshot with the disk array fully loaded running over USB3. The aggregate speed on the md0 device is only 21795KB/s. Extremely slow indeed.

This card is structured similarly to the external USB3 bays – a PCI Express bridge glues 4 Marvell 9215 4-port SATA controllers into a single x8 card. Bus contention may become an issue with all 16 ports used, but as far with 9 active devices, the performance increase is impressive. Adding another disk to the active array would certainly give everything a workout, as rebuilding with an extra disk will hammer both read from the existing disks & will write to the new.

HBA Speeds
HBA Speeds

With all disks on the new controller, I’m sustaining read speeds of 180MB/s. (Pulling data off over the network). Write speeds are always going to be pretty pathetic with RAID6, as parity calculations have to be done. With Linux MD, this is done by the host CPU, which is currently a Core2Duo E7500 at 2.96GHz, with this setup, I get 40-60MB/s writes to the array with large files.

Disk Array
Disk Array

Since I don’t have a suitable case with built in drive bays, (again, they’re expensive), I’ve had to improvise with some steel strip to hold the disks in a stack. 3 DC-DC converters provides the regulated 12v & 5v for the disks from the main unregulated 12v system supply. Both the host system & the disks run from my central battery-backed 12v system, which acts like a large UPS for this.

The SATA power splitters were custom made, the connectors are Molex 67926-0001 IDC SATA power connectors, with 18AWG cable to provide the power to 4 disks in a string.

IDT Insertion Tool
IDT Insertion Tool

These require the use of a special tool if you value your sanity, which is a bit on the expensive side at £25+VAT, but doing it without is very difficult. You get a very well made tool for the price though, the handle is anodised aluminium & the tool head itself is a 300 series stainless steel.

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Cheap eBay Molex-SATA Power Adaptors

Molex to Dual SATA Power
Molex to Dual SATA Power

To do some upgrades to my NAS, I needed some SATA power adaptors, to split the PSU out to the planned 16 disk drives. eBay has these for very little money, however there’s a good reason for them being cheap.

Wire Marking
Wire Marking

The marking on the wire tells me it’s 18AWG, which should be good for 9.5A at an absolute maximum. However these adaptors are extremely light.

Wire Comparison
Wire Comparison

Here’s the cheapo eBay wire compared to proper 18AWG wire. The cores in the eBay adaptor are tiny, I’d guess about 24AWG, only good for about 3A. As disk drives pull about 2A from the +12v rail on startup to spin the platters up to speed, this thin wire is going to cause quite the volt drop & possibly prevent the disk from operating correctly.

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eBay Flyback High Voltage PSU

Flyback PSU
Flyback PSU

I have found myself needing some more in the way of High Voltage supplies of late, with the acquisition of the new He-Ne laser tubes, so I went trawling eBay for something that would be suitable to run these tubes. (I currently only have a single He-Ne laser PSU brick, and they’re notoriously hard to find & rather expensive).
This supply is rated at 1kV-10kV output, at 35W power level. Unfortunately this supply isn’t capable of sustaining the discharge in a large He-Ne tube, the impedance of the supply is far too high. Still, it’s useful for other experiments.
The flyback-type transformer clearly isn’t a surplus device from CRT manufacture, as there are very few pins on the bottom, and none of them connect to the primary side. The primary is separately wound on the open leg of the ferrite core.

Drive Electronics
Drive Electronics

The drive electronics are pretty simple, there’s a controller IC (with the number scrubbed off – guessing it’s either a 556 dual timer or a SMPS controller), a pair of FDP8N50NZ MOSFETs driving the centre-tapped primary winding.
The drive MOSFETs aren’t anything special in this case: they’re rated at 500v 8A, 850mΩ on resistance. This high resistance does make them get rather hot even with no load on the output, so for high power use forced-air cooling from a fan would definitely be required.

Test Setup
Test Setup

Here’s the supply on test, I’ve got the scope probes connected to the gate resistors of the drive MOSFETs.

Waveforms
Waveforms

On the scope the primary switching waveforms can be seen. The FETs operate in push-pull mode, there’s a bit of a ring on the waveform, but they’re pretty nice square waves otherwise.

Arc
Arc

At maximum power on 12v input, about 25mm of gap is possible with an arc.

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eBay Airbrush & Compressor

For my latest project, I needed an easier way to paint without messing about with brushes, and the associated marks they leave in a paint job. eBay provided me with a cheap airbrush & compressor.

Airbrush Kit
Airbrush Kit

For less than £30, this kit doens’t look so bad. I’ve never used an airbrush before, but I’ve had no problems with this as yet spraying both water based paints & solvent based paints.

Compressor
Compressor

Here’s the compressor itself, this runs on 12v & has an output pressure of 1.5 Bar, which is supposed to be adjustable.

Compressor Internals
Compressor Internals

Removing a couple of screws reveals the internal components. Nothing much unusual here, a DC diaphragm pump, pressure switch & outlet fittings. There’s also a thermal cutout fitted next to the motor for protection.
The pressure switch attached to the manifold trips at 1.5Bar, keeping the pressure to the brush pretty much constant.

Air Block
Air Block

Next to the air outlet fitting is an adjustment knob, supposedly for varying the pressure. However it’s just a piss-poorly designed adjustable relief valve that vents to atmosphere. There’s not much of a control range.

Messy Wiring
Messy Wiring

The wiring gets a bit messy where the power LED is concerned, with no heatshrink over the solder joints, but it’s adequate.

Airbrush
Airbrush

The airbrush itself isn’t too bad. It’s solid Brass, with a very nice Chrome finish. I’m not expecting miracles from a very cheap tool, but it certainly seems to be reasonable.

Water Trap
Water Trap

A moisture trap is supplied for the brush, to prevent water drops being sprayed out with the paint. Very handy.

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Portable Hearing Induction Loop

Induction Loop
Induction Loop

These units are used to broadcast local audio, such as from a public address system or local microphone. They accomplish this by producing a modulated magnetic field that a hearing aid is capable of picking up.

Back Panel
Back Panel

Not many controls on this bit of equipment. A bi-colour LED for status indications, a microphone, external audio input, charging input & a power switch.

Internals
Internals

Popping the cover off reveals a small lead-acid battery, 2.1Ah at 12v. This is used when the loop is unplugged.

Main PCB
Main PCB

Here’s the main PCB, which takes care of the audio & battery charging. The inductive loop itself is just visible as the tape-covered wire bundle around the edge of the casing.

Audio & Power Input
Audio & Power Input

Here’s the input section of the main PCB. The microphone input is handled by a SSM2166 front-end preamplifier from Analog Devices.

Power Amplifier
Power Amplifier

This audio is then fed into a TDA2003 10W Mono Power Amplifier IC, which directly drives the induction coil as if it were a speaker. Any suitable receiving coil & amplifier can then receive the signal & change it back into audio.

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eBay Mini Gear Pump Teardown

Mini Pump
Mini Pump

I got one of these to test since I’ve been in need of some small DC pumps for fluid transfer use. At £2 I can definitely afford to experiment.

DC Motor
DC Motor

On the eBay listing, these pumps are rated at 3-12v DC, (I thought that was a bit wide of an operating range), I looked up the motor, an RS-360SH on Mabuchi’s website, they only have models in this range rated at 7.2v & 24v. Judging by the size of the windings on the armature & the fact that after a few minutes operation on 12v it gets rather hot, I’m going to say this is the 7.2v motor.

Pump Gears
Pump Gears

Removing the screws releases the end cover & the pair of gears inside. This operates like any other hydraulic gear motor, albeit with much wider tolerances. It has no capability to hold pressure when the power is removed, and can be blown through easily.
Flow & pressure under power are quite good for the pump’s size, even though it’s noisy as hell.

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Duratool ZD-915 12v Conversion

Inkeeping with everything else in my shack being low voltage operated, I had planned from the outset to convert the desoldering station to 12v operation. It turns out this has been the easiest tool to convert in my shack so far.

PSU Outputs
PSU Outputs

The factory SMPS is a fairly straightforward 18v 12A unit, with only a single small oddity: the desoldering gun’s heating element is controlled from inside the supply.

Iron MOSFET
Iron MOSFET

Next to the output rectifier on the heatsink is a large MOSFET, in this case a STP60NF06 from ST Micro. This is a fairly beefy FET at 60v & 60A capacity, RDS On of <0.016Ω.
This is driven via an opto-isolator from the main logic board. I’ve not yet looked at the waveform on the scope, but I suspect this is also being PWM’d to control temperature better when close to the set point.

Iron Element Controller
Iron Element Controller

Rather than fire up the soldering iron & build a new element controller circuit (Lazy Mode™), I opted to take a saw to the original power supply. I cut the DC output section of the PCB off the rest of the supply & attached this piece back to the frame of the base unit. I also added a small heatsink to the MOSFET to make sure it stays cool.

12v Power Supply
12v Power Supply

Since the fan & vacuum pump are both already 12v rated, those are connected directly to the DC input socket, that I’ve installed in place of the original IEC mains socket. The 18v for the heating element is generated by a 10A DC-DC converter, again from eBay.

Oddly, the iron itself is rated at 24v 80W, but the factory supply is only rated to 18v. I’m not sure why they’ve derated the system, but as the station already draws up to 10A from a 13.8v supply, increasing the voltage any further would start giving my DC supplies a problem, so it can stay at 18v for now.

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Duratool ZD-915 Vacuum Desoldering Station Teardown

For a long time I’ve needed a decent vacuum desoldering tool, as I do much stripping of old PCBs for random parts.
Solder wick works well for most things, but it’s expensive & can be fiddly. It also doesn’t keep very long as the copper braid oxidises & after that point it never seems to work particularly well, even when soaked in fresh flux.

Desoldering Station
Desoldering Station

As usual eBay to the rescue! I managed to pick this one up for £80.

Vacuum Pump
Vacuum Pump

Removing the lid reveals the internals. Front & centre is the vacuum pump, with the mains supply behind it. There’s also a very noisy cooling fan at the back. Not sure why since the unit never gets warm enough to actually warrant a fan.

PSU
PSU

On the other side is the PSU. This is an 18v 12A rated SMPS, with a bit of custom electronics for controlling the iron element. Mounted to the back case is a small black box, more to come on this bit.

PSU Board
PSU Board

Cracking the case of the PSU reveals a pretty bog-standard SMPS, with a surprising amount of mains filtering for a Chinese supply. The DC outputs are on the right.

20160101_111613

From the rail markings, this is clearly designed to output some more voltage rails – possibly for other models of unit. In this case though, a single 18v rail is present. The iron’s element connects directly to the supply, controlled via an opto-isolated MOSFET.

Chinese Voltage Regulation
Chinese Voltage Regulation

As both the fan & the vacuum pump motor are 12v devices, some provision had to be made to reduce the 18v from the power supply to a more reasonable value. Inside the black plastic box are a pair of 1Ω 5W power resistors, connected in series. The output from this connects to the fan & vacuum pump. Because cheap, obviously.

Controller
Controller

Finally, here’s the controller PCB, the main MCU is an 8081 derivative, with a Holtek HT1621B LCD controller for the front panel temperature readout. Iron temperature is achieved by a thermocouple embedded in the heater, I imagine the potentiometer on the left side of the PCB is for calibration.

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ViewSonic VA2232W-LED Monitor 12v Conversion

ID Label
ID Label

On the quest to get things on board replaced that are heavy users of power, the monitor in the main cabin was next. The original CCFL-backlit monitor was very heavy on 12v power, at 5A. This meant falling asleep watching TV would result in severely flattened batteries.

Replacement with a suitable LED-backlit monitor was definitely required. The cheapest on eBay was a ViewSonic VA2232W-LED, so I took to work converting it from 240v to 12v operation.

Back Cover Removed
Back Cover Removed

There are no screws holding these monitors together, so a spudger & frequent swearing got the back off. The shield holding the circuitry is also not screwed down, only attached to the back of the LCD panel with aluminium shielding tape.

Power PCB Trackside
Power PCB Trackside

Once the tape has been cut, the main power board is accessible. The large IC on the left is the main backlight LED driver.

In this case the monitor requires a pair of rails from the supply, 18.5v for the backlight circuitry & 5v for the logic.

DC-DC Regulators
DC-DC Regulators

A pair of DC-DC converters has been fitted in the small space between the power & control boards.

PCB Connection Points
PCB Connection Points

To save me some work & keep maximum compatibility, I’ve not modified the existing supply, just attached the new DC-DC converter outputs onto the corresponding outputs of the factory PSU. The 12v input leads are routed out of the same gap as the mains IEC connector, with some hot glue over the mains input solder points to provide some more insulation.

Wiring Tidied
Wiring Tidied

The wiring is tidied up with hot glue so the back cover will go back on.

Total current draw at 12v is 1.4A.

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Cheap Lithium Polymer Battery Packs

In the past, I’ve used RC type LiPo packs for my mobile power requirements, but these tend to be a bit bulky, since they’re designed for very high discharge current capability – powering large motors in models is a heavy job.

I recently came across some Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 battery packs on eBay very cheaply, at £2.95 a piece. For this price I get 6800mAh of capacity at 4.2v, for my 12v requirements, 3 packs must be connected in series, for a total output of 12.6v fully charged.

For an initial pack, I got 9 of these units, to be connected in 3 sets of 3 to make 20Ah total capacity.There are no control electronics built into these batteries – it’s simply a pair of 3400mAh cells connected in parallel through internal polyfuses, and an ID EEPROM for the Tab to identify the battery.
This means I can just bring the cell connections together with the original PCB, without having to mess with the welded cell tabs.

Battery Pack
Battery Pack

Here’s the pack with it’s cell connections finished & a lithium BCM connected. This chemistry requires close control of voltages to remain stable, and with a pack this large, a thermal runaway would be catastrophic.

Cell Links
Cell Links

The OEM battery connector has been removed, and my series-parallel cell connections are soldered on, with extra lead-outs for balancing the pack. This was the most time-consuming part of the build.

If all goes well with the life of this pack for utility use, I’ll be building another 5 of these, for a total capacity of 120Ah. This will be extremely useful for portable use, as the weight is about half that of an equivalent lead-acid.

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Evening Musing – Linux RAID Rebuilding

My main bulk storage for the home LAN is a bank of 4TB drives, set up in a large RAID6 array. Due to a brownout this evening on the +12v supply for one of the disk banks, I’ve had to start rebuilding two of the disks.

Core NAS
Core NAS

The total array size is 28TB after parity – 9 4TB disks in total. The disks are connected through USB3 to the file server.

mdadm Detail
mdadm Detail

Here’s the current status of the array. Two of the disks decided that they wouldn’t rejoin the array, so they got their superblocks cleared & readded manually. This forced the array into rebuilding.

Rebuild Progress
Rebuild Progress

Rebuilding an array of this size takes a while, as can be seen from the image above, it’s going to take about 7200 minutes, or 5.2 days.

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DIY SMPS Fan Controller

Now the controllers have arrived, I can rejig the supplies to have proper thermal control on their cooling.

Changes Overview
Changes Overview

Here’s the top off the PSU. The board has been added to the back panel, getting it’s 12v supply from the cable that originally fed the fan directly. Luckily there was just enough length on the temperature probe to fit it to the output rectifier heatsink without modification.

To connect to the standard 4-pin headers on the controller, I’ve spliced on a PC fan extension cable, as these fans spent their previous lives in servers, with odd custom connectors.

Fan Controller
Fan Controller

Here’s the controller itself, the temperature probe is inserted between the main transformer & the rectifier heatsink.
I’ve set the controller to start accelerating the fan at 50°C, with full speed at 70°C.

Full Load Test
Full Load Test

Under a full load test for 1 hour, the fan didn’t even speed up past about 40% of full power. The very high airflow from these fans is doing an excellent job of keeping the supply cool. Previously the entire case was very hot to the touch, now everything is cool & just a hint of warm air exits the vents. As the fan never runs at full speed, the noise isn’t too deafening, and immediately spools back down to minimum power when the load is removed.

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Dell SE197FPf Monitor 12v Conversion

My other monitors are a different model, and have a slightly different main PCB inside, but the process is mostly the same for converting these to 12v supply.

Main PCB
Main PCB

In this monitor type, there is only a single board, with all the PSU & logic, instead of separate boards for each function.

PSU Closeup
PSU Closeup

This monitor is slightly different in it’s power supply layout. The mains supply provides only a single 12v rail, which is then stepped down by a switching converter to 5v, then by smaller linear regulators to 3.3v & 1.8v for the logic. This makes my life easier since I don’t have to worry about any power conversion at all.

PCB Reverse
PCB Reverse

Here’s the backside of the PCB, the mains PSU section is in the centre.

Attachment Points
Attachment Points

Here’s the pair of 12v supply wires soldered onto the main board, onto the common GND connection on the left, and the main +12v rail on the right. I’ve not bothered with colour coding the wiring here, just used whatever I had to hand that was heavy enough to cope with a couple amps.

12v Socket
12v Socket

A small mod later with a cone drill & the 12v input socket is mounted in the LCD frame.

Casing Mod
Casing Mod

Some light removal of plastic & the back cover fits back on. Current draw at 13.8v is ~2A.

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Dell E207WFPc Monitor 12v Conversion

I’m still on my crusade of removing every trace of 240v mains power from my shack, so next up are my computer monitors.

I have 4 Dell monitors, of various models, hooked up to my main PC.

The monitor here is a Dell E207WFPc 20″ widescreen model. There will be more when I manage to get the others apart to do the conversion. However I’m hoping that the PSU boards are mostly the same.

Panel Removed
Panel Removed

There are no screws holding these monitors together, the front bezel is simply clicked into place in the back casing, these clips are the only thing that holds the relatively heavy glass LCD panel & it’s supporting frame! The image above shows the panel removed. The large board on the left is the power supply & backlight inverter, the smaller one on the right is the interface board to convert the DVI or VGA to LVDS for the LCD panel itself.

PSU Board
PSU Board

Here’s a closeup of the PSU board, the connector at centre right at the top of the PCB is the main power output, and also has a couple of signals to control the backlight inverter section of the PSU, on the left side. The PSU requirements for this monitor are relatively simple, at 14.5v for the backlight & 5v for the logic board.

PSU
PSU

Here’s the top of the PSU board, very simple with the mains supply on the right side, and the backlight inverter transformers on the left.

Hooked In
Hooked In

Here I’ve hooked into the power rails on the supply, to attach my own 12v regulators. The green wire is +14.5v, and the purple is +5v. Black is common ground.

5v Regulator
5v Regulator

On doing some testing, the backlight inverter section doesn’t seem to mind voltages between 11.5-14.5v, so a separate regulator isn’t required there. Even running off batteries that’s within the range of both charging & discharging. The only regulator required is a 5v one to reduce the input voltage for the logic PCB.

First Test
First Test

On applying some 12v power to the regulator input, we have light! Current draw at 12.5v is 2.65A for a power consumption of 33W.

12v Input
12v Input

There’s plenty of room in the back casing to mount a 12v input socket, I have left the mains supply intact so it can be used on dual supply.

Final Wiring
Final Wiring

Here’s the 5v regulator mounted on the back of the casing, all wired up & ready to go.

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17mm µMonitor

I’ve had a couple of viewfinder CRT modules for a while, & haven’t done much with them, so I decided to make a very small B&W monitor.

CRT
CRT

I ordered a small transparent ABS box when I made a large order with Farnell, that turned out to be just about the perfect size for the project! The CRT & PCB barely fit into the space. The face of the CRT itself is about 17mm across.

Module Installed
Module Installed

Here’s the main PCB & tube fully installed into the case. Barely enough room for a regulator left over!
Power is provided by a simple LM7809 IC to take a standard 12v input.

Module Rear
Module Rear

Rear of the case, showing the fit of the control board.

Connections
Connections

Here’s the back of the monitor, with the DC input jack & a 3.5mm 4-pole jack for audio & video. This allows simple connection to many devices, including the one I’ll use the most – the Raspberry Pi.

Completed
Completed

Completed monitor. Audio is handled by a very small 20mm speaker, currently mounted just below the CRT face.
Current draw from a 13.8v supply is 117mA.

 

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Rigol DS1054Z 12v Power Supply Noise Filtering

Since I fitted my scope with a SMPS based 12v input supply, there has been a noise problem on very low volts/div settings, this noise isn’t present on the mains supply, so I can only think it’s coming from the switching frequencies of the various DC-DC modules I’ve used.

Scope Ripple
Scope Ripple

Because of this I’ve designed a linear post-regulation stage for the supply, to remove the RFI from the DC rails.
This board takes the outputs from the DC-DC converters, removes all the noise & outputs clean DC onto the mainboard of the scope.

As the scope internally uses regulation to get the voltages lower, I’ve found that I don’t have to match the outputs of the mains supply exactly, for the +/-17.5v rails, 12v is perfectly fine instead.

Scope Linear PSU
Scope Linear PSU

Here’s the PCB layout, with the 6  common mode filters on the input (left), linear regulator ICs in the centre & the output filters on the right.

Scope Linear PSU
Scope Linear PSU

Here’s the schematic layout, as usual the Eagle Project files are in the link below, I’ll update when I have built the board & tested!

[download id=”5589″]

73s for now 🙂

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Rigol DS1054Z 12v Power Supply Project – Completion

All of the parts I required to complete the supply arrived this morning. After several hours of building, here’s what I came up with:

12v Power Supply
12v Power Supply

I’ve mounted everything on a piece of FR4 PCB, with it’s copper plane grounded to the case. This backing board is the same size as the original PSU PCB to allow it to be screwed into the same location in the scope.

The power comes in via the converter on the right, which outputs a single 24v rail for the rest of the supplies. The other 6 supplies then generate the individual voltage rails that the scope requires. The use of a single input supply allows this system to operate at voltages up to 30v DC, so it’s good for both 12v & 24v systems.

Scope Ripple
Scope Ripple

At present the only issue is with some ripple on one of the supplies, this is showing up on the scope display with no input connected at the lowest volts/division. Parts are on order from Farnell to build some common mode filters to remove this from the DC output.

On a 13.8v supply, the scope draws about 1.5A total from the supply, giving a total power consumption of 20.7W. This is with all 4 channels enabled.

My wiring assignments & DC-DC converter ratings are in the table below

Connector PinPCB PinSignalMainboardDC-DC RatingWire Colour
110GNDGNDN/ABLACK
22+9v_GNDFAN --NABLACK
38+7.5V6.3V6AORANGE
414-7.5V-7.5V2AGREEN
51NOT USEDAC_TRIGN/ANOT USED
64+5V5V5A6ARED
76GNDGNDN/ABLACK
87GNDGNDN/ABLACK
912-17.5V-17.5V3APURPLE
109+7.5V6.3V6AORANGE
113+9VFAN +1AGREY
121117.5V17.5V3ABLUE
135+5V5V5A6ARED
1413GNDGNDN/ABLACK

Stay tuned for the final section of this build with the power supply filtering & main DC input connections!

73s for now 🙂

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Rigol DS1054Z 12v Conversion Project Update

While searching around for regulators to convert my new scope to 12v power, I remembered I had some DC-DC modules from Texas Instruments that I’d got a while ago. Luckily a couple of these are inverting controllers, that will go down to -15v DC at 15W/3A capacity.

I’ve had to order a new module from TI to do the -17v rail, but in the meantime I’ve been getting the other regulators set up & ready to go.

The DC-DC module I’ve got for the -7.5v rail is the PTN78060A type, and the +7.5v & +5v rails will be provided by the PTN78020W 6A buck regulators.

These regulators are rated well above what the scope actually draws, so I shouldn’t have any issues with power.

DC-DC Modules
DC-DC Modules

Here’s the regulators for the 5v, 7.5v & -7.5v rails, with multiturn potentiometers attached for setting the voltage output accurately. I’ve also attached a couple of electrolytics on the output for some more filtering. I’ll add on some more LC filters on the output to keep the noise down to an absolute minimum. These are set up ready with the exact same output voltage as the existing mains AC switching supply, when the final regulator arrives from TI I will put everything together & get some proper rail readings.

There won’t be a proper PCB for this, as I don’t have the parts in Eagle CAD, and I simply don’t have the energy to draw them out from the datasheets.

More to come when parts arrive!

73s for now 🙂

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Rigol DS1054Z Power Supply Project

Since everything in my shack is run from 12v, I thought it would be handy to convert my new scope to 12v as well, as 99% of the places I find myself needing test gear are off grid, with no access to mains supplies.

Mains PSU
Mains PSU

Here’s the factory mains SMPS unit from the back of the scope. This is a nice multi-rail unit, with several different outputs, the table below details the wiring of the PSU.

Connector PinPCB PinSignalMeasured VoltageMainboardRectifier RatingWire Colour
51AC_TRIGN/AAC_TRIGN/ABROWN
22+9v_GNDN/AFAN --NAORANGE
113+9V10.16VFAN +2AWHITE
64+5V5.1V5V5A20ARED
135+5V5.1V5V5A20ARED
76GNDN/AGNDN/ABLACK
87GNDN/AGNDN/ABLACK
38+7.5V6.9V6.3V20AYELLOW
109+7.5V6.9V6.3V20AYELLOW
110GNDN/AGNDN/ABLACK
121117.5V17.51V17.5V2ABLUE
912-17.5V-17.36V-17.5V2AGREY
1413GNDN/AGNDN/ABLACK
414-7.5V-6.84V-7.5V2AGREEN

The only feature I will lose if I make this switch is AC line triggering, but I never use that anyway, so it’s not a big issue for me.

The connector used by Rigol to connect to the mainboard is a Molex Mini Fit Jr. Series 14-way type.

Since I have been able to locate the connector, the plan is to design a replacement low voltage supply unit for the scope, with the same footprint as the original AC mains supply. This will allow me to do a direct swap without causing any damage or modifying the original supply.
This method will allow me to swap the 240v supply back into the scope if I ever come to need it.

I’m planning to use the LTC3863 DC-DC Controller from Linear Tech to generate the negative rails, this will go down to -150v on the output, so it’s pretty much perfect to generate them.

PSU Output Side
PSU Output Side

Here’s the output side of the mains PSU, it has a lot of filtering on the output rails, the two TO220 devices are the output rectifiers for the +5v & +7.5v rails, these are rated at 20A, 60V.

PCB Bottom
PCB Bottom

Here’s the bottom side of the PCB. It’s a really nicely designed PSU, massive isolation gap, spark gaps on the primary side & good filtering. The output side on the left has the rectifier diodes for the other voltage rails, these are only 2A rated, so designing the inverting supply to generate the negative rails will be pretty easy.

From looking at the PCB markings on both the mainboard & the PSU, the +9v rail seems to be used to drive the fan, both silkscreen markings indicate this.
The voltages marked on the PSU & the mainboard connector don’t quite match up though, there’s a small variation in the stated voltage between the two. This is most likely because all of the regulation of the supplies seems to be done on the mainboard, there are several linear regulators, and a few DC-DC switchers. Providing that the replacement supply isn’t noisy it should work fine.

This is backed up by the fact that the mains PSU only seems to regulate the +5v rail – on measuring the rails that’s the only one that’s close to spec.

Mainboard Power
Mainboard Power

Here’s the mainboard power connector, with it’s silkscreen labelling on the pins. (Very useful). As can be seen here, there’s at least 5 regulators, of both switching & linear types here, generating both positive & negative rails.

 

More to come when I have some components!

73s for now 🙂

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12v Temperature Controlled Soldering Iron

In my shack, 99% of my gear is all 12v powered, which is good for a few reasons:

  • Single Power Supply – This increases efficiency, as I’m only getting the losses of a single supply.
  • Safety – Mains voltages are dangerous, I’m not fond of working on such equipment.
  • Portability – I can power everything pretty much no matter were I am from a convenient car battery.
  • Convenience – Since everything is single supply, with all the same plugs, I don’t have to think about what goes where. This is more important due to my forgetfulness ;).

The one piece of equipment I regularly use that isn’t 12v is my soldering station. This is a Maplin A55KJ digital unit, which uses a 24v heating element.
While the soldering wand works OK when hooked direct to a 12v power supply (only at half power though), this removes the convenience of having temperature control.

The circuitry inside the unit is PIC microcontroller based, and doesn’t even bother rectifying the AC from the supply transformer before it’s sent to the heater. Because of this there are several reasons why I can’t just hook a DC-DC converter up to it to give it 24v.

It’s sensing the zero-crossing for the triac switch, to reduce heat dissipation, so it refuses to work at all with DC.

On looking at the Great Google, I found a project on Dangerous Prototypes, an Arduino based PID controller for soldering irons.

This requires that the soldering wand itself contains a thermocouple sensor – as the Maplin one I have is a cheap copy of the Atten 938D, it doesn’t actually use a thermocouple for temperature sensing. It appears to read the resistance of the element itself – Nichrome heating elements change resistance significantly depending on temperature.

I’ve managed to find a source of cheap irons on eBay, with built in thermocouples, so I’ve got a couple on order to do some testing with. While I wait for those to arrive, I’ve prototyped up the circuit on breadboard for testing:

Prototype
Prototype

I’ve remapped some of the Arduino pins, to make PCB layout less of a headache, but the system is working OK so far, with manual input for the sensed temperature.
I’m using an IRL520N logic-level HEXFET for the power switching, rated at 10A. As the irons only draw a max of 4.5A, this is plenty beefy enough.
To come up with the +24v supply for the heater, a small DC-DC converter will be used.

More to come when the components for the thermocouple amplifier arrive, and the soldering irons themselves!