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Chinese “1200W” DC-DC Boost Converter DOA Fix

1200W DC-DC Converter
1200W DC-DC Converter

Ah the curse of the Chinese Electronics strikes again. These large DC-DC boost converters have become very common on the likes of AliExpress & eBay, and this time my order has arrived DOA… On applying power, the output LED lights up dimly, and no matter how I twiddle the adjustment pots, the output never rises above the input voltage.

Boost Converter Topology
Boost Converter Topology

From the usual topology above, we can assume that the switching converter isn’t working, so the input voltage is just being directly fed through to the output. The switching IC on these converters is a TL494,

Control Circuitry
Control Circuitry

The switching IC on these converters is a TL494,with it’s surrounding support components, including a LM358 dual Op-Amp. Power for this lot is supplied from the input via a small DC-DC converter controlled by an XL Semi XL7001 Buck Converter IC. Some testing revealed that power was getting to the XL7001, but the output to the switching controller was at zero volts.

Inductor
Inductor

The 100ยตH inductor for this buck converter is hidden behind the output electrolytic, and a quick prod with a multimeter revealed this inductor to be open circuit. That would certainly explain the no-output situation. Luckily I had an old converter that was burned out. (Don’t try to pull anything near their manufacturer “rating” from these units – it’s utter lies, more about this below).

Donor Converter
Donor Converter

The good inductor from this donor unit has been desoldered here, it’s supposed to be L2. This one had a heatsink siliconed to the top of the TL494 PWM IC, presumably for cooling, so this was peeled off to give some access.
After this inductor was grafted into place on the dead converter, everything sprang to life as normal. I fail to see how this issue wouldn’t have been caught during manufacture, but they’re probably not even testing them before shipping to the distributor.
The sensational ratings are also utter crap – they quote 1.2kW max power, which at 12v input would be 100A. Their max input rating is given as 20A, so 240W max input power. Pulling this level of power from such a cheaply designed converter isn’t going to be reliably possible, the input terminals aren’t even rated to anywhere near 20A, so these would be the first to melt, swiftly followed by everything else. Some of these units come with a fan fitted from the factory, but these are as cheaply made as possible, with bearings made of cheese. As a result they seize solid within a couple of days of use.
Proper converters from companies like TDK-Lambda or muRata rated for these power levels are huge, with BOLTS for terminals, but they’re considerably more expensive. These Chinese units are handy though, as long as they are run at a power level that’s realistic.

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Chinese Power Supply Update

Having now tested the supply I wrote about in my previous post, I can now say that it’s nameplate rating far exceeds it’s actual capability.

On running the supply under load, at 6.5A the operating frequency drops into the audible range, a big sign of overload. (It makes an irritating continuous chirping noise). The output voltage also drops to 10.5v.

The temperature of the unit while it’s been running under such a load is also questionable, the external casing gets hot enough to cause burns, I haven’t yet been able to stick a thermocouple into the case to see what the internal temperature is.

I’m currently talking with the eBay seller (wwwstation) regarding this, however they are arguing that the supply is only for LEDs & CCTV cameras.
However those two loads are very different, and the supply has no internal regulation for supplying LEDs. As a simple switchmode supply, any load is suitable, providing it’s within the load rating of the supply.
I would estimate that the supply is only capable of 5A as an upper limit.

They are requesting that I return the supply, but I’m yet to find out if they’re going to cover return postage. The item as listed is not as described, and I will escalate things if required.
I will update this post when I hear more back from the eBay seller.

73s for now ๐Ÿ™‚

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Potentially Lethal Clone Apple Charger

Charger
Charger

I received this USB supply with a laser module from China that I purchased on eBay. I have heard of these nasty copies of Apple chargers going around, but I’d never received one this bad with a piece of Chinese electronics.

Label
Label

Model No. A1265, so definitely an Apple clone. Apparently capable of +5v DC 1A output. Notice the American NEMA pins. This wouldn’t have been any use to me in the first instance since I am resident in the UK & our mains plugs are significantly different, not to mention significantly safer.

Manufacturer is marked as Flextronics.

Top Of Boards
Top Of Boards

Here is the charger disassembled. Inside the case these two boards are folded together, creating an alarmingly small isolation gap between the mains side of the supply & the 5v output. Both the low voltage output & the feedback loop for the supply runs over the 4-core ribbon cable.
The mains wiring from the board is as thin as hair, insulation included, so there is a big possibility of shorts all over the place from this part of the circuit alone.

Bottom Of Boards
Bottom Of Boards

Bottom of the PCB assemblies. Good luck finding any creepage distance here. There simply isn’t any at all. traces on the +350v DC rail on the mains side of the transformer are no more than 1mm away from the supposedly isolated low voltage side.

Plugging one of these devices into anything is just asking for electrocution.