Posted on 3 Comments

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 100µH 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.

Posted on 9 Comments

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.

Posted on Leave a comment

Mercury 30A Ham Radio SMPS

Mercury 30A SMPS
Mercury 30A SMPS

After having a couple of the cheap Chinese PSUs fail on me in a rather spectacular fashion, I decided to splash on a more expensive name-brand PSU, since constantly replacing PSUs at £15 a piece is going to get old pretty fast. This is the 30A model from Mercury, which seems to be pretty well built. It’s also significantly more expensive at £80. Power output is via the beefy binding posts on the front panel. There isn’t any metering on board, this is something I’ll probably change once I’ve ascertained it’s reliability. This is also a fixed voltage supply, at 13.8v.

Rear Panel
Rear Panel

Not much on the rear panel, just the fuse & cooling fan. This isn’t temperature controlled, but it’s not loud. No IEC power socket here, the mains cable is hard wired.

Main Board
Main Board

Removing some spanner-type security screws reveals the power supply board itself. Everything on here is enormous to handle the 30A output current at 13.8v. The main primary side switching transistors are on the large silver heatsink in the centre of the board, feeding the huge ferrite transformer on the right.

Transformer
Transformer

The transformer’s low voltage output tap comes straight out instead of being on pins, due to the size of the winding cores. Four massive diodes are mounted on the black heatsinks for output rectification.

 

SMPS Controller
SMPS Controller

The supply is controlled via the jelly bean TL494 PWM controller IC. The multi-turn potentiometer doesn’t adjust the output voltage, more likely it adjusts the current limit.

Standby Supply
Standby Supply

Power to initially start the supply is provided by a small SMPS circuit, with a VIPer22A Low Power Primary Switcher & small transformer on the lower right. The transformer upper left is the base drive transformer for the main high power supply.