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Zhiyu ZBP30A1 Electronic Dummy Load

60W DC Electronic Load
60W DC Electronic Load

Here’s a useful tool for testing both power supplies & batteries, a dummy load. This unit is rated up to 60W, at voltages from 1v to 25v, current from 200mA to 9.99A.
This device requires a 12v DC power source separate from the load itself, to power the logic circuitry.

Microcontroller Section
Microcontroller Section

Like many of these modules, the brains of the operation is an STM8 microcontroller. There’s a header to the left with some communication pins, the T pin transmits the voltage when the unit is operating, along with the status via RS232 115200 8N1. This serial signal is only present in DC load mode, the pin is pulled low in battery test mode. The 4 pins underneath the clock crystal are the programming pins for the STM8.

Serial Comms
Serial Comms
Cooling Fan
Cooling Fan

The main heatsink is fan cooled, the speed is PWM controlled via the microcontroller depending on the temperature.

Main MOSFET
Main MOSFET

The main load MOSFET is an IRFP150N from Infineon. This device is rated at 100v 42A, with a max power dissipation of 160W. On the right is a dual diode for reverse polarity protection, this is in series with the MOSFET. On the left is the thermistor for controlling fan speed.

Load Terminals
Load Terminals

The load is usually connected via a rising clamp terminal block. I’ve replaced it with a XT60 connector in this case as all my battery holders are fitted with these. This also removes the contact resistance of more connections for an adaptor cable. The small JST XH2 connector on the left is for remote voltage sensing. This is used for 4-wire measurements.

Function 1 - DC Load
Function 1 – DC Load

Powering the device up while holding the RUN button gets you into the menu to select the operating modes. Function 1 is simple DC load.

Function 2 - Battery Capacity Mode
Function 2 – Battery Capacity Mode

The rotary encoder is used to select the option. Function 2 is battery capacity test mode.

Beeper Mode
Beeper Mode

After the mode is selected, an option appears to either turn the beeper on or off.

Amps Set
Amps Set

When in standby mode, the threshold voltage & the load current can be set. Here the Amps LED is lit, so the load current can be set. The pair of LEDs between the displays shows which digit will be changed. Pressing the encoder button cycles through the options.

Volts Set
Volts Set

With the Volts LED lit, the threshold voltage can be changed.

When in DC load mode (Fun1), the device will place a fixed load onto the power source until it’s manually stopped. The voltage setting in this mode is a low-voltage alarm. The current can be changed while the load is running.

When in battery discharge test mode (Fun2), the voltage set is the cutoff voltage – discharge will stop when this is reached. Like the DC load mode, the current can be changed when the load is running. After the battery has completed discharging, the capacity in Ah & Wh will be displayed on the top 7-segment. These results can be selected between with the encoder.

Below are tables with all the options for the unit, along with the error codes I’ve been able to decipher from the Chinese info available in various places online. (If anyone knows better, do let me know!).

OptionFunction
Fun1Basic DC Load
Fun 2Battery Capacity Test
BeOnBeeper On
BeOfBeeper Off
Error CodeMeaning   
Err1Input Overvoltage
Err2Low Battery Voltage / No Battery Present / Reverse Polarity
Err3Battery ESR Too High / Cannot sustain selected discharge current
Err4General Failure
Err6Power Supply Voltage Too Low / Too High. Minimum 12v 0.5A.
otPOvertemperature Protection
ErtTemperature Sensor Failure / Temperature Too Low
ouPPower Supply Overvoltage Protection
oPPLoad Power Protection
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Arduino SWR Power Meter Final Parts & Calibration

Now the final bits have arrived for the SWR Meter module, I can do the final assembly.

SMA Connectors
SMA Connectors

Here the SMA connectors are installed on the side of the eBay meter, for forward & reverse power tap.
These are simply tee’d off the wiring inside the meter where it connects to the switch.

Uncalibrated
Uncalibrated

The meter is connected to the module via a pair of RG58 SMA leads, above is a readout before calibration, using one of my Baofeng UV-5Rs.

I’m using my GY561 eBay Power Meter as a calibration source, and as this isn’t perfect, the readings will be slightly off. If I can get my hands on an accurate power meter & dummy load I can always recalibrate.

Tools are only as accurate as the standard they were calibrated from!

After calibration, here’s the readings on 2m & 70cm. These readings coincide nicely with the readings the GY561 produce, to within a couple tenths of a watt. SWR is more than 1:1 as the dummy load in the GY561 isn’t exactly 50Ω.

High Power VHF
High Power VHF
Low Power VHF
Low Power VHF
High Power UHF
High Power UHF
Low Power UHF
Low Power UHF

Shortly I’ll calibrate against 6m & 10m so I can use it on every band I have access to 🙂

 

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GY561 Frequency & Power Meter

The latest addition to my radio shack is the GY561 frequency & power meter, which has already come in useful for measuring the output power of all my radios.

GY561
GY561

It’s a small device, roughly the same size & weight as a stock UV-5R. Power is provided by 3 AAA cells.

Display
Display

The display is a standard HD44780 8×2 module. The display on this unit isn’t backlit, so no operating in the dark.

Cover Removed
Cover Removed

The cover pops off easily to allow access to the internals, without having to remove any screws!
The 4 screws on the back of the unit hold the heatsink plate for the 50W 50Ω dummy load resistor.
Removing the cover reveals a couple of adjustments, for frequency & RF power calibration.

There are also 3 tactile switches that aren’t on the front panel. According to the manual (which in itself is a masterpiece of Chinglish), they are used to software calibrate the unit if an accurate RF power source is available. I will attempt to do a reasonable translation when time allows.

Disassembly further than this involves some desoldering in awkward places, so a search of the internet revealed an image of the rest of the internal components. In the case of my meter, all the part numbers have been scrubbed off the ICs in an attempt to hide their purpose. While it’s possible to cross-reference IC databooks & find the part numbers manually, this process is a time consuming one. Luckily the image I managed to locate doesn’t have the numbers scrubbed.

Total Disassembly
Total Disassembly

Under the LCD is some 74HC series logic, and a prescaler IC as seen in the previous frequency counter post. However in this unit the prescaler is a MB506 microwave band version to handle the higher frequencies specified.
In this case however the main microcontroller is an ATMEGA8L.
This is complemented by a SN54HC393 4-bit binary counter for the frequency side of things. This seems to make it much more usable down to lower frequencies, although the manual is very generous in this regard, stating that it’s capable of reading down to 1kHz. In practice I’ve found the lowest it reliably reads the frequency input is 10MHz, using my AD9850 DDS VFO Module as a signal source.
It did however read slightly high on all readings with the DDS, but this could have been due to the low power output of the frequency source.
Just like the other frequency counter module, this also uses a trimmer capacitor to adjust the microcontroller’s clock frequency to adjust the calibration.

The power supply circuitry is in the bottom left corner of the board, in this case a small switching supply. The switching regulator is needed to boost the +4.5v of the batteries to +5v for the logic.
Also, as the batteries discharge & their terminal voltage drops, the switching regulator will allow the circuit to carry on functioning. At present I am unsure of the lower battery voltage limit on the meter, but AAA cells are usually considered dead at 0.8v terminal voltage. (2.4v total for the 3 cells).
When turned on this meter draws 52mA from the battery, and assuming 1200mAh capacity for a decent brand-name AAA cell, this should give a battery life of 23 hours continuous use.

On the back of the main PCB is a 5v relay, which seems to be switching an input attenuator for higher power levels, although I only managed to trigger it on the 2m band.

Finally, right at the back attached to an aluminium plate, is the 50Ω dummy load resistor. This component will make up most of the cost of building these, at roughly £15.

On my DVM, this termination reads at about 46Ω, because of the other components on the board are skewing the reading. There are a pair of SMT resistors, at 200Ω & 390Ω in series, and these are connected across the 50Ω RF resistor, giving a total resistance of 46.094Ω.
This isn’t ideal, and the impedance mismatch will probably affect the calibration of the unit somewhat.

The heatsinking provided by the aluminium plate is minimal, and the unit gets noticeably warm within a couple of minutes measuring higher power levels.
High power readings should definitely be limited to very short periods, to prevent overheating.
The RF is sampled from the dummy load with a short piece of Teflon coax.

There’s a rubber duck antenna included, but this is pretty useless unless it’s almost in contact with the transmitting antenna, as there’s no input amplification. It might be handy for detecting RF emissions from power supplies, etc.

For the total cost involved I’m not expecting miracles as far as accuracy is concerned, (the manual states +/-10% on power readings).
The frequency readout does seem to be pretty much spot on though, and the ability to calibrate against a known source is handy if I need some more accuracy in the future.

I’ve also done an SWR test on the dummy load, and the results aren’t good.

At 145.500 MHz, the SWR is 3:1, while at 433.500 it’s closer to 4:1. This is probably due to the lower than 50Ω I measured at the meter’s connector.
These SWR readings also wander around somewhat as the load resistor warms up under power.

I’ll probably also replace the AAA cells with a LiPo cell & associated charge/protection circuitry, to make the unit chargeable via USB. Avoiding disposable batteries is the goal.