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Multifunction LCD Power Meter MHF-8020P

LCD Unit
LCD Unit

I recently came across these on eBay, so I thought I’d grab one to see how they function, with all the metrics they display, there’s potential here for them to be very useful indeed.
One of the best parts is that no wiring is required between the sensor board & the LCD head unit – everything is transmitted over a 2.4GHz data link using NRF24L01 modules.
Above is the display unit, with it’s colour LCD display. Many features are available on this, & they appear to be designed for battery powered systems.

Monitor PCB
Monitor PCB

Another PCB handles the current & voltage sensing, so this one can be mounted as close to the high current wiring as possible.

Monitor PCB Microcontroller
Monitor PCB Microcontroller

The transmitter PCB is controlled with an STM8S003F3 microcontroller from ST Microelectronics. This is a Flash based STM with 8KB of ROM, 1KB of RAM & 10-bit ADC. The NRF24L01 transceiver module is just to the left.
There’s only a single button on this board, for pairing both ends of the link.

Output MOSFET
Output MOSFET

The high current end of the board has the 0.0025Ω current shunt & the output switch MOSFET, a STP75NF75 75v 75A FET, also from ST Microelectronics. A separate power source can be provided for the logic via the blue terminal block instead of powering from the source being measured.

LCD Unit Rear
LCD Unit Rear

Here’s the display unit, only a pair of power terminals are provided, 5-24v wide-range input is catered for.

LCD Unit PCB
LCD Unit PCB

Unclipping the back of the board reveals the PCB, with another 2.4GHz NRF24L01 module, and a STM8S005K6 microcontroller in this case. The switching power supply that handles the wide input voltage is along the top edge of the board.

Unfortunately I didn’t get any instruction manual with this, so some guesswork & translation of the finest Chinglish was required to get my head round the way everything works. To make life a little easier for others that might have this issue, here’s a list of functions & how to make them work.

LCD Closeup
LCD Closeup

On the right edge of the board is the function list, a quick press of the OK button turns a function ON/OFF, while holding it allows the threshold to be set.
When the output is disabled by one of the protection functions, turning that function OFF will immediately enable the output again.
The UP/DOWN buttons obviously function to select the desired function with the cursor just to the left of the labels. Less obviously though, pressing the UP button while the very top function is selected will change the Amp-Hours display to a battery capacity icon, while pressing DOWN while the very bottom function is selected will change the Watts display to Hours.
The round circle to the right displays the status of a function. Green for OK/ON Grey for FAULT/OFF.

  • OVP: Over voltage protection. This will turn off the load when the measured voltage exceeds the set threshold.
  • OPP: Over power protection. This function prevents a load from pulling more than a specified number of watts from the supply.
  • OCP: Over current protection. This one’s a little more obvious, it’ll disable the output when the current measured exceeds the specified limit.
  • OUT: This one is the status of the output MOSFET. Can also be used to manually enable/disable the output.
  • OFT: Over time protection. This one could be useful when charging batteries, if the output is enabled for longer than the specified time, the output will toggle off.
  • OAH: Over Amp-Hours protection. If the counted Amp-Hours exceeds the set limit, the output will be disabled.
  • Nom: This one indicates the status of the RF data link between the modules, and can be used to set the channel they operate on.
    Pairing is achieved by holding the OK button, selecting the channel on the LCD unit, and then pressing the button on the transmitter board. After a few seconds, (it appears to scan through all addresses until it gets a response) the display will resume updating.
    This function would be required if there are more than a single meter within RF range of each other.

I’ve not yet had a proper play with all the protection functions, but a quick mess with the OVP setting proved it was very over-sensitive. Setting the protection voltage to 15v triggered the protection with the measured voltage between 12.5v-13.8v. More experimentation is required here I think, but as I plan to just use these for power monitoring, I’ll most likely leave all the advanced functions disabled.

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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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Maplin/Refrakta Torch Modification & Mode Removal

The multimode dimming/flashing modes on Chinese torches have irritated me for a while. If I buy a torch, it’s to illuminate something I’m doing, not to test if people around me have photosensitive epilepsy.

Looking at the PCB in the LED module of the torch, a couple of components are evident:

LED Driver PCB
LED Driver PCB

There’s not much to this driver, it’s simply resistive for LED protection (the 4 resistors in a row at the bottom of the board).
The components at the top are the multimode circuitry. The SOT-23 IC on the left is a CX2809 LED Driver, with several modes. The SOT-23 on the right is a MOSFET, for switching the actual LED itself. I couldn’t find a datasheet for the IC itself, but I did find a schematic that seems to match up with what’s on the board.

Schematic
Schematic

Here’s that schematic, the only thing that needs to be done to convert the torch to single mode ON/OFF at full brightness, is to bridge out that FET.

Components Desoldered
Components Desoldered

To help save the extra few mA the IC & associated circuitry will draw from the battery, I have removed all of the components involved in the multimode control. This leaves just the current limiting resistors for the LED itself.

Jumper Link
Jumper Link

The final part above, is to install a small link across the Drain & Source pads of the FET. Now the switch controls the LED directly with no silly electronics in between. A proper torch at last.