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Anker PowerPort Speed 5 12v DC Conversion

A few months ago I did a teardown on this Anker PowerPort Speed 5 USB charger, but I didn’t get round to detailing the conversion to 12v I had to do, so I’ll get to that now I’ve got a couple more to convert over.

Power Module
Power Module

Here’s the internals of the Anker charger once I’ve removed the casing – which like many things these days, is glued together. (Joints can be cracked with a screwdriver handle without damaging the case). There’s lots of heatsinking in here to cool the primary side switching devices & the pot core transformers, so this is the first thing to get removed.

Heatsink Removed
Heatsink Removed

Once the heatsink has been removed, the pot core transformers are visible, wrapped in yellow tape. There’s some more heatsink pads & thermal grease here, to conduct heat better. The transformers, primary side switching components & input filter capacitor have to go.

Primary Side Components Removed
Primary Side Components Removed

Here’s the PCB once all the now redundant mains conversion components have been deleted. I’ve left the input filtering & bridge rectifier in place, as this solves the issue of the figure-8 cable on the input being reversible, polarity of the input doesn’t matter with the bridge. I’ve removed the main filter capacitor to make enough room for the DC-DC converters to be fitted.

Tails Installed
Tails Installed

Installing the tails to connect everything together is the next step, this charger requires two power supplies – the QC3 circuits need 14.4v to supply the multi-voltage modules, the remaining 3 standard ports require 5v. The DC input tails are soldered into place where the main filter capacitor was, while the outputs are fitted to the spot the transformer secondary windings ended up. I’ve left the factory Schottky rectifiers in place on the secondary side to make things a little more simple, the output voltages of both the DC-DC converters does need to be increased slightly to compensate for the diode drops though. I’ve also bypassed the mains input fuse, as at 12v the input current is going to be substantially higher than when used on mains voltage.

DC-DC Converters Installed
DC-DC Converters Installed

With a squeeze both the boost converter & the buck converter fit into place on the PCB.

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Philips LED PAR38 Lamp Teardown

Philips PAR38
Philips PAR38

These large LED Philips PAR38 lamps were recently on clearance sale in my local T.N. Robinsons electrical contractors for about £3, so I decided to grab one in the hopes I might be able to hack it into a low-voltage LED lamp. These are full-size PAR38 format, with most of the bulk being the large aluminium heatsink on the front. The back section with the power supply module is secured with silicone, so some unreasonable force was required to liberate the two pieces.

Specification
Specification

These lamps are rated at 18W in operation, and are surprisingly bright for this power level.

Lens
Lens

The front has the moulded multi-lens over the LEDs, to spread the light a bit further than the bare dies.

LED Array
LED Array

The LED array is two series strings of 4 LEDs, for ~24v forward voltage. Unusual for a high power LED array, this PCB isn’t aluminium cored, but 0.8mm FR4. Heat is transferred to the copper plane on the backside by the dozens of vias around the Luxeon Rebel LEDs. There is a thermal pad under the PCB for improved heat transfer to the machined surface of the heatsink.

Control PCB Top
Control PCB Top

The power supply & control PCB is pretty well made, it’s an isolated converter, so no nasty mains on the LED connections.

Control PCB Bottom
Control PCB Bottom
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nb Tanya Louise Heating System – Oxide Sludge

I wrote a few weeks ago about replacing the hot water circulating pump on the boat with a new one, and mentioned that we’d been through several pumps over the years. After every replacement, autopsy of the pump has revealed the failure mode: the first pump failed due to old age & limited life of carbon brushes. The second failed due to thermal shock from an airlock in the system causing the boiler to go a bit nuts through lack of water flow. The ceramic rotor in this one just cracked.
The last pump though, was mechanically worn, the pump bearings nicely polished down just enough to cause the rotor to stick. This is caused by sediment in the system, which comes from corrosion in the various components of the system. Radiators & skin tanks are steel, engine block cast iron, back boiler stainless steel, Webasto heat exchanger aluminium, along with various bits of copper pipe & hose tying the system together.
The use of dissimilar metals in a system is not particularly advisable, but in the case of the boat, it’s unavoidable. The antifreeze in the water does have anti-corrosive additives, but we were still left with the problem of all the various oxides of iron floating around the system acting like an abrasive. To solve this problem without having to go to the trouble of doing a full system flush, we fitted a magnetic filter:

Mag Filter
Mag Filter

This is just an empty container, with a powerful NdFeB magnet inserted into the centre. As the water flows in a spiral around the magnetic core, aided by the offset pipe connections, the magnet pulls all the magnetic oxides out of the water. it’s fitted into the circuit at the last radiator, where it’s accessible for the mandatory maintenance.

Sludge
Sludge

Now the filter has been in about a month, I decided it would be a good time to see how much muck had been pulled out of the circuit. I was rather surprised to see a 1/2″ thick layer of sludge coating the magnetic core! The disgusting water in the bowl below was what drained out of the filter before the top was pulled. (The general colour of the water in the circuit isn’t this colour, I knocked some loose from the core of the filter while isolating it).

If all goes well, the level of sludge in the system will over time be reduced to a very low level, with the corrosion inhibitor helping things along. This should result in much fewer expensive pump replacements!