Tuesday, March 27, 2012

If you need fast rise and fall times for your DUT power, use a power supply with a downprogrammer

If you have to provide DC power to a device under test (DUT) and you want the voltage fall time to be just as fast as the rise time, use a power supply with a downprogrammer. A downprogrammer is a circuit built into the output of a power supply that actively pulls the output voltage down when the power supply is moving from a higher setting to a lower setting. Power supplies are good at forcing their output voltage up since that is what their internal circuitry is designed to do. This design results in fast rise times. However, when the supply’s output is changed to move down in voltage, the power supply’s output capacitor (and any additional external DUT capacitance) will need to be discharged. Without a downprogrammer, if there is a light load or no load on the output of the power supply, there is nowhere for the current from the output cap to flow to discharge it. This scenario causes the voltage to take a long time to come down resulting in slow fall times. And this behavior leads to longer test times since you will have to wait for the output voltage to settle to the lower value before you can proceed with your test.

The figures below show an example of the output voltage rise and fall times of a power supply without a downprogrammer under light load conditions. You can see the short rise time (tens of milliseconds) and longer fall time (several seconds).

One of my colleagues, Bob Zollo, wrote an article on this topic that appeared in Electronic Design on February 7, 2012. Here is a link to the article:


A power supply without an active downprogrammer can have fall times that are tens to hundreds of times longer than a power supply with a downprogrammer. If your test requires you to have fast fall times for your DUT power, or your test requires you to frequently change the voltage on your DUT (both up and down) and throughput is an issue for you, make sure the power supply you choose has a downprogrammer – you won’t have to wait as long for the voltage to move from a higher value to a lower value.

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