Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Joys of Owning a DC Power Supply


Back in 2000, when I was a young man and had just begun working for Agilent., Gary came up to me and told me that there was a brand new power supply that was going to be scrapped and that I should take it.  The power supply was a 6024A 200 W autoranger that was a very old design, even at that time.  I took a look and it had analog meters and no keypad!  I questioned Gary on why I would want it and he said, “Trust me it will come in handy”.

Here it is:

Gary, being older and wiser than I was at the time, was right.  I had just started working at Agilent and I was still living with my parents so I put it in the basement.  When I moved, I took it with me to my apartment.  Since then there have been several occasions where it came in very handy. 

The first is that there is always an occasional battery that needs charging so I can hook up the 6024A and charge my batteries (we highly recommend putting a blocking diode in series with the output of the supply to protect your battery). It is controlled so there is no danger to the batteries and it totally works like a champ.

The biggest use I have had for it has been troubleshooting the various electronic gadgets that I own.  The first time I used it for this purpose was to troubleshoot my wireless router.  One day it just stopped working.  Instead of throwing it out (wireless G routers were pretty expensive at that point) I figured that I would use my power supply to determine whether it was a problem with the wall adaptor for the router or the router itself.  I bought some cables from an electronics store, grabbed my soldering iron, and hooked my router up to my DC Power Supply.  I set the voltage and the current limit and the router came to life.  All I need to do was to get a new adapter and I was good to go. 

A similar thing happened with an internet streaming box that I had connected to my TV.  All of a sudden it stopped working.  I called their tech support (a terrible experience) they told me that I had to purchase a new box.  Since I had nothing to lose, I chopped up the DC adaptor and hooked it up to my 6024A.  I wish that I took a picture.  I had the box connected to my TV being powered by my 6024A.  The box came to life and I did not need to spend 100 bucks on a new one

Not everyone is as lucky as I am to work for Agilent and get a free HP supply but if you can get your hands on any kind of programmable DC power supply I recommend taking it.  I am glad that I have my power supply and I keep it on my bench, always ready to use.

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1 comment:

  1. having a digital or "old school" DC supply is a must for any electronic hobbyist. I wouldn't be without one.

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