Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Protect your DUT from over-current in more ways than one

Last month, I posted about one of our new families of products: the N6900/N7900 Series 1- and 2-kW Advanced Power System (APS) DC Power Supplies (click here). I typically like to post about more general power topics rather than focus on specific Agilent products, but this product has some really interesting features from which you can benefit. After 33 years of working on power here, there aren’t too many new products that get me excited, but this is one of them! So here is a story about an application for it.

Earlier this month, I visited one of our customers that had a device under test (DUT) whose input was sensitive to too much current. That is typically not a difficult issue to protect against using Agilent power supplies with over-current protection (OCP). Set the current limit to a value that you don’t want to exceed, turn on OCP, and the power supply output will go into protect (turn off) when the current limit value is reached. Simple enough! But this customer had an additional requirement. In addition to an OCP value as just described, he also wanted to shut down the output if the current exceeded a lower current for more than a specified amount of time. So he wanted the power supply output to go into protect (turn off) if either of the following conditions occurred on his DUT (I changed this example to protect his information):

       1.  DUT input current exceeds 6 A for any amount of time, or
       2.  DUT input current exceeds 4.5 A for 80 ms

To be honest, at the time of the visit, I wasn’t sure if our new product could do this. The product is so new and so feature-rich that I am not yet familiar with all of its capabilities. But when I returned to my office, I set it up and found it was very easy to do! Here is the solution:

I used the advanced signal routing and logical trigger expressions built into our N7952A APS to setup both requirements. I could have sent SCPI commands to setup the same trigger configuration, but our free Power Assistant Software (N7906A) made this even easier. Figure 1 shows the software with the configuration.


If, after creating the configuration, I want all of the SCPI commands that correspond to it for a program, I could use the software feature “SCPI to clipboard” that creates them from the configuration. See Figure 2.


Take a look at this feature in action. Figure 3 shows a scope trace of the current waveform. As you can see, currents that are less than 4.5 A do not trip the protection. And currents above 4.5 A for less than 80 ms (and below 6 A) also do not trip the protection. But as soon as the current exceeds 4.5 A for 80 ms (and remains below 6 A), the protection tripped – the output shut off causing the current to go to zero amps.


This is just one example of how versatile the N6900/N7900 APS power supplies are. For more information about how these advanced power systems can help you in your power application, please use this link: www.agilent.com/find/aps. To explore this advanced signal routing and logical trigger expressions feature even more, take a look at a post from one of my collegues: http://gpete-neil.blogspot.com/2013/10/protecting-your-dut-during-test-with.html

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