Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What does it mean when my Agilent power supply displays “Osc”?

When using certain higher performance power supplies from Agilent, like the N678xA series source-measure modules, you may discover that the output has shut down and an annunciator displaying “Osc” shows up on the front panel meter display, like that shown in Figure 1 for the N6705B DC Power Analyzer mainframe. 

Figure 1: DC Power Analyzer front panel meter displaying “Osc” on channel 1 output

As you would likely guess, Osc stands for oscillation and this means the output has been shut down for an oscillation fault detection. In this particular instance an N6781A high performance source measure module was installed in channel 1 of the N6705B DC Power Analyzer mainframe.

The N678xA series source measure modules have very high bandwidth so that they can provide faster transient response and output slew rates. However, when the bandwidth of the power supply is increased, its output stability becomes more dependent on the output wiring and DUT impedances. To provide this greater bandwidth and at the same time accommodate a wider range of DUTs on the N678xA modules, there are multiple compensation ranges to select from, based on the DUT’s input capacitance, as shown in the advanced source settings screen in Figure 2.

Figure 2: DC Power Analyzer front panel displaying advanced source settings for the N678xA

Note that “Low” compensation range supports the full range of DUT loading capacitance but this is the default range. While it provides the most robust stability, it does not have the faster response and better performance of the “High” compensation ranges.

As long as the wiring to the DUT is correctly configured and an appropriate compensation range is selected the output should be stable and not trip the oscillation protection system. In the event of conditions leading to an unstable condition, any detection of output oscillations starting up quickly shut down the output in the manner I captured in Figure 3. I did this by creating an instability by removing the load capacitance.

Figure 3: Oscillation protection being tripped as captured in companion 14585A software

In rare circumstances, such as with some DUTs drawing extremely high amplitude, high frequency load currents, which may lead to false tripping, the oscillation protection can be turned off, as shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4: N678xA oscillation protection disable in N6705B DC Power Analyzer advance protection screen

Oscillation protection is a useful mechanism that can protect your DUT and your power supply from an excessively high AC voltage and current due to unstable operating conditions. Now you know what it means next time you see “Osc” displayed on the front panel of you Agilent power supply and what you need to do to rectify it!


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