Friday, December 12, 2014

Why Does Over Current Protect (OCP) have a Programmable Delay Value in the First Place?

Since I am on a roll about over current protect (OCP), having just completed a two-part posting “Why does the response time of OCP vary on the power supply I am using and what can I do about it?” (Review part 1) (Review part 2) there is yet another aspect about OCP that is worth bringing up at this time. And that is “why does OCP have a programmable delay value in the first place?” This actually came up in a discussion with a colleague here after having read my part posting.

It may seem a bit ironic that OCP has a programmable delay in that in my posting on OCP I shared ideas on how one can minimize the response time delay encountered. But this is not contradictory. One may very well want to minimize it, eliminating extra delay being encountered, but not necessarily eliminate it altogether. As can be seen in my previous postings, I had programmed the OCP delay time to 5 ms.

The programmable OCP delay does serve a purpose, and that is to prevent false OCP trips. Adding some delay time prevents these false trips.  For someone who knows the root cause of false OCP tripping they might be half right. There are actually been two main causes of false OCP trips which are prevented by adding some delay time.

The original problem with OCP was that it would be falsely tripped when output voltage settings were changed on the power supply, due to capacitive loading at the test fixture or within the DUT. This is especially prominent with inrush current when first bringing up the voltage to power the DUT. An OCP delay prevents false triggering under these conditions. To correct the false tripping the delay would be invoked when output programming changes were made. As one example, the OCP delay description in our manual for our 663x series power supplies states:

This command sets the time between the programming of an output change that produces a constant
current condition (CC) and the recording of that condition by the Operation Status Condition register. The
delay prevents the momentary changes in status that can occur during reprogramming from being
registered as events by the status subsystem. Since the constant current condition is used to trigger
overcurrent protection (OCP), this command also delays OCP.”

Under this situation the momentary overcurrent is induced by the power supply. Although not nearly as much as in issue in practice, momentary overcurrents can also be DUT-induced as well. This is the second situation that can cause a false tripping of the OCP. The DUT may be independently turned on after the bias voltage has already been on and draw a surge of current. Or the DUT may change mode of operation and draw a temporary surge of current.  If the OCP delay is invoked only by an output programming change it does not have any effect in these situations.

On later generation products, such as our N6700, N6900, and N7900 series, the user also has the ability to programmatically select between having the OCP delay activate from either an output change, or from going into CC condition. This gives the user a way to remain consistent with original operation or have OCP delay effective for momentary DUT-induced overload currents as well!

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