Wednesday, April 30, 2014

New Software Update for the N7900 Advanced Power System

Hi everybody,

Last year, we introduced the Agilent N7900 Advanced Power System (hereon in shortened to N7900 APS).  The N7900 APS is a full of great features that can only be accessed using the instrument's programming interface.  The programming interface works very well but sometimes you just don't want write and troubleshoot a program, you just want something that works.

Well, I have the chance to share some pretty exciting news.  We want to provide you software that makes some of these great features easy for you to use.  The software is the 14585A Control and Analysis Software.  This software was previously only available for the N6705 DC Power Analyzer.

The 14585A software is a standalone application that unlocks three key features: it allows you to look at a graphical representation of the measured data in Scope Mode, create arbitrary waveforms in Arb mode, and log long term data in datalogger mode.  These three advanced features can be setup and run by adjusting a few settings and pressing a few buttons.

 The software comes with a 30 day free trial so feel free to download it to check it out.  Please note that you need at least version A.01.13 of the APS firmware in order to use the software.

You can find the latest APS firmware at:
APS Firmware

You can find the software at:
14585A Software

If you have any questions on the software, feel free to leave us some comments.  Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Measurement of AC plus DC voltage

One of our AC source customers recently asked me to justify the reading on the front panel of one of our AC sources set to produce a sine wave with a DC offset. He had our 6812B AC Power Source/Analyzer set to a sine wave of 100 Vac (60 Hz) and added a DC offset of 50 Vdc. These AC sources can produce output voltages of up to 300 Vrms and DC voltages up to +/- 425 Vdc. With his settings of 100 Vac and 50 Vdc, the front panel meter was reading 111.79 V with the meter set to measure AC+DC. At first this seemed like an odd result to me, but then I realized that we are simply measuring the rms (root-mean-square) of the total waveform (AC plus DC) and that should be the square-root of the sum-of-the-squares of the individual rms values. This can be mathematically proven fairly easily. Since the AC source Vac is set in rms volts and the rms of DC is simply the DC voltage:

This works even if the DC value is set to -50 Vdc instead of +50 Vdc since the value is squared. And sure enough, when I set the AC source output to 100 Vac and -50 Vdc, the front panel measurement shows 111.82 as expected. The small variation in the measured value compared to the exact calculated value is due to the slight inaccuracies in both the output setting and measurement system.

So in summary, measurement of an rms waveform that consists of an AC signal plus a DC signal is the square-root of the sum-of-the-squares of the individual two values. It’s as simple as that!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Upcoming Seminar on Using Your Power Supply to Improve Test Throughput

I have provided here on “Watt’s up?” a number of ideas on how you can improve your test throughput from time to time, as it relates on how to make better use of you system power supplies to accomplish this. I have categorized these ideas on how to improve throughput as either fundamental or advanced.

In “How fundamental features of power supplies impact your test throughput” (click here to review) I shared in a two-part posting definitions of key fundamental power supply features that impact test throughput and ways to make improvements to literally shave seconds off of your test time.

One example (of several) of an advanced idea on improving throughput I previously shared here is “Using the power supply status system to improve test throughput” (click here to review). Here I explain how, by monitoring the status system, you can improve throughput by not relying on using excessively long fixed wait statements in your programming.

I hope you have found these ideas helpful. If you would like to learn more about using your system power supply to improve your test throughput I will be presenting a live web-based seminar this week, in just a couple of days, April 30th, at 1:00 PM EST on this very topic!

In this seminar I will go through a number of things I’ve shared here on “Watt’s up?” in the past, but in greater detail. In addition, I have also prepared several new ideas as well in this seminar that you might find of help for your particular test situation.  You can register online at the following (click here to access seminar description and registration).  In case you miss the live event I expect you will be able to register and listen to seminar afterward as well, as it will be recorded.

So if improving your test throughput is important to you I hope you are able to attend the seminar!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Why have programmable series resistance on a power supply’s output?

A feature we’ve included on our 663xxA Mobile Communications DC Sources, our N6781A 2-quadrant Source Measure Module, and most recently our N69xxA and N79xxA Advanced Power System (APS) is the ability to program in a value for a resistance that exists in series with the output voltage. So why do we offer this?

 Batteries are not ideal voltage sources. They have a significant amount of equivalent series resistance (ESR) on their output. Because of this, the battery’s output has a voltage drop that is proportional to the current drawn by the DUT that is being powered. An example of this is shown in the oscilloscope capture in Figure 1, where a GPRS mobile handset is drawing pulsed transmit current from its battery.

Figure 1: Battery voltage and current powering a GPRS handset during transmit

In comparison, due to control feedback, a conventional DC power supply has extremely low output impedance. At and near DC, for all practical purposes, the DC output resistance is zero. At the same time, during fast load current transition edges, many conventional DC power supplies can have fairly slow transient voltage response, leading to significant transient overshoots and undershoots with slow recovery during these transitions, as can be seen in the oscilloscope capture in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Example general purpose bench power supply powering a GPRS handset during transmit

It’s not hard to see that the general purpose bench power supply voltage response is nothing close to that of the battery’s voltage response and recognize that it will likely have a significant impact on the performance of the GPRS handset. Just considering the performance of the battery management, the battery voltage drop during loading and rise during charging, due to the battery’s resistance, will impact discharge and charge management performance.

We include programmable resistance in the above mentioned DC power supplies as they are battery simulators.  By being able to program a series output resistance these power supplies are able to better simulate the voltage response of a battery, as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3: N6781A battery simulator DC source powering a GPRS handset during transmit

While the 663xxA and N6781A are fairly low power meant to simulate batteries for handheld mobile devices, The N69xxA and N79xxA APS units are 1 and 2 KW power supplies meant to simulate much larger batteries used in things like satellites, robotics, regenerative energy systems, and a number of other higher power devices. Figure 4 shows the voltage response of an N7951A 1 KW APS unit programmed to 20 milliohms output impedance, having a +/- 10 amp peak sine wave load current applied to its output.

Figure 4: N7951A 1 KW APS DC source voltage response to sine wave load

Programmable series output resistance is one more way a specialized DC source helps improve performance and test results, in this case doing a better job simulating the battery that ultimately powers the device under test.