## Pages

Showing posts with label N6781A. Show all posts
Showing posts with label N6781A. Show all posts

## Friday, August 14, 2015

### Not all two-quadrant power supplies are the same when operating near or at zero volts!

Occasionally when working with customers on power supply applications that require sourcing and sinking current which can be addressed with the proper choice of a two-quadrant power supply, I am told “we need a four-quadrant power supply to do this!” I ask why and it is explained to me that they want to sink current down near or at zero volts and it requires 4-quadrant operation to work. The reasoning why is the case is illustrated in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Power supply sinking current while regulating near or at zero volts at the DUT

As can be seen in the diagram, in practical applications when regulating a voltage at the DUT when sinking current, the voltage at the power supply’s output terminals will be lower than the voltage at the DUT, due to voltage drops in the wiring and connections. Often this means the power supply’s output voltage at its terminals will be negative in order to regulate the voltage at the DUT near or at zero volts.

Hence a four-quadrant power supply is required, right? Well, not necessarily. It all depends on the choice of the two-quadrant power supply as they’re not all the same! Some two-quadrant power supplies will regulate right down to zero volts even when sinking current, while others will not. This can be ascertained from reviewing their output characteristics.

Our N6781A, N6782A, N6785A and N6786A are examples of some of our two-quadrant power supplies that will regulate down to zero volts even when sinking current.  This is reflected in the graph of their output characteristics, shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Keysight N6781A, N6782A, N6785A and N6786A 2-quadrant output characteristics

What can be seen in Figure 2 is that these two-quadrant power supplies can source and sink their full output current rating, even along the horizontal zero volt axis of their V-I output characteristic plots. The reason why they are able to do this is because internally they do incorporate a negative voltage power rail that allows them to regulate at zero volts even when sinking current. While you cannot program a negative output voltage on them, making them two-quadrants instead of four, they are actually able to drive their output terminals negative by a small amount, if necessary. This will allow them to compensate for remote sense voltage drop in the wiring, in order to maintain zero volts at the DUT while sinking current. This also makes for a more complicated and more expensive design.

Our N6900A and N7900A series advanced power sources (APS) also have two-quadrant outputs. Their output characteristic is shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3: Keysight N6900A and N7900A series 2-quadrant output characteristics

Here, in comparison, a certain amount of minimum positive voltage is required when sinking current. It can be seen this minimum positive voltage is proportional to the amount of sink current as indicated by the sloping line that starts a small maximum voltage when at maximum sink current and tapers to zero volts at zero sink current.  Basically these series of 2-quadrant power supplies are not able to regulate down to zero volts when sinking current. The reason why is because they do not have an internal negative power voltage rail that is needed for regulating at zero volts when sinking current.

So when needing to source and sink current and power near or at zero volts do not immediately assume a 4-quadrant power supply is required. Depending on the design of a 2-quadrant power supply, it may meet the requirements, as not all 2-quadrant power supplies are the same! One way to tell is to look at its output characteristics.

## Wednesday, July 29, 2015

### Battery drain test on anniversary gift clock

Last month, on June 2, 2015, I celebrated working for Hewlett-Packard/Agilent Technologies/Keysight Technologies for 35 years. During the earlier times of my career, on significant anniversaries such as 10 years or 20 years, employees could choose from a catalog of gifts to have their contributions to the company recognized. That tradition has been discontinued, but I did select a couple of nice gifts over the years. During my HP days, one gift I selected was a clock with a stand shown here:
I have had that clock for decades and it uses a silver oxide button cell battery (number 371). I have to replace the battery about once per year and wondered if that made sense based on the battery capacity and the current drain the clock presents to the battery. I expected the battery to last longer so I wanted to know if I was purchasing inferior batteries. These 1.5 V batteries are rated for about 34 mA-hours. So I set out to measure the current drain using our N6705B DC Power Analyzer with an N6781A 2-Quadrant Source/Measure Unit for Battery Drain Analysis power module installed. Making the measurement was simple…..making the connections to the tiny, delicate battery connection points was the challenging part. After one or two failed attempts (I was being very careful because I did not want to damage the connections), I solicited the help of my colleague, Paul, who handily came up with a solution (thanks, Paul!). Here is the final setup and a close-up of the connections:

I set the N6781A voltage to 1.5 V and used the N6705B built-in data logger to capture current drawn by the clock for 5 minutes, sampling voltage and current about every 40 us. The clock has a second hand and as expected, the current showed pulses once per second when the second hand moved (see Figure 1). Each current pulse looks like the one shown in Figure 2. There was an underlying 200 nA being drawn in between second-hand movements. All of this data is captured and shown below in Figure 3 showing the full 5 minute datalog along with the amp-hour measurement (0.28 uA-hours) and average current measurement (3.430 uA) between the markers.

Given the average current draw, I can calculate how long I would expect a 34 mA-hour battery to last:

34 mAh / 3.430 uA average current = 9912.54 hours = about 1.13 years

This is consistent with me changing the battery about every year, so once again, all makes sense in the world of energy and electronics (whew)! Thanks to the capabilities of the N6705B DC Power Analyzer, I now know the batteries I’m purchasing are lasting the expected time given the current drawn by the clock. How much current is your product drawing from its battery?

## Wednesday, July 15, 2015

### Optimizing the performance of the zero-burden battery run-down test setup

Two years ago I added a post here to “Watt’s Up?” titled:  “Zero-burden ammeter improves battery run-down and charge management testing of battery-powered devices” (click here to review). In this post I talk about how our N6781A 20V, 3A 20W SMU (and now our N6785A 20V, 8A, 80W as well) can be used in a zero-burden ammeter mode to provide accurate current measurement without introducing any voltage drop. Together with the independent DVM voltage measurement input they can be used to simultaneously log the voltage and current when performing a battery run-down test on a battery powered device. This is a very useful test to perform for gaining valuable insights on evaluating and optimizing battery life. This can also be used to evaluate the charging process as well, when using rechargeable batteries. The key thing is zero-burden current measurement is critical for obtaining accurate results as impedance and corresponding voltage drop when using a current shunt influences test results. For reference the N678xA SMUs are used in either the N6705B DC Power Analyzer mainframe or N6700 series Modular Power System mainframe.
There are a few considerations for getting optimum performance when using the N678xA SMU’s in zero-burden current measurement mode. The primary one is the way the wiring is set up between the DUT, its battery, and the N678xA SMU. In Figure 1 below I rearranged the diagram depicting the setup in my original blog posting to better illustrate the actual physical setup for optimum performance.

Figure 1: Battery run-down setup for optimum performance
Note that this makes things practical from the perspective that the DUT and its battery do not have to be located right at the N678xA SMU.  However it is important that the DUT and battery need to be kept close together in order to minimize wiring length and associated impedance between them. Not only does the wiring contribute resistance, but its inductance can prevent operating the N678xA at a higher bandwidth setting for improved transient voltage response. The reason for this is illustrated in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Load impedance seen across N678xA SMU output for battery run-down setup
The load impedance the N678xA SMU sees across its output is the summation of the series connection of the DUT’s battery input port (primarily capacitive), the battery (series resistance and capacitance), and the jumper wire between the DUT and battery (inductive). The N678xA SMUs have multiple bandwidth compensation modes. They can be operated in their default low bandwidth mode, which provides stable operation for most any load impedance condition. However to get the most optimum voltage transient response it is better to operate N678xA SMUs in one of its higher bandwidth settings. In order to operate in one of the higher bandwidth settings, the N678xA SMUs need to see primarily capacitive loading across its remote sense point for fast and stable operation. This means the jumper wire between the DUT and battery must be kept short to minimize its inductance. Often this is all that is needed. If this is not enough then adding a small capacitor of around 10 microfarads, across the remote sense point, will provide sufficient capacitive loading for fast and stable operation. Additional things that should be done include:
• Place remote sense connections as close to the DUT and battery as practical
• Use twisted pair wiring; one pair for the force leads and a second pair for the remote sense leads, for the connections from the N678xA SMU to the DUT and its battery

By following these best practices you will get the optimum performance from your battery run-down test setup!

## Tuesday, June 16, 2015

### When is it best to use a battery or a power supply for testing my battery powered device?

As I do quite a bit of work with mobile battery powered devices I regularly post articles here on our “Watt’s Up?” blog about aspects on testing and optimizing battery life for these devices. As a matter of fact my posting from two weeks ago is about the webcast I will be doing this Thursday, June 18th: “Optimizing Battery Run and Charge Times of Today’s Mobile Wireless Devices”. That’s just two days away now!

With battery powered devices there are times it makes sense to use the device’s actual battery when performing testing and evaluation work to validate and gain insights on optimizing performance. In particular you will use the battery when performing a battery run-down test, to validate run-time. Providing you have a suitable test setup you can learn quite a few useful things beyond run-time that will give insights on how to better optimize your device’s performance and run-time. I go into a number of details about this in a previous posting of mine: “Zero-burden ammeter improves battery run-down and charge management testing of battery-powered devices”. If you are performing this kind of work you should find this posting useful.

However, there are other times when it makes sense to use a power supply in place of the device’s battery, to power up the device for the purpose of performing additional types of testing and evaluation work for optimizing the device’s performance. One major factor for this is the power supply can be directly set to specific levels which remain fixed for the desired duration. It eliminates the variability and difficulties of trying to do likewise with a battery, if at all possible. In most all instances it is important that the power supply provides the correct characteristics to properly emulate the battery. This includes:
• Full two-quadrant operation for sourcing and sinking current and power
• Programmable series resistance to simulate the battery’s ESR

These characteristics are depicted in the V-I graph in figure 1.

Figure 1: Battery emulator power supply output characteristics

Note that quadrant 1 operation is emulating when the battery is providing power to the device while quadrant 2 is emulating when the battery is being charge by the device.

A colleague here very recently had an article published that goes into a number of excellent reasons why and when it is advantageous to use a power supply in place of trying to use the actual battery, “Simulating a Battery with a Power Supply Reaps Benefits”. I believe you will find this to also be a useful reference.

## Wednesday, June 3, 2015

### Webcast this June 18th: Optimizing Battery Run and Charge Times of Today’s Mobile Wireless Devices

One thing for certain: Technological progress does not stand still for a moment and there is no place where this is any truer than for mobile wireless devices! Smart phones, tablets, and phablets have all but totally replaced yesterday’s mobile phones and other personal portable devices. They provide virtually unlimited information, connectivity, assistance, and all kinds of other capabilities anywhere and at any time.

However, as a consequence of all these greater capabilities and time spent being actively used is battery run time limitations. Battery run time is one of top dissatifiers of mobile device users. To help offset this manufacturers are incorporating considerably larger capacity batteries to get users through their day. I touched upon this several weeks ago with my earlier posting “Two New Keysight Source Measure Units (SMUs) for Battery Powered Device and Functional Test”. We developed higher power versions of our N678xA series SMUs in support of testing and development of these higher power mobile devices.

Ironically, a consequence of higher capacity batteries leads to worsening of another top user dissatifier, and that is battery charging time. Again, technological progress does not stand still! New specifications define higher power delivery over USB, which can be used to charge these mobile devices in less time. I also touched upon this just a few weeks ago with my posting “Updates to USB provide higher power and faster charging”. The power available over USB will no longer be the limiting factor on how long it takes to recharge a mobile device.

I have been doing a good amount of investigative work on these fronts which has lead me to put together a webcast “Optimizing Battery Run and Charge Times of Today’s Mobile Wireless Devices”. Here I will go into details about operation of these mobile devices during use and charging, and subsequent testing to validate and optimize their performance.  If you do development work on mobile devices, or even have a high level of curiosity, you may want to attend my webinar on June 18. Additional details about the webcast and registration are available at: “Click here for accessing webcast registration”. I hope you can make it!

## Wednesday, March 11, 2015

### Comparing effects of using pulsed and steady state power to illuminate a high brightness LED

I was having a discussion here with a colleague about the merits of powering a high brightness LED (HBLED) using pulsed power versus using steady state DC power.

My opinion was: “Basically, amperes in proportionally equates to light flux out, so you will get about the same amount of illumination whether it is pulsed or DC.”

His argument was: “Because the pulses will be brighter, it’s possible the effective illumination that’s perceived will be brighter. Things appear to be continuous when discrete fixed images are updated at rates above thirty times a second, and that should apply to the pulsed illumination as well!”

I countered: “It will look the same and, if anything, will be less efficient when pulsed!”

So instead of continuing our debate we ran a quick experiment. I happened to have some HBLEDs so I hooked one up to an N6781A DC source measure module housed in an N6705B DC Power Analyzer sitting at my desk, shown in Figure 1. The N6781A has excellent current sourcing characteristics regardless whether it is DC or a dynamic waveform, making it a good choice for this experiment.

Figure 1: Powering up an HBLED

First we powered it up with a steady state DC current of 100 mA. At this level the HBLED had a forward voltage drop of 2.994 V and resulting power of 0.2994 W, as seen in Figure 2, captured using the companion 14585A control and analysis software.

Figure 2: Resulting HBLED voltage and power when powered with 100 mA steady state DC current

We then set the N6781A to deliver a pulsed current of 200 mA with a 50% duty cycle, so that its average current was 100 mA. The results were again captured using the 14585A software, as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3: Resulting HBLED voltage and power when powered with 200 mA 50% DC pulsed current

Switching back and forth between steady state DC and pulsed currents, my colleague agreed, the brightness appeared to be comparable (just as I had expected!).  But something more interesting to note is the average current, voltage, and power. These values were obtained as shown in Figure 3 by placing the measurement markers over an integral number of waveform cycles. The average current was 100 mA, as expected. Note however that the average voltage is lower, at 2.7 V, while the average power is higher, at 0.3127 W! At first the lower average voltage together with higher average power would seem to be a contradiction. How can that be?

First, in case you did not notice, the product of the RMS voltage and RMS current are 0.3897 W which clearly does not match our average power value displayed. What, another contradiction? Why is that? Multiplying RMS voltage and RMS current will give you the average power for a linear resistive load but not for a non-linear load like a HBLED. The average power needs to be determined by taking an overall average of the power over time computed on a point-by-point basis, which is how it is done within the 14585A software as well as within our power products that digitize the voltage and current over time. Second, the average voltage is lower because it drops down towards zero during periods of zero current. However it is greater during the periods when 200 mA is being sourced through the HBLED and these are the times where power is being consumed.

So here, by using pulsed current, our losses ended up being 4.4% greater when powered by the comparable steady state current. These losses are mainly incurred as a result of greater resistive drop losses in the HBLED occurring at the higher current level.

There is supposed to be one benefit however of using pulsed power when powering HBLEDs. At different steady state DC current levels there is some shift in their output light spectrum. Using pulsed current provides dimming control while maintaining a constant light spectrum. This prevents minor color shifts at different illumination levels. Although I would probably never notice it!

## Tuesday, February 24, 2015

### Two New Keysight Source Measure Units (SMUs) for Battery Powered Device and Functional Test

Over the past few years here on “Watt’s Up?” I have posted several articles and application pieces on performing battery drain analysis for optimizing run time on mobile wireless devices. The key product we provide for this application space is the N6781A 20V, +/-3A, 20W source measure module for battery drain analysis. A second related product we offer is the N6782A 20V, +/-3A, 20W source measure module for functional test. The N6782A has a few less key features used for battery drain analysis but is otherwise the same as the N6781A. As a result the N6782A is preferred product for testing many of the components used in mobile devices, where the extra battery drain analysis features are not needed. These products are pictured in Figure 1. While at first glance they may appear the same, one thing to note is the N6781A has an extra connector which is independent voltmeter input. This is used for performing a battery run-down test, one of a number of aspects of performing battery drain analysis. Details on these two SMUs can be found on by clicking on: N6781A product page.  N6782A product page,

Figure 1: Keysight N6781A SMU for battery drain analysis and N6782A for functional test

These products have greatly helped customers through their combination of very high performance specialized sourcing and measurement capabilities tailored for addressing the unique test challenges posed by mobile wireless devices and their components. However, things have continued to evolve (don’t they always!). Today’s mobile devices, like smart phones, tablets and phablets, have an amazing amount of capabilities to address all kinds of applications. However, their power consumption has grown considerably as a result. They are now utilizing much larger batteries to support this greater power consumption in order to maintain reasonably acceptable battery run-time. Optimizing battery life continues to be a critical need when developing these products. With their higher power however, there is in turn a greater need for higher power SMUs to power them during test and development. In response we have just added two new higher power SMUs to this family; the N6785A 20V, +/-8A, 80W source measure module for battery drain analysis and the N6785A 20V, +/-8A, 80W source measure module for functional test. These products are pictured in Figure 2. Details on these two new higher power SMUs can be found on by clicking on: N6785A product page.  N6786A product page.

Figure 2: Keysight N6785A SMU for battery drain analysis and N6786A for functional test

A press release went out about these two new SMUs yesterday; Click here to view. With their greater current and power capability, customers developing and producing these advanced mobile wireless devices and their components now have a way to test them to their fullest, not being encumbered by power limitations of lower power SMUs.

This is exciting to me having been working within the industry for quite some time now, helping customers increase battery life by improving how their devices make more efficient use of the battery’s energy. A key part of this has been by using our existing solutions for battery drain analysis to provide critical insights on how their devices are making use of the battery’s energy.  There is a lot of innovation in the industry to make mobile wireless devices operate with even greater efficiency at these higher power and current levels. There is no other choice if they are going to be successful. Likewise, it is great to see continuing to play a key role in this trend in making it a success!

.

## Monday, October 6, 2014

### Simulating battery contact bounce, part 2

In part 1 of this posting on simulating battery contact bounce (click here to review) I discussed what battery contact bounce is about and why creating a voltage dropout may not be adequate for simulating battery contact bounce. The first answer to addressing this was provided; use a blocking diode and then a voltage dropout is certain to be suitable for simulating battery contact bounce.

Another approach for simulating battery contact bounce is to add a solid state switch between the DC source and the battery powered device. While this is a good approach it is complex to implement. A suitable solid state switch needs to be selected along with coming up with an appropriate way to power and drive the input of the switch need to be developed.

If for some reason using a blocking diode is not suitable, there is yet another fairly simple approach that can be taken to simulate high impedance battery contact bounce. Instead of programming a voltage dropout on the DC source, program a current dropout. Where the voltage going to zero during a voltage dropout is effectively a short circuit, as we saw in part 1, the current going to zero during a current dropout is effectively an open circuit. There are a couple of caveats for doing this. The main one is battery powered devices are powered from a battery, which is a voltage source, not a current source. In order for the DC source to act as a voltage source when delivering power, we need to rely on the DC source voltage limit being set to the level of the battery voltage. In order for this to happen we need to set the non-dropout current level to be in excess of the maximum level demanded by the device being powered and. Thus the DC source will normally be operating in voltage limit. Then when the current dropout drives the output current to zero, the DC source switches its operating mode from voltage limit to constant current, with a current value of zero. This operation is depicted in Figure 4, using a Keysight N6781A 2-quadrant SMU module designed for testing battery powered devices, operating within an N6705B DC Power Analyzer. In this example the current ARB for the dropout was both programmed and the results shown in Figure 1 captured using the companion 14585A software.

Figure 1: Current ARB creates a high impedance dropout to simulate battery contact bounce

Another caveat with using this approach for simulating battery contact bounce is paying careful attention to the behavior of the mode crossovers. For the first crossover, from voltage limit to constant current operation (at zero current) there is a small amount of lag time, typically just a fraction of a millisecond, before the transition happens. This becomes more significant only when trying to simulate extremely short contact bounce periods. More important is when crossing back over from constant zero current back to voltage limit operation. There is a short period when the current goes up to its high level before the voltage limit gains control, holding the voltage at the battery’s voltage level. Usually any capacitance at the input of the DUT will normally absorb any short spike of current. If this crossover is slow enough, and there is very little or no capacitance, the device could see a voltage spike. The N6781A has very fast responding circuits however, minimizing crossover time and inducing just 250 mV of overshoot, as is seen in Figure 1.

Hopefully, now armed with all of these details, you will be able to select an approach that works best for you for simulating battery contact bounce!

## Wednesday, September 17, 2014

### Simulating battery contact bounce, part 1

One test commonly done during design validation of handheld battery powered devices is to evaluate their ability to withstand a short loss of battery power due to being bumped and the contacts momentarily bouncing open, and either remain operating or have sufficient time to handle a shutdown gracefully. The duration of a contact bounce can typically range anywhere from under a millisecond to up to 100 milliseconds long.

To simulate battery contact bouncing one may consider programming a voltage drop out on a reasonably fast power supply with arbitrary waveform capabilities, like several of the N675xA, N676xA, or N678xA series modules used in the N6700 series Modular DC Power System or N6705B DC Power Analyzer mainframe, shown in Figure 1. It is a simple matter to program a voltage dropout of specified duration. As an example a voltage dropout was programmed in Figure 2 on an N6781A SMU module using the companion 14585A software.

Figure 1: N6700 series and N6705B mainframes and modules

Figure 2: Programming a voltage drop out using the N6705B and N6781A SMU module

While a voltage dropout is fine for many applications, like automotive, in many situations it does not work well for simulating battery contact bounce. The reason for this is there is one key difference to note about a voltage dropout versus a battery contact bounce. During a voltage dropout the source impedance remains low. During a battery contact bounce the source impedance is an open circuit. However, a DC source having the ability to generate a fast voltage dropout is a result of it being able to pull its output voltage down quickly. This is due to its ability to sink current as well as source current. The problem with this is, for many battery powered devices, this effectively short-circuits the battery input terminals, more than likely causing the device to instantly shut down by discharging any carry-over storage and/or disrupting the battery power management system. As one example consider a mobile device having 50 microfarads of input capacitance and draws 4 milliamps of standby current. This capacitance would provide more than adequate carryover for a 20 millisecond battery contact bounce. However, if a voltage dropout is used to simulate battery contact bounce, it immediately discharges the mobile device’s input capacitance and pulls the battery input voltage down to zero, as shown by the red voltage trace in Figure 3. The yellow trace is the corresponding current drain. Note the large peaks of current drawn that discharge and recharge the DUT’s input capacitor.

Figure 3: Voltage dropout applied to DUT immediately pulls voltage down to zero

One effective solution for preventing the DC source from shorting out the battery input is to add a DC blocking diode in series with the battery input, so that current cannot flow back out, creating high impedance during the dropout. This is illustrated in Figure 4.

Figure 4: Blocking diode added between SMU and DUT

One thing to note here is the diode’s forward voltage drop needs to be compensated for. Usually the best way to do this just program the DC source with the additional voltage needed to offset the diode’s voltage drop. The result of this is shown in Figure 5. As shown by the red trace the voltage holds up relatively well during the contact bounce period. Because the N6781A SMU has an auxiliary voltage measurement input it is able to directly measure the voltage at the DUT, on the other side of the blocking diode, instead of the output voltage of the N6781A. As seen by the yellow current trace there is no longer a large peak of current discharging the capacitor due to the action of the blocking diode.

Figure 5: Blocking diode prevents voltage dropout from discharging DUT

Now you should have a much better appreciation of the differences between creating a voltage dropout and simulating battery contact bounce! And as can be seen a blocking diode is a rather effective means of simulating battery contact bounce using a voltage dropout. Stay tuned for my second part on additional ways of simulating battery contact bounce on an upcoming posting.
.

## 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!

.

## 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.

## Thursday, August 15, 2013

### Techniques for using the Agilent N6781A and N6782A and their seamless measurement ranging when currents exceed 3 amps

In an earlier posting “Zero-burden ammeter improves battery run-down and charge management testing of battery-powered devices” (click here to access) I had talked about how the Agilent N6781A 2-quadrant SMU can alternately be used as a zero-burden ammeter. When placed in the current path as a zero-burden ammeter, due to its extended seamless measurement ranging, it can measure currents from nanoamps, up to +/-3 amps, which is the maximum limit of the N6781A. The N6782A 2-quadrant SMU can also be used as a zero burden ammeter. It is basically the same as the N6781A but with a few less features.

One customer liked everything about the N6782A’s capabilities, but he had a battery-powered device that drew well over 3 amps when it was active. When in standby operation its current drain ranged back and forth between just microamps of sleep current to 6 or greater amps of current during periodic wake ups. The N6782A’s +/- 3 amps of current was not sufficient to meet their needs.

An alternate approach was taken that worked out well for this customer, which was made possible only because of the N6782A’s zero-burden ammeter capability. The set up is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Setup for measuring micro-amps in combination with large active-state currents

The N6752A 50V, 10A, 100W autoranging DC power module provides all the power. The N6782A is set up as a zero-burden ammeter and is connected in series with the N6752A’s output. When current ranges from microamps up to +/- 3 amps the N6782A maintains its zero-burden ammeter operation, holding its output voltage at zero. Once +/- 3 amps is exceeded, the N6782A goes into current limit and the voltage increases across its output, at which point one of the back-to-back clamp diodes turns on, conducting current in excess of 3 amps through it. This all can be observed in the screen image of the 14585A software in Figure 2. The blue trace is the N752A’s output current. The middle yellow trace is the N6781A’s current and the top yellow trace is the N6781A’s voltage.

Figure 2: Current and voltage signals for Figure 1 setup captured with 14585A software

In Figure 2 measurement markers have been placed across a portion of the sleep current and we find from the N6782A’s measurement readback it is just 1.458 microamps average. The reason why this works is because of zero burden operation. Because the N6782A is maintaining zero volts across its output, there is no current flowing through either diode. If this same thing was attempted using a conventional ammeter or current shunt, the voltage would increase and current would flow through a diode, corrupting the measurement.

Now the customer was able to get the microamp sleep current readings from the N6782A and at the same time get the high level wake up current readings from the N6752A!

In a similar fashion another customer wanted to perform battery run down testing. Everything was excellent about using the N6781A in its zero-burden ammeter mode, along with using its independent DVM input for simultaneously logging the battery’s run down voltage in conjunction with the current. The only problem was they wanted to test a higher power device. At device turn-on, it would draw in excess of 3 amps, which is the current limit of the N6781A. Current limit would cause the N6781A to drop out of its zero-burden ammeter operation and in turn the device would shut back down due to low voltage. The solution was simple; add the back-to-back diodes across the N6781A acting as a zero-burden ammeter, as shown in Figure 3.  Any currents in excess of 3 amps would then pass through a diode. Schottky diodes were used so the device would momentarily see just a few tenths of a volt drop in the battery voltage, during the short peak current in excess of 3 amps. Now the customer was able to perform battery run-down testing using the N6781A along with the 14585A software to log all the results!

Figure 3: Agilent N6781A battery run-down test set up, with diode clamps for peak currents above 3A