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Showing posts with label N6782A. Show all posts
Showing posts with label N6782A. 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.

## 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!

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## 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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## Monday, February 24, 2014

### How to test the efficiency of DC to DC converters, part 2 of 2

In part 1 of my posting on testing the efficiency of DC to DC converters (click here to review) I went over the test set up, the requirements for load sweep synchronized to the measurements, and details of the choice of the type and set up of the current load sweep itself. In this second part I will be describing details of the measurement set up, setting up the efficiency calculation, and results of the testing. This is based on using the N6705B DC Power Analyzer, N6782A SMUs, and 14585A software as a platform but a number of ideas can be applicable regardless of the platform.

Figure 1: Synchronized measurement and efficiency calculation set up

The synchronized measurement and efficiency calculation set up, and display of results are shown in Figure 1, taking note of the following details corresponding to the numbers in Figure 1:
1. In the 14585A the data logging mode was selected to make and display the measurements. The oscilloscope mode could have just as easily been used but with a 10 second sweep the extra speed of sampling with the oscilloscope mode was not an advantage. A second thing about using the data logging mode is you can set the integration time period for each acquisition point. This can be used to advantage in averaging out noise and disturbances as needed for a smoother and more representative result. In this case an integration period of 50 milliseconds was used.
2. To synchronize the measurements the data log measurement was set to trigger off the start of the load current sweep.
3. Voltage, current, and power for both the input and output SMUs were selected to be measured and displayed. The input and output power are needed for the efficiency calculation.
4. The measurements were set to seamless ranging. In this way the appropriate measurement range for at any given point was used as the loading swept from zero to full load.
5. A formula trace was created to calculate and display the efficiency in %. Note that the negative of the ratio of output power to input power was used. This is because the SMU acting as a load is sinking current and so both its current and power readings are negative.

With all of this completed really all that is left to do is first start the data logging measurement with the start button. It will be “armed” and waiting from a trigger signal from the current load sweep ARB that had been set up. All that is now left to do is press the ARB start button. Figure 2 is a display of all the results after the sweep is completed.

Figure 2: DC to DC Converter efficiency test results

All the input and output voltage, current, and power measurements, and efficiency calculation (in pink) are display, but it can be uncluttered a bit by turning off the voltages and currents traces being displayed and just leave the power and efficiency traces displayed. This happened to be special DC to DC converter designed to give exceptionally high efficiency even down to near zero load, which can be seen from the graph. It’s interesting to note peak efficiency occurred at around 60% of full load and then ohmic losses start becoming more significant.

And that basically sums it all up for performing an efficiency test on a DC to DC converter!

## Thursday, February 20, 2014

### How to test the efficiency of DC to DC converters, part 1 of 2

I periodically get asked to provide recommendations and guidance on testing the efficiency of small DC to DC voltage converters. Regardless of the size of the converter, a DC source is needed to provide input power to the converter under constant voltage, while an electronic load is needed to draw power from the output, usually under constant current loading. The load current needs to be swept from zero to the full load current capability of the DC to DC converter while input power (input voltage times input current) and output power (output voltage times output current) are recorded. The efficiency is then the ratio of power out to power in, most often expressed in a percentage. An illustration of this is shown in Figure 1. In addition to sourcing and sinking power, precision current and voltage measurement on both the input and output, synchronized to the sweeping of the load current is needed.

Figure 1: DC to DC converter efficiency test set up

One challenge for small DC to DC voltage converters is finding a suitable electronic load that will operate at the low output voltages and down to zero load currents, needed for testing their efficiency over their range, from no load to full load output power. It turns out in practice many source measure units (SMUs) will serve well as a DC electronic load for testing, as they will sink current as well as source current.

Perhaps the most optimum choice from us is to use two of our N6782A 2-quadrant SMU modules installed in our N6705B DC Power Analyzer mainframe, using the 14585A software to control the set up and display the results.  This is a rather flexible platform intended for a variety of whatever application one can come up with for the most part. With a little ingenuity it can be quickly configured to perform an efficiency test of small DC to DC converters, swept from no load to full load operation. This is good for converters of 20 watts of power or less and within a certain range of voltage, as the N6782A can source or sink up to 6 V and 3 A or 20 V and 1 A, depending on which range it is set to. One of the N6782A operates as a DC voltage source to power the DUT and the second is operated as a DC current load to draw power from the DUT. A nice thing about the N6782A is it provides excellent performance operated either as a DC source or load, and operated either in constant voltage or constant current.

An excellent video of this set up testing a DC to DC converter was created by a colleague here, which you can review by clicking on the following link: “DC to DC converter efficiency test”.

The video does an excellent job covering a lot of the details. However, if you are interested in testing DC to DC converters using this set up I have a few more details to share here about it which should help you further along with setting it up and running it.

First, the two N6782A SMUs were set up for initial operating conditions. The N6782A providing DC power in was set up as a voltage source at the desired input voltage level and the second N6782A was set to constant current load operation with minimum (near zero) loading current.

Note that the 14585A software does not directly sweep the load current along the horizontal axis. The horizontal axis is time. That is why a time-based current sweep was created in the arbitrary waveform (ARB) section of the 14585A. In that way any point on the horizontal time axis correlates to a certain current load level being drawn from the output of the DUT. The ARB of course was set to run once, not repetitively. The 14585A ARB set up is shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Load current sweep ARB set up in 14585A software

This ARB sweep requires a little explanation.  While there are a number of pre-defined ARBs, and they can be used, an x3 power formula was chosen to be used instead. This provided a gradually increasing load sweep that allowed greater resolution of this data and display at light loads, where efficiency more quickly changes. As can be seen, the duration of the sweep, parameter x, was set to 10 seconds. As a full load current needed to be -1 A, using the actual formula (-x/10)3  gave us a gradually increasing load current sweep that topped out at -1A after 10 seconds of duration. The choice of 10 seconds was arbitrary. It only provided an easy way to watch the sweep on the 14585A graphing as it progressed. Finally, a short (0.1 second) pre-defined linear ramp ARB was added as a second part of the ARB sequence, to bring the load current back to initial, near zero, load conditions after the sweep was completed. This is shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3: Second part of ARB sweep to bring DUT load current back to initial conditions

I hope this gives you a number of insights about creative ways you can make use of the ARB. As there is a good amount of subtle details on how to go about making and displaying the measurements I’ll be sharing that in a second part coming up shortly, so keep on the outlook!

## 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