Last week, I finally got a few parts I was waiting for. Namely the insulating pads that allow me to connect the MOSFET to the heatsink without making the entire case the drain! So with that, assembly is complete. Just need a label for the front which I can do at a later date if ever I make it to Staples to buy adhesive transparency sheets.
Properly mounted MOSFET. Note the pad under it, and the nylon bushing isolating the screw
Digging up an older idea to fill a newer void
Buzzing along my electronics wave, hot off the success of my nixie tube clock, and dummy load projects, I looked at what else I had going on and found that several of them were in need of panel meters, something I’ve had a really hard time finding at a decent price. You’d figure in this day and age they’d be easier to acquire, not harder.
Anyway, so I dug up my original idea of using an ICL7107 based 7-segment panel meter. I always loved this idea, mainly because I love meters but in particular I love LED 7-seg displays over LCD just for readability and sheer cool factor.
My earlier attempt at a panel meter
Now that I’ve got my Nixie clock all ready to be housed in a box, and lacking said box, I figured I’d motor ahead and try to get something else going. Next on the list is the Dummy Load, which has sat on a breadboard gathering dust for 3 years now. Funny thing is, I had figured it ready for assembly, but always good to check it out and see if improvements can be made.
To my surprise and delight, my design is working just fine.
Institutionalized Dumpster Dive
Over the weekend, I had occasion (in other words I made an occasion) to visit A1 parts and surplus in Etobicoke. I have mentioned it before as a candyland for the junk enthusiast and this is essentially correct. Despite its remote location, it is well worth the visit, just be prepared to dig and expect no help from the rather cantankerous guy at the counter. Total comic book guy for the electronics store which I find endearing rather than offensive. Anyway, if you ever end up there, be prepared to wade through tons of unsorted junk, find a few gems, and score a few surplus deals.
Just a quick test and a quick solution
Had a few minutes to just check up on why the load would change when the voltage does. A simple test of trying a higher voltage power supply seemed to do the trick. Stayed within 10mA of where it should, and probably did better than that, but my multimeter can’t measure that. The new power supply is a 200mA 12V wall wort which is very unregulated. I measure 16V off the bugger with no load. Makes me wonder if what is printed on the box is merely a suggestion. Still, nice to have the headroom. Now the opamps have enough swing to really kick that MOSFET into regulating the current flow reliably.
Some quick tests work out quite well
Had a tiny pocket of time with which to test a few things with my aforementioned dummy load I just build. In looking through my collection of junked wall wort power supplies I found a low power one, a 9V 210mA. I wanted to check and see if the voltage headroom for the opamp would be worse. As it turns out, the stated 9V is actually 11.3ishV but whatever. I knew the supply would only need to deliver a few milliamps so I ventured to see how much exactly.
The dummy load returns and I do some cooking
I do very much enjoy watching youtube channels on electronics. It has probably been the single most instructive resource for me and led to real understanding of what I am actually doing.
Some time ago, I watched Dave Jone’s excellent episode on building a constant current sink – a “dummy load” which is an essential piece of test gear for testing out power supplies. So much less fiddly than messing with loosely spec’d power resistors, I had always had the intention of building one but never quite got around to it.
A simple build for much peace of mind.
I recently came across a new (to me anyway) electronics youtube channel presented by one Peter Oakes. I love collecting these channels, many great designers out there and lots of good information to absorb. I may do a post just on my favourite ones in future. Anyway, he is making both a power supply and dummy load so I ventured through his videos to glean lovely pearls of wisdom.
Cor blimey I nearly blew my head off. Shorting capacitors, particularly large ones is a very scary experience. I had removed the rectification board from the mains board of the power supply project. Read more
The Zener pre-regulator returns, and is improved
So nice to have finally set up my workbench again and I’m a flurry of pliers and screwdrivers. Following up on a semi-meh-kinda success (but sort-of fail) is a resounding success! Just what the engineer ordered.