In a past post, I’ve attached a picture of the load I was using for speaker amplifier testing. I have a box full of these 50W wire-wound resistors and a heatsink (HS) I’ve tapped to be able to attach these resistors easily. I was simply connecting as needed for the specific case. In practice, I rarely change the default 8×2-ohm resistors which are split into 2 loads of 8-ohm each. When I needed to dissipate significant power I would normally point a fan at that HS and be done with it. However, this wasn’t very convenient, and I wanted something more “user friendly” to replace it, this is what will be described in this post.
This post will be somewhat different to others, but I consider it interesting enough and useful enough to share on the blog. Over the past years I have used MATLAB quite a lot for communicating with instrumentation/test boards I’ve designed. Due to a number of reasons I’ve recently decided that gradually transitioning to use of Python instead is a good idea. My needs are typically quite basic, some communication with external instrumentation/test boards, data recording, data analysis, and finally generating some nice looking figures to summarize the results. Since the best way to learn is do, I’ve decided writing a control software for a DC electronic load I own would be a nice first project. The code is finally complete, so I’ve decided to share it with others so that anyone who owns an instrument from this series could use it.
One tool I use quite often when testing amplifier is a dummy load. Because of that I have a large box of high power (50W) resistors, and a large heat-sink that is tapped for easy attachment of the resistors to it. I typically have 8 resistors of 2ohm each, connected according to the requirement of the measurement i’m doing at the moment. More often than not, they are wired as 2 independent 8ohm resistors to measure speaker amplifiers (see Fig. 1). However, when I need to measure headphone amplifiers, I typically only need lower power loads, and therefore use a couple of resistors from the spare parts box. This got frustrating over time, soldering the resistors to a TRS plug, then soldering/clipping on a couple of wires to the scope/other test instrument. Therefore I’ve decided to do a small side-project of building a simple dummy load box for headphone amplifiers testing.
A few months ago I came across a faulty programmable power-supply (PS) with a 60V/12A maximum rating on each of its two channels. The exact model is DTPS6012 from Horizon, a company I’m familiar with as I’ve used and owned a few of their linear PS’s (such as the DHR40-1). The problem that was observed during initial check at the seller’s location was that upon power up one of the channels behaved as expected, while the other wasn’t regulating the output voltage. The voltage just kept on rising until it was ~10% over the 60V rating, at which point the over-voltage-protection (OVP) kicked in and switched off the entire unit except for the front panel. Because the unit was faulty the price was quite low, so I’ve decided to purchase it and try and fix it. At the very least this could be an opportunity to have a look inside and learn how these things were built back then.
I should note that such a high power rating PS is more than I will probably ever need for my projects. However, I have had some projects in the past where the 2x3A rating of my existing PS’s wasn’t enough, even when I’ve used two such units. Therefore, a more capable PS, even if its not as low noise and ripple, is always welcome. Additionally, as I’ve noted earlier, I have owned and used elsewhere other PS’s from Horizon. I was always happy with the build quality and performance, especially for the price these things could be had on the used market.