This short post will describe a small side-project that I’ve had in the back of my head for some time now, and was finally able to complete. It is meant to enhance the usability of my BK Precision 8500 electronic load by adding banana jacks as well as remote sense terminals to the front panel. Since many other electronic loads out there share the same physical structure as this series from BK Precision, the final design can be useful for many other people with a variety of different instruments.
This is the 3rd (and final) part of a series of posts on the Hantek CC-65 current clamp probe. In part 1 we went over the probe structure and circuit operation, and discussed possible issues and improvements. In part 2 we’ve started measurements and modifications of the probe, focusing on the power-supply (PS) and the sensor bias circuit. That allowed us to achieve lower noise on the supplies and sensor bias, as well as extend the circuit operation down to lower battery voltage.
In this post I’d like to go into modifications of the actual signal chain. This consists of the amplifier structure at the heart of the probe, but will also touch on the offset cancellation circuit. The main goal from my point of view is to both extend its bandwidth (BW) by at least an order of magnitude, and reduce the equivalent input noise density so that limited BW measurements can be made on lower amplitude signals.
In the previous post we’ve gone over the CC-65 probe structure and schematic, and noted a few things that can be done to improve its performance. Other than modifying the probe with higher spec parts, there were a few design decisions and potential issues that were discussed. In this post I plan translate the previous discussion into actual measurements and modifications to the probe. I will cover only part of the circuit in this post, and will cover the rest in a follow up post. This time we’ll have a look at the power-supply and biasing circuit, while the actual amplifier/signal path will be covered in the next post.
I should start by saying that the parts shortage observed nowadays is affecting this project too, it is one of the reasons it took such a long time to get something done. In fact, even now, I’ve had to opt for some replacement parts which weren’t my preferred option, or else it would call for months of wait for parts to be back in stock. With that said, lets move on to some actual measurements.
This post will discuss the Hantek CC-65 current clamp probe, a cheap and useful tool. I’ve ordered this probe because of its low cost, and reasonable performance. I was happy to see there’s even a schematic for it available online as drawn in a post on the EEVblog forum. Looking at the schematic made it clear there’s a lot that can be done to improve it fairly easily. Due to the length of the post, and the fact I’m still waiting for the parts to arrive, I’m going to split this post into a few parts. In this part we’ll go over the operation of the probe and its schematic, and then discuss possible modification that can be made to it. There are quite a few tradeoffs to be made in the selection of parts and which mods to do, based on the requirements out of the probe. I will detail some of these considerations, and in the next parts will present results based on the mods I’ve decided to implement according to my preferences.
This part turned out to be quite long with a lot of text and little pictures/results. I think this is of value and will serve as good background and reference in the next parts on this topic where measurement data will be presented. There, it will be possible to simply point to the relevant part of the current post, to explain the reasoning behind chosen components for mods, and measurement results explanations.
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.