DL4YHF 50MHz counter on a Chinese TB-244746 PCB

DL4YHF published a frequency counter design based on the PIC16F628.

The design has been modified by many, copied by even more, and usually without attribution.

This article documents one of these copies (TB-244756 printed under the chip footprint), a $6 kit off eBay which comes with no documentation, though the screen mask is enough to correctly place components.

It turns out to be DL4YHF’s “DISPLAY_VARIANT 2”, the variation is that it uses a common cathode display.

Above the built kit with the 7550 voltage regulator replaced with a 78L05. Continue reading DL4YHF 50MHz counter on a Chinese TB-244746 PCB

Review: magnetic stirrer with heating plate and digital display XB 85-2

I purchased a laboratory style stirrer / hotplate with PID temperature controller for some experiments.

Above, the 85-2 product from Chinese maker XB.

It certainly looks the part and for under $100 looked impressive value… but was it?

Is it safe?

First thing with ANY Chinese appliance is to test the electrical safety. Prior to a full PAT test, I plugged it in on an insulated work space and waved a non-contact voltage detector over the case. Beeeep! The case is hot. Earth continuity (earth pint to case) is zero, there is no connection. This came with an AU plug… so lets look inside at how they wired it up.

The green yellow earth wire is floating look, the end has been tinned so it was or was intended to be soldered to something. The end of one of the screws holding four rubber feet on is more silver coloured than the others, so it appears to have been tacked on to that. Three issues: the screw tension is cushioned by the rubber foot and pressure to case is low so it would not be a reliable low resistance connection; soldered ground connections can melt off in a fault and are unacceptable practice; and the even this had become disconnected and would not have passed a basic electrical test. Chinese Quality!

So with the cover off, it is apparent just a few months after this May 2017 dated build has been put together with rusty steel. Continue reading Review: magnetic stirrer with heating plate and digital display XB 85-2

4-20mA Pt100 input for the generic heating / cooling controller

The generic heating / cooling controller (hcctl) is a flexible bang-bang controller based on an ATTiny25.

The controller will accept 4-20mA input if the input is shunted by a 50Ω 1% resistor (2 x 50Ω 1% resistors is a practical implementation) and the 4-20mA sensor is wired between nominal +24 and the input pin. Note that 4-20mA sensors may operate properly on less than 24V (the one used here is a DIN rail mount that works for 10-24V).

 

To demonstrate the capability, a Pt100 RTD is connected to a 4-20mA converter and then to a hcctl test module (see above). The test module is driving a small incandescent lamp which is clipped to the RTD to provide a cycling test.

Continue reading 4-20mA Pt100 input for the generic heating / cooling controller

ESP8266 remote power display for energy monitor – EV3 – 5V display

ESP8266 remote power display for energy monitor – EV3 documented an evolved design for a real power display using emontx3 / emonhub / mqtt. This article documents an adaptation to use a 5V display module (for higher brightness). The ESP8266 is not 5V tolerant, so a logic level converter is needed.

Hardware

The remote power display uses a Wemos D1Pro module, a common 5V 4 digit 14.2mm seven segment LED module with 74HC595 shift register per digit, and a common 3V/5V logic level converter between them.

Above, the Wemos D1Pro with wires attached to the HSPI and power pins. A 1k pull=down resistor is soldered between the D8 and GND pins under the D1Pro board. Continue reading ESP8266 remote power display for energy monitor – EV3 – 5V display

ESP8266 remote power display for energy monitor – EV3

ESP8266 remote power display for energy monitor and ESP8266 remote power display for energy monitor – EV2 documented a design and some variations for a real power display using emontx3 / emonhub / mqtt. This article documents an evolution to use the ESP8266 HSPI port for much higher speed writing of the LED display, high enough to be later adapted for multiplexed displays.

Hardware

The remote power display uses a ESP8266-12E devkit 1.0 module, a common 3.3V 4 digit 14.2mm seven segment LED module with 74HC595 shift register per digit. The particular LED module has sufficient space to mount the ESP8266 inside the module.

Above, the interior of the module that suits the implementation. Continue reading ESP8266 remote power display for energy monitor – EV3

BG7TBL noise source

This is a review of the BG7TBL noise source available on eBay for about $20 incl post. I have seen this recommended in various online forums and thought it worthy of review.

A quick mention of Excess Noise Ratio (ENR), it is a commonly used measure of the characteristic of noise sources. A noise source for testing low noise RF amplifiers needs to be less than 10dB, 5dB is common; for other receiver testing around 15dB is common, and for massive output for filter alignment etc the noise needs to be well above a spectrum analyser noise floor so an ENR of 50dB might be appropriate (but such high noise output makes it useless for LNA noise figure measurement),

Above is the device. The layout is pretty simple, it is a Zener noise source at the left followed by three MMIC amplifier stages. The circuitry at mid left is a DC-DC converter to supply 25V to the Zener.

There are a host of aspects so far that are concerning:

  • there is no need to operate the Zener at such high voltage;
  • lack of regulation of MMIC power supply;
  • the noise output of the Zener source should be quite high; and
  • three stages of MMIC will give rise to huge output, notwithstanding the on-board attenuators at Zener output and final MMIC output.

Continue reading BG7TBL noise source

ESP8266 remote power display for energy monitor – EV2

See ESP8266 remote power display for energy monitor – EV3 for an update…

ESP8266 remote power display for energy monitor documented a design and some variations for a real power display display using emontx3 / emonhub / mqtt. This article documents a simple compact implementation.

Hardware

The remote power display uses a ESP8266-12E devkit 1.0 module, a common 3.3V 4 digit 14.2mm seven segment LED module with 74HC595 shift register per digit. The particular LED module has sufficient space to mount the ESP8266 inside the module.

Above, the interior of the module that suits the implementation. Continue reading ESP8266 remote power display for energy monitor – EV2

ESP8266 remote power display for energy monitor

This article documents remote power display for an energy monitor system based on emontx3 / emonhub / mqtt.

The remote power display connects via WiFi and subscribes to a topic on a MQTT server, updates are published every 10s with data from the emontx3 by emonhub.

Hardware

The remote power display uses a Wemos D1Pro ESP8266 module, a common 4 digit 14.2mm seven segment LED module with 74HC595 shift register per digit, and a simple 3V/5V level converter between the two (see above shrink wrapped in the cable from the D1Pro to the display).  Continue reading ESP8266 remote power display for energy monitor

Inductance of a loop of CAT5 pair

An online expert recently reported:

I tried to make an antenna loop for longwave with cat 5 and after it did no good I realized the twisted wires canceled each other out.

Or did they really cancel?

Parallel connection

I constructed a loop of one Cat 5 pair and measured its inductance when both wires are bonded at the ends.

The conductors are 0.5mm diameter and spaced 0.9mm. To estimate the inductance we use the geometric mean radius (GMR) as the equivalent radius of the pair. GMR=(0.5*0.9)^0.5=0.67, diameter=1.34mm. So let’s calculate the inductance of a single turn circular loop of 0.8m perimeter and round conductor of 1.34mm diameter.

The estimate above is 850nH.

Above is the measurement, the screen is not readable, but it is 852nH, very close to the estimated 850nH. Continue reading Inductance of a loop of CAT5 pair

Inductance of sensorless brushless DC motors

A reader of A Demagnetisation Risk Index for a sensorless brushless DC drive asked whether the inductance of a sensorless brushless DC motor could be measured with one of the inexpensive LC meters available on eBay.

Motor inductance line-line typically ranges from several µH up towards 100µH. Importantly, the fundamental frequency of flux change in the laminated iron core under normal operation is typically less than 2kHz.

Validation of the LC200A

To verify the instrument, a test inductor was made with 3t on a FT-240-43 ferrite core.

Above is an estimate of the expected inductance of the test inductor, 9.65µH. Keep in mind that the tolerance of ferrite is quite wide, 20% variation is not unusual. The test inductor measured 9.1µH at 10kHz on a classic RLC meter.

Above, the LC200A measuring an inductor comprising 3t on a FT240-43 ferrite core, measurement frequency was 670kHz. The measured inductance is 8.98µH, 7% lower than the estimate but well within tolerance of the ferrite core, and less than 2% below the value measure with a classic RLC meter. Continue reading Inductance of sensorless brushless DC motors