BLHeli 14.8 damped light and active freewheeling

Aficionados of BLHeli call out the benefits of “damped light” and “active freewheeling”, terms coined by BLHeli’s author.

Since these are terms invented by BLHeli, so you might wonder whether they are truly innovative or just marketing hype for existing techniques.

Lets go to the BLHeli manual for an explanation.

Pwm damped light mode adds loss to the motor for faster retardation. Damped light mode always uses high pwm frequency. In damped light mode, two motor terminals are shorted when pwm is off

Taking the last statement first, in fact, what happens that as that during the OFF phase of the PWM drive, the high side FETs at both ends of the winding are turned ON. One FET is on for the whole phase, and the other one switches on a short time after its corresponding low side FET turns off. The short time is to allow the low side FET to cease conducting, otherwise both high and low side FETs would conduct at the same time, a current from battery +ve to -ve via the two FETs. There is a corresponding pause at the end of the PWM phase. The time delays allowed depend on the driver circuitry and FET performance, they are specified in the firmware  for a specific and don’t necessarily apply to a pin compatible ESC.

This technique is known in the wider community as COMPLEMENTARY PWM, a very standard technique. Continue reading BLHeli 14.8 damped light and active freewheeling

Hobbywing XRotor 40A (MkII)

Above is the Hobbywing (HW) X-Rotor 40A (BECless) purchased from Hobbyking. It lacks the authenticity markings promoted by Hobbywing, is it a clone? Who knows, it is Chinese.

The X-Rotor 40A was tested in its default configuration, there was no reason to change commutation timing.

Hobbywing enjoys a reputation as a quality product, a cut above the no-name products but his ESC was purchased for about A$16 + shipping, which is really a budget price for a 6S 40-60A BECless (or OPTO) ESC.

Tests were conducted with a script that I use consistently with asrg and eLogger to capture current and rpm, and all tests conducted at similar pressure, temperature and humidity, altitude is 700m.

BLHeli configuration

 

Above is a X-Rotor 40A modified with a permanent C2 interface cable for programming the MCU. The cable has a JST-SH1.0 connector (purchased as HK 258000026) to plug into the after market Tool Stick clone (HK 289000003). The wires from the left are orange , NC, brown and red. (Orange, Red and Brown wires correspond to Black (GND), White (C2D) and Red (C2CK) dots on BLHeli documentation.) A small dot of hot melt adhesive is applied after soldering the wires to the PCB pads, and the cable folded down into the adhesive (to prevent fatigue and breakage of wires). The whole thing will be served over by clear heat shrink.
Continue reading Hobbywing XRotor 40A (MkII)

Arduino 1.6.12 & 1.6.13 AVRDUDE issues

Arduino 1.6.12 has several AVRDUDE related issues.

It comes packaged with AVRDUDE which in my installation is located at C:\Users\owen\AppData\Local\Arduino15\packages\arduino\tools\avrdude\6.3.0-arduino6\bin\avrdude.exe . This reports itself as “Version 6.3, compiled on Sep 12 2016 at 17:24:16”.

Also relevant is the avrdude.conf file (C:\Users\owen\AppData\Local\Arduino15\packages\arduino\tools\avrdude\6.3.0-arduino6\etc\avrdude.conf).

This article relates to failures to program a bootloader, and failures to program the application using the very common USBASP.

There were two obvious problems:

  1. a false warning message about setting SCK rate, and fatal failure to contact the target; and (when that is resolved)
  2. failure to verify efuse=0x05.

Continue reading Arduino 1.6.12 & 1.6.13 AVRDUDE issues

Robust programming of Silabs based BLHeli ESCs

This article describes a solution for robust and reliable ‘production’ programming of Silabs based BLHeli ESCs.

The intention is to test and tune the BLHeli configuration, save the configuration in some form, and a scripted solution to programming multiple ESCs now and later replacements with high confidence that they are exactly matching configurations.

There does not appear to be any batch facility for writing flash using the BLHeli bootloader, nor does it appear that BLHeliSuite can save the relevant hex files for later use, so excluding use of the BLHeli bootloader.

The configuration data is held in a block of flash memory labelled EEPROM in the source code. It is not actually EEPROM, the MCU does not have EEPROM, but for consistency the block will be referred to as EEPROM in this article.

Having tested and tuned the configuration using BLHeliSuite, the EEPROM block from the test ESC is read back using Silabs Flash Programming Utility (FPU) and a toolstick attached to the ESC’s C2 interface.

Above, reading the EEPROM block.

The EEPROM block is them merged over the distribution hex file to create a custom hex file for repeated use. Continue reading Robust programming of Silabs based BLHeli ESCs

Another RFI mod of a speaker mic (41-80K) for DMR use

I bought a remote speaker-microphone (RSM) for a MD-390 DMR portable from 409shop.com, a 41-80K.

They assured me it was compatible with the radio in digital mode, but it turned out to be lousy with ‘motorboat noise’ on tx audio due to RF ingress tot he electret capsule.

Since the RSM was otherwise a good rugged and economical product, it was worth trying to rectify the RF ingress problem.

Above is a pic of the electret. Two fine tracks can be seen bonding the metal can of the electret to the -ve pin, so that is good… the can showed low resistance to the -ve pin. The +ve line is bypassed to the -ve line about 12mm from the electret with an unknown capacitor, but it was clearly not effective at 440MHz. Continue reading Another RFI mod of a speaker mic (41-80K) for DMR use

Ten-tec on the meaning of SWR

In a recent long running thread on impedance matching on one of the online fora, one poster offered the Ten-tec 540 manual as a reference for clarity on the subject (which of course got murkier with every posting as contributors added their version to the discussion).

The Ten-tec 540 was made in the late 1970s, one of the early radios with a solid state PA, and their manual give the Technical facts of life to guide new owners to successful exploitation of this new technology.

Amongst the technical facts of life is this little gem:

The standing wave ratio is a direct measure of the ratio between two impedances, ie an SWR of 3 to 1 tells us that one impedance is three times the other. Therefore the unknown impedance can be three times as large or three times as small as the known one. If the desired impedance that the transceiver wants to see is 50 ohms, and SWR of 3 to 1 on the line may mean a load impedance of either 150 or 17 ohms. …

This says that the SWR wrt 50Ω implies just two possible impedances, he is very wrong… it implies an infinite set of possible impedances. Continue reading Ten-tec on the meaning of SWR

Retevis MD-380 speaker mic modification to reduce RF interference

Remote speaker-microphones and DMR portables discussed RF ingress to Speaker Mics(RSM) used with DMR radios in digital mode.

The problem

I purchased a Retevis SM that was advertised as original equipment for the MD-380, but turned out to be lousy with RF interference in the form of the ‘motorboat noise’ on transmit audio.

Dismantling the SM (fighting the way through TORX with PIN screws, what are they trying to protect) I found there is precious little RF filtering, just a single SMD cap at the end of a long (wrt 500MHz) branch track.

A solution

Above is the modified SM. Continue reading Retevis MD-380 speaker mic modification to reduce RF interference

TYT (Tytera) MD-390 speaker mic plug compatibility issues

At Remote speaker-microphones and DMR portables I discussed the propensity for RF ingress to speaker microphones on DMR radios in digital mode.

This article looks at another speaker mic problem, mechanical compatibility of the plug / jack arrangement.

The MD-390 is IP67 rated, which means that it has a water-resistant gasket around the speaker mic jacks.

Above, the soft rubber gasket surrounds the speaker mic jacks, and if you look carefully, you will note that the metal part of the jack is recessed in the gasket. This is not an unsual arrangement. Continue reading TYT (Tytera) MD-390 speaker mic plug compatibility issues

LED lighting woes

Pressed to replace working lighting with so-called ‘energy efficient’ lighting by well-meaning but narrow sighted conservationists, I recently replace about 25 CFL lamps with 12W LED MR16 lamps.

They have started failing now after a couple of years of service, perhaps a few thousand hours of service. So much for the claims of 100,000 hours… clearly preposterous.

In an effort to identify which of the switched mode power supply or LED assembly was the problem, I tried to substitute LEDs to different power supplied.

That was not a good idea, lets look at the anatomy of your typical Chinese junk MR16 LED.

Above is the complete 12W MR16 lamp with GU5.3 bipin connector on the back. Continue reading LED lighting woes

Icom IC-7410 – PTT tuner start doesn’t work

I have an IC-7410 with R1 of the firmware installed.

I have attempted to use its PTT tuner start feature (triggers ATU tune on PTT if frequency changed a significant amount)  with an MFJ-993B ATU, but it fails.

The symptoms are that the IC-7410 does not transmit its tune carrier, it remains in the mode active when PTT was pressed.

Tuner operations initiated from the IC-7410 TUNE switch appear to all work as expected.

Above is a logic trace of the ATU control wires on PTT tune. everything looks good, when the /START signal is recognised as valid, the ATU asserts KEY and the IC-7410 should put tune carrier out… but it doesn’t and the ATU aborts after about 0.5s without tuning. Continue reading Icom IC-7410 – PTT tuner start doesn’t work