On Thevenin’s theorem – #2

On Thevenin’s theorem looked at a simple source network to demonstrate some key characteristics and limitations of Thevenin’s equivalent circuit.

The example network used was linear in V,I for all V,I combinations possible. Let’s now look at a network that is not linear for all V,I, but is sufficiently linear over a sub range to be usefully modelled using Thevenin’s equivalent circuit.

Black Box for discussion

For the purpose of discussion, we have a Black Box with just two terminals and is a source of DC voltage and current, and the internal implementation is hidden from us.

A series of measurements is made with different load resistors attached and the voltage and current at the terminals is recorded and plotted uniformly stepped currents.

The V,I characteristic is clearly non-linear, but on closer examination there are two fairly linear regions, from 0.008 to 0.060A and 0.08A to 0.1A. It is a device that is usually used in the region below the knee, and for our application, let us concentrate on 0.008 to 0.030A. Continue reading On Thevenin’s theorem – #2

T962 IR reflow oven rework #2

T962 IR reflow oven rework documented rework of the inexpensive T962 IR rework oven. This article reports some tests on various modules.

The solder cream used is cheap Chinese 63/37 tin/lead solder cream that has been in the fridge for a couple of years, so it is past its use by date.

Solder cream was applied to pads using a pneumatic drive of a 10ml syringe with #22 blunt needle.

A U shaped piece of 0.5mm copper wire was placed on the oven drawer tray and the boards placed on the wire. This to isolate the boards from the thermal mass of the drawer tray.

The program used is shown above. Continue reading T962 IR reflow oven rework #2

A comparo of two bare light dimmer modules

Two bare dimmer modules sold on eBay with identical specification and similar price are compared.

Both claim to have zero hysteresis. Zero hints a lie!

Hysteresis is caused in simple phase control dimmer circuits at low settings because in each half cycle the trigger capacitor starts at a different voltage depending on whether the diac fired on the previous half cycle.

A serious issue with this snap-on effect is that if power is turned off at low power setting and re-applied, the controller may not switch on.

Above is type 1, a very triac basic phase control circuit. The red capacitor and resistor to its left are snubber components, the yellow capacitor, 4.7kΩ resistor to its left and the 500k pot are the phase delay circuit, the diac is just visible above the red capacitor. Continue reading A comparo of two bare light dimmer modules

A flexible test panel for microcontroller based power control projects – #2

This article expands on A flexible test panel for microcontroller based power control projects with some enhancements and accessories.

A LED power meter that I had ordered finally arrived (slow boat from China syndrome).

Above, the upper rail contains a RCD, the power meter which displays Volts, Amps, and kW, or pf, hours, and kWh, a DIN mount terminal block for mains, and a 40A SSR on a heatsink. A clip on CT can be used for oscilloscope observation of mains current. Continue reading A flexible test panel for microcontroller based power control projects – #2

A flexible test panel for microcontroller based power control projects

I do a lot of experiments with microcontrollers switching mains powered equipment, and the test beds have always been improvised. It has always been my intention to formalise something for convenience but mainly for better safety.

The article describes a test panel to fill that need.

The panel is constructed on a piece of 3mm aluminium sheet, drilled and tapped to take two sections of 35mm DIN rail for flexible mounting of accessories.

Above is a pic of the test panel in use to test the generic heating / cooling controller (hcctl), a flexible bang-bang controller based on an ATTiny25. Continue reading A flexible test panel for microcontroller based power control projects

Inside the YHDC SCT013 current transformer

The YHDC SCT013 series is very popular for use in energy monitor projects.


Warning, the core is VERY hard, but VERY brittle, don’t hit it with anything hard, don’t grip in with pliers, don’t drop it on a hard surface.

The coil and half core are held in the lower housing by two obvious catches which click over the bobbin. Removal means pulling the assembly upwards gently whilst releasing the catches and feeding cable into the housing. One of the catches will probably catch on the slot in the bobbin, be prepared to release it.


An ideal tool for the purpose is an ordinary $2 DIP chip puller which can be used to get purchase on the two ears on the bobbin that can be seen in this pic. Push a little cable into the housing, pull upwards while releasing the catches, then feed more cable and the assembly is pulled upwards from the housing.

Above is the PCB detail. This one has a TVS (the black component) and no burden resistors. There is a place for two parallel 0806 burden resistors on the board.

The PCB floats on two plastic pin extensions of the bobbin. You may obtain benefit in securing it with two very small fillets of hot melt adhesive as above, small enough so as to not interfere with the guide rails in the enclosure.

Burden resistors

So if you wanted to add a burden resistor for 0.333V out at 50mA secondary current, R=0.3333/0.05=6.6667. You could do this with 1% resistors in the E12 value series, 12Ω and 15Ω will give the desired resistance. Likewise for 1V out, 22Ω and 220Ω in parallel will give the desired value of 20Ω.

If you wish to remove existing burden resistors, they can be removed with specialised tooling but small SMD resistors will usually melt the other side solder moments after melting the first side. Position a toothpick with one had to push the resistor sideways, with the other and use the soldering iron to eat one side to melt, move the soldering iron to the other side and push the resistor sideways with the toothpick as soon as both sides melt.


A CT that has no load could develop extreme and damaging voltage within the secondary winding in the presence of primary current. If the CT assembly does not have an integral burden resistor, it is wise to install a TVS or pair of inverse series 9V Zener diodes to prevent excessive voltage lest the external load be disconnected.