Testing Times for Power Design

Ally Winning, European Editor, PSD



Welcome to the September issue of Power Systems Design, and it is a special issue. As well as the normal features and special focus, we have an in-depth look at the presentations by the "Architects of Modern Power" (The AMP Group) organization, from the podium session at PCIM in Nuremberg. The section features an introduction by the Nuremberg forum moderator, Kevin Parmenter, PSD Contributor, followed by a recap of the event by the three main participants. So if you didn’t have to opportunity to visit Nuremberg, this is an excellent chance to catch up.

Our special focus this month is test and measurement. No longer can power professionals get away with quickly using a DMM to ensure voltage and current are within normal tolerances. Today’s designs require a much more in-depth knowledge of the required parameters of the system such as slew rates, jitter rates and noise levels. Some systems have many different power rails, which each one requires in-depth testing, meaning that today’s engineers need a much wider assortment of tools and expertise to ensure that their designs are operating as required.

Tektronix, Yokogawa, Rutronik and Rohde and Schwarz are the quartet of company’s that have featured articles in the special feature to ensure that you are up to speed on the latest test equipment capabilities and techniques.

The article from Rohde and Schwarz focuses on the company’s new ZPR20 dedicated power tester, and shows how it has advantages over traditional oscilloscopes for designers that need to test designs that feature multiple DC rails. The article also gives tips on the best way to set up tests, read results and probing techniques.

Tektronix also has a look at probing in the company’s contributed article, specifically for high-performance, low power circuits. The article also covers some areas that often can be overlooked when testing. It looks at the wide range of scenarios that can occur and guides the reader on the best type of probes for each scenario, as well as how to best protect the device under test. 

Yokogawa’s article looks at energy efficiency and, more specifically, how to guarantee your design meets modern standards for energy efficiency. Throughout the design cycle, different tests are needed to ensure that individual components, systems and subsystems are operating to the required efficiency. Yokogawa lists the tests that are required at each stage of the process, and the instruments that are best suited for each area of measurement.

The final article in this month’s special supplement comes from Rutronix and concerns battery issues. With more and more products being powered by batteries, knowing the status of each battery is growing in importance. Battery capacity deteriorates over time, and knowing the best time to replace the battery allows the user to get the maximum performance for the product. Until now, knowing the state of health for the battery involved a complex and often inaccurate process, but the Chemnitz University of Technology and Rutronik have worked together to develop a quicker and more accurate method. This article tells how the organisations used innovation to help battery manufacturers bring better quality of life to users.