Testing Times

Ally Winning, European Editor, PSD



Welcome to the September edition of Power System Design. I hope you managed to have a nice summer break and are ready for a busy backend to the year. Since this year is an electronica year, it is destined to be a lot busier than normal. Myself, I managed to get away for a couple of weeks to Tenerife. It was really relaxing and I’m glad I took the time out. Tenerife is dominated by Mount Teide, a 3,718 m volcano, which is the highest peak in Spain and also the highest in the Atlantic Islands. It is the third largest volcano in the world, and it is even larger when measured from the ocean floor, where its base lies. In that case, it is a whopping 7,500 metres.

As humans, we love to measure and rate every type of object. We love to make lists of the tallest, widest, fastest, smallest and best selling things in their categories. One of my favourite books is High Fidelity, written by Nick Hornby. It involves record store owner making lists on almost everything in his life, including his favourite songs in different musical genres, and even his top five break ups with girlfriends. Those type of lists are subjective to the individual, but other types of attributes can be measured to the smallest margin of error. It seems the further we move forward, the more accurate we need to measure.

This is easily seen in the power area. Because of variations in our mains supply, many electronics consumer goods are marked with a wide variation in input power, from 200 – 240V in the UK for example. Of course, the power is converted and rectified inside the box. But even then, it was normal for some ripple to be tolerated. This has changed as electronics demand more accurate input voltages, or are required to deal with higher and higher voltages, or in the case of digital technology, as the voltage gap between one and zero becomes smaller. Now the components that carry power have very little room for error in any characteristic, be it maximum current or slew rate.

Earlier this year I visited Rohm in Germany for the opening of a new lab dedicated to high power testing. The company’s customers had asked Rohm to provide detailed reports on all of the company’s products, so it had built a bespoke lab at its headquarters, just for that purpose. Designers are pushing boundaries like never before, and it’s critical that all components meet specifications to ensure every ounce of performance and efficiency can be squeezed out of the design.

In the issue, we’ll have various articles from all around the test sector, including guidance on the best way to test DC/DC converters and how to accurately measure the power output necessary for RF transmission, both of which are subjects very much in demand from power designers. I hope you enjoy the issue.


Best Regards,

Ally Winning

European Editor, PSD