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Offline CraigHB

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It's Alive
« on: June 10, 2012, 04:33:16 AM »
I've been working on this mod here and there for quite some time and it's finally done, yay.

I did a video instead of posting pics because my camera finally gave up the ghost and I haven't replaced it yet.  I call it the Powerblok 2200 because it's a box and it puts out a lot of power, up to 30 Watts max or 5A at 6V.  That's not a particularly big number compared to some of the series cell buck mods, but it's pretty darn good for a booster.  The number is for the battery size, a 2200 mAh LiPo flat cell.  The cell size is tacked on there to differentiate it from a couple others I'm also working on, one with a 1000 mAh LiPo and the other with a couple NCR18650As.  Those are also going to be boosters.  As such, this one has a range of 4 to 6 Volts.

The enclosure is a fiberglass nylon composite produced using a process called selective laser sintering or SLS for short.  The stuff is very strong and light.  Really nice to work with.  It comes out of the machine a grayish color so I threw some black spray paint on it.  I suck at painting and I was anxious to get this thing together so the finish is pretty rough.  Though, it's good enough for me.  SLS is not the cheapest way to go, but it's an affordable way to get a factory looking custom enclosure.

That's a tri-color LED next to the touch switch.  It's green for when the charge is okay, orange when it's under 10% and red for low battery.  With my last mod, I found that I don't often check the battery level indicator and sometimes get caught with a dead battery by surprise.  Even though there's a digital readout, the light changes color to let me know when the battery is about to run out.  The light flashes red if there's a fault like a discharged battery, an atomizer short,  or an over-current condition.  The display also illuminates describing the fault.

The charger uses a 1A rate so it's not something you can plug into a computer data port.  A wall wart is required.  There's two charging LEDs.  One is green for when the USB power supply is good.  The other is red for charging then turns green when charging is complete.  Charging goes into standy when the device is active so that's why you see the red light go out when the display is lit or when the trigger is pressed.

The volt down and volt up buttons also turn the device on and off.  Push and hold the top button for on, push and hold the bottom button for off.  I forgot to show that in the video.  The device doesn't actually turn off, but rather "off" mode disables voltage setting and the trigger.  It goes into an ultra-low power mode when inactive so it never actually needs to be switched off from the battery.

Well there it is finally.  Nice to see it finished.  Nice to use it too.  It feels really good in my hand and works beautifully.

I posted a photo of the PCB in the forum here before, It's here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L33PHLYP0q4
« Last Edit: June 10, 2012, 05:12:26 AM by CraigHB »

Offline Topper

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2012, 05:17:16 AM »
Amazing work, again!

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2012, 08:08:23 AM »
So that's what you've been up too. I was wonder what happened to Craig.
 :thumbsup: Wow, Wow, Wow. Hi-Tech for sure. Fantastic work  ;bow; Luv everything in it. Display, charger, dig pot, size, functionality, enclosure, power, ...  ;hubba;

« Last Edit: July 01, 2012, 10:02:17 AM by Breaktru Admin »

Offline Pantera

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2012, 08:51:41 AM »
Pure genius. you sir are one of the elite. I am totally impressed.
 :rockin smiley:

Offline Haileah

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2012, 09:04:07 AM »
Good narrow size. I thought it would be a lot bigger when I saw it on the PCB in another thread.
Really cool. Hat off to Craig  ;cheers;

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2012, 09:31:10 AM »
You don't have to answer this but I was curious.....
Is that a bezel over the display or did you just bevel the case. Looks really neat and cool.
Is that a CS controlled D.P.
I like the fact that the display retains the last settings. I assume that the calculations are not in a loop and are refreshed on triggering.

Offline CraigHB

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2012, 04:29:38 PM »
Thanks guys, I'm pretty proud of myself with this one.  It was a long time in the making, a real labor of love.

The enclosure simply has a chamfer in the rectangular hole over the display.  Just a matter of putting that in the engineering drawing used to produce it.

The digital pot is a Microchip MCP4152-103E/MS.  It has 256 positions and it's 10k Ohms.  It interfaces with a Microchip PIC24FJ16GA002-I/SS micro-controller via SPI.  Voltage control is open loop.  In other words, values are hard coded and do not self adjust.  I have to manually calibrate each one I make.

That is correct.  Values are retained from the last triggered state.  So, changing the voltage clears stored values.  Using the trigger collects new data which is retained until something changes.

I had actually debated on the point in my mind for some time.  I finally decided that I did not want to allow the display to be active and the trigger engaged at the same time.  It solves a couple problems.  For one, I don't have to filter data because it's not dynamically displayed.  Also, I don't have to provide a way to shut off the display.  I would find that annoying if I went to use the device and the display was lit when I did not want it to be.  That thing puts out a surprising amount of light if it's dark at all.  The way it is, I can just tap the trigger to turn off the display if I want.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2012, 04:39:38 PM by CraigHB »

Offline Topper

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2012, 04:40:44 PM »
Simple, genius and clever - the way it must to be!
Thanks Craig to share this peace of art with us.

Offline FlameOut

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2012, 06:30:33 PM »
Dam that is beautiful. I am in Awe  ;hubba; of your super work.
Don't understand the technical jargon but I understand the functionality.

Offline wwwest

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #9 on: June 10, 2012, 06:39:31 PM »
Move over Darwin, Craigwin is here. This is something to be proud. Congrats Craig.  :applaude:

Offline Barryg41

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #10 on: June 10, 2012, 06:57:23 PM »
That is brilliant! I have been reading about your project for what seems like a long time. I like the size and all that little techie info that it displays. Especially the ohms.

Great job!  :thumbsup:

Online rrtwister

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #11 on: June 10, 2012, 08:04:56 PM »
Amazing what you mcu guys are doing.
well done craig  :rockin smiley:

Offline cccsteel

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #12 on: June 10, 2012, 09:41:55 PM »
good going...  :rockin smiley:
Bet you can sell a lot of these if you ever considered it.    :thumbsup:

Offline jester

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #13 on: June 11, 2012, 07:16:49 AM »
i would love to be able to do somthing that good but for now i will keep reading and learing for you guys cheers jester

Offline CraigHB

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #14 on: June 11, 2012, 05:57:33 PM »
Bet you can sell a lot of these if you ever considered it.

Yes, that would be very cool to poduce them en mass, but that's a gigantic step going form a prototype to a production unit.  It's not out of the question, but it's definitely a big one.  I think people take for granted what it takes to actually mass produce something.  Even on a small scale, there's big startup costs.  If I could spare the 100 grand I needed to do an initial production run, I probably would, but I don't have that kind of money laying around.  People borrow money or seek out investors to do that kind of thing all the time, but it's always a big risk.

In any case, my primary motivation is to build something for myself that is built to my own specifications.  Maybe I can spread the love a little and sell a few off here and there.  But yeah, very complimentary of you wwwest to use the term Craigwin, implying its on the same level.

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #15 on: June 11, 2012, 06:25:16 PM »
Yeah, 100 grand is a lot not to mention the headaches.

That would be cool maybe making a half a dozen at a time at your leisure and recoup parts money with a bit left over as fun money or other hobby projects, tools, equipment.

wwwest got that right, craigwin  :yes" That VW stuff is no better than what you have right here. If I had a choice of Darwin or Craigwin, Craigwin would be my preferred choice.

Offline CraigHB

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #16 on: June 11, 2012, 07:03:50 PM »
What's Interesting is with the electronics my device comprises, I could quite easily switch to a wattage controlled mode, just a matter of programming.  The hardware is already there.  I prefer voltage control.  To me it's like the difference between a manual and automatic transmission in a car.  The highest performance cars always have a manual transmission.  Though, there are plenty of people that would argue that.  Everyone is entitled to their preference.  For me, it's voltage control.  I'm with Dave on that.

Offline jomurp

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #17 on: June 12, 2012, 09:02:44 AM »
Voltage control has been working for me thus far. i'm happy with it.  Ahhhh who needs wattage control.
i'm with you guys  :beer-toast:

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #18 on: June 18, 2012, 06:22:40 PM »
This is truly breath taking. Fantastic work.
I have read a couple of your posts on ECF about you using the TPS43000 and it is a PITA to get stable or something like that.
I know nothing about type III compensation network stuff. Wish there was an easy peezy way.  :laughing2:
I looked into piggybacking two ptn04050c for a possible 24watt output on the TI.com forum but the tech there said it is NOT do able. Damm that would have been an easy way to achieve higher wattage  :crying:

Offline CraigHB

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #19 on: June 19, 2012, 04:34:41 PM »
Thanks, mod is working very well so far, using it every day all the time, love it.  Getting busy on a smaller version, trying to stuff 10 lbs of crap in a 5 lb bag.

Boosters are just a pain all the way around.  It's hard to get them to put out a lot of power and that's why you don't see many high power plug-in modules.   They're also not in much demand.   What we do with them is a pretty specialized application.

I don't see any particular reason why you wouldn't be able to parallel a couple boosters.  You'd have to use a really low DCR battery like a 20C LiPo.  Though, it would be like paralleling diodes.  Whichever one is putting out the higher output will carry the brunt of the load.  I'd try it and see if it works.  Sometimes you think something will work and it doesn't, other times you think something won't work and it does.

Online Tameron

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #20 on: June 19, 2012, 06:40:01 PM »
Great, you are truly a master to figure out the TPS4300 circuity and pull off 30watts.  :thumbsup:

This is the TI forum about the parallel PTN04050 http://e2e.ti.com/support/power_management/powermodules/f/501/t/85903.aspx
He says better off building one w/ a TPS4300 but doesn't mention the complexity

Offline CraigHB

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #21 on: June 19, 2012, 08:48:57 PM »
I looked at that post.  The operative term is "likely" meaning not for sure.  Hiccup mode is only entered when there's an output over-current condition.  I still don't see how two in parallel could cause that to happen.  Of course it's better to use a single converter, but there's a world of difference between plugging in a module and designing one yourself.  Tom at TI took that for granted in his reply.

Oh, BTW, there is an easier way, but you give up efficiency for it.  The TPS43000 is the most efficient because it's a "synchronous voltage mode" controller.  This is also the least stable of all the controller types and requires the most tuning.

You can use an "asynchronous current mode" controller.  You'll find them relatively easy to build.  They require very little tuning.  They are also much more tolerant to variations in PCB layout and variations in component values.  I would suggest the Maxim MAX1709.

The down side is you give up 10 to 15% in efficiency.  With synchronous voltage mode, you get an average around 95%.  With asynchronous current mode, that can be as low as 80%.  So, as a consequence in rough terms, you'll lose 10 to 15% of your run time on a charge.  It's a reasonable trade-off for the simplicity.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2012, 09:11:38 PM by CraigHB »

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #22 on: June 19, 2012, 09:49:28 PM »
I think maybe I would like to try my hand at the MAX1709  :yes"

So Craig if I follow the datasheet schematic in Fig 1, page 8 and Fig 4, page 10, I won't have to tune the circuit?
http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=max1709&source=web&cd=4&ved=0CHIQFjAD&url=http%3A%2F%2Fdatasheets.maxim-ic.com%2Fen%2Fds%2FMAX1709.pdf&ei=8SnhT6uaNIe88ASr3PmRDQ&usg=AFQjCNHBbeGl4fC_KvDVHOIYoBig24ST0A&cad=rja

What are my chances to get 4amps?

Offline CraigHB

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #23 on: June 19, 2012, 10:33:07 PM »
It's super easy to build a booster with that controller.  Just follow the directions and use the standard application circuit on page 8 of the data sheet.

The one negative about that controller is it's limited to 5.5V output, but you can probably squeeze 5.8V out of it if you milk it.

I used that controller on the the first battery powered VV mod I built.  Worked beautifully.  Got about 85% efficiency average.  It could put out 4A at 5.5V continuously with no heating issues in the least.  Keep in mind, it is a booster so you'll need a good low DCR battery (either an IMR cell or a LiPo cell) especially if you want maximum output.

I used a single 330uF tantalum polymer on both output and input instead of the dual electrolytics shown in the typical application.  The tantalums are more expensive,  but they're much more compact.  You could probably just use a high value MLCC SMD cap on the input.  I used the tantalum anyway, but it probably was not necessary.  The output cap is the one that has to have high enough value and low enough ESR.

Also pick a good rectifier diode with low forward voltage.  Pick an inductor with low DCR and high saturation.  Here's what I used;

http://www.mouser.com/ProductDetail/Vishay-Dale/IHLM2525CZER1R0M01/?qs=bOnNDoERoR18uqA6UaJ%252bPgjMt2rhYMOEtdL3DIKYm04%3d

http://www.mouser.com/ProductDetail/Diodes-Inc/PDS1040L-13/?qs=rNZh4F5RthQSjKiPhlxJLw%3d%3d

Get the MAX1709 package with the thermal pad on the bottom of the chip.  When you design/make the PCB for it, put a couple big vias underneth the thermal pad so you can solder it to the ground plane from underneath.  The other option is to use reflow soldering with a bunch of small vias, but if you want to hand solder, that's how you can make the thermal connection.

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #24 on: June 21, 2012, 09:51:51 AM »
It's super easy to build a booster with that controller.  Just follow the directions and use the standard application circuit on page 8 of the data sheet.

The one negative about that controller is it's limited to 5.5V output, but you can probably squeeze 5.8V out of it if you milk it.

I used that controller on the the first battery powered VV mod I built.  Worked beautifully.  Got about 85% efficiency average.  It could put out 4A at 5.5V continuously with no heating issues in the least.  Keep in mind, it is a booster so you'll need a good low DCR battery (either an IMR cell or a LiPo cell) especially if you want maximum output.

I used a single 330uF tantalum polymer on both output and input instead of the dual electrolytics shown in the typical application.  The tantalums are more expensive,  but they're much more compact.  You could probably just use a high value MLCC SMD cap on the input.  I used the tantalum anyway, but it probably was not necessary.  The output cap is the one that has to have high enough value and low enough ESR.

Also pick a good rectifier diode with low forward voltage.  Pick an inductor with low DCR and high saturation.  Here's what I used;

http://www.mouser.com/ProductDetail/Vishay-Dale/IHLM2525CZER1R0M01/?qs=bOnNDoERoR18uqA6UaJ%252bPgjMt2rhYMOEtdL3DIKYm04%3d

http://www.mouser.com/ProductDetail/Diodes-Inc/PDS1040L-13/?qs=rNZh4F5RthQSjKiPhlxJLw%3d%3d

Get the MAX1709 package with the thermal pad on the bottom of the chip.  When you design/make the PCB for it, put a couple big vias underneth the thermal pad so you can solder it to the ground plane from underneath.  The other option is to use reflow soldering with a bunch of small vias, but if you want to hand solder, that's how you can make the thermal connection.

Sorry to step on your Alive topic about the Max1709. I have a question about the package styles. The TSSOP has 28pins and rated at 4a while the SOIC is 16pins rated at 2.4a. Datasheet also says the SOIC can also achieve 4a in short bursts.
The schematic shows the 16pin version. If I was to use the 28pin, would I just have to tie the additional LX and PGND pins together and leave the NC pins open then wire it the same?

Not sure how to calculate R1 and C3 for 4amps. Do you remember what you use?
Also R2 is 2 ohms. Can I use any type? 1/8w okay?
« Last Edit: June 21, 2012, 10:20:59 AM by Breaktru Admin »

Offline CraigHB

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #25 on: June 21, 2012, 04:18:43 PM »
No problem there, post what you like on this thread.

You could try the SOIC package I supose, but it may go into thermal limiting at higher outputs.  The TSSOP will not since it has the thermal pad.  Those are really effective at dissipating heat when soldered to a ground plane.  They work amazingly well.

Since the TSSOP is a significantly smaller package, the pins are much smaller and you need a bunch in parallel to carry the current.  So, to answer your question, the LX pins are all tied to together and the PG pins are all tied together.  I just laid down one big pad for each set.

The 2 Ohm resistor is there to act as a light filter for the feedback circuit.  Current draw is very low there.  You could use something as small as an 0402 package if you like.

The feedback capacitors I used are the ones as shown in figure 1.  R1 is only required for current limiting.  Since we don't want to limit current, R1 can be removed.  C3 governs the soft-start speed.  .1uF  (100nF) is a reasonable value for that one.

Oh, one other note, figure 1 shows a set output voltage.  Look at figure 4 to use a variable voltage.  Replace R3 with the variable resistor.  However, if using a digital pot, be careful not to power up the converter with the digital pot powered down.  That puts Vout on the FB pin since R3 is absent.  The FB pin is not tolerant to voltages greater than Vin.  I burned a couple chips doing that.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2012, 04:40:52 PM by CraigHB »

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #26 on: June 21, 2012, 05:49:05 PM »
No problem there, post what you like on this thread.

You could try the SOIC package I supose, but it may go into thermal limiting at higher outputs.  The TSSOP will not since it has the thermal pad.  Those are really effective at dissipating heat when soldered to a ground plane.  They work amazingly well.

Since the TSSOP is a significantly smaller package, the pins are much smaller and you need a bunch in parallel to carry the current.  So, to answer your question, the LX pins are all tied to together and the PG pins are all tied together.  I just laid down one big pad for each set.

The 2 Ohm resistor is there to act as a light filter for the feedback circuit.  Current draw is very low there.  You could use something as small as an 0402 package if you like.

The feedback capacitors I used are the ones as shown in figure 1.  R1 is only required for current limiting.  Since we don't want to limit current, R1 can be removed.  C3 governs the soft-start speed.  .1uF  (100nF) is a reasonable value for that one.

Oh, one other note, figure 1 shows a set output voltage.  Look at figure 4 to use a variable voltage.  Replace R3 with the variable resistor.  However, if using a digital pot, be careful not to power up the converter with the digital pot powered down.  That puts Vout on the FB pin since R3 is absent.  The FB pin is not tolerant to voltages greater than Vin.  I burned a couple chips doing that.

Thanks Craig, placed my Mouser order, had a couple of Max1709 on hand from a previous sample order. Eagle cad program is such a pain to find components to match. Wish the makers of the library had better descriptions to aide the search feature. I previously and also today had to make my own components for the library. Another PITA.

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #27 on: June 21, 2012, 06:03:41 PM »
I also use Eagle.

I don't use any of the canned components.  I build my own libraries for all my components.  It's mainly because all of the canned ones are designed for reflow soldering and I do everything by hand.  I need longer tails on the pads.

One thing I do in Eagle that is unusual is that I don't use the schematic editor.  I design my boards by manually placing signals in the board editor.  So, I only define the board symbols in my part libraries.  It's odd, but I find it easier, especially since I use a CAD program I like much better to build my schematics.

In any case, I'm not a big fan of Eagle, I find it clumsy and poorly engineered for the most part.  However, it's cheap and widely used so that's what I use.   Also, the fab I use accepts raw Eagle board files which is highly convenient.

Offline dennis15

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #28 on: June 24, 2012, 11:11:08 AM »
 :rockin smiley: you rock Craig. Your MCU mod is terrific  :thumbsup:

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #29 on: June 24, 2012, 02:44:50 PM »
Thanks, working on a smaller one right now, about a third shorter, found a 1300mAh cell for it that may work well.  Really pulling my hair out on the PCB.  It was already hard to stuff everything on the board size for the 2200.

Got some bitchen 510 connectors coming I had custom made.  They're made out of stanless steel with a brass post and delrin insulator.  The nut is nickel plated brass so it's solderable.  The fab sent me one to check before doing the production run on the rest of the order.  The video shows the base and nut without the post and insulator in there;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpsp6QAe3hE



Online Breaktru

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #30 on: June 24, 2012, 03:26:03 PM »
Thanks, working on a smaller one right now, about a third shorter, found a 1300mAh cell for it that may work well.  Really pulling my hair out on the PCB.  It was already hard to stuff everything on the board size for the 2200.

Got some bitchen 510 connectors coming I had custom made.  They're made out of stanless steel with a brass post and delrin insulator.  The nut is nickel plated brass so it's solderable.  The fab sent me one to check before doing the production run on the rest of the order.  The video shows the base and nut without the post and insulator in there;

So your controller mod will be even more fantastic. Wow.

That is really a cool 510 connector. Looks like a built in drip catch too. Is that a cut for a tool to hold the base while you tighten the bottom nut? Fantastic idea. And another plus is the length. Looks shorter so not to waste precious inside space.

Offline Pantera

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #31 on: June 24, 2012, 03:32:19 PM »
Double Plus + Plus for craig. Cool  :beer-toast:

How much will the 510's cost you? Looks expensive but you couldn't ask for a better connector.  :applaude:

Offline CraigHB

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #32 on: June 24, 2012, 03:50:41 PM »
Yes, that's a catch cup, but also acts as a flange to support the 3/8 panel nut, double duty there.  The connector makes the atomizer connection almost flush with the mod, short of about 2mm.  I have a slotted bit that fits the cutouts in the top of the connector, so yes, it's for holding the connector while tightening.  Most atomizer connectors have those slots to act as airways, but they're deep enough on the custom one to use a wide screwdriver.

The main feature is the base material, 304 stainless.  There are no stainless connectors out there.  All of them are brass or nickel plated brass.  I'm always replacing them because the threads wear out.  Brass is not a particularly hard metal.  Stainless is very hard so the threads will never wear out.  Plus, the insulator is delrin so it will never split and short out.

The one negative is that I couldn't get a high temp plastic like PEEK or polyimide for the insulator because of the cost.  It's surprising how expensive it is to have stuff made out of it.  I have to solder the post prior to the press fit installation because the heat of soldering can damage the insulator.

My cost on them is $15 a pop.  Gotta love those Chinese machine shops.  As much as I bag on the Chinese, I certainly don't have any problem taking advantage of them when I need something made cheap.  I may have to change my tune on those guys.

Online Breaktru

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #33 on: June 24, 2012, 04:17:33 PM »
It's good to know that your 510 connector will out last your mods.

Is this the machine shop? ......

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yL1AgOqnYYE

Offline CraigHB

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #34 on: June 24, 2012, 04:30:28 PM »
Hehe, hopefully I won't get any severed fingers in my order.

Offline tommygun

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #35 on: July 01, 2012, 07:45:03 AM »
30 watts is amazing for a boost mod. I don't believe I saw a boost mod put out that much wattage.   :thumbsup:
Not even the Darwin which I think is spec'd at 15 watts max. Even stacking two DNA's are 24 watts max on paper.
Cheers mate  :beer-toast:

Offline vaporhead

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #36 on: July 01, 2012, 08:24:48 AM »
30 watts is amazing for a boost mod. I don't believe I saw a boost mod put out that much wattage.   :thumbsup:
Not even the Darwin which I think is spec'd at 15 watts max. Even stacking two DNA's are 24 watts max on paper.
Cheers mate  :beer-toast:

That is pretty amazing to see a 30 watt boost circuit. Hats off to you Craig  :rockin smiley:

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #37 on: July 01, 2012, 08:30:45 PM »
Thanks guys.

I actually did a little more tuning on it the other day, I can get up to 40W out of it now.  Still, the MCU programmed limit will remain at 30W, but that's so it can for sure hit the programmed current limit before destabilizing with a duty cycle too high.  The last one I made could only get to 27W output at 6V with the battery close to fully discharged.  That problem is solved.  Now it can do 36W wiith the battery at 3V loaded which is a bit below the programmed low battery limit.

If the converter was tuned perfectly, it would never destabilize, but that's almost impossible to achieve for me.  Firstly, I would need some really expensive test equipment to measure frequency response on the bench and secondly, because I'm using a couple paralleled 100uF MLCC output caps, output ESR is very low and output capacitance is relatively low for a booster.  Both low capacitance and low ESR make the control loop less stable.

I tuned the control loop with a simulation then did some component swapping to get it close enough.  That's a really rough way to do it, like building a table with a chainsaw, but it works well enough and gets me a working circuit without spending a small fortune on test equipment.

Theoretically, I should be able to get up to 50W.  That's the controller's hard wired current limit and the MOSFETs I'm using can support those currents.  The 20C LiPo I'm using can easily support the drain.  However, I would need more output capacitance and more tuning for that.  I figure there's no reason to put in the effort to achieve an output that high.  I think 24W is about the most anyone would ever actually use and even then, it's a super hot vape no matter what you're using to do it.

Offline columbusbk

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #38 on: July 08, 2012, 07:17:34 AM »
Congrats on It's Alive  ;footloose;
Fantastic mate

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #39 on: July 25, 2012, 07:47:23 PM »
Craig i hope its not too much, you see i have a lot of questions for iam just a newbie with mcu. I understand now that the booster/buck regulator is just used for the mcu to get a stable voltage supply it needs if iam not mistaken. How do you attach the trimmer pot would it be the same as you wire them in the regulators? How would it signals to the mcu when adjusting voltage/wattage?
« Last Edit: July 25, 2012, 07:54:45 PM by poorboy »

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #40 on: July 25, 2012, 08:19:12 PM »
Well, you have a steep learning curve ahead of you, but Breaktru did it and he does not have a degree in EE, though I think he's a pretty sharp feller.

The MCU's job is not to regulate output.  The boost converter does that.  The MCU only sets the value of the digital pot and that determines the regulation point for the boost converter.

This mod is boost only so the range is 4 to 6V.  Boosters can not go below input voltage.  The reason is so that I can acheive the 30 Watts output I want.  Most of the buck-boost controllers out there (i.e. ones used by the Pro-Vari and LavaTube) have internal MOSFETs resulting in lower current limits.  Mine uses a TI TPS43000 controller that utilizes external MOSFETs providing much higher current limits.  However, I would not recommend this controller to a newbie since it requires very complicated tuning to stabilize. 

There is one high output buck-boost controller I've found from Linear Technology, but it also requires complicated tuning and has a high part count since it uses 4 external MOSFETs.  It's this one.

Communication with the digital pot is performed via SPI which stands for serial peripheral interface.  It's a widely used chip interface topology that uses 4 pins for chip to chip communications.  Most MCUs have a built-in SPI module and many peripheral chips support it.  There are other interface topologies as well.  I2C is another chip to chip communications topology that is also commonly used.

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #41 on: July 26, 2012, 12:56:55 AM »
Nice Mod Craig. I think those 510 connectors are pretty cool too.

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #42 on: July 26, 2012, 01:47:48 AM »
Thanks. 

Yes, those connectors were a key component in my mind.  Being forced into using those crappy brass connectors with the soft insulators that flatten and split would have resulted in endless frustration.

On my previous mods, I was using a shorty 510 adapter to keep the mod's connector from wearing.  It was lame.  Those shorties would last about 3 months before the insulator was flattened and the threads were worn out.  Otherwise, it would have been the connector in the mod that wore out. 

These new connectors are pretty bulletproof with a Delrin insulator and a stainless body.  So far, I have not detected any wear.

Here's how the connector looks installed;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QIB2jazLAA
« Last Edit: July 26, 2012, 01:54:11 AM by CraigHB »

Offline poorboy

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #43 on: July 26, 2012, 06:12:13 AM »
Its getting more exciting craig. Im learning a lot. So if i were to build a mod with a DNa module, what micro controller would you recommend that is easily to work on? I would ask breaktru aswell. I cant wait to play with this new stuff!

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #44 on: July 26, 2012, 01:38:45 PM »
Yes I hear ya on those cheap connectors. I am really surprised that someone has not came out with a decent connector. All this modding has been going on for a long time, and I would think some one could make a small fortune just on that part. How much are they setting you back if you don't mind me asking? I've often thought about modding a v3 top cap just for this purpose.

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #45 on: July 26, 2012, 01:44:22 PM »
They cost me $15 a pop from a machine shop in China.  The quality is really good  on them even without considering where they are made.  It would cost 10 times more to have a machine shop make them in the US.

Offline sterling101

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #46 on: July 29, 2012, 05:26:33 PM »
The question is Craig - do you have any connectors for sale?
Sure would beat the brass press fit ones I've got here that's for sure!

;)

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #47 on: July 30, 2012, 02:56:30 AM »
I can probably sell a few here and there.  I have more than I'll need.  Say $15 plus shipping a pop.  That's my cost on them.  PM me.

Offline synchro

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #48 on: August 21, 2012, 10:56:21 PM »
Are you using I2C for the data bus between the pot, display and MCU? 

That is an amazing mod Craig, very impressive.  Bet you're loving vaping away on a mod you built yourself that bests anything available on the market! :rockin smiley:

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Re: It's Alive
« Reply #49 on: August 22, 2012, 04:30:25 PM »
Thanks synchro,

Yes, I am enjoying a mod that performs better than anything else you can buy off the shelf.  I've been making coils with rebuildable atomizers that run nicely around 15W.  Not many devices you can run at outputs like that without some kind of issue.  I'm working on a smaller 1400mAh version of this mod presently, same thing, but 2/3 the length.

The data bus is SPI for both the LCD and digital pot, similar to I2C.  SPI is more common though I2C has its advantages.

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