Texas Instruments-DCDC Power:FPGA & Data Converter - Review

Table of contents

RoadTest: Texas Instruments-DCDC Power:FPGA & Data Converter

Author: kballard

Creation date:

Evaluation Type: Evaluation Boards

Did you receive all parts the manufacturer stated would be included in the package?: True

What other parts do you consider comparable to this product?: Enpirion DC/DC converters

What were the biggest problems encountered?: The only real downside was the requirement of an external inductor

Detailed Review:

What’s in the box?

Inside the large box, are just 2 items, the board, and a small leaflet.

The leaflet explains where to download the manual for the board, which explains the connections and jumpers on the board.

It only took a couple of minutes to make up the connections and get it connected to my power supply and load resistor.

 

How it performed

Despite the small size of the device (2mm x 3mm), it seemed to never get more than slightly warm to the touch, although I could not test at full load for too long, as my 10W resistor started to cook rather.

So most of my tests were done at 3.3V with a 10R resistor, to avoid getting burnt!

 

First, I looked at the soft start with both 10R and 1R loads, which actually showed how poor my power supply was, but I thought I would still share the results, especially as the converter coped perfectly with the poor input.

 

Firstly, I must apologise for the poor quality of the oscilloscope pictures, which were taken with my phone from my old Philips combiscope, as I was made redundant in December (I now have another job) and lost access to the nice ‘toys’ I intended to use for this review.

 

With 10R load

And with 1R load

Here you can especially see that the poor input was completely ignored, and the converter just go on with its job.

 

Next I looked at the switching, which looked nice and clean with little noise.

And finally, I examined the output noise, which at 3.3V with the 10R resistor was minimal

 

Conclusion

The evaluation module is a nice way to be able to have a play with this converter, and to see how it performs in real-life situations.

 

For its size, the converter does a very good job, and has many nice features to make it do what you want. I also have used the Intel (Enpirion/Altera) converters, which have the advantage of not requiring an external inductor (it is built in), but has no other options other than setting of the output voltage, so I guess it depends what you are looking for. This converter gives more flexibility, at the expense of board area due to the external inductor (which seems to be larger than the converter itself!).

 

Just like many ICs of this size, it has no legs, and has pads on the underside of the package, and so does not really lend itself to hand soldering, making prototyping more difficult, especially for the hobbyist, but you could probably get away with using a small amount of solder paste and a hot air gun. This method worked for me with similar sized chips most of the time.

Anonymous
  • Nice road test.

     

    If you need a good high wattage load, use a toaster or light bulb.  See some of the blogs by @John Wiltrout.

     

    You could also just take some different gauge wire and spool wind it into a simple coil for testing.

     

    As I used to tell my people, I can get anyone to do testing with all the tools.  I want the people who can do good testing with what they HAVE!

     

    So think out of the box.

     

    By the way, how much current do you think the board could dump to an inductor coil, say like an old TV flyback transformer?

     

    DAB

  • Thanks for the review, despite not having access to the "toys" your review was still informative and your scope plots more than acceptable.

     

    Are you planning on building up your home lab further? If so I recommend getting a DC Electronic Load if you are interested in power supply stuff. It makes testing them under various static and transient load conditions much easier.

  • Thanks for the informative review. I like those waveform captures!

     

    Randall