While testing some variants and new versions of the power_dist board, I wanted to be able to simulate the types of loads that it experiences with a fully loaded robot. Some things are easy, like this capacitor attached to an XT30 connector:
I also have giant power resistors in a similar form factor:
However, a dumb load resistor isn’t a particularly representative load. Most likely, the loads that a power_dist will drive are active loads with switching regulators. When the output voltage is lower, the current will be correspondingly higher. That is especially important when validating pre-charge behavior, because it means that the current is much higher during the initial pre-charge window than it would be for a pure resistive load.
Thus, I made a tiny switching regulator to which I can stick a load resistor to the output.
Unfortunately since MacroFab discontinued their prototype tier, it no longer is as convenient to get one offs populated in the US. So this one I did by hand with a stencil, solder paste, a 3D printed frame, and some new tools, a vacuum pick, and a hot plate. I discovered you can get room temperature stable solder paste now — how convenient!
There were a few bugs… I managed to not have 0603 resistors for the voltage sense divider on hand, but had 0402 of the right values so just stuck a blob of solder to connect them. On the same resistors, I also managed to get the PCB labels swapped. Fixing that resulted in a board that does what it is supposed to!
For the price, I’m definitely happy with it, but as I’ve been doing more soldering work, I’ve become less happy with the mounting stand. The arm it mounts to often does not reach far enough to get the optics over the part of the board in question, or the base is too tall or wide to fit under it. If you want to examine something from the side, you have to tip the entire base over. I have resorted to spinning the microscope around and counterbalancing the base with a large weight, which works for some definition of “works” but only improves the reach by a little bit.
I wanted to improve the situation, so built a 3d printed mounting fixture to position the microscope head. It provides for a few more degrees of freedom than the factory issued one, and provides a lot more reach:
The tubes are held together with M4 bolts with each axis having a thumbscrew used to lock it in place. The optics can now be tilted in the pitch or roll direction, and the total reach is around 25cm, up from the stock 7cm.
I’ve muddled along for a long time soldering with a little Weller WES50. I’ve done a lot of work with it, but given how many SMD boards I’m doing with big ground planes and tiny components, I needed something a bit more capable. Enter the Pace ADS200 from tequipment:
Made in the USA, with 120W of power and a wide range of tip selection it has been an incredible upgrade. All those soldering jobs which were painful before are so much easier, and I don’t even have all the tips I wanted for different jobs yet. I also have the MiniTweez, but don’t yet have the tips that will let me show that off. I’ll try to post some soldering videos in the not too distant future.