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Blazingly Fast Compact Power Supply Reduces Test Time

N6700 Series Power Supply

Power supplies are often one of the last pieces of equipment given consideration when designing a test system. Yet there are power supplies on the market today that can significantly help reduce the cost of test by providing quicker setup time and faster test times. Quicker setup time, realized by utilizing built-in measurement functions, reduces the time it takes to design and build a test system, thereby reducing costs. Faster test times translate to either more data per unit of time, or more devices tested per unit of time, both of which can have an enormous impact on the cost of test.

In the Aerospace/Defense industry, these issues have special significance. System designs can easily take months or longer affecting project schedules and important delivery dates. Reducing the time it takes to begin compiling test data or increasing the throughput of any test system can pay off handsomely.

When looking at the affects a power supply can have on both system design time and test times, a variety of things can be considered. To reduce system design time, a power supply with built-in voltage and current measurement capability eliminates the need to design and wire a switch matrix that would route the device under test (DUT) input voltage and current to a voltmeter for measurement (current sensed via a current shunt resistor). Even more intricate wiring would be necessary if the DUT were to draw pulses of current and the testing included the need to measure those pulses dynamically. In this case, the current shunt resistor signal would need to be routed to a waveform measurement instrument such as an analog to digital converter or an oscilloscope. Here again, an appropriately featured power supply can digitize its own output voltage and current, and report the digitized data to a computer for analysis, eliminating the need to include external digitization instrumentation. And of course, test time itself is reduced with fast command processing time and fast output response time for power products.

The Agilent Technologies N6700 Low-Profile Modular Power System, named a "Best in Test" product for 2005 by Test & Measurement World magazine, addresses many of these needs. Built-in voltage and current measurement eliminates the need for external switch matrixes and voltmeters. Output voltage and current digitization is available as well replacing more switching and external digitizing instruments. With command processing times of less than 1ms, the N6700 power supplies have industry leading processing speeds, up to 50 times faster than other programmable power supplies. When large numbers of voltage changes occur during testing, the significantly faster command processing time of the N6700 can greatly reduce overall test times. One case has been documented where DUT test times went from 530 seconds to 190 seconds just by replacing the existing power supply with an N6700 in an automatic test system.

Another feature of the N6700 power supplies that helps to speed testing is the down-programmer circuit. This circuit actively pulls the output voltage down when the voltage is set to a new, lower value. Time is saved by actively pulling the output down instead of waiting for the output to come down from the external loading alone.

These power supplies come in a compact, 1U package, with up to 4 outputs contained in one mainframe. A variety of performance levels are available in 50W and 100W modules with voltages to 100V and currents to 20A. Built-in GPIB, USB, and LAN are all standard.

Power supply features will have an impact on both test system design time and DUT test times. Choosing supplies with features such as built-in measurement capabilities, down-programmers, and fast command processing times can significantly reduce design and test times. Whether one or multiple outputs are needed, Agilent’s N6700 power supplies offer all of these capabilities, easily helping to reduce design and test time for any system.

Please send questions concerning this content to Agilent Technologies power supply support.

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