This page contains projects I have build for my workshop.
Audio signal injector / tracer
Earth Leakage Measurer
A few notes on using
UV exposure unit / light box
signal injector / tracer
This device consists of a sinewave oscillator which can generate a
1kHz or a 10kHz test signal. It has a line output as well as a low
balanced microphone output. The second part of this device is an audio
Earth Leakage Measurer
I have build this device to measure the earth leakage current of an
It measures the current across a low serial resistance in the earth
A instrumentation amplifier is then used to amplify the signal. An
may be connected to the output. This way it is possible to see the
of the earth leakage current. The device also has a meter which
the peak current. It also has a PEAK HOLD mode. This comes in handy in
detecting spikes (such as when a PC is switched on.)
I have build this device for two functions. First I needed an
protection device when I tested low-power mains equipment and secondly
it serves as a light source for my microscope.
The device which needs to be protected is plugged into one of the
at the right side of the device. The power is switched on and off by
power switch. The LAMP / BALLAST switch selects the operational mode of
the device. The other switch is a multifunction switch. If the device
in ballast mode, and the SWITCH is in the BYPASS position the light
is bypassed. If the device is in LAMP mode and the switch is in the DIM
position, the light bulb is dimmed by placing a rectifier diode in
A standard incandescent light bulb forms a very effective short-circuit
protection device. The bulb is placed in series with the circuit's
line. When the filament is cold, it have a relatively low resistance.
long as the protected circuit does not draw a lot of current, the
will not heat up. On the other hand, if there is a fault in the circuit
and it draws excessive current, the filament will heat up and its
will increase. This will limit the current. When the fault in the
is restored and the current drop back to normal, the filament will cool
down and its resistance will drop, restoring normal operation.
The light bulb I used for the above unit is a 60W bulb. I have measured
its resistance when the filament is cold to be 80 ohms. I have
that the hot filament resistance must be about 800 ohms (the bulb is a
220V version). The short-circuit current will therefore be 275mA, which
is not so high as to damage a circuit that quickly.
I have also used 5W 12V car light bulbs as an effective short-circuit
protection in 12V systems.
In most cases the worst what will happen with a short-circuit is that
the bulb light's up, which can be used as an indication.
I got some parts out of an old printer and decided to build a shaker
which I can use to speed-up the etching of PCBs. Below is a photo of
finished shaker table. The table on top moves sideways.
Below is a top view with the table removed. The off-center spindle
causes the sideways movement of the shaker table can be seen in the
The mains transformer is to the left, while the motor is to the right.
The power electronics board is at the back of the unit. The gears are
to transmit the motor power to the off-center spindle and also to
The shaker table uses a single phase induction motor. The motor has
a main winding as well as a starter winding. The mains voltage is
through a transformer and then rectified. The filter capacitor consists
of two identical capacitors in series. The one side of the motor's
is connected at the junction of these capacitors to get a voltage
from the total voltage. The other side of the motor's winding is
to two MOSFETs. For a schematic of the electronics click here
. Below is a graph showing the waveform send to the motor:
I am using a rectangular waveform to approximate a very crude sinewave.
The motor I am using is a 100V motor which runs at 1200rpm with a 50Hz
line frequency. The voltage, Vo, is 100V in my circuit. If I want to
a 100V sinewave at 50Hz to the motor, the total period should be 20ms.
A half period is therefore 10ms. Furthermore a 100V sinewave has a rms
voltage of 70V. To keep the rms voltage of my waveform the same as a
sinewave, it need to make the duty cycle of my pulses 70%, which makes
the pulse width 7ms.
In practice it means that I will switch on the top MOSFET for 7ms, then
I will switch it off and wait 3ms. I will then switch on the bottom
for 7ms, then I will switch it off and wait 3ms. I will then repeat the
The motor speed is controlled be controlling the frequency. When the
frequency is reduced, the rms voltage should also be reduced, otherwise
the motor's magnetics may saturate which will cause the motor to
The start winding is switched on and off by means of a solid state
A capacitor in series with the start winding ensures that the correct
difference is obtained to get a turning magnetic vector in the motor.
The control circuit consists of a PIC12F675 microcontroller. I use the
ADC of the PIC to read in the voltage from the speed control knob.
is also a optical sensor detecting motor movement. The PIC reads in the
value of the speed control knob. It then use two lookup tables, one for
the off-time and one for the on-time. The PIC's 16-bit timer is
to generate the timing for the pulses to the MOSFETs.
Whenever the signal from the optical sensor stays the same for a
amount of cycles, the start winding is activated. The start winding
then be on by default for some cycles to get the motor moving. I have
the problem that on low speed the motor starts up, but the moment the
winding switches off, the motor stopped again. I therefore changed the
software so that the start winding is permanently on at low speeds. I
for the extra motor current by reducing the rms voltage supplied to the
motor at low speeds.
A few notes on using PIC's:
While using the PIC12F675 I have learnt two very important things about
The MCLR should not be left unconnected when 5V is supplied to the Vcc
pin. Since this pins must be able to handle a voltage higher that Vcc,
it does not have the same effective ESD protection as the other pins.
most PIC's this pin should be connected via a 1k resistor to Vcc (that
is if it is not to be connected to any other device). If this pin is
connected and power is applied to Vcc, it will damage the device. The
may still be operational, but it may no longer be reprogrammable.
Upon processor reset the GP0 and GP1 pins are configured as analogue
pins. This is a problem if these pins should be used as digital pins,
all analogue pins are read back as 0. If any bit operation is performed
on the IO port, these bits will be cleared. To overcome this, the
analogue comparator's mode should be changed so that GP0 and GP1 are no
longer analogue pins. This also apply for the analogue pins on the
When another analogue input channel is selected for the ADC, the
should not be started immediately. If the conversion is started
the ADC's sample and hold capacitor will not have had enough time to
to the new analogue input's value. The value converted will thus be
It is best to select the new analogue input, then do something else,
then to start the conversion.
The above notes are also applicable to the PIC16F87x family of
and possibly also other.
UV exposure unit / light box
This unit can take PCB sizes of up to A4 size. It can either generate
UV light for PCB prototyping, or white light to be used as a light box.
It contains 4x 8W UV tubes and 4x 8W white tubes. It has a digital
timer which can count up to 10 minutes. Below is a photo of the
Below is a photo of the electronics inside the unit. The components at
the backside is from left to right the IEC mains input EMI filter
(hidden from view), the mains transformer supplying power to the low
electronics and the high voltage PCB. The high voltage PCB
contains the inductor chokes, high voltage mains rectifier and filter
capacitors. The PCB on the left hand side contains the low voltage
rectifier and filter capacitors, a 555 circuit, isolation pulse
transformers and the power MOSFETs. The 555 circuit generates the
square wave which is used to switch the MOSFETs. Just behind the front
panel is the microcontroller based timer PCB.
Below is a photo with the internal covers mounted. The holes are for
Below is a photo of the unit with the cover fitted:
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