Thursday, December 24, 2020

Shack PC Upgrade

    So I rebuilt my main desktop PC. I have installed an All In One (AIO) Liquid cooling system to help keep it cool this summer. 

    I also purchased a new modular power supply, the old one was 1500 Watts but did not have a power rating score and was really large, I replaced it with a 750W Gold 80+ one from gigabyte that is fully modular.

    I spent a good couple of hours working on it and started by stripping out the parts and only leaving the optical drive installed. I took it outside and cleaned it with a rag and the air compressor to get all of the dust out of it.

    The first thing I did before installing anything was to cable manage the front panel wires for USB and LED's that sort of thing.

    Next, I installed the back IO shield as I got my ROG motherboard second hand and it did not come with the shield, I had purchased a new one a couple of months ago but was waiting until I also had a new power supply and assorted cables.

    So after starting with the shield I could now install the motherboard, followed by the power supply. I connected the modular cables that I needed for my system and got them in place and cable managed and cable tied in place.

    The 2.5" SSD and my 3.5" HDD went in next and I connected them using some black braided SATA cables that I had purchased for the build.  The graphics card soon followed and was installed.

    The AIO was installed last so the hoses would not hinder my access and I made sure that the hoses on the radiator are at the bottom so air rises to the top of the radiator and the pump doesn't run dry and die an early death. I also used 10% silver heatsink grease/compound. 

    There is a Victorian seller on eBay that sells syringes with just enough paste in them to do one PC heat sink for about $1.20 to $2.00 with postage included depending on the amount you buy, get one tube it is $2.00 buy ten tubes at once and get them cheaper. It is not Artic Silver but it seems to do the job.

    Finally, I just spent time working on cable management, it was a bit tricky as it is not a high-end case with a power supply "basement" and other covers to hide messy cables so I had to rely on patience and cable ties to make the system look as neat as I could, this also improves airflow so it is less likely to overheat.

    For the airflow pattern, I have a front fan sucking in air, a top fan also sucking in the air then on the back there is a push/pull fan combo on the radiator for the AIO that is blowing air out of the case and through the radiator. 

    The wind force GPU also has three fans ., I have thought of adding some more fans, I can put one more in the front of the case and 2 more on the side panel but at this stage, I may just wait and see how the PC actually goes in hot weather as the fans I have maybe enough.

    The system idles at 34c-38c and under 100% CPU LOAD for 4 1/2 hours It sat in the mid 80c range, it was throttling a bit to stabilize at about 85c but this is normal and I was still seeing over 90 frequency clock so it was not throttling to badly.

    So the side panels went back on I connected all the required cables and it is all backup and running. I Have attached the photos of the inside of the case and the back panel as well.

    Angus Gave me a hand with the build so thanks for that and Brodie also mounted the power supply for me while I was running cables.

    Would I like a modern mid-range - high-end case with all the bells and whistles like cable covers and basement covers? Yeah, it makes it easy to "hide your sins" but in a case like this, it is never going to look as good unless you de pin your cables and make them exactly the right length that you need or get custom cables made. So for using off the shelf cables I am happy with the outcome.

I had also upgraded my desktop a month or so ago with some stuff I had purchased from a mate and online so I went from an Intel I5 to A Ryzen 1800 series CPU based system, here are my current specs as of December 2020.

                 ASUSTeK CROSSHAIR VI HERO Rev 1

                AMD Ryzen 7 1800X Eight-Core Processor
                Corsair Hydro Series H80i v2 Extreme Performance
                120mm Liquid CPU AIO with 2 SP fans in push/pull

                2 x 8GB DDR4 Crucial Technology (Dual Channel)
                2 x 8GB DDR4 G Skill (Dual Channel)
                Total 32GB DDR4 2400 MHz

                Gigabyte Windforce Nvidia GTX 980 4GB RAM
                2 x 24” Displays & 2 x 22” Displays

                Samsung 860 EVO 500GB M.2 SATA EXT4 (Linux System & Home)
                                - 500GB “/” EXT4
                Samsung PM81 128GB 2.5” SSD SATA NTFS (Windows System)
                                - 128GB “C:/” NTFS
                Western Digital Green 2TB HDD SATA FAT32 (Linux/Windows Share)

                                -1920GB “Storage” FAT32
                                - 128GB “Linux Swap” SWAP

                DVD Optical Drive Dual-layer
                Master-  Linux Mint 20 (Codename Ulyana) 64 Bit
                Secondary- Windows 10 64 Bit

                Razer BlackWidow Elite Mechanical Keyboard (Green Switches)

                Razer Atheris 2.4 GHz & BT Mobile Wireless Mouse

Audio System:
                Behringer 8 strip Mixing Desk with USB
                Behringer Ultracurve DEQ 2496 Digital Processor
                2 Channel Power Amplifier
                Akai 2 Driver Speakers (Tweeters/Midrange)

Thursday, May 7, 2020

DC Control Panel

My Latest project is a DC control panel for my radio shack, it has 300W solar panel and 40A MPPT controller. It also has PC control via serial to an Arduino with a relay board, the control software is written in python.

Master DC Control Panel

WS2812B 24 LED RGB Ring apx 8cm for status signal 
Software running on desktop and android

The python code

  1. #!/usr/bin/python3
  2. #
  3. # Python Ver 3
  4. # Linux Systems
  5. # Author Mark 'POCKETS' Clohesy
  6. #
  7. ################################################################################################################
  8. #
  9. # This is a linux CLI program sends serial commands to the an arduino that switches a
  10. # radio shack control panel via a relay control board.
  11. #
  12. # It uses the letters A-F. Uppercase turns the relay on while lowercase turns it off the panel
  13. # has 6 swirches and relays hence A-F. A CLI program was choosen over a GUI as the code can be modified
  14. # with pygame to have a GUI or broken down in  to small parts and modules that would allow control with
  15. # things like cron or ifttt makers channel in the future.
  16. #
  17. # These are the devices that are being controlled
  18. #
  19. # A- Radio 1 FT8900
  20. # B- Radio 2 IC2200
  21. # C- Radio 3 FT 991
  22. # D- Diesel Heater
  23. # E- Accessories
  24. # F- Not Used (Spare)
  25. #
  26. ################################################################################################################
  27. #
  28. # Import Modules
  29. import curses
  30. from os import system, name
  31. import serial
  32. import time
  33. import sys
  34. #
  35. #Setup Serial Port
  36. serA = sys.argv[1]
  37. ser = serial.Serial(
  38.     port=('/dev/ttyUSB'+serA),
  39.     baudrate = 9600,
  40.     stopbits=1,
  41.     bytesize=8,
  42.     timeout=1
  43. )
  44. #
  45. #Start Main Code
  46. def main(win):
  47.     win.nodelay(True)
  48.     key=""
  49.     win.clear()
  50. #
  51. # Display Main Screen showing options for the contorl panel
  52.     win.addstr("\n")
  53.     win.addstr("Twistedshack DC Control\n")
  54.     win.addstr("Menu Choices\n")
  55.     win.addstr("This program sends serial commands to the radio shack control panel\n")
  56.     win.addstr("It uses Letters A to F : Uppercase will turn the Device on and lowercase will turn it off\n")
  57.     win.addstr("There is no need to press enter after a keypress it is automatic \n")
  58.     win.addstr("A- Radio 1 FT8900\n")
  59.     win.addstr("B- Radio 2 IC2200\n")
  60.     win.addstr("C- Radio 3 FT 991\n")
  61.     win.addstr("D- Diesel Heater Warning: Make Sure it has completed the shutdwdown procedure\n")
  62.     win.addstr("E- Accessories\n")
  63.     win.addstr("F- Not Used (Spare)\n")
  64.     win.addstr("\n")
  65.     win.addstr("Key Selected:")
  66. #Loop waiting for keypress and if valid sending it to the serial port
  67.     while 1:
  68.         try:
  69.            key = win.getkey()
  70.            win.clear()
  71.            win.addstr("\n")
  72.            win.addstr("Twistedshack DC Control\n")
  73.            win.addstr("Menu Choices\n")
  74.            win.addstr("This program sends serial commands to the radio shack control panel\n")
  75.            win.addstr("It uses Letters A to E : Uppercase will turn the Device on and lowercase will turn it off\n")
  76.            win.addstr("There is no need to press enter after a keypress it is automatic \n")
  77.            win.addstr("A- Radio 1 FT8900\n")
  78.            win.addstr("B- Radio 2 IC2200\n")
  79.            win.addstr("C- Radio 3 FT 991\n")
  80.            win.addstr("D- Diesel Heater Warning: Make Sure it has completed the shutdwdown procedure\n")
  81.            win.addstr("E- Accessories\n")
  82.            win.addstr("F- Not Used (Spare)\n")
  83.            win.addstr("\n")
  84.            win.addstr("Key Selected:")
  85.            win.addstr(str(key))
  86.            if key == "A":
  87.              ser.write(("A").encode('ascii'))
  88.            if key == "a":
  89.              ser.write(("a").encode('ascii'))
  90.            if key == "B":
  91.              ser.write(("B").encode('ascii'))
  92.            if key == "b":
  93.              ser.write(("b").encode('ascii'))
  94.            if key == "C":
  95.              ser.write(("C").encode('ascii'))
  96.            if key == "c":
  97.              ser.write(("c").encode('ascii'))
  98.            if key == "D":
  99.              ser.write(("D").encode('ascii'))
  100.            if key == "d":
  101.              ser.write(("d").encode('ascii'))
  102.            if key == "E":
  103.              ser.write(("E").encode('ascii'))
  104.            if key == "e":
  105.              ser.write(("e").encode('ascii'))
  106.            if key == "F":
  107.              ser.write(("F").encode('ascii'))
  108.            if key == "f":
  109.              ser.write(("f").encode('ascii'))
  110.            if key == os.linesep:
  111.               break
  112.         except Exception as e:
  113.            # No input
  114.            pass
  115. curses.wrapper(main)
  116. #EOF

Monday, December 30, 2013

Jaycar MP3086 30 Volt PSU Teardown and testing

Old MP3086
Okay so I bought a 30VDC Variable 3 amp PSU from Jaycar a few weeks ago. It is model MP3086 with CV and CC modes. I was expecting the one shown above with 3 pots, one for amps, and coarse and fine ones for volts.. Instead I got a new improved model, unless you like the coarse/fine pots!

New MP3086
So of course with anything new you need to follow Dave from EEVBlog's advice.. Don't turn it on tear it apart so that's what i did..
Cover off, transformer looks nice doesn't it ?
Okay so first impressions from the photo above.. Nice secure soldering on the mains connections, shake proof washers on the earth wire and extra covering on the mains feed, see that black rectangle on the right centre ? Here it is closer up...

Switch Close-up
It is a real clunking power switch on the mains, so no standby current usage, Yay a thumbs up..

IEC socket with integrated fuse holder, nice one !

Shake proof washer a point for Jaycar

Spring washers on transformer mounts with intake vent for fan, there is also vents on the sides with exhaust at the rear of the unit

Terminal block for permanent connections say a bench Multimeter and banana sockets
Okay now for the close-up internal shots, there are five boards
  • Rectifier board Power transistor board with Relays to switch taps from transformer to transistors
  • LCD Display board
  • Keyboard Board for buttons
  • CV/CC Control board
  • Connection board for front panel outputs with current shunt for amps readings

Rectifier Board with room for two more transistors
Is this a real Japanese Rubycon or a copy ? 
The Main Power board looks like it has a real Rubycon capacitor, the screen printing looks good and it does not look like a rip off

LCD Control Board all SMD, the bodge wires on the right run to the back light, keyboard board bottom left with ten turn pot for volts selection underneath

The Voltage and Current control board, there is nothing on the other side apart from a few through hole caps and a voltage regulator on a small heat-sink, notice the flux residue on the through hole hand soldered joints, not good how hard is it to clean a a board ? Here are some close ups of the cruft left behind after soldering. But hey the Ningbo QJE company gave us their phone number if you want to call and complain to them about it :p

NXP Chips a counter IC and a logic gate, some more quality parts to go with the Rubycon cap...

Nice SMD soldering, re-flowed not hand done ! This is one of the trimmers to calibrate it all

Nice thick bus bars to the connections on the front panel with shake proof washers as well, excellent job.

Thermal switch for the fan, wired in series with fan it is rated at 5 amps and 50 C cut in temperature but cuts in before that, 

Okay now for some testing.... 
The test set-up consisted of the following.
  • RS232 connected DMM logging temperature
  • Galaxy Note 2 Smartphone for dB readings (Not real accurate but okay) 
  • Incandescent 12V globe as resistive load
  • Digitech QC1932 25MHz DSO
  • Supply set at 6.9 Volts, this just switched to the second tap (6.8V) so max heat from transistors

12 Volt Light globe pulling 1.33 amps at 6.9 volts, this tested at about half of the maximum amps and the second tap on the transformer had just switched in at 6.8 volts so I was dissipating the most heat for this amperage in to the heat-sink. 

The test set-up, I connected the scope probe to the terminal block on the front directly, I just hadn't done it here yet

Below is the capture of power on unloaded, there is a small HF ripple at power on then ramp up to full voltage (5VDC) with no overshoot, there is a small amount of ringing when it reaches the set voltage, from power on to stable voltage is about 10 milliseconds.

This is a close up of the spike at power up unloaded, about .5-.75 volts lasting 206 microseconds

Here is a capture of a loaded supply at 7VDC from turn on to full output is 76 milliseconds with no overshoot to speak of.

1.6mV ripple at 7 volts under loaded conditions

dB levels with phone acting as meter with smart tools app. The first bump is me pressing the power switch, the second is the mechanical temp switch clicking in, then you can see the fan ramp up to 69dB. the phone was sitting 10cm behind the PSU with the microphone sideways to the fan, the power switch click is quieter as it is at the front while the temp switch was closer to the rear. The ripples in the graph is just background noise in the shack.

If you look between the cursor marks on the timebase below you can see two little ripples lasting about a second, this was when the fan switched in but was brief and low in amplitude. It may have just been induced noise from the arcing in the mechanical temperature switch for the fan as its contacts closed.

Here is the temperature run at 7VDC 1.33 amps from cold (I did this test first after leaving it off overnight) Starts at about 26c the shack temp, ramps up to 43.9c in about 2 minutes then settles to around 34c and stays there. I ran it longer then this graph loaded and the temp was stable and didn't run away at all which it shouldn't pulling 9 watts from a 90 watt supply.

 All in all for the price I am very happy with it, well built steel case, the front panel is plastic but has steel rails running from it to the back panel for support.

So what don't I like ? Well not much the only things are as follows.

  • Earth Connection is in the centre, so I cant plug a standard spaced dual banana plug adaptor in to the - and + rails, I may re arrange the banana sockets and move the earth to one side.
  • You need to short the rails to set the required amperage for CC mode, I am going to put a NO momentary switch on the front so i don't need a lead to do it
  • Switching on CC mode is a bit hit and miss, I dont know if it is key bounce or a slow micro but you have to press the CC button a few times before it locks in to CC mode, it is a soft switch
Apart from that i really like it and it actually goes to 31.5 Volts

MP3086 Regulated lab Power Supply 30VDC at 3 AMPS

List price $199 AUD

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Photos of the shack all setup

The Twisted Shack
The twisted Professor

Shack mascot Tux and Mr Bean teddy

My Pulse Jet

Tools in filing cabinet

Power tools in Filing Cabinet

Close up of my books

More books

Even More Books

Bits and bobs on display

A few more knick knacks and a dummy load project DC-1GHZ 250W

VIC Royal mail Service Morse Key circa late 1800's

Small hand tools

More Small hand tools

Pocket Digital Scope and Function Gen from Velleman

Keyboard and mixinf desk at workstation side

Fishtank and tablet

Loose tools behind Drillpress

Storage bins

12VDC Shack battery backup

Gas storage Mapp/propane

Microscope, ultrasonic cleaner battery Charger, Pestle & Mortor and telescope optics

Flatbed scanner I get out as needed and storage draws


Labeller, tacho and camera

Dremel and Hot Snot

Gaming PC in old 19inch Rack case and Fan/heater on top under the desk 
Air COmpressor Oiless with water trap for dusting electronics

Tool Bag for field work

Inside tool bag, I add the pocket scope and sig gen when i go out with the bag

Swing out lead rack

Test leads for field bag

Network cable tester and resistor/capacitor sub boxes

2nd Dremel and drillpress stand

Air tools

Measuring and scraping draw


Metal Working, files snips reams



Hammers clamps and random tools

larger pliers, side cutters allen keys


Handmade clock from old 240VAC clock that had broken glass and burnt out Mistral Desk fan

More Sockets Taps/Dies Drifts Wad punches

Under workbench storage and solder dispensper Atten Digital iron and Compressed air outlet

Digitech 2 Chan DSO, Powertech 30VDC 3A PSU Tek 314 Scope GW Freq Counter DMM with Cap/Ind/Tran test and cordless power screwdriver

Main Shelving with video feed from driveway and frontdoor so i dont miss the postie with goodies from eBay

Atten Iron (Base under desk) Digitech SMD rework station (air and iron) and small PCB hand tools in old makeup case with USB outlets to left and Power fail torch (Comes on when power goes out)

Drill press and visitor chair with storage bins, resistors in drawers to left

Asst small parts Caps/Semis/Screws etc

Overview of workbench side

Panning to left of workbench

Workstation, Desktop PC at top laptop with 2nd screen center and tough book laptop right, all linked with synergy remote software to use one keyboard and mouse to run it all as one virtual PC

Ham radios Mindisc recorder, 10 band graphic equalizer transmatch and 13.8PSU with 24VAC for weller iron (So I can solder power etc at radio side)

Sign my son made me for Christmas, just hung it up for the pics :)

The entry to the shack

Old fridge outside shack to use for chemical storage

The 2.4x2.4Mt (8x8 foot) garden shed that is the shack

The wire bin for scrap wire

Around the back of the unit is bins of larger parts and some tools