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Power inductor checker

Posted on Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013 in DIY by DP

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Drone refers us to this article from ELM-chaN:  Power inductor checker

Here is a nice write-up on a home-brew power inductor checker for use with an oscilloscope. This device is useful for characterizing inductors from the junk-box, or pulls from dead PSU’s.
The Author says he’s switching the tester at 50Hz. I suggest that switching at the frequency you plan to use in your SMPS will give better results. Inductors should be tested at their operating frequency in order to reveal material characteristics and stray parasitics.

Via the contact form.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013 at 11:00 am and is filed under DIY. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

5 Responses to “Power inductor checker”

  1. Very nice to see, especially the results from different toroids, showing their performance. So much inductor design is theory, it’s good to see some practical info!

    “I suggest that switching at the frequency you plan to use in your SMPS will give better results. ”

    Not entirely correct – yes, SMPS will operate at tens or hundreds of kHz, but that isn’t how he’s driving the inductors in this circuit. He is just applying a constant voltage and looking at the rise of the current waveform. The 50Hz value is the frequency that the inductor is _tested_. It can be even lower, if you have a storage scope – I built a similar tester a while back, and my lowest frequency is 0.2Hz (used for very large inductors, to cut down on power loss in the MOSFET and freewheel diode).

    The voltage droop can be a problem, but the best way around is to operate at a higher voltage and shorter pulse times. I typically use 60V, but sometimes up to 200V if I have a really large, high-current inductor and I have trouble keeping a constant voltage throughout the pulse.

    Plug for my own page – I looked at how the gap affects things like inductance and saturation current, it might help make things clearer for people:

    http://imajeenyus.com/electronics/20120720_inductor_properties/index.shtml

  2. Some other inductor-tester-related stuff:

    http://www.vk2zay.net/article/200 (Alan Yates’ tester, also shows effect of a permanent magnet)
    http://www.eevblog.com/forum/projects/inductor-tester/ (Very fancy tester)
    http://youtu.be/BkErux28890 (Quick vid showing my “tester” on a mutherfriggin big choke, 280uH at over 100A)

  3. Sleepwalker3 says:

    Thanks Lindsay

  4. Grant says:

    You weren’t kidding when you said the other inductor tester was fancy!

    • Yeah! I have to wonder, though, just how flexible it is, and what sort of range of inductors it can test. With my own little lash-up, I find myself changing voltages, MOSFETs, smoothing capacitors a lot, in order to get the best measurement setup for the inductor under test.

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