Old 05-29-2013, 07:58 PM #1
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Default "Blue Ice Machine" Adjustable Power Supply Mod for PC Power Supplies!

I know every enthusiast here gets to the point where they want an adjustable power supply to cater to their hobby. Many here also see the mods done to computer power supplies, and the costly purpose-built power supplies on the market. Well, below is my take on the situation.

INTRODUCING: SPECTRE'S BLUE ICE MACHINE!

The photos should indicate where the name came from. It was the first thing that popped in my head after the first 'power up'.




It's really not as complex as you might think, but there are several reasons why I went this route, instead of purchasing one off the bay.

1) I need AMPS. I plan on doing some anodizing here eventually and 1.5-3A DC is not going to cut it.

2) I have PC power supplies come by my desk all the time, when their respective PCs fail.

3) I have a lot of scrap electronics parts that make a project like this very affordable. Buying everything outright is obviously foolhardy.

4) It's a challenge and I like it. Why not?


I wanted to make this thing so it would modify any power supply plugged into it, in case the power supply itself failed. That way the PC power supply became a swappable part, not an integral part of the device. The regulator itself has 8x 15A power transistors providing the final power output, thereby making the limiting factor the PC power supply. Need more output? Upgrade your supply. The one I'm using now is an older 500W supply.

It all started over the course of several years collecting heat sinks, fans, plexiglass, and various components. The original enclosure was some sort of modular tray that went into something else. Either way, it was mostly an empty aluminum box when I got a hold of it. As received, it was a bit too small for the application. I replaced the front, which made it more like a desk drawer instead of an electronics enclosure, with a taller plate of clear plexi, making the entire enclosure taller with a sizeable exhaust vent in the back. The top was cut through the middle, leaving the two side plates and a flange for bolting. The clear plastic made it look great, and allowed for more versatile mounting of fans, controls, etc.

Lots of tedious wiring in the process... Below you can see the two green RSC resistors, which my mistake, were the wrong value.




The next major step was to find a schematic that would work for me. I started off with this one here: 30V 10A Variable Bench Power Supply

I deviated from the original schematic, namely the power transistors. It calls for 2N3055's, which are great but a TO3 package wasn't easy to work with a heatsink. I opted for 2n6488's, which is the same thing in a more modern TO-220 package. below you can see them pasted to my monster copper heatsinks before bolting them down. Another concern was that the tabs on these are tied to the collector of the transistors. Since they were all electrically common, it wasn't a problem that they were together, but I didn't want any potential for them shorting to the case. To fix this, I mounted them on blocks I cut from cutting board material, HDPE.




The HDPE stock was very easy to cut, drill, tap, and work with in general. Plastic will be the new wood some day!


On the electronics, I knew I had to load down each supplied voltage, otherwise I could not get all the potential I could from the power supply, or at worst, fry it. The 12V rail was obviously going to be regulated for the output. The 5V rail was utilized for the auxiliary equipment: all 6 fans, and the volt/current meter (originally). Turns out, 5VDC is excellent for PC fans. They don't spin so fast and are therefore much quieter. No shortage of flow, either. Anyways, the meter had to be powered by a 9V battery eventually, because the isolated power supply didn't work as it should.

The 3.3V rail was really fun. We all know what 3.3V is good for, right? Flashlight power!!! I took a single flashlight driver and powered 6 cyan 1W LEDs for some case lighting. IMO, way better than any ceramic resistor!!!


Here's a shot through the front window...




One of the challenges was how to get the ATX connector to hook up to the machine. On the top of the enclosure I mounted a cut-short riser board from one of the dead servers that came through our door. Not only does it break out the power, but it has several little green LEDs for each power rail. Even though I cut off 2/3 of the original board, it all works just as needed.

Below you can see the picture of how power is delivered to the system. On the back I glued 4x fan pigtails to provide power directly to the final power transistors. They needed more juice than that backplane board could ever hope to provide under heavy load!




I must apologize to the masses, I cannot provide any beamshots with this post. But that doesn't mean we can't see any performance. MAX CURRENT SCOTTY!




Yes, that's correct. 23 FRIGGEN AMPS!!! (output leads shorted together)

As I said before, if you bought everything to build this, it would cost a ridiculous amount of money. As far as buying just the components, the most expensive part was the meter/shunt combo. They go for $25 USD on Ebay. I think the rest was somewhere in the $40 range. Not bad, considering the performance.

The thermal management is way over the top for purpose built, but I got all the copper for free from dead PCs. I did buy all the electronic components new, but the support hardware and mounting blocks were things I collected over a long period of time. I still have leftover surplus from collecting things for this. Heatsink anyone?

I had fun building it, and it looks really cool. Lots of shiny anodizing and copper parts glistening in turquoise light. I hope the community can benefit from my experience, and if not, gain some entertainment from my scrapping and tinkering!
Attached Thumbnails
"Blue Ice Machine" Adjustable Power Supply Mod for PC Power Supplies!-20130403_092201.jpg   "Blue Ice Machine" Adjustable Power Supply Mod for PC Power Supplies!-20130403_142306.jpg   "Blue Ice Machine" Adjustable Power Supply Mod for PC Power Supplies!-20130401_145120.jpg   "Blue Ice Machine" Adjustable Power Supply Mod for PC Power Supplies!-20130529_121243.jpg   "Blue Ice Machine" Adjustable Power Supply Mod for PC Power Supplies!-20130327_103217.jpg  

"Blue Ice Machine" Adjustable Power Supply Mod for PC Power Supplies!-20130529_121136.jpg   "Blue Ice Machine" Adjustable Power Supply Mod for PC Power Supplies!-20130529_121208.jpg  



Last edited by Spectre Gadget; 09-20-2016 at 11:31 PM. Reason: Stupid ImageShack making my images huge.
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Old 05-30-2013, 07:50 AM #2
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Default Re: "Blue Ice Machine" Adjustable Power Supply Mod for PC Power Supplies!

Great work! My only complaint is the 9V. You should use a 3V zener diode (cheap and plentiful) to drop the 12V to 9V instead. That, or four regular diodes in series with the meter.

+3
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Old 05-30-2013, 02:02 PM #3
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Default Re: "Blue Ice Machine" Adjustable Power Supply Mod for PC Power Supplies!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyparagon View Post
Great work! My only complaint is the 9V. You should use a 3V zener diode (cheap and plentiful) to drop the 12V to 9V instead. That, or four regular diodes in series with the meter.

+3
That might work, but those meters absolutely require isolated power. If you measure with the same circuit you're recieving power from it could destroy the meter. I'm in complete agreement with you, the 9V battery is really lame.

I did have an isolated power supply module that would not only isolate the power, but jump 5V to 9V. All was working beutifully until the regulator came online. Once I finished the regulator circuit and wired it in, the meter would flash an error code.

Maybe I'll find another module and try again, but at the time I wanted to finish and not wait for another component.

Thanks for the +3!
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Old 05-30-2013, 02:21 PM #4
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Default Re: "Blue Ice Machine" Adjustable Power Supply Mod for PC Power Supplies!

This is pretty epic, great job! +1

The ATX PSU won't shut down even if the final output leads are shorted?
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Old 05-30-2013, 02:42 PM #5
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Default Re: "Blue Ice Machine" Adjustable Power Supply Mod for PC Power Supplies!

He used an LM723 based circuit which has built in current limiting. Looks like the ATX can supply enough current when the LM723 goes into constant current mode.
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Old 05-30-2013, 03:09 PM #6
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Default Re: "Blue Ice Machine" Adjustable Power Supply Mod for PC Power Supplies!

This is really cool! You know, at one point I made something similar to this... but that was just a single LM1083 with a huge pot attached to it xD You're looks like a really well done, professional job! AND it can provide 20+A? That's incredible!

+as many as I can
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Old 05-30-2013, 03:41 PM #7
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Default Re: "Blue Ice Machine" Adjustable Power Supply Mod for PC Power Supplies!

that looks great!
only 23 amps? you can do better
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Old 05-30-2013, 03:57 PM #8
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Default Re: "Blue Ice Machine" Adjustable Power Supply Mod for PC Power Supplies!

Those are some fucking beautiful solid copper heatsinks! No solder for these fins!

Oh, and the PSU is nice too.

Thanks especially for taking the time to share with us :-)
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Old 05-30-2013, 04:34 PM #9
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Default Re: "Blue Ice Machine" Adjustable Power Supply Mod for PC Power Supplies!

Wow. Thats beautiful! +++1!
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Old 05-30-2013, 05:17 PM #10
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Default Re: "Blue Ice Machine" Adjustable Power Supply Mod for PC Power Supplies!

That's pretty sweet, putting those ebay supplies to shame.
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Old 05-30-2013, 06:32 PM #11
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Default Re: "Blue Ice Machine" Adjustable Power Supply Mod for PC Power Supplies!

I don't think the grounds need to be isolated. I'm sure there's a way to fudge it with just a few diodes. I'll play around and let you know what I find.
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Old 05-31-2013, 02:31 PM #12
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Default Re: "Blue Ice Machine" Adjustable Power Supply Mod for PC Power Supplies!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyparagon View Post
I don't think the grounds need to be isolated. I'm sure there's a way to fudge it with just a few diodes. I'll play around and let you know what I find.
Yeah, play around and let me know. I was really curious as to what these power modules have in them that would make them 'isolated'. Needless to say, the Chinese-translated-English instructions didn't elaborate very deeply.

One thing is for sure: simply taking another voltage from the PS (apart from what you are measuring) is not enough.

EDIT: From what I've been reading thus far, it seems like a common ground causes the problems. And then there's this:

http://www.thebackshed.com/windmill/...PanelMeter.asp

This article is very interesting because they are using *almost* the same isolation module as I am. They are using a Valor PM7202, mine are Valor PM6078's. Both models do 5V to 9V, and are utilized on network cards. Fortunately for this guy he found the datasheet for his. The big question is how it is implemented: he is measuring a 12VDC circuit, applies a regulator to drop 12VDC to 5VDC, a couple of filtering caps, then his isolation module. I wonder if it is a filtering issue I'm experiencing?

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Old 06-02-2013, 07:09 AM #13
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Default Re: "Blue Ice Machine" Adjustable Power Supply Mod for PC Power Supplies!

The little panel meter I tried can actually measure its own supply rail, so I can't really try to fix it if it's not broken
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Old 06-04-2013, 01:10 PM #14
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Default Re: "Blue Ice Machine" Adjustable Power Supply Mod for PC Power Supplies!

I'm starting to think it may be a fubar module. I bought three, so I'll probably swap it out. From looking at these datasheets, I can't really see what the problem could be, other than bad unit.
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Old 06-04-2013, 05:56 PM #15
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Default Re: "Blue Ice Machine" Adjustable Power Supply Mod for PC Power Supplies!

How does it behave when powered by the 5V rail instead?
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Old 06-10-2013, 03:27 PM #16
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Default Re: "Blue Ice Machine" Adjustable Power Supply Mod for PC Power Supplies!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyparagon View Post
How does it behave when powered by the 5V rail instead?
Tell you the truth, I don't want to try that. That would clearly put the meter at common ground, with a high potential for damage. Besides that, the meter needs more than 5VDC to run properly. I wish I didn't throw away the instructions...

I need to get that thing out and swap the modules to really know for sure. I've just been busy lately finishing my computer desk before I go back to school.
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