<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none;" alt="" src="https://dc.ads.linkedin.com/collect/?pid=736666&amp;fmt=gif">

Purchasing Criteria for Programmable DC Supplies Evolve as Performance and Features Advance

March 23, 2023

If you are in the market for a programmable DC power supply for the first time in five or ten years, you will notice some significant improvements. Modern supplies offer higher power densities, helping you save rack space. In addition, modern supplies can provide considerable flexibility in power, current, and voltage ratings, helping you future-proof your test systems to meet changing requirements.

Programmable DC supplies boost power density

Providing an example of the high-power density now available, the AMETEK Programmable Power Sorensen Asterion DC ASM Series packs 5,100 W into a 1U chassis (Figure 1). Offering three independent, isolated 1,700-W channels, the Asterion DC ASM replaces legacy systems that previously required three separate 1U chassis. The series is designed for telecommunications, commercial, military, aerospace, semiconductor, and automotive applications requiring low profile, light-weight power supplies, and it offers nine different fixed-range output-voltage options that extend from 40 to 600 V.

The Asterion DC ASM Series offers three 1,700-W channels in a 1U chassis.



Figure 1. The Asterion DC ASM Series offers three 1,700-W channels in a 1U chassis.



Output flexibility future-proofs your systems

For optimal flexibility in output voltage and current ratings, you can choose the Asterion DC ASA Series three-channel supplies. Each channel delivers a 600-W autoranging output in which maximum output voltage varies inversely with maximum output current (Figure 2). Available output configurations provide five constant-power output ratings:

  • 60 V at 10 A to 14.2 V at 42A
  • 80 V at 7.5 A to 27.2 V at 22 A
  • 200 V at 3 A to 35.2 V at 17 A
  • 400 V at 1.5 A to 100 V to 6 A
  • 600 V at 1 A to 214.2 V at 2.8 A.

The autoranging feature provides maximum flexibility for ATE systems, in which your required maximum voltage and current ratings may change with successive devices under test.


Figure 2. The Asterion AC ASA Series offers five 600-W autoranging output configurations extending from 14.2 V at 42 A to 600 V at 1 A.


In addition to the ASA and ASM series, the Asterion DC family includes fixed-range and autoranging supplies with power ratings to 10 kW; 10-kW models fit into a 2U-high chassis. And if you do not find a standard catalog model that meets your needs, contact AMETEK Programmable Power about low-cost customization of a standard product.


Ethernet, USB push aside GPIB, but analog still plays a role

While power density, voltage and current flexibility represent the most significant changes in programmable DC power supplies, you will also notice other changes. For example, Ethernet (LXI) and USB are becoming prevalent; these interfaces come standard on Asterion DC, DC ASA, and DC ASM supplies. If you are looking for GPIB today to complement legacy equipment in a system, you will probably find it available as an extra-cost option.

Also, do not overlook remote analog programming interfaces, which can be useful in today’s power hardware-in-the-loop applications. The Asterion DC ASA and ASM models have user-selectable voltage or resistance analog interfaces, with the full-scale range adjustable from 5 V to 10 V or 5 kW to 10 kW.

With digital interfaces, you often use a test program to control your instruments, but sometimes you may want a simplified, intuitive approach to remote control. For its Asterion DC supplies, AMETEK Programmable Power offers the Virtual Panels GUI, which allows you to perform operations remotely as if you were working directly with the unit’s front panel.





Figure 3. The Virtual Panels GUI shows the status of an Asterion DC ASM supply.




Noise, regulation, and power factor continue as key specs

As always, regulation and noise will be factors in your power-supply choice. Since better regulation and lower noise add cost, carefully consider your needs to ensure you are spending appropriately. If you need a supply featuring very low noise, you can choose the Sorensen DLM 600, which offers voltage ratings from 5 to 300 V at power levels from 375 to 600 W in a half-rack 1U chassis. The DLM 600 employs a zero-voltage-switching topology to achieve ripple as low as 2.5 mV RMS and noise as low as 15 mV p-p, rivaling larger, more expensive, and less efficient linear power supplies.

In addition to output characteristics consider the input requirements, such as your facility’s ability to meet maximum and inrush currents, which vary with input voltage and phase configuration. Also consider power factor. Again taking the Asterion DC ASM as an example, it features active power-factor correction and provides typical power factors of 0.98 for single-phase inputs and 0.95 for three-phase inputs. An Asterion DC ASM will draw 55 A peak (22 A max.) with a three-phase 264-V line-to-line configuration and 30 A peak (24 A max.) with a single-phase 132-V line-to-neutral input, highlighting the importance of ensuring your facility power will meet the AC input power requirements.

Finally, consider reliability. AMETEK Programmable Power offers a five-year standard warranty on most of its power supplies, which are designed to be in service 20 years or more. The company’s sales, service, and support team stands ready to serve your power requirements today and well into the future. For more information about modern DC supplies, visit our website or contact us today. Additionally, check out the recent white paper “What to Look for When Choosing a Programmable AC Source or DC supply,” which also discusses AC sources.