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Chapter 19 -- A Sequence of Power Electronics Experiments Version 3.01 August, 1997
CHAPTER 19 -- A SEQUENCE OFPOWER ELECTRONICS EXPERIMENTS
19.1 Introduction
19.1.1 Overview
This Chapter lists a series of experiments, with explanatory material, suitable forexploring power electronics in depth. Four sets of experiments are included: a set of rectifier experiments that includes a laboratory orientation sequence, a set of dc-dcconverter experiments, inverter experiments, and component experiments. An additionalset, directed toward a dc-dc converter design project, is included as well. The Chapterin many ways stands alone as a Laboratory Manual; its inclusion here in the text helpsprovide a complete context for work in power electronics.
19.1.2 Safety information
The experiments discussed here are designed for relatively low power levels of about 100 W and below. They therefore can be performed with a minimum investmentin special instrumentation and equipment, and safety concerns are minimized. However,the risks are not negligible, and it is important to make proper preparations and use duecare in performing the work. Safe lab practice is the responsibility of the experimenter.It is not possible to perform completely benign power electronics experiments; damagedcomponents or expensive repairs will be necessary if basic safety rules are not addressed.It is especially important to be careful when working with spinning motors, andparts which become hot from power dissipation. Even if rugged equipment is chosen,many instruments can be damaged when driven beyond ratings. Please follow the safetyprecautions listed to avoid injury, discomfort, and lost lab time.
GROUND.
Be aware of which connections are grounded, and which are not.The most common cause of equipment damage is unintended shorts to ground.Remember that most oscilloscopes are designed to measure voltage relative toground, not between two arbitrary points.
RATINGS.
Before applying power, check that the voltage, current, and powerlevels you expect to see do not violate any ratings. What is the power expectedin a given resistor or other component? Does the device have polarity, and is itconnected in the proper direction?
HEAT.
Small parts can become hot enough to cause burns with as little as onewatt applied to them. Even large resistors will become hot if five watts or so areapplied.19-1
 
Chapter 19 -- A Sequence of Power Electronics Experiments Version 3.01 August, 1997
CAREFUL WORKMANSHIP.
Check and recheck all connections beforeapplying power. Plan ahead: consider the effects of a circuit change beforetrying it. Use the right wires and connectors for the job, and keep theexperiment area neat. Avoid manipulating circuits or making changes withpower applied.
LIVE PARTS.
Most semiconductor devices have an electrical connection to thecase. Assume that anything touching the case is part of the circuit and isconnected. Avoid tools and other metallic objects around live circuits. Keepbeverage containers away from the work area.
Neckties and loose clothing should not be worn when working with motors.
Be sure motors are not free to move about or come in contact with circuitry.The most common cause of trouble in power conversion experiments is impropergrounding practice. Any circuit can have only one reference node, and the circuit isaltered if a probe or tool introduces an external connection. Ratings and polarities arealso common problems. Electrolytic capacitors, for example, often burn or even explodeif connected in reverse. Small resistors do not tolerate excess power levels very long.Neatness is an issue as well. A messy, convoluted circuit is extremely hard to debug.In power electronics, small inductances of wires make a significant difference. A neat,tight package in general operates much better than a layout with long looping wires.
19.1.3 Equipment assumptions
For the purposes of the experiments discussed here, the following minimumequipment is assumed:1. Oscilloscope (digital preferred), two channels, 60 MHz bandwidth.2. Function generator, 10 Hz to 2 MHz, sine and square waves.3. True RMS multimeters.4. Power supply, 0-24 V, 0-5 A or better.5. Power supply, +12 V, 0-0.5 A (for control functions).6. Access to standard ac mains power.7. FET and SCR control circuits as discussed in Chapter 18, along withtransformers described there.8. Leads, connectors, various parts, and a breadboard system for circuit prototypes.19-2
 
Chapter 19 -- A Sequence of Power Electronics Experiments Version 3.01 August, 1997
The following additional equipment is very helpful, and is recommended:1. Magnetic current probe, 0-20 MHz.2. Digital wattmeter.3. Power supply, 0-50 V, 0-10 A.4. Isolation amplifier for oscilloscope channels.5. Temperature probe for multimeter.6. Access to three-phase mains.7. A semiconductor curve tracer.Be sure to be aware of ground connections or other considerations of the instruments.Many power supplies have ground connections that should be removed before using theequipment with a power converter.
19.1.4 Keeping a laboratory notebook 
A proper laboratory notebook is a crucial tool for work in any experimentalenvironment. A notebook used in a research lab, a development area, or on the factoryfloor is probably the most valuable piece of gear in the engineer’s arsenal. The purposeof the notebook is to provide a complete record of practical work. This should help avoidduplication of effort. Human memory is not perfect, but a notebook is a permanentrecord. In industrial practice, the notebook is usually the employer’s property. Manycompanies have specific rules about notebook format and content. The suggestions hereare provided for general guidance, and are not meant to conflict with requirements invarious areas of practice. In general, a notebook should include:Diagrams of all circuits used in the lab. The important factors are to be able toreproduce a setup and check for possible errors.Procedures and actions. The idea is to provide enough information so that theexperiment could be repeated.List of equipment used, especially if unusual items are involved.All experiment data. Be sure to include units and scale settings. It is generallygood practice to record data in its most primitive form to avoid errors. Scalingor other calculations can be done later.19-3

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