Work In Progress!

The First Prototype

The first prototype of the vLabtool V2

The very first board .

A lot of patchwork went into this

Rough list of features:

  • USB powered. .5mA polymer fuse. MCP2200 convertor.
  • Controlled by PIC24E
  • MCP1725 LDO regulator
  • REF196 stable 3.3V voltage reference
  • bipolar power supplies generated by 7660 and 1240A charge pumps
  • MCP4922 2-channel DAC for programmable voltage and current sources
  • MCP6S21 programmable gain amplifiers to provide several software configurable input ranges for voltmeters and oscilloscopes.
  • 4-channel oscilloscope. +/- 16V full range. +/-500mV at 32x PGA gain.
  • ATTINY based sine wave generator
  • Capacitance measurement via CTMU of PIC24E
  • Digital I/O
  • Component store – A collection of commonly used resistors, capacitors, diodes etc soldered directly on the PCB, and broken out into a berg strip for quickly trying out stuff.

Errors and concerns that decided the design of the next iteration

  • The voltage reference of the PGA needed to be set to the midpoint. LM324 buffered midpoint references were added.
  • Quality of ATTINY generated sine wave was rather poor. I found a low priced alternative, PIC1572, which not only ran faster, but also had 3 16-bit PWMs, and a 5-bit DAC which could be used to add more programmable voltage and current sources.
  • Planned to use two PIC1572 to the next iteration for generating dual sine waves. Made the mistake of assuming the outputs would be phase correlated since they were identical. :/
  • Ripple noise from charge pumps needed additional filtering.
  • PIC24E refused to START . I had powered Vdd from the MCP1725, and Avdd from the REF196 for separating analog and digital sections. After much hunting around, I found that Avdd and Vdd must never be more than 300mV apart or else the oscillator won’t start. I tried to delay the Vdd rising speed by trying out several capacitors attached to its Delay pin, but with no luck. Here’s a screenshot detailing how the Vdd(blue) and AVdd(yellow) voltages would rise on power up

The Cdelay Pin of 1725 was attached to a 1nF cap.

In this instance , Yellow is Avdd, and Blue trace is the PWRGD output of 1725. It seemed I couldn’t get them to rise together. Finally I settled on a a diode that would keep the two within a certain range of each other. Once both have risen to their full 3.3V level, the diode can be removed with no consequence. Have had no problems since.

Noise Levels

Negative power supply(-10V voltage inverter) ripple level with a 680 ohm load.

Positive power supply (+10V voltage doubler) ripple level with a 680 ohm load.

Attempting to Clean noise with RC filters

25 uF, 47Ohm RC filter applied to +10V

100 uF, 47Ohm RC filter applied to +10V

Tested I2C with SSD1306 OLED display

‘Corrected’ schematic. page#2

Testing an inverted configuration op-amp for input voltage range. Overshoot with oscillations occurs if frequency compensation isn’t set up.


Bode Plot experiment

I2C sensor add-ons

Tinkering with 555, IR and distance sensors

Amplitude Modulation with AD633