Project files: Little helpers – Powerhelpers

What is it?
A few auxiliary boards to match the mainscontroller boards or for use one their own. More specifically, there are a couple of relay boards for use with the relay-less version of the Mainscontroller. The large relay board is intended for a “T90”-type relay which is typically rated 20/30A. The smaller board is using a Omron G5LE relay which is rated 6/10A.

There is also a simple softstart-board that can be used when powering transformers over app. 250-300VA. This is based on a very old (and frequently copied) circuit from Elektor that seems to work well, at least for medium-sized PSUs.

How big are the boards?
The Softstart board and the large relay board are both 2″ x 2″ (app. 51×51 mm.). The smaller relay board measures 1.5″ x 2″ (app. 38 x 51 mm.) As the pictures show, mounting holes and connectors line up so the boards can be stacked and cables routed neatly between them.

What is the status of the boards?
The softstart board is now in v1.5 as it is an improved version of one I did earlier. The large relay board is v1.1 as I have prototyped it and corrected the relay footprint which wasn’t perfect (my own design, obviously…). The small relay PCB is in v1.0. I haven’t actually received and tested the prototype boards yet, but as it is the exact same circuit as the large board and the footprint for the relay is an eagle standard one I am OK with releasing this design as well.

Does it use any special/expensive/hard-to-find parts?
Not really, but:

  • The T90 relays can commonly be found on ebay. There are name-brand equivalents as well from Omron, Finder and other manufacturers of relays.
  • The Omron G5LE can be puchased cheaply from Mouser or Reichelt. Alternatively there are equivalents available on ebay, usually marked with SRD-xxx designations.
  • The relay on the softstart is an Omron G2R-24V type which is also available from Mouser or Reichelt.
  • Note that the large 330nF capacitor on the soft start board must be an X2-rated type.

Anything else I need to know?

  • When in use, these boards may feature exposed mains parts (the softstart certainly will). One especially “problematic” thing is that the legs of the axial resistors are partly exposed so make sure that the board is protected from accidental touches. If you are stacking boards, I suggest putting the relay PCB on top as it has fewer exposed parts, but even so a cover** of some sort could be a good idea.
  • Whether used with the Mainscontroller board or on it’s own, be sure that you are aware of the current consumption of the mechanical relays. The T90 relay typically consumes app. 1W (1200 mW worst case) and the G5LE relay consumes app. 400mW, which for instance means they cannot be controlled directly by a micro controller.
  • I have never tested the softstart board on transformers larger than 500VA. I imagine it should be good up to around 800-1000VA, but anything more and I would be cautious and probably look for something with bigger relays and resistors. The same applies if you are using exceptionally large capacitor banks.
  • **The cover is based on an idea I had a while ago but didn’t test until now: I wanted to have an easy way to make covers to shield sensitive and hot/live parts from touches. I could use Front panel express to have 2mm acrylic sheets made but that is comparatively expensive, so I came up with another way: The Gerber files give me the board outline for each design and so by rendering the Gerbers e.g. with Circuitpeople I can get a true-size outline. Once that is scaled I can then import into a graphics program to add warning symbols, text or anything else. To get the cover I simply laminate the printout using a home laminating machine with the thickets foil type and then use a hole punch to cut out the mounting holes which are clearly marked. It’s obviously not a safety-approved material in any way, but it fits perfectly and it will protect against accidental touches which is bound to be better than nothing.

Download design files here

Related information:
Note: Always read the “intro post” for additional important information about my designs.


2 Responses to Project files: Little helpers – Powerhelpers

  1. Pingback: Another mains controller… | theslowdiyer

  2. Pingback: Project files: A smaller mains controller… | theslowdiyer

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