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Videos / Our review of the Rigol DP832 Power Supply

The Rigol DP-832 is a 3-channel, benchtop power supply suitable for a serious maker, makerspace or product developer. In this video I'll take you on a tour of the supply's operation and give my two cents on things I like and dislike.

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G'Day, today I'm going to be reviewing the Rigol DP832 lab or bench power supply and there's a there's a good side view of it, a look at the length and straightaway just picking it up those there's definitely a confidence inspiring mass to it. It's a linear power supply so it definitely has at least one big fat transformer in there so that's why you may be able to hear that the fan is already running that fan comes on straight away when your power it on presumably its behaviour changes as the temperature increases or decreases. Let's come in for a close-up of the front panel.

Alright I've got the power supply stood up on the bench to look at the front panel and these rubber bumpers on the corners the ones on the back, are extra deep so I can actually stand it up off the bench using a right angled IEC lead that's applied that's quite a nice touch if you're if you have to get this thing out and set it down next to you on the ground in a tight space that's not a bad feature to have. Let's take a look at the user interface, we have our three channels down the bottom, now we have two isolated channels that run at a maximum of 30 volts, and then another channel which is the maximum of 5 volts so you can have your split rail supply and then another 5 volt supply; it's worth noting that the channel 2 and channel 3 share a common so you only have two isolated supplies and one that has a common supply. Take a look at the front panel we have our graphic display here that shows our three channels and setting the setting the voltage and current parameters is super easy you can you can jump back and forth between digits so you might see, on channel 1 is currently selected and I can move the cursor to kind of use this this jog wheel to move the voltage up and down and you can get out to a lower resolution there or a final resolution there, you can change the tens of millivolts but my preferred method is to just set voltage by pressing its voltage key so these keys along the bottom of the screen correspond to these menu options I just like to hit the voltage key let's say 25 or 12.34 volts so I press one to point three four and then volts at the top, and likewise to change the current limit, I can set the current limit to 124, 123 milliamps let's say I could just press one two three and then I have the option of pressing milliamps. Now, of course, you have the option of volt and amp units or milliamps and millivolt unit for those options, and moving between channels it's just as easy as selecting the channel number. So I can I can do similar things to channel two this time I'll use twelve, I need to go to the voltage, 12 volts and 100 milliamps which could be a hundred or I could do 0.1 amps so you've got a couple of options there like how you can set the voltages and the current limits. And then for turning the channels on and off you have independent channel control so you can use the on/off button and now you can see there's a readout on channel one showing the voltage that's read back and also the current that's flowing.

Now you'll notice there are no remote voltage sensing terminals, not on the front or the back. That's because this is a pretty low current power supply, it only does three amps per channel if you were doing something close to ten Amps per channel you would definitely want that remote voltage sensing terminals but because this is a low current power supply it's only sensing the voltage straight at the output terminals and of course you can independently control each of the power, of the three power supplies using these on/off buttons. I do like how there is an all off button so you can very quickly to smash that all off button to remove power from all the channels and likewise there's a two step process, all on, and then you hit Okay and that will turn all supplies on but no matter what if you if you have any other configuration other than all on, then if you have any of the channels on, this will turn all the channels off, and that's that's a nice you know something's going wrong you can smash the all off button just to save the day.

Just a quick tour of the back panel, we have our voltage selection switches because of course, this is a transformer supply so it needs a selected input voltage but of course, you've got the options between 100, 115 and 230 volts for Australia. We have the optional rs-232 interface so I think to use that you're doing to buy and install some software onto the power supply from Rigol, we have the GPIB digital i/o, USB host so you can bring to settings and probably some firmware in from a USB flash drive, and the USB device lead so you can plug this into a computer for automation purposes so it looks like the optional Ethernet interface the USB interface and the serial interface are just three interfaces that can be used for automated tests.

Now of course because this is an isolated supply there's the option for making what's called a split rail or split supply that's where you can create for instance a positive voltage and a negative voltage, if you're running audio amplifying circuits or other RF kind of stuff but you can also stack the supplies in series so you can potentially have 30 plus 30 volts which are 60 volts at 3 Amps, that's 180 watts, that's... you can do a lot with 180 watts and of course otherwise you could connect these supplies in parallel to give you a maximum of 6 Amps at 30 volts. So let's have a look at the tracking controls I'm just going to go over to channel 1 and this is where we just use this right-hand key to turn tracking on so that brings us to the tracking option that we press that again to turn tracking on you'll see this little link symbol has appeared to indicate that tracking is now on so if I and in fact the moment I turn that tracking on the set voltage for both channels have been reflected, so channel 2 is now tracking to channel 1. If I turn to channel 1 on we still have channel two remaining off and if I turn to channel 2 on it jumps to the same voltage, now in a split rail scenario you often want both channels to behave in a synchronized on off behavior so they can quite easily change that by going to I think it is Utility, and then System and we go over across to track set so you can see that tracking mode is currently synchronous so that's synchronizing the voltages between suppliers but the on/off sync is disabled, so we can we can still and I can tell the power suppliers on and off from here we can still independently control the on/off state of both power supplies but if we hit that Track set I think that's it yeah track set, track on/off okay so now we've got our highlighted disabled I'm going to hit that again and that goes to enable so once we've done that it's just for safety turn both supplies off and now if I turn one supply on, both supplies reflect that behavior so I can turn on and off both supplies at the same time and that's super useful when you have a split supply or a series and parallel supply.

So you can see there's a lot of features on the power supply and as such it could be a little slow to set up each channel individually if you're moving between different kinds of tests, for instance, if you have a op amp circuit in a preamp and then a big power circuit in a audio amplifier and then maybe some digital logic at 5 volts or 3.3 volts even 1.8, you have all of these common tests or measurement scenarios that you want to be able to quickly access and it can be a bit tedious to manually enter voltage and current limits for each three channels; so we're going to explore these save and recall feature. So let's go back to that op amp and audio amp example that I proposed, let's say I've got an op amp circuit that takes, I'll leave tracking on it takes a split 12 volt supply so I'll enter 12 volts for the voltage and that's going to be reflected across both channels but let's say I've also got some digital stuff in there as well that runs at 5 volts so I'll have 5 volts and the current should be limited to let's say 150 milliamps and the current for both the voltage channels because was it an op-amp circuit? That should probably be, let's say a hundred milliamps for both channels 1 and 2 so we have a split 12 volt supply for positive negative 12 volts at 100 milliamps, and I've got some 5 volts digital logic and that's quite, a quite a common set up I guess so let's let's save that set up in our own user-defined presets so we can quickly recall it and we can do that using the store menu option and you can see I've already got a few populated just as I was having a play around now let's save this into state one and call it split and that way we can always recall our 12-volt splits supply with 5 volt logic whenever we want. So I can just hit browser and that takes us across to the next side and I'm going to enter the save and this is where we can name our file so I'm going to call it split or I'll just call it op-amp actually, so OP, how to do I hit enter again, I forget, I have to hit select OP-AMP, oh I missed my a, oops now usually on this kind of interface where you have the entire alphabet just laid out in front of you as a table and you might have to like manually increment around that would usually be a huge pain with the jog wheel it's really quite straightforward to move around as you can see you can very quickly jump from one side of the alphabet to the other so I'm just going to call that op-amp and hit OK and yes I do want to overwrite the existing file so now I have my OpAmp file which was 12 12 and 5 and all at pretty low currents but if I then wanted to move over to my big audio amplifier or or RF amplifier circuit that takes a much higher current but maybe the same voltage that's quite easy as well I can just hit this Display button that always takes us back to our metering display and it's worth mentioning that you can cycle through to a kind of cool analog display that only shows a single channel, but I much prefer this one cause he gets you know one glance for all your channels anyway and outside I want 12 volts at a much higher current so I'm going to run 12 volts and 3 amps so again I just shit I'm already selected current cycle just hit three amps and go to channel 2 and go to 3 amps so now I have a current limit of trance on both my 12 volt supplies and I'll leave these 5 volt supply of it is now just like before I can go to store I'll come down to the next one and save over the top of that and this one I'm going to call audio. That was pretty a pretty painless process for entering file names.

Ok so just to recap I've made 2 custom kind of like user profiles setups for the voltage and current limits and now when I go to my display, we can see I'm still in my audio setup which was 12 volts at 3 amps but now I want to go back over to my let's say op-amp preamplifier so I can very quickly go to store and select my op amp from the menu and I'll read that out now so once I've read that out the power supplies turn off just as a safety obviously you don't want to make any mistakes and accidentally dump heaps of current into your very sensitive circuit but you can see now I'm on 12 volts and I've got a much smaller current limit, so I can turn my supplies on just as a bit of an idiosyncrasy that that synchronous on/off behavior is reset when you recall and use the settings so I guess it's finally time to the review part of this video.

Just to summarize all the the user experience that we've had I mean the the interface is nice I like that with one hand if you were sitting on a bench you would have one hand accessing pretty much the entire voltage control side, the voltage and current setting side of things and then just a bit of a reach over and you've got your on/off control so with the power supply say up on a shelf you can very easily control the whole thing with one hand, just registering your hand against the side of the case. The synchronous reset behavior I feel like that's probably something that could be saved as a state in that user saves and user recall function I'd much prefer not having to navigate back through to the I think it's utility, utility, system, move across, track set on/off, and then having to hit that so that's that's quite a multi-step process and I would like for that to be included in the save and recall feature. I suppose it's only really a firmware issue though so a fragile release and updated firmware that might be one of the things they look at fixing it if there's enough user interest the weight and size it's definitely big and it's definitely heavy but that's what you get with a linear supply, the fan runs straight away when you power it up and that's that's a pretty minor point I mean a lot of test gear, a lot of bench equipment like oscilloscopes and power supplies, have fans that run continuously so that's that's kind of splitting hairs. Overall, super happy with the Rigol DP832 power supply, at first the radial button menu kind of took a bit of getting used to, but I can definitely see why Rigol have laid it out like that you can access the jog wheel and the entire keypad just with one hand registered against the side of the supply, so you can have your hands on the supply over on one side of action you know turning the knobs on the device under test on the other side and you can you know quickly access all the major voltage and current setting commands just with your thumb basically so that's that's really neat. The display really really nice to look at it's very clear to what's going on I like the visual feedback as you turn channels on and off and navigating the the units for the voltage and current was super easy as well.

So I'd recommend this power supply for the serious maker or anyone who is doing any amplifier work or design because if you are then you almost definitely need a split rail supply so you can generate positive and negative voltages yeah the serious maker or even a Makerspace just looking to get a great general purpose supply on the bench. And that concludes our power supply review, if you own one of these yourself and just want to share your thoughts we'd love to hear from you in the comments or on the forums and even if you just have any further questions about the power supply. I'll catch you later.