[time-nuts] Thunderbolt - any negatives ?

Didier Juges didier at cox.net
Mon Jun 1 22:24:15 EDT 2009


Most likely failures on power supplies are with the power components.
Failure of the pass transistor in a linear supply is likely to result in
overvoltage at the output, while failure of the switch on a switchmode
supply will blow the fuse instantly.

It is been my experience (after 30 years in the field) that a properly
designed switchmode supply is at least as reliable as a linear supply of the
same output power, if for no other reason than the lower dissipation and
resulting reduced failure rate. 

By using integrated controllers with lots of protection features built-in,
switchmode supplies tend to be smarter than linear ones, and their failures
tend to cause fewer damage to other circuits.

Of course, your mileage may vary...

Didier KO4BB

> -----Original Message-----
> From: time-nuts-bounces at febo.com 
> [mailto:time-nuts-bounces at febo.com] On Behalf Of Robert Atkinson
> Sent: Monday, June 01, 2009 2:46 PM
> To: Discussion of precise time and frequency measurement
> Subject: Re: [time-nuts] Thunderbolt - any negatives ?
> 
> 
> Most switch mode power supplies actually run a voltage 
> doubler on the input when running on 110V. This puts over 
> 300V across the transformer and switch. Also the regulation 
> loop crosses the isolation barrier introducing more failure 
> points that can result in overvoltage.
> 
> Robert G8RPI.
> 
> --- On Mon, 1/6/09, SAIDJACK at aol.com <SAIDJACK at aol.com> wrote:
> 
> > From: SAIDJACK at aol.com <SAIDJACK at aol.com>
> > Subject: Re: [time-nuts] Thunderbolt - any negatives ?
> > To: time-nuts at febo.com
> > Date: Monday, 1 June, 2009, 6:17 PM
> > Hi there,
> >  
> > A switcher has much more stresses on the components, since 
> it  usually 
> > switches the primary side rectified 110/220V high-voltage across a  
> > transformer.
> > Thus the switching FET has to be very high voltage capable (about  
> > ~170V DC in the US), and the second  component under stress is the 
> > primary  high voltage capacitor, because it sees a very fast AC 
> > switching current on it (current draw is on when the FET is on, and 
> > off when the Fet is off).  Also there has to be a fast 
> snubber network 
> > to prevent the back-emf from  destroying the primary Fet with 
> > over-voltage.
> >  
> > A linear supply has none of these fast current/voltage 
> transients on 
> > it, only a couple of diodes switching the 60Hz secondary onto a 
> > capacitor at low voltage.
> >  
> > A secondary concern is thermally induced stress, switchers will 
> > usually be packed into a very small enclosure with very high power 
> > capability/density.
> > This  is not possible for linear supplies, since the 
> transformer size 
> > will usually  determine overall sizing. Compare a Laptop 
> power supply 
> > size (usually these have  between 40W and 90W rating!) to a similar 
> > rated linear supply.
> >  
> > bye,
> > Said
> >  
> >  
> > In a message dated 6/1/2009 09:48:29 Pacific Daylight Time, 
> > hmurray at megapathdsl.net
> > writes:
> > 
> > Is there  something I don't understand in this area?  What makes a 
> > linear supply more reliable than a switcher?
> > 
> > My first guess would be a  switcher would be more reliable 
> because it 
> > would run cooler.
> > 
> > That's  probably assuming the same amount of design effort which is 
> > probably not a  valid assumption if I'm comparing a brand-X linear 
> > with a brand-Z switcher.  A quick glance at the general 
> construction 
> > might give a  better answer.
> > 
> > 
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> 
> 
>       
> 
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