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With my growing list of USB-C powered devices and just one cable, I found myself underpowered on my bench. My solution? Scouring the depths of AliExpress for USB-C power delivery, QC2, and QC3 step-down converters. After initially purchasing individual boards, I struck gold with an ultra-convenient 4-in-one board. Paired with a Meanwell power supply, I enjoyed pushing my new setup to its limits with the MiniWare electronic load tester. Although managing to pull a decent 65W, I'm dreaming up a 3D printed enclosure and eyeing up MiniWare's display modules for future improvements. I reckon, while I'm battling delayed PCBs and dodgy components, it's certainly a fun way to help power up my bench!

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[0:00] I seem to be accumulating USB-C powered devices.
[0:03] So I have this small power supply.
[0:06] This can take power delivery in, so if we plug that in
[0:09] and wait for it to boot up,
[0:11] you’ll see that it takes in 20 volts.
[0:13] So that’s being supplied over USB-C.
[0:17] I also have this nice, really hot plate, which I’ve used for quite a few PCBs.
[0:22] Plug that in.
[0:24] And if we look at this, you can just about see there,
[0:27] it needs 20 volts as well.
[0:29] And when it heats up, it will use around 50, 60 watts.
[0:34] So, quite a power hungry device.
[0:39] I also have this soldering iron.
[0:42] We plug this in, it’s another MIDI-ware product.
[0:45] Interestingly, this only takes 12.2 volts,
[0:48] so it’s using 12 volts power delivery.
[0:50] I also have this other USB-powered soldering iron, so let’s plug that in.
[0:56] And if we turn this on, you’ll see, if I turn it around so you can see it,
[1:01] this also takes 20 volts.
[1:03] You can see that.
[1:05] So I’m suffering from a desperate need of more USB power.
[1:10] Currently, coming into my bench, I have one cable and that’s it.
[1:14] So, what do I need to do? I need more USB power.
[1:17] I’m waiting on a PCB from PCBWay.
[1:20] Hopefully that should come soon.
[1:21] It’s been slightly delayed because I messed up some of the components.
[1:24] But we should have that soon.
[1:26] In the meantime, I’m going to get on with some other projects.
[1:29] So, I’ve had this ATX power supply lying around for a very long time.
[1:34] And I’ve got one of these breakout boards.
[1:35] Look at all these lovely USB ports.
[1:37] So let’s plug this in and see what it does.
[1:40] So, we’ve only got 20 pins, so we plug it into this end.
[1:45] So that’s attached there.
[1:47] We have that little green light is showing that something’s happening.
[1:54] Let’s plug in our USB tester and see what we get.
[1:58] So, we need to turn it on.
[2:01] Power supply starts up.
[2:02] It’s a very noisy fan.
[2:04] Now the problem is, if we look at what we have on our USB tester.
[2:09] So let’s see what we’ve got.
[2:13] Let’s see what protocols we have available.
[2:20] So, pretty much absolutely nothing.
[2:23] It would do 5 volts, but that’s it.
[2:26] So that’s not particularly useful for our needs.
[2:28] We need USB-C.
[2:29] So, although this power supply is great and I could build something with it,
[2:34] it’s not really worth it.
[2:35] Let’s turn this off because the fan’s quite loud.
[2:38] So, what’s our alternatives?
[2:41] Let’s move this massive power supply out of the way.
[2:45] So I looked around and I tried to find some USB-C powered hubs.
[2:51] But I couldn’t really find any.
[2:52] What I did find on AliExpress though, were some of these boards.
[2:56] So I got this board and I bought some others because I thought maybe I could use multiple of them.
[3:01] So these are step-down converters that will output USB power delivery, QC2 and QC3.
[3:08] So they’re pretty cool.
[3:09] So I thought I could wire all of these up.
[3:11] And then looking around some more after I’d ordered these,
[3:13] I found this lovely board.
[3:15] Four of them already wired up for me.
[3:17] So that’s almost ideal.
[3:19] So what we do need is quite a beefy power supply.
[3:23] Our ATX supply isn’t going to do it because it can’t give us a high enough voltage.
[3:26] So what I did is I went off and I bought myself a Meanwell power supply.
[3:30] So this is an LRS200-24.
[3:34] So that will output 24 volts at 8.8 amps.
[3:38] Now, ideally I need a bit more.
[3:40] We could really do with 12 amps.
[3:42] So we can have all four of these running at 20 volts outputting 3 amps.
[3:46] But I decided to compromise slightly and just go for 8.8 amps input supply.
[3:51] So let’s see what these boards are capable of.
[3:53] I’ve plugged it into my power supply.
[3:55] So it’s getting 24 volts on the input.
[3:58] Let’s plug in our USB tester and see what the USB-A sockets do.
[4:02] So there we go.
[4:07] We’ve got QC2 and we could do 20 volts.
[4:10] And we’ve got QC3, 20 volts as well.
[4:12] So that’s pretty good.
[4:14] Let’s have a look at what we get from the USB-C sockets.
[4:17] There we’ll plug into the USB-C.
[4:21] And see what we get for that.
[4:28] So I plug that in.
[4:29] So on the USB-C, this is very cool.
[4:33] Power delivery 3.
[4:35] So 63 watts.
[4:36] And then we have all the other protocols you could possibly think of.
[4:39] So that’s pretty good.
[4:41] So this seems like a good chance to try out the MiniWare electronic load.
[4:46] Now let’s turn it on.
[4:47] To turn it on you use the set and menu buttons.
[4:50] And let’s hook things up.
[4:53] So let’s see how many amps we can actually get from our nice new board.
[4:58] So what I’ll do is I’ll plug our USB monitor in there so we can see what’s going on.
[5:05] And we can trigger the different power delivery modes.
[5:09] And then somewhere we’ve got some cables wired up.
[5:13] Positive.
[5:14] Negative.
[5:18] There is another connector here.
[5:20] So you can connect through to measure the actual voltage.
[5:22] So when you’re drawing a high current you will get voltage drop over these wires.
[5:27] But we’ll just use our little USB detector to monitor the voltage.
[5:31] I have a very very dodgy connection here.
[5:36] So we’ll just plug that into there.
[5:38] So let’s see what we get on this.
[5:41] So currently we have 5 volts.
[5:48] We’re drawing 3.2 amps.
[5:50] Let’s turn that off.
[5:51] So let’s finish this power detection.
[5:56] And let’s enable Quick Charge 2.
[5:59] And we’ll switch up to 20 volts.
[6:06] It should give us 20 volts.
[6:08] Why is it only giving us 12?
[6:11] So let’s try that again.
[6:13] I’ve just rebooted it.
[6:14] Plug this in.
[6:16] So entering QC2.
[6:19] OK, 20 volts.
[6:24] Perfect.
[6:25] So we’ll pick 20 volts.
[6:28] And then we’ll come out of this.
[6:30] Let’s just monitor what we actually get.
[6:34] So we’ll turn on our electronic load.
[6:37] So we’re measuring 20 volts.
[6:41] Let’s turn down the current to a bit more sensible.
[6:46] So we’ll start off just drawing around 2 amps.
[6:49] There, we’ll run this.
[6:51] That’s how the fans go.
[6:53] Drawing 2 amps here.
[6:54] 42 watts.
[6:55] So let’s try bumping this up and see what we get.
[7:02] So that’s 3 amps.
[7:04] We’re drawing 62 watts.
[7:06] 3.3.
[7:11] 66 watts.
[7:12] So that’s pretty good.
[7:13] We’re drawing over 65 watts.
[7:15] Let’s see what the actual limit is in this.
[7:17] Let’s see when it actually fails.
[7:19] So up to 68 watts.
[7:28] And we’ve still got 20 volts here.
[7:30] Well, it’s going down a bit.
[7:33] So it looks like around 3.4 amps is our maximum limit on these boards.
[7:40] So that’s pretty impressive.
[7:41] So we can definitely do 65 watts.
[7:44] So that’s not bad at all.
[7:46] Let’s turn this off.
[7:48] Yes, I’m pretty pleased with this.
[7:51] It does need a proper box.
[7:54] Obviously I can’t just have this flapping around in the breeze.
[7:58] I have got the nice power supply now so I’ve finished my design of the enclosure for that.
[8:04] So that’s pretty good.
[8:05] Looks quite nice.
[8:06] I’ll be using this load tester more in the future.
[8:11] It’s very compact.
[8:12] The only downside is the screen is quite small so that’s a little bit annoying sometimes.
[8:17] Quite hard to read.
[8:19] So if MiniWare’s watching, one of your display modules would be lovely.
[8:24] So anyway, this is a nice little project to fill in the time
[8:27] while I wait for my PCBs.
[8:28] So a bit more 3D printing to do, which is going to be fun.
[8:32] But I’m pretty pleased with this.
[8:33] I’ve got four USB-C power delivery, quick charge, two and three.
[8:40] So powering all my devices should be pretty easy now.
[8:43] Thanks for watching and I’ll see you soon.

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Chris Greening

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A collection of slightly mad projects, instructive/educational videos, and generally interesting stuff. Building projects around the Arduino and ESP32 platforms - we'll be exploring AI, Computer Vision, Audio, 3D Printing - it may get a bit eclectic...

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