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Qoitech on Amp Hour podcast: Software Defined Power Supplies

Qoitech on Amp Hour podcast: Software Defined Power Supplies

August 10, 2023

From HDDG to Amp Hour podcast

In 2017, Qoitech’s hardware and firmware specialist, Werner Johansson, presented his expertise at HDDG (Hardware Developers Didactic Galactic), focusing on Xmega parts and their remarkable 2 Msps ADC capabilities. This presentation caught the attention of Chris Gammel(!) from Amp Hour Podcast, eventually leading to Werner’s appearance on Chris’ Amp Hour podcast this summer.

Listen to the podcast here.

Shaping Qoitech’s Journey: Changing the Landscape of Battery Life Testing

Qoitech, originally a Sony spinoff, has been shaped by Werner’s invaluable contributions, particularly in cellphone battery testing. His extensive experience in Linux mainline tasks also played a pivotal role in shaping the company’s foundations.

For those deeply involved in automated testing, Werner’s emphasis on the importance of serial port control strikes a chord. Tools like the CDB assist and the innovative PSOC5-LP, featuring a CPLD, have revolutionized the field.

Redefining portable power supply solutions with Otii Arc (with a nostalgic touch)

Our initial flagship product, the Otii Arc, marked its presence as a distinctive 2-quadrant power supply in the market around 2015-2016. When Chris inquired about its inspirations, citing the Keithley 2306, it sparked a nostalgic discussion.

Field testing has always been at the heart of our designs. With the Otii Arc’s user-friendly extruded case form factor, we wanted to make “on-the-go measurements” a breeze. Developers who optimize energy consumption are no longer few and far between; they are throughout the entire stack, and they are constantly on the move.

I was kind of indoctrinated’, Gammel says, ‘that “you need a front panel, you need buttons to interact,’” but I am a hundred percent in the headless these days. First of all: Portability. Second of all: Scripting. Third of all: Size on my bench. I don’t have room for these half-rack boxes anymore! Even if I had room, I am not sure it would be a good user space.’

From Arc’s Legacy to Otii Ace’s Innovations

In 2023, at the Embedded World, we proudly unveiled our latest breakthrough: Otii Ace. While the Otii Arc, introduced in 2017, continues to excel in its own right, Otii Ace has pushed the boundaries by delivering up to 25V at 5A!

A standout feature of the Ace hardware lies in its three distinct isolation domains: the chassis, banana jacks, and expansion ports. Among its advanced capabilities are 8 simultaneously sampled ADCs, an enhanced sample rate, and a groundbreaking method that converts readings into audio signals for the RT1060. Combined with powerful software and UI, it allows for very efficient development work.

Werner explains, Traditionally, optimizing firmware has been difficult because you need to involve somebody that knows high-accuracy power measurements, and they need to do this together with somebody that actually knows how the firmware works. It would be ideal if the firmware developer could actually do this themselves. A regular instrument to do this would be too complicated to figure out for a software developer, so you want the UI that is more software developer-friendly. We have tried to make it as easy as possible to do power, energy, and current measurements together with GPIO and serial port input so you can track what you are doing and record it along with the analog measurements so you can actually get it synced. If you have a trace output from your firmware, you can immediately see what’s happening during certain parts of the current consumption. Programmable power supply sources positive voltage and sync the negative current coming back. We can discharge a battery, create a battery profile, and then you can emulate that battery back because we have programmable output resistance on the output so that it behaves like a battery.’

The Heartbeat: Our Work on Batteries

At Qoitech, batteries are more than just power sources; they’re our passion. From battery emulation to intricate analyses like stepping through battery internal resistance and building energy curves, we’re constantly innovating. Our research on battery aging, particularly for coin cell devices, continues to yield valuable insights. Our latest major feature Battery Validation found in the Otii Battery Toolbox, expands the possibilities of easy battery benchmark and validation.

Listen to the Amp Hour Podcast episode #640

Deep dive into an hour of hardcore hardware development: Amp Hour podcast episode #640

For a more comprehensive look at what drives us and our latest innovations, explore Otii Ace.

Werner Johansson

Qoitech’s power expert

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