Tiny, Silent and Efficient: The picoPSU

Want to talk about one of the articles in SPCR? Here's the forum for you.
jaganath
Posts: 5085
Joined: Tue Sep 20, 2005 6:55 am
Location: UK

Post by jaganath » Thu May 11, 2006 1:21 am

For my fanless LiteOn brick, I found it gets burning hot (can't hold it comfortably for more than a few seconds) even when not under heavy loads. I initially worried about this (I got it second hand) but after running the system overnight many times without problems it seems ok. Maybe the efficiency is lower on this brick
Could be that the brick is a linear regulator rather than a switch-mode power supply; linear regulators are much less efficient than SMPS's and dissipate lots of heat because they regulate voltage by forcing a transistor to act as a variable resistor.

Bluefront
*Lifetime Patron*
Posts: 5316
Joined: Sat Jan 18, 2003 2:19 pm
Location: St Louis (county) Missouri USA

Post by Bluefront » Thu May 11, 2006 1:57 am

From what I've read, the 200W converter works differently from other models. It supposedly does not simply pass through the 12V, but also converts it. My RS Power supply measures 13.5V at the connectors all the time. If I measure the 12V at an internal molex connection, it's usually 12.7 at an idle. Anyway it works on this Asus board.

Here's the Radio Shack 15A power Supply I'm using, model 22-508, hard to find. FWIW....I'm not using the connector that came with the PICO. It looked like it would dis-connect too easily. I'm using a little dongle connector that has a positive snap connection.

Image

RadioShack link

aidanjm2004
Posts: 216
Joined: Mon May 24, 2004 10:42 pm
Location: Canada

Post by aidanjm2004 » Thu May 11, 2006 4:21 am

How would you go about mounting or attaching the connection (where power pack cord plugs into the picoPSU) onto the case?

Linus
Posts: 184
Joined: Fri May 21, 2004 12:47 pm

Post by Linus » Thu May 11, 2006 7:27 am

autoboy - Sorry if I came across a little harsh there; no offense intended. As to your question, I believe it's possible to wire up a simple regulator if your input is a little high like Bluefront's - some guys described this to me in Flickering w/ LCD running off 12v rail - help!.

Good call on the fan in the Carnetix regulator. Hadn't noticed that.

Note that even though the review reported some voltage sag in the 12V line, it was still within the ATX12V spec (5%) at all power points for both bricks. I wouldn't be surprised if bigger 150W-220W bricks performed similarly.

cloneman - You probably mean parallel, not series. Regardless, I don't think it's possible to hook up multiple power supplies - you end up overloading one of them.

Bluefront - The PW-200M Manual says "switched input" under regulation for the 12V line. Don't think it does anything to the Radio Shack input. Which, like autoboy said, is strange, given your 13.5V input measurement and the 12.7V the motherboard reports.

Hifriday
Patron of SPCR
Posts: 237
Joined: Thu Aug 05, 2004 3:32 pm

Post by Hifriday » Thu May 11, 2006 7:50 am

aidanjm2004 wrote:How would you go about mounting or attaching the connection (where power pack cord plugs into the picoPSU) onto the case?
The jack comes with screw threads and a nut/washer so it can be affixed to any appropriately sized opening. You can get a PCI bracket (although the one I rcvd only fit the jack on the PW200M and was too small for the Pico)
Image

or replace unused connectors like the coaxial out in this SFF (just below the fan)
Image
jaganath wrote:Could be that the brick is a linear regulator rather than a switch-mode power supply
Not sure but it has universal input voltage (100-240V continuous) and should have active PFC, could it still be a linear regulator? Here is a pic of it opened up.
Image

MikeC
Site Admin
Posts: 12283
Joined: Sun Aug 11, 2002 3:26 pm
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Contact:

Post by MikeC » Thu May 11, 2006 7:55 am

There are virtually NO linear power bricks anymore, not in the IT industry. Anything bigger than ~10W, you can be almost guaranteed that it's a switching power device. Efficiency is far higher, and they are far smaller than linear power supplies.

Devonavar
SPCR Reviewer
Posts: 1850
Joined: Sun Sep 21, 2003 11:23 am
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada

Post by Devonavar » Thu May 11, 2006 8:31 am

aidanjm2004 wrote:How would you go about mounting or attaching the connection (where power pack cord plugs into the picoPSU) onto the case?
Drill and appropriately sized hole in a spare PCI slot cover. Bolt the connector on with the included nut. It's as simple as that.

Bluefront
*Lifetime Patron*
Posts: 5316
Joined: Sat Jan 18, 2003 2:19 pm
Location: St Louis (county) Missouri USA

Post by Bluefront » Thu May 11, 2006 3:27 pm

All right....I measured voltage again. I've made a bunch of changes since the first tests. The Radio shack PSU measures 13.7V all the time. The 12V rail (there's only the one) measures 13.4V and drops to 12.9 under heavy loading. That would explain why my 12V Globe fan was registering higher rpms than usual. Can't say I've seen any other effects of this slightly high voltage.

I'm not much concerned. Most 12V devices used in a car for instance, get over 13.5V when the engine is running.

autoboy
Posts: 1008
Joined: Fri Dec 10, 2004 8:10 pm
Location: San Jose, California

Post by autoboy » Thu May 11, 2006 7:05 pm

Bluefront, what kind of voltage are you seeing on your cpu? I imagine the regulation on the motherboard would take care of the overvoltage for the motherboard and cpu voltages but it might affect your harddrive and your CDrom. As long as it is not giving you problems you should be in good shape but the rest of us might not be so lucky. There are other fanless DC/DC converters out there that regulate the 12V, even ones capable of 120W but they tend to be weak on the 12V line.

I really like the idea of passing the 12V through untouched but finding a suitable high current brick is proving difficult. If the 12V regulation is taken care of in the brick then the size and heat will be out of the system where we don't really have to worry about. Why don't they make these bricks out of better materials or put some fins on em instead of 20mm fans spinning 10000rpm?

Bluefront
*Lifetime Patron*
Posts: 5316
Joined: Sat Jan 18, 2003 2:19 pm
Location: St Louis (county) Missouri USA

Post by Bluefront » Fri May 12, 2006 2:20 am

My CPU voltage reads normal, plus I'm using a laptop drive. I haven't used the optical drive very much, so I cannot comment about long-term use. I suppose I could use a resistor to lower the 12V line to the drive, but I don't think it is necessary.

I have been considering the use of a large 12V battery attached to the input line.....would certainly stabilize the voltage. Maybe I could rig a UPS battery to work. Those things use a 12V battery with a charging circuit.....hummm.

Think about this.....that 25A Radio Shack power supply (check the link) could easily run two computers using these dc/dc converters. One power supply running several computers at the same time. :lol:

Jayrock
Posts: 27
Joined: Fri May 12, 2006 4:34 am

Power consumption when PC off

Post by Jayrock » Fri May 12, 2006 4:41 am

Hi there

Has someone measured the power consumption of those bricks? I'm reading in some electronics forums that these drain as much as 8 Watts even when nothing is connected. I use my PC for TV recording and it hibernates when it is idle - at present I have around 2 Watts going into the PC then.

I power consumption of 8+x Watts when hibernating would render brick supplies useless for a PVR.

Cheers

Jayrock

Bluefront
*Lifetime Patron*
Posts: 5316
Joined: Sat Jan 18, 2003 2:19 pm
Location: St Louis (county) Missouri USA

Post by Bluefront » Fri May 12, 2006 5:27 am

Huh? Even if it does use an extra few watts when idle, just how does that render it "useless" ?

jaganath
Posts: 5085
Joined: Tue Sep 20, 2005 6:55 am
Location: UK

Post by jaganath » Fri May 12, 2006 6:22 am

I'm reading in some electronics forums that these drain as much as 8 Watts even when nothing is connected. I use my PC for TV recording and it hibernates when it is idle - at present I have around 2 Watts going into the PC then.
Have you actually measured that at the wall? Most ATX PSU's draw considerably more than 10W even with no load connected; see this thread on desktop power consumption for the numbers. In that context 8W is actually a substantial reduction on normal PSU no load consumption.

Jayrock
Posts: 27
Joined: Fri May 12, 2006 4:34 am

Post by Jayrock » Fri May 12, 2006 6:24 am

The reason for my earlier post was that I have doubts that a brick AC/DC alone really eats 8 Watts when no load is connected, so I was seeking your opinion/measurement results on this.

Cheers

Jayrock

Jayrock
Posts: 27
Joined: Fri May 12, 2006 4:34 am

Post by Jayrock » Fri May 12, 2006 6:35 am

jaganath wrote: Have you actually measured that at the wall? Most ATX PSU's draw considerably more than 10W even with no load connected; see this thread on desktop power consumption for the numbers. In that context 8W is actually a substantial reduction on normal PSU no load consumption.
Thanks, good link, makes me think..... that probably my measurement device is ... well showing incorrect results. I'm using a Peaktek 9024.

Cheers

jayrock

Devonavar
SPCR Reviewer
Posts: 1850
Joined: Sun Sep 21, 2003 11:23 am
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada

Post by Devonavar » Fri May 12, 2006 7:51 am

Check the numbers in the review. One brick drew 1.5W in standby; the other drew 3.7W. Neither is anywhere near 8W.

Jayrock
Posts: 27
Joined: Fri May 12, 2006 4:34 am

Post by Jayrock » Fri May 12, 2006 8:46 am

Devonavar wrote:Check the numbers in the review. One brick drew 1.5W in standby; the other drew 3.7W. Neither is anywhere near 8W.
Yes, thanks!

/jayrock

MassMan
Friend of SPCR
Posts: 79
Joined: Mon Jan 03, 2005 12:53 am
Location: Denmark
Contact:

Post by MassMan » Fri May 12, 2006 11:10 am

Innovation = good
:)

Shining Arcanine
Friend of SPCR
Posts: 502
Joined: Sat Oct 23, 2004 2:02 pm

Post by Shining Arcanine » Fri May 12, 2006 12:42 pm

Does anyone else realize that this makes it possible to turn an Antec P150's thermals into those of an Antec P180? Heck, it makes it possible to give the separate PSU chamber advantage of the Antec P180 to any case as the AC to DC conversion is handled outside of the case and the DC to DC is so efficient that the heat that comes from it probably will be less than the heat that dissipates to the main system chamber from the PSU chamber in the Antec P180 case.

By the way, could we get some more reviews of the PicoPSU with some more AC to DC converters? Some off the top of my head would be those made by Delta Electronics, a Taiwanese company.

MikeC
Site Admin
Posts: 12283
Joined: Sun Aug 11, 2002 3:26 pm
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Contact:

Post by MikeC » Fri May 12, 2006 12:54 pm

Shining Arcanine wrote:By the way, could we get some more reviews of the PicoPSU with some more AC to DC converters? Some off the top of my head would be those made by Delta Electronics, a Taiwanese company.
I put a link to a UK supplier of a 150W 12v Delta power brick in an earlier post above. Also, Dela isn't just any Taiwanese company. It happens to be the biggest PSU maker in the world. Here's the big off-the-shelf 12V power bricks Delta carries: 150W, 180W & 220W.. Note that these use a 4-pin output plug much like that found on the power bricks for the Shuttle Zen and SD11. AFAIK, it's a safety certification issue. The 2-conductor plug used on the picoPSU is rated "safe" only up to a certain power, something under 150W, I believe. It would be a simple conversion though, especially for the picoPSU makers.

Shining Arcanine
Friend of SPCR
Posts: 502
Joined: Sat Oct 23, 2004 2:02 pm

Post by Shining Arcanine » Fri May 12, 2006 1:19 pm

I must have missed that. I recall reading about those delta bricks a while back. Hopefully there will be a review with one of them between now and my next PC build. That way I will know what to get to ensure that the AC to DC conversion is at maximum efficiency and that the passive power draw ceiling is as high as possible.

By the way, does anyone have any thoughts on what should become of the huge hole that the standard ATX PSU used to cover? My main question is whether to leave it alone and use the PCI bracket, find something to cover it up and use the PCI bracket or route the power cable for the picoPSU through there and not use the PCI bracket running the risk of it going into the case when you are moving the tower.

Bluefront
*Lifetime Patron*
Posts: 5316
Joined: Sat Jan 18, 2003 2:19 pm
Location: St Louis (county) Missouri USA

Post by Bluefront » Fri May 12, 2006 2:05 pm

Well you can turn the opening into a hard drive cooler chamber.....it'll hold a std drive or several suspended laptop drives. Plus it keeps mine practically at ambient temps. It's an intake in this HP case.....

Image

hvengel
Posts: 205
Joined: Sat Oct 19, 2002 12:06 am
Location: Concord, Ca

Post by hvengel » Fri May 12, 2006 4:09 pm

jaganath wrote:
I think after this review a lot more SPCR users may be switching to PicoPSU units.
A couple of downsides which put me off them:

1) Good luck finding a 12V AC/DC brick >100W without a fan.

2) Good luck finding a 12V AC/DC brick >100W for less than £40 here in the UK.

3) a picoPSU + AC/DC brick will run about £70; an S12-330 is ~£40.

So the real niche for these things is for people with ultra-compact mini-ITX or micro-ATX setups with low-powered CPU's. If size isn't an issue the S12 is cheaper and more convenient.
DC power supplies of much larger capacities are availble and widely used for radio work. These are not cheap but they are also of much higher quality than typical brick power supplies. With much lower levels of ripple and much tighter voltage regulation over a very wide range of power levels. Most have a default voltage of 13.8 V DC but most can be adjusted over a range of voltages. Some internally and some with an external control knob. I have seen models over 500 watts that do not have a fan and most under 300 watts do not have fans.

For example the Astron VS-35M can be adjusted for any DC voltage between 2 and 15 volts. Has built in voltage and amperage meters and will handle 25 amps continuous (300 watts) and 35 amps with a 50% duty cycle (420 watts). Ripple is 5mV peak to peak and voltage regulation is +- 0.05 volts. You can get one of these for <$200 if you shop around. The same basic power supply with out the meters and that would require you to open the unit to adjust the voltage can be had for <$160 (RS-35A).

Need more power? How about the RS-50A/VS-50M at 37 amps continuous (444 watts). Still not enough? How about the RS-70A/VS-70M at 57 amps continuous (684 watts). None of these have a fan. They are however large and heavy (25 to 60 pounds) and expensive ($150 to $300 depending on the model).

All of these can be had with an optional built in battery back up system. All you have to do is add the battery.

The real question is not the avilablility of power supplies capable of powering very high performance PCs rather it is the question of the ability of DC to DC converters like the PicoPSU to handle the other loads in such a PC.

Shining Arcanine
Friend of SPCR
Posts: 502
Joined: Sat Oct 23, 2004 2:02 pm

Post by Shining Arcanine » Sat May 13, 2006 10:30 am

Bluefront wrote:Well you can turn the opening into a hard drive cooler chamber.....it'll hold a std drive or several suspended laptop drives. Plus it keeps mine practically at ambient temps. It's an intake in this HP case.....

Image
I take it that you are using the PicoPSU. If you do not mind me asking, how is it? Have you been able to run everything fanless?

Bluefront
*Lifetime Patron*
Posts: 5316
Joined: Sat Jan 18, 2003 2:19 pm
Location: St Louis (county) Missouri USA

Post by Bluefront » Sat May 13, 2006 1:39 pm

well no....that photo is of another current project. It has a micro PSU mounted in the lower front of the case.

My Aria project has the 200W dc/dc converter. It runs off one 120mm fan. Too much trouble to go completely fanless. Like the article says, the converter runs really cool....requires no cooling/airflow to speak of. These converters have much potential. They can turn a case with awful airflow, like my Aria was OEM, into a great case with much potential.

autoboy
Posts: 1008
Joined: Fri Dec 10, 2004 8:10 pm
Location: San Jose, California

Post by autoboy » Sat May 13, 2006 3:11 pm

Throw in one of those Delta Bricks that have +- 3% load regulation and we have a winner. 200 Watts with the larger DC/DC is enough to run any reasonable graphics card except maybe a X1900 XTX. A X2 3800+ with 7600GT with a passive heatsink, Ninja ducted to back Nexus fan, running a passive brick. Awesome.

Specs:

Model Number PST-12180 Switching Power Supply
Input Voltage Range 100-240 VAC 50/60 Hz
Peak Output Power 200 Watts, 220+ watts surge
Load Regulation ±3% over rated current: 0 - 4.1 Amps
Output Voltage Nominal 12 VDC
Input Connector IEC C13, Class I input socket allows cords for any country to be used, the North American cord is included.
Dimensions 200.0*100.0*50.0 mm(7.75 inch x 2 inch x 3.75)
Agency approvals UL, cUL, CE, CCC, CSA, TUV GS, IRAM, NYCE etc.
Weight 1.5 kilograms, 3.25 pounds without the AC cord
Also known as Dell Y2515 Delta ADP-220AB B

bean1975
Posts: 90
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2006 3:46 am
Location: Vancouver

Post by bean1975 » Sun May 14, 2006 4:28 pm

For some of you, it's quite clear what's up with picoPSU and 12V but for me, it was not clear, so I exchanged a few emails with Andrei Bulucea in January. The 12V is not touched at all by picoPSU and "with AC adaters (220->12V) that is not a problem, because they regulate input withing 5%, which is very good." It's a problem with cars because of cranking and all that.

Taon
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Apr 03, 2006 5:11 pm

Post by Taon » Wed May 17, 2006 12:53 am

Do any of these links to .tw websites sell there items to individuals?
Or mabye there is some seller from china or hong kong?

I tried doing a search for that 'ADP-150BB' power brick and this is what i found.
Lot of 46 Dell ADP-150BB AC Adapter 3R160 DA-1 Optiplexonly $24.99
0 bids and the auction ended from time.
Am i missing anything here? 46??
I would try contacting the seller but he doesen't accept overseas shipping.

JazzJackRabbit
Posts: 1386
Joined: Fri Jun 18, 2004 6:53 pm

Post by JazzJackRabbit » Wed May 17, 2006 4:41 am

Taon wrote:Do any of these links to .tw websites sell there items to individuals?
Or mabye there is some seller from china or hong kong?

I tried doing a search for that 'ADP-150BB' power brick and this is what i found.
Lot of 46 Dell ADP-150BB AC Adapter 3R160 DA-1 Optiplexonly $24.99
0 bids and the auction ended from time.
Am i missing anything here? 46??
I would try contacting the seller but he doesen't accept overseas shipping.
Good find, no fan as far as I can see and 12.5A which is even more than 120W pico power supply provides. Relatively cheap, single adapter can be had for $30 if you check other auctions with similar names. As for 46, that's not unusual. Most likely either seller went dumpster diving at some corporate building or got it for nothing after some company upgraded their PCs.

In any case, does anyone know what kind of connector these have? Can they be made to work with pico type power supplies?

Hyphe
Posts: 62
Joined: Tue Jun 21, 2005 12:45 pm
Location: Sweden

Post by Hyphe » Tue May 23, 2006 1:39 am

Here's an option that looks interesting in general for europe. :?:

EF16 external 165W

http://www.t-balancer.com/catalog/produ ... cts_id=157

Features:
small DC/DC adapter with external PSU, ATX-plug with P4 for 90V-264V
long lifetime and reliable
protection against over-current, over-voltage and over-heat
high efficiency of > 86%
low consumption at stand-by <0.75W

Post Reply