While my formal education may be in mechanical engineering, I’ve certainly gotten to work on some really neat electrical projects over the past 20 years. One thing they all have in common is the necessity for a well-regulated power supply. A few months ago an engineering project required a custom control interface that needed a small power regulator, so I purchased a DROK buck converter. I was amazed at how accurate and easy the unit was to work with. This is now the third unit I’ve purchased and I couldn’t wait to try it out!
My very first impressions of this board was that it was a small work of art. Between the densely packed SMT components along with the vivid LED segment displays make for a very sophisticated voltage regulator. Some of the key features of this board that I was interested in was its ability to accurately regulate both voltage and current output with its auto-selectable constant voltage and constant current modes. Thus, this is where I will focus most of my evaluation.
A very handy feature of this device is the ability to read your input voltage right on the built-in display. This seemed like a great place to begin my testing. With a 12V power source hooked-up, the board displayed an input voltage of 11.96V. A check with my digital multimeter indicated my input voltage was 11.97V, for difference of just 0.01V. Not bad at all!
While having the input voltage displayed is nice, it’s the output voltage display that is really key. This device has two output settings that are automatically selected. The device may select either constant voltage or constant current output depending on the voltage and amperage settings. Depending on which of the two settings maxes out first will determine which mode the device selects. For my first test, I set the output voltage to an arbitrary 5.50 V. A check with the multimeter showed exactly 5.50 volts. Fine then. Let’s bump that up a hundredth of a volt and see how precise this thing really is. With the output set to 5.51 volts now, my voltmeter shows the same, 5.51 volts. Very nice! Of course, this is with no load.
I connected a 12V, 800N linear actuator onto the output side of the device. I set the output voltage to 10.5V and left the amperage at the default 5.100 amps. With the output power turned “on”, I was able to retract and extend the actuator with an amperage being displayed as roughly 0.7 amps. While this value continually fluctuated slightly while running (as expected), the value remained within 0.02 amps of my multimeter. Since the limiting power setting in this instance was the voltage of 10.5V, the unit remained in
constant voltage mode. Knowing that the actuator drew approximately 0.7 amps, I modified the amperage setting to just 0.100 amps. With the output power turned “on” once again, the actuator hardly made a sound and the module had gone into constant
current mode since the current setting was now the limiting factor. Raising the amperage up to 0.600 amps got the actuator moving again, although quite a bit slower. Regardless, this power regulator was working like a champ!
The heatsink built into this device is fairly substantial and should be adequate for most applications. It remained completely cool throughout my initial evaluation. The attention to detail on this board is also noticeable, from the rubber topped tactile buttons to the plastic support feet. This all points to one thing, which is that DROK takes their product design seriously with a high emphasis on quality. I’ve purchased several DROK boards in the past, and this one is on-par with the quality of the previous ones, yet it has some of the greatest features yet!