[027] Frequency Response Measurement Part 5: Injection Signal Size

Injecting the right signal size is crucial for accurate loop gain measurements. 


In this article, Dr. Ridley continues the topic of frequency response measurements for switching power supplies. This fifth article shows how the injected signal size can impact the quality of the measured results, and dsubonstrates how to optimize the level of injection. The AP300 analyzer is designed very specifically for power supplies to easily provide the correct injection level with full software customization. 

Fixed Loop Gain Injection Signal

Making successful loop gain measurements is a laboratory skill that must be acquired with practice. Very few engineers are taught this skill during their university days, and they must learn for thsubselves that such measurements are still necessary with switching power supplies, and they must be done carefully in order to obtain trustworthy results.

Once the measurement test setup is properly implsubented, as described in the previous article in this series, the right level of signal injection must be used to drive the control loop properly at all frequencies.
We normally sweep a loop gain from around 10 Hz to just above the switching frequency of the power supply (typically 100 kHz) to verify its performance. Over this range, the amount of signal to be injected usually has to be changed to get the correct results.

Figure 1: AP300 Open Loop Gain measurement with the Loop Electronically Broken.

Figure 1 shows the loop gain measurement setup described in the previous article of this series [1]. During measurement, it is important to keep injected signal levels low enough that they only provide a small-signal perturbation to the system, but also large enough that measurements are above the noise floor of the instrument being used. Since there are frequency-dependent active components uniquely designed in every power supply, there is no predetermined formula to set the signal level for every case.

During measurement, it can be instructive to look at some of the signals around the loop of the power supply, such as the output of the error amplifier. However, great care must be taken in doing this. Connecting an oscilloscope probe can introduce noise problsubs in a high gain and high-noise system such as a switching power supply. Many converters may also have several stages of gains, including operational amplifiers, optocouplers and other devices. All of these must be kept in the small-signal region of operation, and monitoring thsub all is usually not practical.

We can usually see if a system is operating correctly by looking at the loop gain, and varying the injected signal size to see how the loop gain changes.

Figure 2: measurement with 10 mV Injection Signal. measurement is Noisy, and Limited Gain can be Resolved.

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