I Made A 10 Channel Thermocouple Data Logger – Voltlog #368

The idea for this project started when I got the T-962 reflow oven, after running a few tests I discovered that it had some hot-spots which meant some areas inside the oven were hotter than others and this could lead to trouble, you could get melted connectors in some places and cold joints in other places. Now it’s hard to tell how bad the situation is without doing some measurements so I decided to design & build this board which is capable of reading 10 thermocouples and logging the data. This way I could place the thermocouples inside the oven, something like a 3×3 or 4x2x2 matrix and I could get a sense of what’s going on inside the oven.

Upcoming Projects Teaser – Voltlog #365

Welcome to a new Voltlog, for today’s video I want to share with you some of the projects I currently have on my workbench, these are projects that still need some work to be done before they can be published but this will give you a glimpse of what to expect in the upcoming weeks on the channel.

I have these 3 projects on my workbench, the first one is a multi channel thermocouple data logger device based on an ESP32. This has 10 channels based on the famous maxim thermocouple interfacing chips and all of those are read by the ESP32 and data can be logged on an SD card. This should help me measure the temperature inside the T962 reflow oven that I reviewed a while ago in a grid to check how the heat is distributed inside the oven. I’m pretty sure there are some hotspots inside the oven and some cold spots, I don’t know if there is anything I can do at mechanical/design level to correct for them but it would sure be nice to be able to know what’s going on inside the oven and with such a board I can just connect 10 of these cheap braided K-type thermocouples from aliexpress and hopefully get some consistent readings but more on this in a future video.

The next one is an FT2232 based interface which I designed with the main purpose of allowing me to interface via JTAG to FPGA boards. The chip itself is capable of other protocols as well but my goal here is like I said to interface to various FPGA boards. I plan to dip my toes into the FPGA world and try to get a blinky up and running on an FPGA board for a start. I have designed the board to include a voltage level translator because the chip is running at 3.3V but whatever you connect this to might be running at 1.8 or 2.5V so there is provision for that and it uses USB Type-C like all of the boards that I’ve designed in the past year.

The third project is an ESP32 based CAN development board that I plan to use in my adventures of hacking the CAN bus on my car. I should be able to install this into my car to intercept, modify or send CAN messages while at the same time having two outputs which I can use to control various stuff with on/off 12V power. It has a dc-dc converter on board to step down the car 12V to 3.3V to power the board and if I remember correctly the chip was chosen to have a wide input voltage range to accommodate for any potential spikes on the 12V rail of the car.

ScopeShunt Visualising The Current Waveform With Your Oscilloscope | Voltlog #310

We usually use an oscilloscope for visualizing a voltage over time but sometimes it’s also useful to visualize the current waveform over time. The right way to do it is to get a current probe which can sense the current and convert that to a voltage that the oscilloscope can display however such devices are pretty expensive, they can be around $1000 even for an entry level one like the Rigol RP1001C which is only rated up to 300KHz bandwidth.

But we can improvise something for a much lower cost and it should allow us to visualize the current waveform on the oscilloscope. You’ve probably seen me use a shunt resistor when testing power supply to take a look at the current waveform. Because as you know passing a current through a resistor will generate a voltage drop.

That voltage drop is directly proportional with the passing current and with a round value resistor we can have an easy to use transformation ratio between voltage and current. All we have to do is o introduce this resistor inline between our power supply and the device under test

For example if I have a 1ohm resistor, we have a 1:1 ration, for each mA passed through that resistor we will have  1mV of voltage drop that our oscilloscope can display. Such a circuit will of course have it’s limitations, for example it won’t work very well when testing low voltage low power devices because our resistor will introduce a burden voltage, which will drop our supply voltage to the device under test. This is also not an isolated measurement so it might not be safe when connected with higher voltage circuits.

But there are still a lot of scenarios where you could use this successfully on the electronics workbench so it might be worth building something like this. I want to make this nicer by building it inside an enclosure with the required bnc connector for connecting to the oscilloscope and 4mm banana plugs for passing the current through. I picked this small aluminium enclosure which would be enough to house the resistor, actually the resistors, because there are several advantages to using multiple resistors in parallel.

Alternative to this simple shunt resistor measuring method include the Joulescope which is a fully featured dc energy measurement test instrument with incredibly wide dynamic range that allows you to capture the smallest currents next to a jump to a higher current. I reviewed the Joulescope in Voltlog #211.