Bafang Headlight Circuit Current Limit

Having just replaced Rev 1 of the amber running light with Rev 3 (about which, more later) on Mary’s Tour Easy, both the front and rear lights began blinking erratically. Given that they have completely independent circuitry, this strongly suggests a power problem.

Herewith, the headlight circuit voltage:

Bafang headlight voltage - two 1 W running lights
Bafang headlight voltage – two 1 W running lights

The voltage should be a constant 6 or 6.3 V, depending on which description you most recently read. That is the case with only one light attached, so the problem occurs only when running both lights.

The four pulses come from the amber LED’s Morse code “b” (dah-dit-dit-dit) with a 85 ms dits; the first dah pulse should be three times longer than the dits and definitely isn’t. The rear light’s red LED stays on continuously, except for two dark dits, so it draws a constant current and does not produce any changes in this trace.

Both lights have 2.0 Ω sense resistors setting the LED current to 400 mA, which corresponds to 250 mA each from the Bafang controller’s 6.3 V headlight circuit. The headlight circuit’s total of 500 mA should work fine, although the “spec” seems to be basically whatever the OEM headlight requires.

The Rev 1 amber light ran the LED at 360 mA with a supply current around 450 mA. That light and the rear light on the back ran fine, so the supply seems to have a hard maximum current limit at (a bit less than?) 500 mA.

The least-awful solution seems to be backing off both LED currents to 360 mA to keep the total supply current well under 500 mA.

Improved Mini-lathe Disk Turning Fixture

Unsurprisingly, the mini-lathe lacks enough stiffness to apply enough force to hold a disk in place while turning its rim:

Tour Easy Rear Running Light - end cap fixture - swirled adhesive
Tour Easy Rear Running Light – end cap fixture – swirled adhesive

The old South Bend lathe had mojo, but those days are gone.

So drill and tap that fixture for an M3 screw, then stick some coarse sandpaper to it:

Improved disk turning tool
Improved disk turning tool

Snug the screw (a Torx T9 from the Small Drawer o’ Random M3 Screws) down on a rough-cut disk:

Improved disk turning tool - in use
Improved disk turning tool – in use

Sissy cuts remain the order of the day, but the screw applies plenty of clamping force and doesn’t require the hulking live center.

UPS SLA Battery Status

The UPS coddling the M2 printer began complaining about a bad battery, so I ran (nearly) all the UPS batteries through the tester:

UPS SLA 2021-10-10

The two blue flubs in the lower left come from the failed battery, with the dotted trace after charging to 13.7 V and letting the current drop to 20 mA.

The red and green traces come from two other UPS batteries installed in 2016, with the dotted traces after charging similarly. The orange-ish trace is from the battery in a Cyberpower UPS bought in 2016, so it looks like all batteries of that vintage fade equally.

Except for another pair of batteries in another UPS that had discharged stone cold dead; it may have been shut down and unplugged during a power outage and they never quite recovered.

After five years, it’s time to refresh the fleet …

Tube Turning Adapters

Finishing the PVC tubes reinforcing the vacuum cleaner adapters required fixtures on each end:

Dirt Devil adapter - pipe turning
Dirt Devil adapter – pipe turning

Because the tubes get epoxied into the adapters, there’s no particular need for a smooth surface finish and, in fact, some surface roughness makes for a good epoxy bond. The interior of a 3D printed adapter is nothing if not rough; the epoxy in between will be perfectly happy.

Turning the tubes started by just grabbing the conduit in the chuck and peeling the end that stuck out down to the finished diameter, because the conduit was thick-walled enough to let that work.

The remaining wall was so thin that the chuck would crunch it into a three-lobed shape, so the white ring in the chuck is a scrap of PVC pipe turned to fit the tube ID and provide enough reinforcement to keep the tube round.

The conduit ID isn’t a controlled dimension and was, in point of fact, not particularly round. It was, however, smooth, which counts for more than anything inside a tube carrying airborne fuzzy debris; polishing the interior of a lathe-bored pipe simply wasn’t going to happen.

The fixture on the other end started as a scrap of polycarbonate bandsawed into a disk with a hole center-drilled in the middle:

Pipe end lathe fixture - center drilling
Pipe end lathe fixture – center drilling

Stick it onto a disk turning fixture and sissy-cut the OD down a little smaller than the eventual tube OD:

Pipe end lathe fixture - turning OD
Pipe end lathe fixture – turning OD

Turn the end down to fit the tube ID, flip it around to center-drill the other side, stick it into the tube, and finally finish the job:

Dirt Devil adapter - pipe fixture
Dirt Devil adapter – pipe fixture

The nice layering effect along the tube probably comes from molding the conduit from recycled PVC with no particular concern for color matching.

A family portrait of the fixtures with a finished adapter:

Dirt Devil adapter - fixtures
Dirt Devil adapter – fixtures

A fine chunk of Quality Shop Time: solid modeling, 3D printing, mini-lathe turning, and even some coordinate drilling on the Sherline.

Dirt Devil Vacuum Tool Adapters

Being the domain expert for adapters between a new vacuum cleaner and old tools, this made sense (even though it’s not our vacuum):

Dirt Devil Nozzle Bushing - solid model
Dirt Devil Nozzle Bushing – solid model

The notch snaps into a Dirt Devil Power Stick vacuum cleaner and the tapered end fits a variety of old tools for other vacuum cleaners:

Dirt Devil Nozzle Bushing top view - solid model
Dirt Devil Nozzle Bushing top view – solid model

Having some experience breaking thin-walled adapters, these have reinforcement from a PVC tube:

Dirt Devil adapter - parts
Dirt Devil adapter – parts

A smear of epoxy around the interior holds the tube in place:

Dirt Devil adapters - assembled
Dirt Devil adapters – assembled

Building the critical dimensions with a 3D printed part simplified the project, because I could (and did!) tweak the OpenSCAD code to match the tapers to the tools. Turning four of those tubes from a chunk of PVC conduit, however, makes a story for another day.

The OpenSCAD source code as a GitHub Gist:

// Dirt Devil nozzle adapter
// Ed Nisley KE4ZNU 2021-10
// Tool taper shift
Finesse = -0.1; // [-0.5:0.1:0.5]
// PVC pipe liner
PipeOD = 28.5;
/* [Hidden] */
//- Extrusion parameters
ThreadThick = 0.25;
ThreadWidth = 0.40;
HoleWindage = 0.2;
function IntegerMultiple(Size,Unit) = Unit * ceil(Size / Unit);
Protrusion = 0.1; // make holes end cleanly
// Dimensions
Socket = [36.0,37.0,40.0];
LockringDia = 33.5;
LockringWidth = 4.5;
LockringOffset = 2.5;
Tool = [Finesse,Finesse,0] + [30.0,31.1,30.0];
NumSides = 36;
$fn = NumSides;
// Useful routines
module PolyCyl(Dia,Height,ForceSides=0) { // based on nophead's polyholes
Sides = (ForceSides != 0) ? ForceSides : (ceil(Dia) + 2);
FixDia = Dia / cos(180/Sides);
cylinder(r=(FixDia + HoleWindage)/2,h=Height,$fn=Sides);
// Define it!
module Adapter() {
difference() {
union() {
difference() {
translate([0,0,LockringOffset + 0.75*LockringWidth])
PolyCyl(PipeOD,AdapterOAL + 2*Protrusion,NumSides);
// Build it!

The taper in the code almost certainly won’t fit whatever tool you have: measure thrice, print twice, and maybe fit once …

Running Light Waveforms: A Closer Look

A test setup on the bench allows a bit more room for probes:

1 W Amber LED - MP1584 pulse setup
1 W Amber LED – MP1584 pulse setup

Some heatsink tape holds the LED to the far side of that oversize heatsink.

The input signal (top trace) arrives from a function generator set to blip the MP1584 regulator’s Enable input at 4 Hz with a 7 ms pulse:

Amber 1 w LED - pulse 200 mA-div
Amber 1 w LED – pulse 200 mA-div

The purple trace is the voltage across the 2 Ω sense resistor. The MP1584 datasheet says the regulator soft-starts for (typically) 1.5 ms, during which the output ramps upward at 600 mV/ms to 800 mV , whereupon the actual regulation commences. The amber LED forward drop adds 2.5 V to the sense voltage, so the regulator produces 3.3 V from the 6.3 V bench supply input.

The cyan trace is the output current through the LED and sense resistor, also ramping up to 800 mV/2 Ω = 400 mA to drive the LED at 1 W.

The furry section shows when the regulator is actively regulating, with the output voltage rising and falling over a small range to maintain the average current (via the sense voltage). Successive Enable pulses may have longer, shorter, or completely missing fur, with no predictable pattern. Increasing the duty cycle doesn’t affect the results, with the fur sometimes extending for the entire pulse and sometimes being completely missing.

I think the regulator can settle in one of two metastable states. The best case has a constant voltage producing a constant LED current, with the sense voltage remaining within whatever deadband keeps the error amplifier happy. When something knocks the sense voltage out of the deadband, the error amp starts the usual regulation cycle, which will stop when the minimum or maximum voltage of a cycle remains within the deadband:

Amber 1 w LED - pulse - detail - 200 mA-div
Amber 1 w LED – pulse – detail – 200 mA-div

The ripple shows the regulator running at three cycles per 20 µs division = 150 kHz, far lower then the MP1584 datasheet’s maximum 1.5 MHz and the typical 500 kHz in the test circuits. Perhaps a low frequency lets the designers use a cheap PCB and not worry about pesky EMI issues.

In any event, during this pulse the ripple amplitude gradually decreased as the output voltage settled at the point where the error voltage variation stayed within the deadband. The typical amp gain is only 200 V/V, so it’s definitely less fussy than something build around an op amp.

For whatever it’s worth, a 7 ms flash from a 1 W amber LED at 4 Hz is way attention-getting in a dim Basement Laboratory. You wouldn’t need an Arduino to produce that signal, even though I like the Morse capability.

Another Snapper

An approaching cyclist warned to watch out for the snapping turtle:

Snapping Turtle - DCRT near Page Park - front - 2021-09-24
Snapping Turtle – DCRT near Page Park – front – 2021-09-24

This one claims the pond near Page Industrial Park along the Dutchess Rail Trail:

Snapping Turtle - DCRT near Page Park - rear - 2021-09-24
Snapping Turtle – DCRT near Page Park – rear – 2021-09-24

We’ll not dispute any snapper’s territory!

I’m hauling PYO apples from Prospect Hill Orchards in the hills on the west side of the Hudson; it was a lovely fall day for a 25 mile ride!