USB Power Meters

USB Power Meter

Handy little devices. They help you debug a lot of things specific to the USB Power outputs. It tells you what the voltage and current draw is from a particular power source. It helps figure out multiple things regarding the system-as-a-whole like, Is the power source capable of delivering a voltage at a particular current flow or is the USB port dropping the voltage at higher currents? Or Is the cable you are using good enough(You can know this by estimating voltage drop at both ends of the cable with the device).

USB Power Meter
USB Power Meter
USB Power Meter

The pics show the multiple types of these power meters available. The first thing you need to make sure of is, What type of port termination it provides(Type-A or Type-C) and what USB type they support USB2.0 or 3.0+? This is very important as the shape of the ports wouldn’t tell you what USB Mode you have. (Eg. You can have a Type-A port with USB2.0 only or with USB 3.0 compatibility). If you are into USB C and power delivery applications make sure the voltage and current ratings of the meter you buy supports it. For eg., the UT658Dual Model power meter has Type A(USB2.0) and TypeC(USB3.0) ports on both ends. Now if you want to interface it with a Type A USB 3.0 port the device just wouldn’t support it. Similarly, UT658B Model has a USB 2.0 Type Port only.

The awesome thing about these devices is that you can use them as a charge meter to estimate the battery capacity of devices. These keep a running count of the reading so that you can kind of figure out what is the approx battery capacity in a device. Also can be used to estimate how much time it will take for large power banks to finish charging if you keep looking at the current draw(The current draw tapers off for LiPo charging towards the end).

All in all a very versatile little tool. A must-have unit as these ones are relatively cheap nowadays. Buy quality ones, there are quite a lot of cheap ones around.

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MHP30 Review: The Best Portable Soldering Reflow Plate

Soldering Reflow Station

Got this little beauty of a hotplate/Reflow Plate from Miniware(MHP30 PD). Brilliantly designed in a tiny form factor. Runs on a USB C 65W DC Power Charging block from AC supply. Capable of going up to 350°C on the ceramic hotplate. For reflowing small PCBs, I think it’s more than capable. I would mostly be using this for removing or reworking ICs from boards. Wouldn’t have to deal with flying capacitors and resistors everywhere doing the same with a hot air gun.

It has LED indicators to show different temperature ranges in the heat cycle. The only issue I see is balancing PCBs to be placed on this unit. The bed size is very small(30mm x 30mm). I would probably need to design some other support structure around it to hold it in place. The Ceramic plate is removable so I think Miniware might design larger area heat plates in the future compatible with the same base.

Edit: Tried it out for a few months. It’s simply great for soldering small boards. No issues till date.

Soldering Reflow Station
Soldering Reflow Station
Soldering Reflow Station
Soldering Reflow Station
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