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Power supply prototypes is the best way to learn it

I have been designing power supplies for over 15 years now. We do mostly off line custom designs ranging from 50 to 500W. Often used in demanding environments such as offshore and shipping.
I think we are the lucky ones who got the chance to learn designing power supplies using the simple topologies like a flyback or a forward converter. If we wanted to make something fancy we used a push-pull or a half bridge.

Nowadays, straight out of school you get to work on a resonant converter, working with variable frequency control. Frequencies are driven up above 250kHz to make it fit in a matchbox, still delivering 100W or more. PCB layouts get almost impossible to make if you also have to think about costs and manufacturability.
Now the digital controllers are coming into fashion. These software designers know very little about power electronics and think they can solve every problem with a few lines of code.

But I still think the best way to learn is to start at the basics and do some through testing on the prototypes you make. In my department we have a standard test program to check if the prototype functions according to the specifications (Design Verification Tests), but also if all parts are used within their specifications (Engineering Verification Tests). These tests are done at the limits of input voltage range and output power. And be aware that the limit of the output power is not just maximum load, but also overload, short circuit and zero load! Start-up and stability are tested at low temperature and high temperature.

With today's controllers the datasheets seem to get ever more limited in information, and the support you get from the FAE's is often very disappointing. Sometime ago I even had one in the lab who sat next to me for half a day to solve a mysterious blow up of a high side driver. At the end of the day he thanked me, saying he had learned a lot!
Not the result I was hoping for.

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