EEZ teams recently announced their latest project; the EEZ Bench Box 3 (BB3). The Bench Box 3 which is a FOSS and open hardware programmable power supply concept was designed to serve as a successor to EEZ’s H24005, with the aim of providing a power supply with better modularity, higher capacity, and functionality while preserving openness, and rich software support, all at a reasonable level of complexity so it can be built by anyone with intermediate electronics and soldering skills.
The BB3 comes with increased capacity compared to the h24005, starting from the color TFT display. The EEZ H24005 is one of the first programmable power supplies to incorporates color TFT touchscreen display but the BB3 not only also comes with a TFT display, it comes with an even larger display (4.3” 480×272 pixels) with antialiased fonts and larger menu options area improve legibility and simplify interaction. The touchscreen convenience on the BB3 is further expanded with accompanied incremental encoder that can be used for functions that are traditionally performed with push buttons or rotating knobs (e.g. changing output parameters).
The BB3 also comes with a larger number of modules (three instead of two) compared to the H24005 and is available for both single and dual-channel modules which allows configurations with up to six power outputs. The design of the BB3 was done with modularity in mind to allow easy upgrades in the future via the introduction of new peripheral modules to provide various functionality to users. Howbeit, it initially offers three different type of peripheral modules that can serve various user needs at varying budgets.
Modularity which is one of the key/interesting features of the BB3 was accomplished using the EEZ DIB (short for DIY Instrument Bus) concept created by the EEZ team. Currently in its first version, the DIY Instrument Bus(DIB) concept offers a simple way of interfacing a “master” module with up to three peripheral T&M modules connected via separate (dedicated) SPI buses. The master module is CPU-agnostic, therefore any MCU, CPU, FPGA, SoC, etc., with SPI capability can be deployed as main processing resource. The peripheral modules in the DIB concept are allowed to have there own EEPROM to store peripheral specific data and on-board processing resources that communicate with the master module. More on the DIB can be found on the project page.
The EEZ team’s plan is to design new modules alone or in cooperation with other teams that already successfully launched open hardware T&M devices. The new 2-quadrant and 4-quadrant power modules can be expected in the near future but planned functionalities go beyond DC power modules with the introduction of a power analyzer, signal/function generator, data acquisition module, thermal sensor module, stepper/DC motor controller, I/O and switch matrix, and much more. The initial investment in the BB3 will be preserved and the same is the case with accompanied software and firmware features.
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