Monitoring and Configuring an Eval Board with PowerNavigator

Added on October 29, 2013
Learn how to connect to an evaluation board to monitor and configure with Intersil's new code-free digital power configuration software.

Related Resources

PowerNavigator User Guide for POL PowerNavigator User Guide for POL

powernavigator-users-guide.pdf (7.14 MB)
Oct 2016

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Video Transcript

In this video we're going to show you how to connect an evaluation board to the new PowerNavigator GUI. For this example we're using the ZL8800 dual output demo board, and we've got it connected right now. So, it's set up with a 12V input supply. On the bottom left here we have the dongle connected. That just connects it through a cable to the USB port of the PC. That way the PowerNavigator GUI can send signals across USB, which convert it with the dongle to PMBus commands. The first step we do is start up PowerNavigator software. And right away the device will go out and scan for any demo boards that are present on the system. And as you can see, it’s detected that ZL8800 as address 31. So we click on to mount your hardware, and we start PowerNavigator.

This will automatically launch in to the part view. So you can see the architecture. It's detecting two separate outputs, the top one here is configured to 1.2V, and the second output is set to 1V. If we go into the monitor view, and holding down the control key selecting both parts so we can monitor them both simultaneously. We can see exactly the system that's running. So walking through this we can see that there is a 12V supply or 11.89V. We have two devices set up, one at 1V and the other at 1.2. And they’re both basically pulling no load current at the moment. Now that we have the demo board up and running and connected to the GUI, we can start making changes within PowerNavigator to control the operation of the device.

So let's start off with how monitoring screen works, with this demo board we have two switches for enable pins on channel zero and channel one. So we can control these individually. So right now we've just turned off channel zero. And right away within the GUI, you can see how the channel is reporting zero output voltage, and the power good signal has now deasserted. The device if we look at the fold screen, will appropriately read that the power good signal is off and that's because the device itself has been turned off. We turn it back on, you see the false status goes away because the device is now active and in a known good state. We can also do the same thing by sending a PMBus command. Right now the device is configured to only receive enable commands through a hardware.

We can simply select this on top of the GUI to say, “PMBus enable signal only.” And now the enable pin becomes active on the top of the GUI. And by toggling this, we can turn a device off or back on. We can now make other changes to the device, such as changing the output voltage on the fly. And this is possible through several different methods. We can go back to the power tree and change the output voltage. At the top of the GUI, you can see the output voltage is set point at 1.2 or 1V is displayed. Or we can go in through the dialog boxes on output voltage readout. It’s just like the method at the very top here, it's at 1.2V, changes to 1.1. And you can see right away that device has responded and adjusted the output voltage down.

One of the other ways of changing the output voltage or any of the other parameters, is to use a command line tool. So we're going to go through the same procedure we showed in one of the earlier videos in accessing the command line tool, and changing a few of the parameters. A nd now you can see how it works with the actual demo board connected. With the command line tool open, we can see that is set up right now to control and configure, ZL8800 on channel zero, and that's the 1V output. A quick easy way of confirming that is just to go in the command and type in the Vout command, if I click on this you see that is displaying the 1V output is currently being read from the device. If you want to read back the latest data, it does automatically populate it. But you also have the read button here that you can click to request a new command to come back and read the status from the actual device. So, let's go ahead and change the output voltage using the command line tool. So we've entered the Vout command in, and you can see it’s reading right now that's set to 1V. And we can always verify this by clicking the read command. So it’s requesting the latest information from the device, and once again it's still saying it’s at 1V. Now if I put a new value in such as 0.95 and I hit “enter”. You see two things, the first is a lack of change on the monitoring screen is still reading a 1V output.

That's because in the command line tool you can see the send button is now highlighted yellow. The GUI has accepted the command 0.95V. But it hasn't sent it to the demo board, since we clicked the send button, the yellow highlight goes away and it sends all the command as recorded at the very bottom of the screen. And you can see on the monitoring view, it has updated and the output voltage has now change from 1V to 0.95V.

After you've made all the changes in the GUI, configuring the different parameters and settings of the demo board, don't forget to issue a STORE_USER_ALL command. This can be done through the command tool just typing in STORE_USER_ALL and then hit the send command. The reason why is this will then save all those different settings you have from the volatile memory in the device into its flash memory. That way if we if power off and power back on again, all those settings are now saved. Conversely you could also save off this as a config file, you can load it up and store it into any other device you wish.

We've just covered a small piece of what can be accomplished using the new PowerNavigator GUI with evaluation boards. For more information and to try for yourself, please order your own evaluation board and get the PowerNavigator software from intersil.com