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ET5410 or DCL6104 or a third programmable electronic DC Load in the budget cat.?

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DaneLaw:
Both can be had around the 170USD mark with delivery and VAT paid (more or less my budget roof)
Both are 400w/40A/150V single channels with what I reckon are banana jack valid-input sockets that can also double as screw terminals.

it's a jungle to get any insight into PC software and pro & cons about the menu interface amongst these two, as it is quite limited what user feedback or videos that exist on the DCL6104, same with the display quality.
There obviously a lot more menu & feature buttons on the DCL6104 12 vs 8 and with the incl. up/down arrows. but if that makes it easier to manage interface' is still up in the air, hence the lack of any knowledge about the DCL6104, same with the RS232 and what kind of software that works with this unit, if any.








specs. DCL6104


ET5410




Text DCL 6104


Text ET5410

   
back RS232 DCL6104



Back USB ET5410



The motive is an overall hobby use-case and particularly the high amp-ability that I find useful

HKJ:
For PC software there is an alternative to the supplied software, at least for some loads:

https://www.eevblog.com/forum/testgear/program-that-can-log-from-many-multimeters/

Hydron:
I'm in the middle of writing a driver for the DCL6104A (500V version) to use it with HKJ's program - hope to finish a draft over the weekend and release it (along with a HSPY power supply driver).

I am generally pretty happy with mine having picked it over the ET5411 (after a few improvements), very brief summary below:

Pros:
- Very affordable for a 500V load
- Can be controlled by SCPI over RS232 (and doesn't have a non-standard USB port like the ET5410)
- Nice form-factor for space-constrained workbenches
- Construction seems to be of decent quality - nice metalwork, Delta fan (will come to this again), no obvious knock-off parts etc. Even has labelled test-points!
- No obvious safety failures (you could put a screwdriver through the grille to the heatsink which is connected to load+, but that's about it, and it doesn't have live screws like the Kunkin etc)
- Basic functions seem to work fine
- Accuracy seems perfectly acceptable for non-critical use (at least if you're in the "low" range for low currents, voltages etc)
- Under 2 weeks from banggood to the UK, no customs charges
- Real power switch on the front, unlike Kunkin load with it on the back?!
- Remote sense possible with a mod, and with sensible behaviour when sense voltage not present (i.e. will not start the load if voltage is zero, will turn off in CV mode or maintain CC current if removed during operation).
- Battery mode (inc. CC, CR, CP) seems to work from a brief test (apparently at least some East Tester units have broken CR, maybe CP battery test modes). Seems to need a start voltage above 1V or so, but it happily discharged a NiMH to a 0.8V end voltage when I checked.
- English UI option usable, some odd translations but nothing problematic
- Seems not to blow up at 400W, 400V or 15A from my testing

Cons:
- No LAN connection
- Chinese manual, no SCPI manual (but a significant subset of the documented DCL8000 series commands work, again needing translation, I have figured out everything important other than how to set low/high range)
- No sense option by default
- ~6-7mA pk-pk ripple at mains frequency in CC mode, caused by poor layout of the PSU section
- Fan is unnecessarily loud at idle/low load (jet engine mode is unavoidable and thus forgivable at high loads - 400W is a lot in this size!). Regulates in 6 discrete steps, didn't notice it hunting between them.
- Transient test mode current rise/fall controls don't work properly - rise-time setting works over a certain range, fall doesn't seem to work at all (always seems to be a few hundred us). I believe the East Tester is worse in this regard from other's comments.
- Fewer test modes than the ET option (though the main ones are covered)
- Useless CH button on single channel model
- Could do with some quick setting options - going through the Mode menu regularly is annoying
- Trigger options pretty confusing, seem mostly useless without a hardware input (which can probably be hacked in as the sense was, albeit maybe with more detective work)
- No obvious way to make transient test continue forever (have to set a count, though it can be up to 100k cycles)
- FW readback blocked (I checked)
- Loud beeper (also on by default for any button press, though this can be changed)
- Very little info online (I'm helping with this one!)

Mods made:
- Changed the fan control curve by modifying the feedback circuit of the fan control opamp (mod reduces the minimum voltage but maintains the highest speed). Needed 3 SMD resistors.
- (mostly) fixed the current ripple by cutting 2 tracks and bridging them to a star point away from the mains frequency currents. A bit less than 1mA pk-pk left - good enough for me.
- Added remote sense by fitting a small relay in the position provided (removing 0R links) and adding the internal and external connections for a sense connection (used a blank hole in the back panel). Footprints, relay drive transistor (12V) and SCPI command for remote sense all work, the only thing lacking is a UI control.
- Reduced beeper volume with a piece of tape over the hole

Overall it seems like it will meet my needs (testing PFC and other higher voltage sources, and up to 15A for lower voltage stuff), but I haven't had a chance to use it with a source that isn't a bench supply or a battery yet.

For lower voltages I would also look at the Korad KEL103 option (rebranded as Tenma from Farnell/CPC, e.g. https://cpc.farnell.com/tenma/72-13210/dc-electronic-load-prog-30a-120v/dp/IN07979 ) - this has a few of the missing features like LAN, sense terminals, non-chinese manual, and potentially avoids some of the other cons. Form factor is a little bigger, and price is a bit higher (CPC's price is rather good though), but I personally would have gone for the Korad if I didn't want the higher voltage capability - unfortunately for 500V the only options are the cheap ET5411/DCL6104A or stuff at least 4-5x the price.

The ET54xx models seem to be a very similar design to what looks to me to be a slightly lower standard, but it may depend on exactly what features each person cares about. One good video I found on a dual channel version was here:

I'll put some pics and more description up when I get a little more time - it certainly would have helped my choice and I hope it will help others.

oftenfail:
Great stuff @Hydron! I also grabbed a DCL6204 (two channel version) and happy with it so far. I'm super interested in the mods you did, makes total sense and will help me and others a lot. Can you post some details about the mods?


--- Quote ---Mods made:
- Changed the fan control curve by modifying the feedback circuit of the fan control opamp (mod reduces the minimum voltage but maintains the highest speed). Needed 3 SMD resistors.
- (mostly) fixed the current ripple by cutting 2 tracks and bridging them to a star point away from the mains frequency currents. A bit less than 1mA pk-pk left - good enough for me.
- Added remote sense by fitting a small relay in the position provided (removing 0R links) and adding the internal and external connections for a sense connection (used a blank hole in the back panel). Footprints, relay drive transistor (12V) and SCPI command for remote sense all work, the only thing lacking is a UI control.
- Reduced beeper volume with a piece of tape over the hole
--- End quote ---

BTW, is there a dedicated thread for the DCL series?

Hydron:
No dedicated thread that I know of. I did take some pics just haven't had time to make a proper post about it. Will try to find time, and mods are pretty simple to do (won't need much documentation).

Other notes to add to my original post, on further testing it has a few mA offset (not a biggie), and that the minimum CV mode voltage is ~1.35V (a bit more annoying - can go to lower voltage in CC mode however).

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