When we talk about our new flashing power supply models, PL6100 and PL6800, we often reference features related to stability – how clean is the power being provided, how quickly does the power supply respond to an increase in load, does the power supply minimize the voltage dip that corresponds to a sudden increase in load? In this month’s product spotlight, we address what we mean by these terms as well as why they matter when it comes to vehicle reprogramming.
We’ll start by quickly reviewing the purpose of a flashing power supply. Most vehicle reprogramming (reflashing) events are long enough lasting and/or demanding enough that they will drain the vehicle battery/system voltage below the point at which the reflash is compromised unless steps are taken to combat this drain. The most effective means to combat such a drain of system voltage is through the use of a flashing power supply. The way the power supply works is to connect to the vehicle and then work to hold system voltage at a preset level, despite changes in system demand (as modules and other components are turned on and off during the reflashing event). Generally, most of these units work the same, maintaining system voltage at a target level to create an environment conducive to a successful reflash of one or more vehicle modules. But, not all power supplies are created equal and it is in the areas of cleanliness/stability/responsiveness that we can see major differences in performance.
Why Can’t I Use a Battery Charger?
One of the questions we are asked most often is why a charger cannot (or should not) be used for this purpose. Most modern chargers on the market today execute some form of multi-step charging curve. Each of the steps in that curve have specific parameters, often including current limits. Such controls limit the amount of power available to the system to counteract increases in system demand. So, you might ask, what about an older charger without all those controls? Use of an older charger would be even worse, since they typically provide everything a battery asks for in terms of power, with no voltage management whatsoever. This could result in the system seeing voltages in excess of 16V during the reprogramming event, which could cause problems.
When discussing flashing power supplies, one of the first characteristics that is scrutinized is the power supply’s voltage ripple when delivering the current required to maintain system voltage at the desired level. As you can imagine, while performing a reflash of electronic modules, the cleaner, or more stable, the power delivery, the better. That said, when surveying a variety of units on the market, we have seen peak-peak voltage ripple anywhere from 50-1000mV. Again, the lower the ripple, the better. In both lab and field testing of our PRO-LOGIX PL6100/PL6800 models, we find that our units feature a consistently clean power delivery with <100mV ripple. When we sent several test models out to leading diagnostic technicians to solicit their real world feedback, several remarked about the lack of voltage ripple and were impressed by just how clean the power delivery was. The above graph provides an example power curve, where the PL6100 is outputting 50A with a peak-peak voltage ripple of just 50mV.
Rapid Load Response (RLR) TechnologyTM
Clean power is a really important characteristic of a flashing power supply, but not the only one. Another key factor is the power supply’s ability to respond in changes in system demand, particularly sudden increases in system demand. Throughout the reflashing event, system demand will vary, as different modules are fired or components are commanded on and off, as required by the specific reprogramming task being performed. For some makes, such as BMW, it is customary to reprogram multiple modules at the same time, again which results in significant changes in system demand, as various ones are cycled on and off. As system demand changes, the power supply must react to those changes to avoid major drops (and surges) in system voltage. PRO-LOGIX PL6100/PL6800 models feature our RLR Technology to ensure that these variations do impact the reflash that is occurring, by rapidly responding to demand variation and (nearly) instantly stabilizing system voltage back to the target level. The above graph compares our PRO-LOGIX PL6100 to a competitive model. As you can see, the PL6100 recognizes and begins responding to the change in system demand much quicker and then reaches max output much faster than the competing model.
Reduced Voltage Drop During Demand Spikes
Correlated to responsiveness is the depth of dip that occurs when the power supply is responding to an increase in system demand. Ideally, we want a dip that is as shallow as possible. For each OE, there is a “do not go below XX.X volts during a reflash” trigger. This warning is intended to make clear the voltage threshold below which the reprogramming environment becomes unstable and risks a compromised reflash, which could result in a permanently damaged module. With PRO-LOGIX, the RLR Technology decreases the depth of the dip that occurs when system demand spikes. In our testing under many different load surge scenarios, we have found that our PRO-LOGIX PL6100/PL6800 models limit system voltage dips to <500mV, while also reducing the duration of the dip considerably, as compared to competing models.
When you are investing in a flashing power supply, you are really investing in a product that plays a supporting role in its primary function. The leading role is the flashing process itself (a combination of scan tool/pass through device and software update) and the power supply is deployed solely to ensure that a conducive environment exists for the reprogramming event. As such, it is really important to focus on how well each competing model creates that conducive environment. We would suggest that our PRO-LOGIX models create the most conducive environment for successful programming available on the market today.
Reprogramming Support Made Easy – that’s PRO-LOGIX.