I'm designing a DIY Thermal Imaging solution for my DJI Mavic Pro drone. Whilst the full design has been included for background info, this post refers to the power supply module design. The pertinent (power supply module) system requirements are:
- MH: Battery pack must be safely charged* from a single USB (5V @ 2.1A) supply.
- MH: Battery pack must supply two power IR LEDs at 1,000mA CC, a Raspberry PI at circa 800mA and a WiFi adapter for around 1 hour.
- SH: Power IR LEDs should be remotely controllable (dim-able and on/off)
- SH: Should support automatic dual supply - charge whilst in use
Note: Meaning CC/CV charging with cell balancing and protection.
I have completed my initial design but still have one outstanding query. My request to you:
- Power Supply Module Design peer review (if you have time)
- Options for load sharing query
Power Supply Module Design Peer Review
Here's my design overview:
USB Breakout. Just a simple USB breakout.
Battery Pack. I figured: 1 hour x circa 2,000mA load = 2,000mAh capacity needed but with the RPI CPU being permanently maxed (image processing), and the WiFi adaptor constantly transmitting, I overspec'd at 3 x 1,400mAh LiPo cells = 4,200mAH.
Boost Charger. Product Link. As I want to charge from a simple 5V USB supply I need to boost the input supply voltage to the battery pack float voltage (i.e. 12.6V for a 3S pack) but still maintain current control (max 1C charge rate). The product selected allows for adjustable voltage and current control and automatically switches between the two i.e. constant current at 1,400mA until 4.2V x 3 = 12.6V is reached, then constant voltage maintaining that float voltage. It DOES NOT have an automatic cut-off - my rationale here is that charging will be supervised and maintaining a 4.2V per cell float voltage should not damage the cells.
Balance Board. Product Link.. Whilst the three cells were bought together, I can't assume their chemistry will be identical, hence the need to balance. The product selected is a basic FET current bypass balancer.
Protection Board. These come with the cells and protect from the usual over charging, over discharge, short circuit etc.
XT. (background info) All three cells are connected in series and, via a tiny busbar, to an XT30 connector. Thus, the battery supply module outputs a nominal 11.1V to the processing module.
Buck Converter. (background info) Product link. The Raspberry PI and WiFi adaptor both need a 5V supply but the battery pack outputs 11.1V (nominal, actually 9.0V - 12.6V depending on state of charge). The product selected is a simple 2A continuous buck converter rated at 94% efficient for a 5V output.
IR LEDs. (background info) Product Link. To minimise cost, my thermal imaging module (see below) is cheap but the drawback is that it's relatively low resolution (160 x 120 pixels) - basically hot objects would just look like 'blobs' from a drone's perceptive. To increase contrast I am overlaying an 'edge' from an optical feed but in the dark there is obviously insufficient visible light, so I'm using a camera module without the usual IR filter and flood lighting the scene with IR light. The product selected is the highest power IR LED I could find for a reasonable cost. Each of the two LEDs required a suitable heatsink, heat-transition pad and, of course, something to mount it on.
LED Driver Module. (background info) Product Link. Each of the IR LEDs require at least a 3.2V forward biasing voltage and output rated illumination when driven with 1,000mA. The product selected is a 1,000mA constant current source that requires at least 6V input (has 9V minimum from power supply module) and can output up to 30V. I chose this because it is efficient (~95%) and easily dim-able (PWN output from the Raspberry Pi, remotely controlled from the ground via the Mavlink protocol).
Thermal camera module & breakout board. (background info) Product link. By far the most expensive component but, as mentioned, above relatively low resolution. The FLIR Lepton v3 Outputs a 9Hz (export compliance) Video over SPI (VSPI) video feed.
Optical camera module. (background info) Product Link. I'm using this module to create an optical video feed that will be processed using OpenCV as an edge-detected overlay for the thermal feed. Product chosen for low cost and simplicity - plugs directly into the RPI Zero CSI port.
(background info) So to summarise, the camera module flood lights the ground with IR illumination and provides both thermal (LWIR) and NIR video feeds to the processing module. The processing module accepts these video feeds and carries out various image processing tasks, such as edge detection, resolution transform and, in the future, I hope to use AI to detect and highlight objects. It also broadcasts the two video feeds down to the ground station using the 5.8GHz WiFi band (not discussed here - very simple power arrangements) and accepts and processes MavLink instructions from the ground station e.g. IR flood lighting brightness, thermal colour profile etc. The power supply module provides power directly for the IR LEDs and via a buck converter for the Raspberry PI and WiFi adaptor and can be charged from any USB power supply.
If you can spend the time to review the design of the power supply module, I would appreciate any and all comments / feedback, and, of course, if you have any questions about the design, please reach out.
Options For Load Sharing Query
Here's where I'm struggling.
I want to be able use the system whilst it is charging but I don't think I can in it's current design state. I'm thinking that if the processing and camera modules are acting as a varying load on the battery pack, the CC/CV charging circuit won't know what's going on and, worse still, if I limit the current I risk brownouts on the Raspberry Pi.
Is there a typical design pattern for a load sharing solution that would allow automatic switch-through if a load appears on the battery? Or some other way to manage load-sharing between battery charging and operation? Looking for options.
Thank you for any help and guidance :)