I've been working on a light controller, GPS tracker, anti-theft, etc. board for my e-bike and I originally designed the 48V - 12V DC converter around a standard sixteenth-brick power converter (PS1):
These sixteenth-brick power converters have been great for prototyping but they seem to run hot and consume more power than I would prefer when under no load.
So I used TI's WEBENCH Power Designer to build a circuit around the TPS54561 step-down DC-DC converter and this is what I've come up with:
This seems like it should work but I have some questions:
- Is there any technical reason why the example layout in the datasheet, the layout in Power Designer, and most other PCB examples I've found online don't use a ground fill/ground plane on the front layer? It seems to me that a larger ground plane will help with heat dissipation.
- Won't the thermal vias under U1 will wick away the solder paste from the exposed ground pad, should I be concerned about this? Tented vias do not seem to be an option at the price point I'm willing to pay (nor do they seem to be the correct solution). I've seen references to filling the vias with thermally conductive epoxy; is this something I should do? If so any gotchas to keep in mind?
These are all two layer boards with standard stackups from either Aisler or OSH Park and I'm using a modified T-962A infrared IC oven for the reflow (have been hand soldering up to this point so this power supply will be my first reflow).
Also moving the power supply off the main board to a dedicated PCB seems to make the most sense to me as that will allow me to make changes to either without rebuilding everything.
The original PCB was meant to be a prototype before I moved the power supply circuit onto the main board but since I've decided to keep this as a separate module I updated the design.
- Switched to a smaller schottky diode
- Increased the fill thermal trace width from 0.508mm to 0.6mm
- Went with a complete ground fill on the top layer