Nuiteblaster fail

I aligned the mirrors and powered up the draft hardware for the Nuiteblaster, and it didn’t work. This kind of fails to surprise me, as I changed a lot of stuff in the design. I think my speakers are good, but that using MOSFETs was an error. I used MOSFETs because they have a very low resistance when turned on, so they don’t waste energy as heat.

However, the MOSFETs in the design are switching 12V, and are getting a base drive of 5V. This means the voltage from the gate to the grounded source (Vgs) is at most 5V, because that’s what the Arduino can source, voltage-wise. The voltage from the drain to the source (Vds) is 12V. Since Vgs is > Vth (the point at which the MOSFET turns on), but nowhere near 12V, the MOSFETs are probably not getting driven into saturation, even when the outputs are fully on. This is compounded by the fact that since the code runs the PWM of the Arduino very fast, it is unlikely that that gate capacitance gets fully charged, and so the MOSFETs probably see a much lower average voltage at the gate, and so are probably operating in ohmic mode most of the time.

Whatever the cause, the speaker motion was quite small, and the MOSFETs got so hot that when I licked my finger and touched one of them, it sizzled.

I’m contemplating two possible fixes for this. The first is to replace the MOSFETs with the TIP120 power darlingtons that the schematic calls for. The second is to build my own power darlington transistor out of a 2n2222 switching the gate of the MOSFET to the full 12V of the beefy power supply that I’m driving the whole thing with. This would almost certainly drive the MOSFET into saturation, and hopefully get me the gain that my current rig lacks.

The speakers might also not be the best speakers for the job, but they are the ones I have. If I can’t get the system to work by changing the electronics, I’ll try new speakers next.