This is an idea that I have had rolling around in my head for YEARS. I filed a Patent Application with the US Patent Office to secure the rights to the idea. Then I contacted a bunch of companies like Agilent, B&K Precision, etc to try to license the idea of a compact PC based power supply to them. Unfortunately nobody was interested in trying out a new design for a power supply.
But I couldn't let the idea die!
I decided on the Kickstarter route because I know that you techies out there are like me - you want the best tools available that are convenient and affordable (and really cool!). The Picsu fills a much needed gap! I love working with the prototype on my own hobby projects. I hope you enjoy using the Picsu for your business, educational, or hobby designs.
You will notice that the Picsu has no display screen for things you would normally see on a power supply, such as voltage or current. This helps to keep the costs down for the supply. It also makes it very convenient to have all of the operating information right in front of you on your computer screen.
The Picsu is powered by your computer's internal power supply. All that is required is an available SATA power cable. This means that there are no power cables crowding up your workspace. The design has built-in short circuit protection, so your computer's power supply will continue to operate even if the outputs are shorted together.
(Note: You should ensure that your computer's power supply has enough headroom to operate the Picsu under its highest load (12V*2A = 24 Watts). This should not be a concern for the vast majority of users, as most PC power supplies have significant headroom on their output power.)
Single channel output
Voltage output range 1-12V, precision to 50mV.
Max current output = 2 Amps
User friendly USB communication. Works on every Operating System!
Adjustable output current limit
Short-circuit protection on output.
The Picsu is controlled by your computer's USB port. The video still shows communication over a serial port, but this will be replaced with a USB port in the final design due to feedback from backers.
The photo below shows the prototype design.
This photo shows the Picsu control interface:
The difference between the $80 and the $120 level is the chassis. The $80 level is for the backer who wants a Picsu for the lowest cost. The Piscu installs into the front of your desktop computer, but does not include a faceplate. The faceplate is custom made and in limited quantity, so the cost of a Picsu that includes the faceplate is higher. The Picsu shown in the pictures and video includes the faceplate, but the functionality between the two is exactly the same.
I originally wanted to do a Plastic Injection Molded chassis for every single backer, but unfortunately just the mold alone costs $6000, and it's $2 per chassis after that. I had to scrap this idea and opted for a kickstarter project with modest (but achievable) goals.
The majority of backers will be more than happy with the open Picsu concept!
The biggest challenge is organizing. However, I have already received quotes for all of the parts and the chassis. I have prototyped the design, so it will work! You can feel confident knowing that if you back this project you will receive a beautiful and fully functional power supply that you can show off to all of your nerdy friends!
The person behind the Picsu is just me. Not a company with tons of cash. Buying and building electronics in such low quantities really does cost this much. I'm not making money on this. The PCB, components, and populating the boards is >$50. That doesn't include shipping, kickstarter fees, etc. If I could build 10,000 Picsus it would be another story, but you gotta start somewhere.
A GUI would be pretty, but adds more complexity. I would have to make one for Windows, Mac, and Linux. All OSes have serial port tools that are quick and easy. That said, if one of you wants to build a GUI I would be happy to offer you a free Picsu for your efforts. Message me to discuss.
The video shows communication via a Serial Cable. However, due to feedback from backers, this has been changed. The final design will have a USB port for communication. The underlying protocol is all ASCII based.