Last week I noticed that the high power amplifiers in the Frequency Generation Box became hot after 2 hours of continuous operation with the lid of the box closed. When I measured their temperature it was 57C, and it was still slowly increasing (~< 1K/hr).
According to the data sheet, their maximum recommended temperature is 65C. Above that their performances are not guaranteed anymore.
These amplifiers aren't properly dissipating the heat they produce since they sit on a plastic surface (Teflon), and also because their wing heat dissipator can't do much when the box is closed. I had to come up with some way to take out their heat.
The solution that I used for the voltage regulators (installing them on the back panel, guaranteeing thermal conduction but electrical isolation at the same time) wouldn't be applicable to the amplifiers.
I discussed the problem with Steve and Koji and we thought of building a heat sink that would put the amplifier in direct contact with the metal walls of the box.
After that, on Friday I've got Mike of the machine shop next door to make me this kind of L-shaped copper heat sink:
On Saturday, I completely removed the wing heat dissipator, and I only installed the copper heat sink on top of the amplifier. I used thermal paste at the interface.
I turned on the power, left the lid open and monitored the temperature again. After 2 hours the temperature of the amplifier had stabilized at 47C.
Today I added the wing dissipator too, and monitored again the temperature with the lid open. then, after a few hours, I closed the the box.
I tracked the temperature of the amplifier using the temperature sensors that I installed in the box and which I have attached to the heat sink.
I connected the box temperature output to C1:IOO-MC_DRUM1. With the calibration of the channel (32250 Counts/Volt), and Caryn's calibration of the temperature sensor (~110F/Volt - see LIGO DOC # T0900287-00-R), the trend that I measured was this:
The heat sink is avoiding the amplifier to overheat. The temperature is now compatible with that of the other component in the box (i.e., crystal oscilaltors, frequency multiplier).
Even with the lid closed the temperature is not too high.
Two things remain untested yet:
1) effect of adding a MICA interface sheet between the heat sink and the wall of the chassis. (necessary for gorund isolation)
2) effect of having all 3 amplifiers on at the same time
I am considering opening air circulation "gills" on the side and bottom of the chassis.
Also we might leave the box open and who ever wants can re- engineer the heat sink.
- Ideally we would like that the heat sink had the largest section area. A brick of metal on top the amplifier would be more effective. Although it would have added several pounds to the weight of the box.
- We need these amplifiers in order to have the capability to change the modulation depth up to 0.2, at least. The Mini-Circuit ZHL-2X-S are the only one available off-the-shelf, with a sufficiently low noise figure, and sufficiently high output power.