AnsweredAssumed Answered

MKW41Z internal DCDC configuration on a customized PCB

Question asked by Gerardo Catena on Aug 8, 2018
Latest reply on Aug 10, 2018 by Gerardo Catena


I want to share what we have experienced during the development of our customized PCB to see if we did some error due to a missed technical reading or if what we have experienced is a common practice.


After a while playing around the FRDMKW41Z we produced our custom PCB with the MKW41Z MCU.

We configured the hardware in buck mode manual start. We used the documentation related to the FRDM board as a driver in implementing our custom schematic and gerber. Finally we used with success the FRDMKW41Z to program the custom board bypassing the resident MCU. When we debug the firmware the custom PCB is about 3.6V powered and the FRDM board is connected to the laptop USB.


Below the details of hardware and firmware config related to the DCDC:



- VDD_1P8 and VDD_IP5 inductor -> 0.1uH

- VDD_1P8 and VDD_1P5 capacitors -> 10uF.

- DCDC Inductor -> 10uH.



The firmware starts to VDD_1P8 at 1.8V. After it is configured to work at 3V because one of our external peripherals needs of 3V signals to communicate.

Here is an excerpt of the code in board.c used to switch from 1.8V to 3V on 1P8.





DCDC_SetOutputVoltageTargets(gDCDC_McuV_OutputTargetVal_1_500_c, gDCDC_1P8OutputTargetVal_3_025_c);



The firmware, after the startup of the main_task and some custom module, calls PWR_ChangeDeepSleepMode(2) and puts the MCU in power down (LLS2 mode). In this state the MCU is sleeping, waiting for a wake-up signal from a key.
We checked that it correctly enters in power down through the oscilloscope: the DCDC enters in pulse mode.
On exit from power down we experienced two results:

1- If the VDD and GND signals of our custom PCB are plugged to the programmer (the FRDMKW41Z) it exits from power down after a key pressure and the waveform of the DCDC changes in continuous mode. This happens even if the FRDM isn't plugged to the USB. If a debug session in opened after a key pressure the debugger comes available again.

2- if we disconnect the above signals of our custom PCB from the FRDMKW41Z, after a key pressure the MCU resets with reset reason 504. The reset on the oscilloscope is evident because it restarts the pulse mode and do not setup the continuous mode. The debug session in unusable.



We seen the pulsed signal having different form of the ripple compared to the form when connected to the FRDMKW41Z.



As first step we measured the load and the capacitance introduced by the board (which obviously is powered even if it is disconnected from the USB, because connected to VDD and GND of the custom PCB that in turn is 3.6V powered). The results of the measurements are that the FRDM board introduces about 37KOhm of load and about 5uF of cap.

We then introduced 1KOhm load between VDD and GND of the custom PCB and we start to run the firmware without plugging the FRDM board and as results it starts to work normally again, entering and exiting from the pulse mode as if it were plugged to the FRDM board.


In conclusion we have supposed that the load introduced by our custom hardware is too few to make the DCDC working properly. From here we removed the 1KOhm resistor and started to tune the inductor connected to VDD_1P8 until we found an inductor size of 0.47uH which makes our PCB to work as expected.


My questions are: is there a way to left the inductor size to 0.1uH and tune some DCDC register accordingly with our PCB expected load, or is there some technical documentation which helps to compute the expected inductor size? Did we make any mistake?