[volt-nuts] Fluke 731B battery & charge circuit

Christopher Brown cbrown at woods.net
Mon Jun 17 02:20:18 EDT 2013

You might want to check/replace the current limiting resistor in the
batt charge circuit, and the zener.

Both of my 731Bs had low zener output.

Had to replace the zeners in both and that 5ma jfet regulator in one.

Both do vary well, and do not show any change switching from AC (with
battery floating at full charge) to DC according to the 3456es, at least
until the batter starts dropping.

On 6/16/13 8:15 PM, Orin Eman wrote:
> So I came by a 731B for a low price and no surprise, the battery is
> missing.  No big deal, the archives here tell that it's 12 2/3A cells.  The
> local Batteries Plus can do that for less than $30... and they did (less
> than the cost of 12 individual cells and they had them in stock).
> FWIW, my in-cal 3456A read 9.99999 with the 731B on AC power and no battery
> installed.
> It was a little work to install the battery as one of the pins in the 731B
> had broken off and I had no connectors to fit the pins anyway.  I soldered
> wires to the remaining pin and trace next to the broken pin.  I found a 2
> pin inline connector in my parts stash and put used it to make the new
> battery disconnectable.
> Now, being paranoid, I wanted to make sure the battery was charging
> properly and powering the reference properly.  So I watched the battery
> voltage rise and also checked the 731B's power supply output.
> Now I see problems...  the switch between the battery and the internal
> regulator is simply a couple of diodes.  In theory, I suppose, the
> regulator always supplies a greater voltage than the battery can charge
> to.  Wrong.  The regulator is an 18V zener (1N967B as discussed here
> before) supplied by a 1mA current source and driving an emitter follower.
> My zener is showing 16.8V and the battery has charged to over 16.2V.  The
> charging circuit/battery is now powering the instrument!  In fact, with no
> battery in place, the charging circuit completely overpowers the regulator
> and powers the instrument!  (I had noted over 20V at the battery terminals
> before installing the battery).
> The manual says the voltage should be about 17V at the collector of Q1 when
> on AC power.  That is after the switch diodes.  I don't consider 15.6V
> (measured) about 17V and looking at the circuit, 17V isn't particularly
> likely since the 1N967B is spec'd at 7mA, it's driven by 1mA and then there
> are two diode drops.
> I put my 'scope after the switch diodes and there is at least 20mV pk-pk
> ripple.  At the emitter of the emitter follower, it's clean.
> So, I added a couple of 1N4148 diodes in series with the 1N967B.  That
> raised the effective zener voltage to 18V.  The regulated supply now
> supplies the instrument and it's clean on the 'scope.  But, the 3456A is
> reading 10.00002...  There is a handwritten comment in the manual (found
> online at one of the usual places) that a 1.3V difference between battery
> and AC operation can result in a 10uV difference at the output.  That could
> explain the difference since the instrument is supplied with 16.8V now and
> it was > 20V before.
> After the base-emitter drop, the battery can now charge to 17.3V before
> I'll see a problem again.  It's still charging so I don't know if it will
> get that high.
> Conclusions:
> If there is no battery installed, the 731B runs off the battery charge
> circuit.  It's noisy and > 20V when it should be "around 17V".  So if you
> have a 731B with no battery, I'd suggest clipping CR8 - unless you
> absolutely know it was calibrated in this state in which case, I'd be
> tempted to leave it alone (see above comment about difference between AC
> and battery operation).
> If a battery is installed, it's still possible that the 731B is running off
> the battery charge circuit.  I'm thinking about how to fix this... (a
> normally closed relay driven by the AC supply in line with CR8 would do the
> trick, but might take too much current from the supply.  I could achieve
> the same with a couple of transistors, but it would cost a little current
> when running on battery... perhaps a MOSFET.).
> Orin.
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