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Coolit delivers 'Early Warning' for military power supplies.

Courtesy of Varo LLC

Coolit is Varo's 'Early Warning System', pinpointing thermal and airflow problems so that our electronics designers can make quick circuit improvements. Under a recent contract to Lockheed-Martin, Coolit helped us develop a digital power supply for the Apache helicopter's Arrowhead Project, a fully modernized night vision and target acquisition system. The very small power supply modules provided highly precise power conversion.

The design consisted primarily of a finned heat sink with two high-density printed circuit boards mounted on each side. In this unit, both the overall heat of each board and the specific heat generated by hot spot components presented thermal challenges.

The only way to get the thermal information we needed in our limited timeframe was to acquire CFD analysis capabilities. We reviewed our CFD options and selected Coolit. It took less than 4 hours to load the software, run the tutorials, perform some test simulations and then begin running actual design scenarios. In the next 4 hours, we had information we could use.

With Coolit, we were able to quickly characterize a fin design that would remove heat from the boards and into the customer's specified airflow. The highest risk components for hot spots were the FET drivers, which are small, SO packages with moderate thermal dissipation, but with a high, 40C/W, junction to case resistance. Our electrical and mechanical engineers both had pre-conceived notions as to which chips would give us thermal problems. Coolit simulations quickly revealed hidden risks, enabling our mechanical engineers to pinpoint the problem chips. Once they were identified, the electrical engineers solved many problems by re-design, splitting a thermal load so that part of it would go to a remotely located resistor instead of having the driver chip handle it all.

Coolit proved so easy-to-use that it shortened our thermal analysis cycle significantly and probably saved us from hiring an extra thermal engineer. It became obvious to us that Coolit had been seamlessly designed by engineers who do this type of analyses regularly. Furthermore, Coolit was priced lower than the competition and offered impressive stability. Our previous experience with other software has been that crashing is a daily ritual.

Throughout the project, we had access to Coolit's excellent technical support. Phone calls were answered by a real person, not a recording, and emailed questions received a response within 2 hours.

We found Coolit's free viewer, CoolPlot offered an excellent way to share computed results with our customers. CoolPlot was sent to the customers who accessed case files placed on an FTP site. The customers could view any of the Coolit simulations and provide early feedback without purchasing any software themselves.

Varo's digital power supply.
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