A profile of Ridley Engineering, a former sponsor of the SMPS Technology website.

Ridley Engineering

Ridley Engineering was a sponsor of the SMPS Technology website from July 1, 2000 to June 30, 2001. Sponsors appeared on this website by invitation only. The selection criteria was that I had used the product and believed in its value for power supply designers. Although there is no longer any financial involvement between us, nothing has changed in my viewpoint, so I am leaving this page pretty much as originally written. What follows is a factual account of my experience with the product. Yours may be different.

Dr. Ray Ridley was well known in the industry before he formed his company. Well known for his papers on modeling, simulation, optimization, and control, and through the seminars and courses he gave at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (VPI) and at power supply design conferences.

He went on to form Ridley Engineering in 1991 to make his knowledge in these areas available to others, first in the form of a remarkable power-supply-design expert system, Power 4-5-6, then in a low cost frequency response analyzer system. He has also been generous in making his knowledge available in the form of professional courses and now in the form of a magazine for professional designers, Switching Power Magazine.

He has made his website a useful resource to the switching-mode power supply designer by providing expert design tips in power supply and magnetic design and in valuable comments on his papers, including pointing out that one is mostly wrong - a rare and commendable public admission for an author.

Power 4-5-6 is one of the tools I always want in my power supply design toolkit. As those of you who have read my resume know, I have a background in expert systems. This software is a true expert system for designing and analyzing power supplies -- with Ray Ridley's years of experience providing the expert heuristics. It is a tremendous time saver in starting a design. All you have to do is enter the input voltage specification and the output voltages and currents, select a topology, and push a button. In seconds the basic design is complete (schematic, parts list, part losses, efficiency, SPICE netlists, etc.) along with simulated voltage and current waveforms, including start-up transients. You can explore line and load transient response, change components, etc., and see the results in seconds. For cycle-by-cycle transient response, you can drop the netlist into a SPICE program and see the fine structure of the waveforms. The help files are a fairly complete tutorial on how you design a switching-mode power supply Ray Ridley style. Since you can change all components, you can analyze existing designs of the covered topologies. I have used several earlier version of Power 4-5-6 and seen the capability grow with each iteration. Early versions gave you the basic parameters to start the design of the magnetics. The Power 4-5-6 Plus version gives you a more detailed magnetic design. The program has completely changed the way I do power supply design. Drawbacks? You still have to pick actual parts for your circuit breadboard or prototype and adjust for parasitics and layout. Also, only the most popular topologies are automated, which forces you back to the old way you designed if the topology is not in the program -- but if you have been reading the help files, you will probably do it with new insights. You will still have plenty to do to complete your design, but this program cuts the time dramatically and improves the quality by letting you investigate more things about your design in less time.

If you have not yet tried the Power 4-5-6 free demo -- now is the time.

Ray Ridley's hands-on four-day power supply design workshop in Atlanta, GA, continues to be a sold-out success. You can check the dates on his website.

Ray Ridley's magazine, Switching Power Magazine, is online with its own URL. When the new issue comes out, selected back-issue articles are added to the website. Some of these you will want to print out as permanent additions to your professional library. You can see the contents of the latest issue and subscribe to the hard copy from the website. Subscriptions are free to power supply designers. Check it out.

Author: Jerrold Foutz, foutz@smpstech.com
Original: July 1, 2000, revised July 27, 2003