In this section, I go through the most enjoyable part of owning a new product – the unboxing process. Except, in this case, it wasn’t so much enjoyable as somewhat depressing …
Thinking “Outside” the Box
Being in Australia, I live roughly half-way around the world from most places, so things don’t always arrive swiftly nor in great shape. This particular shipment was no great exception and was plonked onto a hard concrete floor unceremoniously by a courier driver that couldn’t care less.
I gestured to the rounded corners of the box and the puncture holes through the double-walled box. The driver mentioned it was probably “just bubble” and motioned for me to sign the package. I dutifully signed, hoping that he was right.
Unfortunately, as soon as I opened the box, I started to have my doubts. The box is neatly packed with generous clearances from all sides enforced by foam ends. The documentation and leads are on their own cardboard tray nestled in-between. But unfortunately, it seems the supply had slipped out of these ends, becoming “free” to bounce around.
The supply itself is fairly weighty, with most of the weight balanced toward the rear where a toroidal transformer is located. The supply itself has some protective tape over some of the more sensitive parts, but otherwise rests inside a cardboard sleeve for protection. Unfortunately, the sleeve itself was torn and damage was already apparent.
The HO732 interface card backplate was very much bent, with the removal handles acting as “hooks” which must have grabbed onto something as it was being jostled about, transferring the force onto the aluminium backplate.
Peeling the protective film from the LCD, the front of the supply looks just fine, but with one exception – it doesn’t sit flat on a table. The chassis of the unit is noticeably warped. Disregarding this, we are greeted by a decently sized monochrome reflective LCD display, rotary dial with direction buttons, translucent silicone buttons with direct entry keypad and a hardware on-off switch. The front jack-field is a set of shrouded banana sockets, suitable for high voltage operations for safety but without the convenience of binding post connections.
Looking at the rear, the metal cover plates have slipped out of their channels on the rear plastic fascia, with the corner of the facia flattened as well. This would have required considerable force to achieve.
From the rear, the power supply houses the interface card which is user-exchangeable for an HO720/HO740. There are rear connections for outputs and sense lines in case of fixed installations, a double-fused IEC connector for power and a voltage selector switch. A warranty seal covers one of the screws on the rear cover with the serial number of the unit situated inside a recess in the rear plate. The unit is engineered in Germany and manufactured in Malaysia.
The left side of the supply has a single vent. The right side has two fans, which is rather unique as this is not the “traditional” configuration which is front-to-back.
The top of the supply also features perforated holes to improve airflow – just don’t sit your drinks on it! The underside, however, is solid. The feet are plastic and feature the ability to prop the supply up at an angle if necessary. The feet are also suitable for stacking identical units on top of each other, mating into the corresponding plastic pieces on the top lid, although with stack height limitations detailed in the manual (500N maximum force).
Included in the documentation is a calibration certificate, RoHS declarations, basic safety instructions and a getting started manual.
A full set of leads for international operation are included, along with the necessary pair of fuses required when changing operation voltage. It’s very nice to see that an Australian cable is included – as it is often omitted.
A closer look at the interface card shows it has a number of fairly beefy components onboard including an Altera EPM570F100C5N CPLD, Cypress CY7C1041 512Kx8 SRAM, STMicroelectronics STM32F407ZG ARM Cortex-M4 168Mhz CPU, Micrel KSZ8721BL Ethernet PHY and SMSC USB3320C USB 2.0 Transceiver.
The HMP4040.04 is a rather hefty beast. The packaging seems rather simple but appropriate with a thick double-walled sturdy outer box, a cardboard inner wrap around the supply, protective film on scratch-sensitive components and generous clearance from all sides through the use of foam ends. The supply comes with a calibration certificate, printed quick-start manual, full complement of power cords and fuses to cover international operation. While no data cables were included, they are extremely common and their omission is of no great issue.
The supply features a relatively large front panel display, rotary dial and direction-button input along with a full direct-entry keypad. Connections are made by shrouded banana plug jacks, which are safer for high voltage use but not as convenient as binding posts. Direct wire connection can be made at the rear, with the remote-control interface card being user replaceable. The unit is designed with a stackable feet design, with copious ventilation holes at the top and vents to both left and right of the unit.
However, unlike previous unboxings, instead of having a pleasant experience, this was more of a “crime scene” being documented. Rather unfortunately, the shipping carrier didn’t take any care to deliver the package with the respect it deserved, resulting in significant damage to the power supply unit within, including a warped chassis, bent I/O plate on the HO732 card and potentially further damage to the internals which are not assessable from the exterior.
As a result, this RoadTest was interrupted to submit the necessary documentation for an insurance claim to the shipping provider. Apparently, the insurance is still in the process of being finalised. In my opinion, the carrier was negligent in transporting the unit as it was clear that the box was rounded at most edges, holes were punctured into the double-walled box, the box was not transported in its correct orientation to my door and the delivery person had even “dumped” it unceremoniously onto the concrete floor during delivery. I was not going to sign for it, but the staff member motioned for me to sign it claiming it was “probably just bubble wrap crumpling”. As a result, I am still awaiting a resolution to the damage.
To some degree, Rohde & Schwarz may want to take note of this and further bulletproof their packaging. Adding bands around the foam itself, to ensure the power supply cannot “escape” the foam ends even if the double-walled box were to be collapsed would ensure there wouldn’t be a case where a hard “drop” of a crushed box would allow the chassis to make hard contact with the inside cardboard. The weighty nature of the power supply means that any free movement of the power supply relative to a “hard surface” would probably result in the damage that was seen, so an even more sturdy outer box may be necessary to avoid corner deformation that could allow the supply to move within the box. It may add a slight cost to the packaging, but if it avoids damage due to negligent couriers, it could be very much worth it.
This blog is a part of the Rohde & Schwarz HMP4040.04 Programmable Power Supply RoadTest Review.