[Scott’s] been digging around the back issues of the Internet to find this project. He blew the dust off and sent us a link to an article that traverses the design and build process of a bench power supply.
[Guido Socher] does an excellent job of presenting his bench supply project. So many others show of the final product, but he has gone out of his way to make sure we understand the design principles that went into it. He starts off by talking about the simplest possible supply design: a transistor and Zener diode which generates a reference voltage. He goes on to discuss the problems with this simplified circuit and how to address them, covering the gotchas that pop up at each step in the process.
Once he designed the circuit and laid out some boards he began building an enclosure. We love his tip about using a stick pin and an unpopulated through-hole PCB to mark button locations on the front bezel of the case. The final design is shown above, and includes a laptop brick to translate mains power into a 24V 3A DC feed for his custom circuitry.
[Guido Socher] built himself a great little bench power supply that’s able to put out 30 Volts at 2 Amps.
Instead of taking the easy way out by putting a few taps on an ATX power supply, this project was built around a generic 24 Volt laptop power brick. An ATmega8 generates a PWM signal that is sent though a low-pass filter, allowing everything to be very precisely controlled. This DC signal is then sent through a BD245 power transistor to bring everything up to the desired output. [Guido Socher] included a USB port for computer control of everything, and the final project is something we’d be happy to have on our bench.
We’ve seen a few computer power supplies converted into a bench power source, but we’re impressed with [Guido Socher]’s build log. It’s not often we see a hack that goes over the theory of operation, and the end product is very nice (and functional) too.
[Punish3r] wanted to have power for prototyping on the go. What he came up with is this little thing above. Inside you’ll find common components that let the unit provide 10 amp hours of current with a 12V 500mA output.
The storage capacity is provided by a dozen Lithium batteries. These 3.7V cheapies are wired in parallel behind a protection board. For charging and discharging, a Sparkfun LiPo charger board was used, taking care of all the work necessary to top off the batteries using a wall-wort. The final piece in the puzzle is a boost converter that provides the regulated 12v connected to the red and black banana plug receivers on the bottom of the case.
This is very much a plug-and-play design… just make sure you hook the parts up correctly and you’re up and running. We would love to see a roll-your-own boost converter circuit that include a switch or dial that lets you select common PSU voltage levels. If you’re going to the trouble to make your own board you might as well incorporate the charging circuit at the same time.
Here’s a fancy way to convert an ATX powers supply into a bench supply. [TG] didn’t just cut off the motherboard connector and add banana plugs, but improved the functionality. Right off the bat you’ll notice that he’s added a control panel. There is an Ammeter and Ohmmeter to let you know what the unit is putting out. He added an MIC29152WT adjustable voltage regulator so that he’s not limited to the fixed voltages of the psu. As a final touch he added an external voltage probe which can be used with the flick of a switch. It’s no replacement for a proper bench supply, especially since it doesn’t have adjustable current limiting, but it’s a nice improvement upon previous psu hacks.
Every electronics workbench could benefit from having a bench power supply. Converting a PC power supply works, but often, it involves splicing wires and limits the supply to only bench use, and building one from scratch is definitely an undertaking. To counter this, [silic0re] and his father came up with a detachable adapter that simply plugs into the existing connectors. The adapter provides posts for four different voltages and can be built in no time. It’s nice to see a solution that will let you use any power supply laying around without having to worry about the dangers of opening it or cutting it up.