Experimenting with bridge rectifers for AC to DC power conversion

The folks over at Toymaker Television have put together another episode. This time they’re looking at bridge rectifiers and how they’re used in AC to DC converters.

This is a simple concept which is worth taking the time to study for those unfamiliar with it. Since Alternating Current is made up of cycles of positive and negative signals it must be converted before use in Direct Current circuits; a process called rectification. This is done using a series of 1-way gates (diodes) in a layout called a bridge rectifier. That’s the diamond shape seen in the diagram above.

This episode, which is embedded after the break, takes a good long look at the concept. One of the things we like best about the presentation is that the hosts of the show talk about actual electron flow. This is always a quagmire with those new to electronics, as schematics portray flow from positive to negative, but electron theory suggests that actual electron flow is the exact opposite. Continue reading “Experimenting with bridge rectifers for AC to DC power conversion”

Light bulb, diode, and capacitor step mains down to 12V DC

[Todd Harrison] needed a way to run a 12 volt PC fan from mains voltage. Well, we think he really just needed something to keep him occupied on a Sunday, but that’s beside the point. He shows us how he did this in a non-traditional way by using the resistive load of an incandescent light bulb, a diode, and a capacitor to convert voltage to what he needed. You can read his article, or settle in for the thirty-five minute video after the break where he explains his circuit.

The concept here is fairly simple. The diode acts as a half-wave rectifier by preventing the negative trough of the alternating current from passing into his circuit. The positive peaks of the electricity travel through the light bulb, which knocks down the voltage to a usable level. Finally, the capacitor fills the gaps where the negative current of the AC used to be, providing direct current to the fan. It’s easy to follow but the we needed some help with the math for calculating the correct lightbulb to use to get our desired output current.

Continue reading “Light bulb, diode, and capacitor step mains down to 12V DC”

Ridiculous exerciser becomes useful as a charger

[Scott Nietfeld] built a charger from a Dyna-flex wrist exerciser. We hadn’t heard of a these gyroscopic devices before but once we saw the promo video (embedded after the break) we realized that this is the kind of thing that infomercials were made to sell. [Scott] knew the internals spun to fairly high RPM and figured that adding a few magnets on the inside and coils on the outside would turn this thing into a generator. Four rare-earth magnets fit the bill, with two external coils feeding a rectifier and linear regulator. Below you can see his demonstration video where he takes the orb apart, then spins it up, generating 250 mA at about 7.5 volts to drive the regulator and charge a cellphone. Not bad!

Continue reading “Ridiculous exerciser becomes useful as a charger”

Possibly the most beautiful piece of hardware

I’m going to break from the typical Hackaday article format for a moment. I’m smitten, captivated by this wondrous new discovery. Forgive my ignorance for having never seen one of these before, I didn’t go to school for electronics. For those, who like myself wondered, what is this beautiful glowing thing, it is a mercury arc valve rectifier.

This is not some chintzy attempt at neo victorian styling (steampunk if you absolutely must), this is an actual piece of electronics used in the field. Widely used to convert alternating current to direct current for railways and street cars, these could actually be found in the wild. There was a time, that opening a door in a power station would have presented you with this fantastic green and purple glowing orb, dripping mercury sparkling inside. If you are anything like me, you would most likely have been frozen in your tracks, convinced you were bearing witness magic.

[via Make]

The mechanical diode

A diode allows current to travel in only one direction. With that in mind, [Alex] built a mechanical diode that will only allow gear rotation in one direction to be transmitted through the system. But wait, by connecting two of these devices together he’s built something of a mechanical rectifier. An electrical rectifier converts alternating current to direct current and this mechanical version outputs clockwise rotation no matter what direction of rotation is coming into the device.

There’s video which we’ve embedded after the break as well as many pictures on his site but not much explanation. Here’s what we’ve deduced. The two large gears are inputs. Mounted on top of them is a smaller ratcheting gear that will only turn in one direction. This ratcheting gear selects whether the smallest gear on the left or right will rotate, which then feeds the output gear at the top of this image. Continue reading “The mechanical diode”