Beginner Concepts: Powering your projects

Powering your gadgets generally seems like a necessary evil. To help with this [Felipe La Rotta] made a really nice bench power supply using a PC power supply and a LM317 adjustable voltage regulator. PC power supplies are an example of a switched power supply(more on that later).  The LM317 is a type of linear voltage regulator that allows for adjusting the output voltage by varying some resistors. Whats the best way to power your circuits? well that depends…

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Make switched-mode power supplies do your bidding

[Ken] needed to supply 3.3 volts of regulated power. He started by using a linear voltage regulator but after a few calculations he discovered that 72% of what he put in was lost to heat. The solution to this is a switched-mode power supply. Rather than burn off energy through a voltage divider, an SMPS turns the power on and off very quickly to achieve the desired voltage.

A car charger-type USB regulator was chosen as [Ken’s] donor device. He figured that making adjustments to the resistors inside would affect the output voltage and he was right. He adjusted the potential divider and ended up with a steady 3.295V.

We asked him to share the schematic that he put together from studying the board and he came through. See that and get the link to the DC-DC converter datasheet after the break. Continue reading “Make switched-mode power supplies do your bidding”

Dual voltage power supply


[Melanie] had some time this weekend so she whipped up a dual voltage power supply from parts on hand. This design plugs right into a breadboard and, unlike the last breadboard power supply we saw, provides two voltages at one time. 5v is delivered to one power bus while 3.3v goes to the other. Her design uses two linear low voltage drop regulators from the LF00 family (PDF datasheet) to accomplish this. Nice work!

Adjustable breadboard power supply


This looks like a great addition to your breadboard. [Nerdz] wanted a power supply that was easily portable and adjustable. He built a custom board that plugs directly into the breadboard’s power rails. It has a pot attached to the ground of a 7805 voltage regulator so the output can be adjusted from 5V to just under the supply voltage. Anything that makes a breadboard less of a rats nest is definitely a good thing.

Parts: LM317 adjustable voltage regulator

Every project needs a power supply. As 3.3volt logic replaces 5volt systems, we’re reaching for the LM317 adjustable voltage regulator, rather than the classic 7805. We’ve found four different hobbyist-friendly packages for different situations.

A simple voltage divider (R1,R2) sets the LM317 output between 1.25volts and 37volts; use this handy LM317 calculator to find resistor values. The regulator does its best to maintain 1.25volts on the adjust pin (ADJ), and converts any excess voltage to heat. Not all packages are the same. Choose a part that can supply enough current for your project, but make sure the package has sufficient heat dissipation properties to burn off the difference between the input and output voltages.

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