A Simple Linear Power Supply, Done Well

When reaching for a power supply design it’s normal here in 2022 to reach for a switching design. They’re lightweight, very efficient, and often available off-the-shelf at reasonable prices. Their benefits are such that it’s become surprisingly rare to see a traditional linear power supply with a mains-frequency transformer and rectifier circuit, so [ElectroBoy]’s dual voltage PSU board for audio amplifiers is worth a second look.

This type of linear power supply has an extremely simple circuit consisting of a transformer, bridge rectifier, and capacitors. The transformer isolates and steps down the AC voltage, the rectifier turns it into a rough DC, and the capacitors filter the DC to remove as much AC ripple as possible. In an audio power supply the capacitors have the dual role of filtering and providing an impulse reservoir for the supply in the event of a peak in demand imposed by the music being played. Careful selection is vital, with in this case a toroidal mains transformer and good quality capacitors being chosen.

The choice between a linear power supply such as this one and a switching design for high quality audio is by no means clear-cut, and may be something we’ll consider in our Know Audio series. The desirable properties are low noise and that impulse reservoir we mentioned, and it’s probably fair to say that while both types of power supply can satisfy them. With the extra expense of a toroidal transformer a linear supply is unlikely to be the cheaper of the two, but we suspect the balance tips in its favour due to a good linear supply being the easier to design.

A Tiny Bench Power Supply

One of the more popular projects for beginners in electronics is a power supply. Yes, you can always go to Amazon and buy a nice power supply, but unfortunately, we haven’t set up our Amazon affiliate links yet. Instead, we’ll have to go with the next best thing and check out [Tron900]’s mini bench power supply build. It’s extremely capable and cute as a button.

The design goals for this project were to build a small and compact unit using mostly salvaged and recycled components, with all through-hole circuitry. The best guide you’ll ever find for a DIY power supply is one of [Dave Jones]’ earlier video series¬†going over the construction of an adjustable power supply based on an LT3080. [Tron] didn’t have this regulator on hand and wanted to base his design around an op-amp instead. After rummaging through his parts, he found what he was looking for: a TIP3055 power transistor, a neat enclosure that could double as a heatsink and an AD680 voltage reference.

The design of this power supply was simulated in SIMETRIX, and after a few revisions [Tron] had a circuit that worked reasonably well. The circuit was populated on a piece of perfboard, a fantastic front panel was constructed, and one of those ubiquitous volt/ammeter panels added.

This is just a one-off project, but the results are fantastic. This is a very small, very capable power supply that does everything [Tron] needs. It’s accurate enough, at least when measured with a fancy benchtop HP meter, and looks adorable. What more could you want in a benchtop power supply?