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LM317 Power Supply Circuit
Posted on Friday, May 6, 2011   •   Category: Power Supplies

This is a DC power supply circuit using the LM317T voltage regulator IC, which is the IC of this type is very popular among electronics hobby. Parameter to regulate the output DC voltage carried by the LM317 circuit with a maximum current of 1A. LM317 output voltage of this circuit is 6V DC, source from the stress out of the 12V CT AC transformer, and then converted to DC half-wave voltage by diodes D1-D2, and filtered by C1 capacitor. The transformer is used should be about 1-2A. Output voltage of 6V DC power supply circuit is determined by the value of R1 and R2. Diodes D3-D4 on the LM317 voltage current circuit to protect poor return for LM317 circuit IC. As for the other capacitors C3-C4 is used to refine the output voltage, and complete power supply circuits.

ESR Meter
Posted on Friday, May 6, 2011   •   Category: Test and Measurement

"ESR" stands for equivalent series resistance. ESR is one of the characteristics that defines the performance of an electrolytic capacitor. Low ESR is highly desirable in a capacitor as any ripple current through the capacitor causes the capacitor to heat up due to the resistive loses. This heating accelerates the demise of the capacitor by drying out the electrolyte at an ever increasing rate. Over the lifetime of a capacitor, it is not uncommon for the ESR to increase by a factor of 10 to 30 times or even go open circuit. Typical lifetime ratings for electrolytics are 2000-15000 hours and are very dependant on ambient operating temperature. As the ESR increases, the filtering operation of the capacitor becomes impaired and eventually the circuit fails to operate correctly.

Why are ESR Meters so Useful?
A typical capacitor checker measures the capacity (usually in micro farads) of the test capacitor. Some advanced units also test for leakage current. Most of these testers require that the capacitor be removed from the circuit. Unless the capacitor has totally failed, they will not detect a high ESR value. In a typical circuit, there may be 10's or 100's of capacitors. Having to remove each one for testing is very tedious and there is a great risk of damaging circuit boards. This tester uses a low voltage ( 250mv ) high frequency (150khz) A/C current to read the ESR of a capacitor in the circuit. The in circuit testing is possible because of the low voltage used for obtaining the measurement. The voltage is low enough that solid state devices in the surrounding circuitry are not activated and do not affect the low resistance reading we are attempting to obtain. A lot of capacitor checkers will be damaged if you happen to test a charged capacitor. This circuit is A/C coupled and will withstand up to 400vdc of charge on a capacitor (but watch your fingers!). The ESR checker will not detect shorted capacitors as they will read with a very low ESR value. If you are trouble shooting a circuit, you will have to use several instruments including your nose, voltmeter and oscilloscope to locate all the possible failure modes. My experience has found that the ESR meter catches about 95% of capacitor problems and potential problems.

Stepper Motor Driver
Posted on Thursday, May 5, 2011   •   Category: Stepper Motors

Stepper motors are everywhere in electronics these days. There are two main types of stepper motors: 1. Bipolar motors. These have two coils and are controlled by changing the direction of the current flow through the coils in the proper sequence. These motors have only four wires and cannot be connected to this kit. See our Kit 1406 for a Bipolar Stepper driver Kit. 2. Unipolar motors. These have two center-tapped coils which are treated as four coils. These motors can have five, six or eight wires. Five-wire motors have the two center-taps commoned internally and brought out as one wire (Fig 1). Six-wire motors bring out each center-tap separately. The two center-taps need to be commoned externally (Fig 2). Eight-wire motors bring out both ends of each coil. The four “center-taps” are joined externally to form one wire. In each case the center-tap(s) are connected to a positive motor power supply. Unipolar motors may be connect as bipolar ones by not using the ‘+’ wires. A stepper motor has no brushes or contacts. It is basically a synchronous motor with the magnetic field electronically switched to rotate the armature magnet around. The Internet is where to get all the explanation about steppers. Just google ‘stepper motor’ and you will find tens of sites. In particular, look for ‘Jones on Stepper motors’ (it comes up top of the list when I did it just now) and read it. If you look at the other references you will find that the circuit in this kit has been around for many years in various forms. The latest publication was in Silicon Chip, 5/2002, and I have based this circuit on it.

Stereo Headphone Amplifier Adapter
Posted on Thursday, May 5, 2011   •   Category: Headphone Amplifiers

If you built our 20W Class-A Stereo Amplifier described last year, you will be aware that it lacks a headphone socket. Similarly, many hifi valve amplifiers also lack a headphone socket, the assumption being that a true hifi enthusiast will want to listen via good-quality loudspeakers. A headphone output was not included in the Class-A Stereo Amplifier because it would degrade its superb audio performance. Both the wiring paths and the general circuit layout are critical factors in the design and any changes, however slight, can cause big changes in the signal-to-noise ratio and harmonic distortion figures of the amplifier. Click for larger image Fig.1: the Stereo Headphone Adaptor connects between your stereo amplifier and the loud-speakers and can drive two pairs of headphones. If you do want to listen via headphones, a far better option is to build the simple Stereo Headphone Adaptor presented here. It connects directly to the amplifier’s speaker terminals and switches the loudspeakers and stereo headphone sockets using two DPDT (double-pole, double-throw) relays, so there’s no chance of it degrading the audio performance.

Digital Thermostat with LED Temperature Display
Posted on Thursday, May 5, 2011   •   Category: Sensors

I needed to replace two old, unreliable thermostats for controlling the heating and cooling for a large garden shed. Commercial basic digital thermostats are available quite cheaply, but some lack the ability to control heavy loads or have the extra features that I require for saving energy when the door is often left open or to indicate temperature being out of range etc. I like the PIC18F1320 microcontroller used in my previous project - so decided to use it again in a very similar design to drive three multiplexed LED displays and read the temperature from a Dallas/Maxim DS18x20 "1-Wire" digital sensor.

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