Thursday, April 4, 2013

In Vehicle Voltage Regulator

In vehicles it is often required to have a powerful yet stabilized voltage that’s not affected in any way by fluctuations of the battery voltage. The circuit shown here does the job using discrete and inexpensive parts only. While its low cost is a definite advantage over just about any kind of regulator IC, on the downside we have a minimum voltage drop of 2 volts - in fact the output voltage can be set to any value between 1.8 V and about 10 V. Continuous loads up to 100 watts can be handled, while peak values of 140 W should not present problems.

In-Vehicle Voltage Regulator circuit diagramThe power stage consists of two parallel-connected 2N3055 transistors in TO-3 cases. Because of their high base current requirement, a driver transistor type BD241B is incorporated. The feedback voltage arrives at the inverting input of the regulator IC, a type 741 opamp. The level of the reference voltage at the inverting input is adjusted with potentiometer (or preset) P1. The circuit board, of which the layout is given here, accommodates all parts including the two 2N3055 power transistors. As a matter of course, they should be properly cooled.

In-Vehicle Voltage Regulator circuit diagramRemember, the case of a 2N3055 is connected to the collector which is at battery-positive potential. If necessary the voltage regulator may be bypassed by an external switch connecting the battery + terminal with the output terminal. The switch, if used, should be capable of passing considerable currents - at relatively low output voltages (up to about 6 V) currents of up to 15 A (continuous) or 20 A (peak) may be expected. Although the output current is reduced to 10 A when the 10-V level is approached, it is better to be safe than sorry.

In-Vehicle Voltage Regulator circuit diagramIn-Vehicle Voltage Regulator circuit diagramResistors:
  • R1,R2 = 0Ω1, 5W
  • R3 = 1kΩ
  • R4 = 100kΩ
  • P1 = 10kΩ linear potentiometer
  • C1,C2,C3 = 100nF
  • IC1 = 741CN
  • T1 = BD241B
  • T2,T3 = 2N3055 (TO-3 case)
  • K1,K2 = 2-way PCB terminal block, lead pitch 5mm
  • S1 = switch, heavy-duty, 1 change-over contact (see text)