Laser-Guided Door Opener

This automatic door opener can be made using readily available components. The electromagnetic relay at the output of this gadget can be used to control the DC/AC door-opener motor/solenoid of an electromechanical door opener assembly, with slight intervention in its electrical wiring. A laser diode (LED1) is used here as the light transmitter. Alternatively, you can use any available laser pointer. The combination of resistor R1 and diode D1 protects the laser diode from over-current flow. By varying multi-turn trimpot VR1, you can adjust the sensitivity. (Note that ambient light reflections may slightly degrade the performance of this unit.) Initially, when the laser beam is falling on photo-transistor T1, it conducts to reverse-bias transistor T3 and the input to the first gate (N1) of IC1 (CD4001) is low. The high output at pin 3 of gate N1 forward biases the LED-driver transistor (T4) and the green standby LED (LED2) lights up continuously.

Circuit diagram :

Laser-Guided Door Opener Circuit Diagram

Laser-Guided Door Opener Circuit Diagram

The rest of the circuit remains in standby state. When someone interrupts the laser beam, photo-transistor T1 stops conducting and transistor T3 becomes forward-biased. This makes the output of gate N1 go low. Thus LED-driver transistor T4 becomes reverse-biased and LED2 stops glowing. At the same time, the low output of gate N1 makes the output of N2 high. Instantly, this high level at pin 4 of gate N2 triggers the monostable multivibrator built around the remaining two gates of IC1 (N3 and N4). Values of resistor R8 and capacitor C1 determine the time period of the monostable. The second monostable built around IC2 (CD4538) is enabled by the high-going pulse at its input pin 12 through the output of gate N4 of the first monostable when the laser beam is interrupted. As a result, relay RL1 energizes and the door-opener motor starts operating. LED3 glows to indicate that the door-opener motor is getting the supply.

At the same time, piezo-buzzer PZ1 sounds an alert. Transistor T5, whose base is connected to Q output (pin 10) of IC2, is used for driving the relay. Transistor T6, whose base is connected to Q output of IC2, is used for driving the intermittent piezo-buzzer. ‘On’ time of relay RL1 can be adjusted by varying trimpot VR2. Resistor R9, variable resistor VR2 and capacitor C3 decide the time period of the second monostable and through it on time of RL1. The circuit works off 12V DC power supply. Assemble it on a general-purpose PCB. After construction, mount the laser diode and the photo-transistor on opposite sides of the door-frame and align them such that the light beam from the laser diode falls on the photo-transistor directly. The motor connected to the pole of relay contacts is the one used in electromechanical door-opener assembly. If you want to use a DC motor, replace mains AC connection with a DC power supply.

Author : T.K. Hareendran - Copyright :

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Junk-box Fan Speed Controller

My new home theatre receiver was getting rather hot in the close confines of its cabinet, with the temperature reaching over 40°C after only about 30 minutes of use. To help lower the temperature, I decided to install a fan in the cabinet. A 75mm hole was cut in the shelf under the receiver, and a 12V fan salvaged from an old computer power supply was mounted underneath. The fan was powered from a 12V DC plugpack.

This did the job, keeping the temperature below 30°C even after prolonged use on a warm day. However, the fan was annoyingly loud when running at full speed. To reduce the noise level substantially, I built this fan speed controller with temperature feedback. The circuit was culled from variety of ideas found on various sites on the internet, with the final circuit designed from what was in the "junk box". Air temperature in the cabinet is sensed via an LM335 (TS1).

Circuit diagram:

junk-box-fan-speed-controller circuit diagram

Junk-box Fan Speed Controller Circuit Diagram

It is glued to a piece of aluminium about 25mm square with instant glue, which is then attached to the top of the receiver with "Blue-Tack". About 300mm of audio coax makes the connection back to the circuit board. The LM335’s output rises 10mV per degree Centigrade. It is calibrated to zero output at -273°C, so at 20°C, the output will be 2.93V. This is applied to the non-inverting input of a 741 op amp (IC1). A 1N4733 5.1V Zener diode provides a voltage reference for the inverting input via trimpot VR1. The output of the op amp drives a TIP122 Darlington transistor (Q1), which in turn drives the fan motor. The op amp gain was calculated to give about 12V to the fan at 40°C.

To keep the transistor cool, it is mounted on the metal base of a small plastic box, which is also used to house the components.  Initial setup should be performed with everything turned off and the ambient temperature at about 20°C. Adjust the 10-turn pot until the fan just stops running. I used a gasket made from foam strips and "blue-tacked" them between the feet of the receiver to direct all of the airflow through it. The temperature now remains at about 32°C, the fan runs very quietly and continues to run down for about 30 minutes after the receiver is switched off.

Author: Martin Cook - Copyright: Silicon Chip Electronics

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Efficient Fan Speed Controller

A partial solution to quietening noisy PCs can be to reduce the speed of internal cooling fans. Low-cost fan speed controllers are available, but they often employ inefficient, heat-generating linear regulators and contain no temperature feedback mechanism. This idea makes use of a readily available, cheap in-car mobile phone charger. The majority of these use common circuitry and require only minor modifications to operate as efficient fan speed controllers complete with temperature feedback. Most in-car chargers are based on the well-known MC34063 DC-DC switchmode IC.

When used for charging mobile phones, the open-circuit output voltage is typically set to between 7V and 9V. This is achieved with a simple voltage divider across the output, the centre point of which connects to the feedback input (pin 5) of the MC34063. To make the output voltage var-iable with air temperature, first replace the upper resistor of the divider with a 4.7kΩ resistor in series with a 4.7kΩ trimpot. The lower half of the divider is then replaced with a 470Ω resistor in series with a 500Ω NTC thermistor. These values are only a guide and can be varied to suit different thermistor and fan types.

Circuit diagram:

efficient-fan-speed-controller-circuit diagram

Efficient Fan Speed Controller Circuit Diagram

Note that component lead length should be minimised to avoid introducing noise into the feedback circuitry. Getting the correct fan starting voltage is a matter of trial and error. The values shown on the circuit give a starting voltage of about 6.8V at room temperature but trimpot VR1 can be used to raise this voltage as necessary. The output can then rise to about 10V if the interior temperature rises sufficiently. The 4.7kΩ resistor could be reduced to 3.9kΩ and VR1 adjusted to give a lower starting voltage if the fan speed is still too high at 7V. After running for one hour or so, the fan voltage as set by the interior case temperature thermistor on my PC settled at 7.4V.

Suitable chargers are available from Oatley Electronics, Cat. No. 2D0074. They’re currently listed at $5 for two, which is less than the price of the MC34063 ICs alone! Data on the MC34063 can be downloaded from and a useful development aid is to be found at Finally, note that not all chargers have an output filter capacitor installed. Typically, this is a 220µF 10V or 16V electrolytic type. To save a few cents, the manufacturers sometimes leave this component out, relying on the mobile’s battery to perform the filtering task. If this component is missing from your charger’s PC board, it should be installed before the supply is used.

Author: Brad Sheargold - Copyright: Silicon Chip Electronics

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IR (Infrared) Detector

Men in particular enjoy the convenience of television remote controls – often to the annoyance of their female partners. Men apparently want to know what they’re missing when the TV is tuned to a particular program, so they like to keep zapping to other channels. With the remote control in their hands, they feel like they are the lord and master of the TV set. They are thus completely at a loss if the remote control doesn’t work properly. There are many reasons why a remote control unit can malfunction, such as defective IR receiver in the TV set, a defect in the remote control, or empty batteries. Here a tester that can determine whether the remote control unit still emits an IR signal can come in handy. If you want to keep the IR reins firmly in hand, you can build your own IR detector.

Circuit diagram:


Infrared Detector Circuit Diagram

Circuit description:

If you have a few remote control units around the house, you’ll appreciate this little circuit. The LED clearly indicates whether the remote control unit actually emits an IR signal when you press one of the buttons on the unit. The circuit uses a photo-diode (D1) to sense the infrared light emitted by the remote control unit (if it is working properly). The plastic package of this diode acts as an IR filter that is only transparent to invisible light with a wavelength of 950 nm.
Although there are probably some remote control units that use IR diodes operating at a different wavelength, the circuit has enough sensitivity to detect them as well. If enough light falls on photo-diode D1, an electrical current will flow through the diode. In fact, what happens is that the leakage current increases, since photo-diodes are usually operated in reverse-biased mode (as is the case here). If the current is large enough, transistor T1 conducts and causes LED D2 to light up.

If LED D2 remains dark, this means the remote control unit is not producing any IR light. This can be due to an empty battery (or batteries) or a fault in the internal circuitry. Pay careful attention to the polarization of the photo-diode when wiring it into the circuit. The cathode is clearly marked by a special pin. For LED D2, use a low-current type that can handle a current of at least 7 mA. The detector can be powered by a pair of 1.5-V penlight cells connected in series.

Copyright : Elektor Electronics 12-2006

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Audio Level Threshold Control

This circuit was originally designed for use in detecting discharges from individual neurons, where the infrequent discharges are difficult to separate from dominant background noise. It may also prove useful in other applications that need to detect infrequent low-level audio signals against a noisy background. The audio input signal is buffered by op amp IC1 before being applied to the opposing inputs of comparators IC4 & IC5. Positive and negative offset voltages are generated by VR1 and IC2 and fed to the other two inputs of the comparators. Essentially, the comparators act to produce a negative voltage at their commoned outputs (C) whenever the audio signal exceeds either the positive or negative offset voltage.

Circuit diagram:


Audio Level Threshold Control Circuit Diagram

The signal at "C" is inverted by transistor Q1 to produce "D". These two signals are used to control a pair of CMOS switches (S1 & S2), which either pass the audio signal to the output or short it to ground. The signal from the CMOS switches is buffered by IC3, which in conjunction with the 10kΩ resistor and 10nF capacitor filters out the switching artefacts. In practice, the offset voltage is adjusted until there is little or no breakthrough of the noise background at the output. Thereafter, only audio signals exceeding the threshold are passed. Inevitably, this produces some crossover distortion but this is of little consequence compared with the benefit of the quiet background.

Author: Graham Jackman - Copyright: Silicon Chip Electronics

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Dual Input-Combining Stereo Line Amplifier

This circuit takes two separate line-level stereo (L & R) signals and combines them into one stereo (L & R) output, thus avoiding the need to switch between two pairs of input signals. In the author’s application, it is used to feed the stereo audio from a TV receiver and a DVD player into an external amplifier. The need for the circuit arose because of a design peculiarity in the TV receiver. The TV has four A/V inputs and one A/V output. AV1-AV3 accept composite or S-video plus stereo audio inputs and these feed into the TV’s A/V output. AV4 accepts Component video (Y/Pb/Pr) plus stereo audio but unlike AV1-AV3, its audio (and video) signals are not fed to the TV A/V output. The Y/Pb/Pr input was chosen for use with the DVD player because of its superior video quality, while the audio was to be fed to an external amplifier for improved reproduction.

Circuit diagram:


Dual Input-Combining Stereo Line Amplifier Circuit Diagram

However, manual switching was inconvenient, hence the genesis of this design. In use, the DVD player audio is fed in parallel to TV AV4 and to one input pair of the combining amplifier, while the TV audio output feeds the other input pair. The amplifier output goes to the external audio amplifier. There is no conflict between the two audio inputs because when AV4 (DVD player) is selected, there is no TV audio output. In all other modes, the DVD player is off. As shown, the circuit has a voltage gain of 1.5 times (3.5dB) but this can be altered as required by changing the two 15kW resistors. Input impedance is 10kW and the outputs are isolated from cable and amplifier input capacitance with 47W series resistors. The circuit can be powered from a regulated 12V DC plugpack.

Author: Garth Jenkinson - Copyright: Silicon Chip Electronics

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Multi-Melody Generator With Instrumental Effect

This melody generator can generate various English and Hindi tunes as also instrumental effects. Various modes of melodies can be selected through DIP switches. Other advantages are high volume and volume control. IC UM3481A is a 16-pin multi-instrument melody generator. It is a mask-ROM-programmed IC designed to play the melody according to the programmed data. Its inbuilt preamplifier provides a simple interface to the driver circuit. The IC can be replaced with other UM348XXX series, WR630173 or WE4822 melody generator ICs. A WR630173 preprogrammed as Hindi melody generator can be used here. There are 16 tunes stored in WR630173 including mera joota hai japani, mera naam chin chin chu, hare rama hare krishna, raghu pati raghav raja ram and ramaiya vasta vaiya. The circuit is powered by a 3V battery.


Multi-Melody Generator With Instrumental Effect Circuit Diagram

Switch S2 is the main input-select switch for producing different tones in the loudspeaker. Various modes of operation are selected through DIP switches S3, S4 and S5 connected to pins 3, 5 and 7 of IC1, respectively. Pin 7 is the envelope circuit terminal through which instrumental effects are produced.The preamplifier outputs are available at pins 10 and 11, which are fed to loudspeaker-driver transistors T1 (SK100) and T2 (SL100), respectively. When you switch on the circuit by closing switch S1, LED1 glows. If DIP switches S3 and S5 are closed and S4 open, pressing input switch S2 will generate a melody tone from the loudspeaker. Vary VR1 to adjust its volume. Pressing S2 again will generate a new melody tone. If switches S3 and S4 are opened while S5 is closed, the same tone keeps repeating for every pressing of S2. The positions of DIP switches and the various modes of melodies are summarised in the table. When switch S5 is open, it will generate an instrumental effect from the loudspeaker.

Multi-Melody Generator With Instrumental Effect

This effect is produced by the enveloping circuit consisting of capacitor C1 and resistor R2 connected to pin 7 of IC1. In fact, by hit and trial you can choose the values of these components as per your taste by listening to the output sound. Only C1 or R2 or its parallel combination can be used to generate a distinct instrument effect. To select any of these options, two jumper terminals J1 and J2 are provided in the circuit at C1 and R2, respectively. For example, if you want to use only C1, you can join J1 terminals using hookup wire or jumper cap and keep J2 open. The repetition of the musical effect depends on the status of switches S3 and S4. The oscillation frequency is produced by the resistor and capacitor connected at pins 14 and 13 of IC1. This frequency is used as a time base for the tone, rhythm and tempo generators. The quality of the melody tones depends on this frequency. Resistor R6 (100-kilo-ohm) connected to pin 15 makes the circuit insensitive to variations in the power supply.

Author: EFY Lab - Copyright: Electronics For You

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Low Cost Universal Battery Charger Schematic

Low cost solution for charging of both NiCd and NiMh batteries

Here is the circuit diagram of a low cost universal charger for NiCD - NiMH batteries. This circuit is Ideal for car use. It has ability to transform a mains adapter in to a charger . This one can be used to charge cellular phone, toys, portables, video batteries, MP3 players, ... and has selectable charge current. An LED is located in circuit to indicate charging. Can be built on a general purpose PCB or a veroboard. I hope you really like it.

Picture of the circuit:a_low_cost_universal_charger circuit schematic_for_nicd_nimh_batteries 

 A Low Cost Universal Charger Circuit Schematic

Circuit diagram:

a_low_cost_universal_charger_circuit_diagram_for_nicd nimh batteries

A Low Cost Universal Charger Circuit Diagram


R1 = 120R-0...5W
R2 = See Diagram
C1 = 220uF-35V
D1 = 1N4007
D2 = 3mm. LED
Q1 = BD135
J1 = DC Input Socket


  • Ideal for in car use.
  • LED charge indication.
  • Selectable charge current.
  • Charges Ni Cd or NiMH batteries.
  • Transforms a mains adapter into a charger.
  • Charge cellular phone, toys, portables, video batteries …


  • LED function indication.
  • Power supply polarity protected.
  • Supply current: same as charge current.
  • Supply voltage: from 6.5VDC to 21VDC (depending on used battery)
  • Charge current (±20%): 50mA, 100mA, 200mA, 300mA, 400mA. (selectable)

Determining the supply voltage:

This table indicates the minimum and maximum voltages to supply the charger. See supply voltage selection chart below.


To charge a 6V battery a minimum supply voltage of 12V is needed, the maximum voltage is then 15V.

Voltage selection:

supply_voltages_selection_chart_for_ ow cost universal_battery Charger

Voltage Selection Chart For Low Cost Universal Battery Charger

Determining the charge current:

Before building the circuit, you must determinate how much current will be used to charge the battery or battery pack. It is advisable to charge the battery with a current that is 10 times smaller then the battery capacity, and to charge it for about 15 hours. If you double the charge current , then you can charge the battery in half the time. Charge current selection chart is located in diagram.


A battery pack of 6V / 1000mAh can be charged with 100mA during 15 hours. If you want to charge faster, then a charge current of 200mA can be used for about 7 hours.


The higher charge current, the more critical the charge time must be checked. When faster charging is used, it is advisable to discharge the battery completely before charging. Using a charge current of 1/10 of the capacity will expand the lifetime of the battery. The charge time can easily be doubled without damaging the battery.


  • Mount the transistor together with the heatsink on the PCB, bend the leads as necessary. Take care that the metal back of the transistor touches the heatsink. Check that the leads of the transistor do not touch the heatsink.

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Low-Voltage Remote Mains Switch

This circuit allows a 240V mains appliance to be controlled remotely via low-voltage cabling and a pushbutton switch. The mains appliance (in this case, a light bulb) is switched with a suitably-rated relay. All of the electronics is housed in an ABS box located in proximity to the appliance. The pushbutton switch and plugpack are located remotely and can be wired up with 3-core alarm cable or similar. Cable lengths of 20m or more are feasible with this arrangement. When the switch (S1) is pressed, the input (pin 8) of IC1c is briefly pulled low via the 10mF capacitor, which is initially discharged.

Circuit diagram:


Low-Voltage Remote Mains Switch Circuit Diagram

The output (pin 10) immediately goes high and this is inverted and fed back to the second input (pin 9) via another gate in the quad NAND package (IC1d). In conjunction with the 1MW resistor and 470nF capacitor, IC1d eliminates the effects of contact "bounce" by ensuring that IC1c’s output remains high for a predetermined period. The output from IC1c drives the clock input of a 4013 D-type flip-flop (IC2). The flipflop is wired for a "toggle" function by virtue of the Q-bar connection back to the D input. A 2.2MW resistor and 100nF capacitor improve circuit noise immunity. Each time the switch is pressed, the flipflop output (pin 13) toggles, switching the transistor (Q1) and relay on or off. Note that all mains wiring must be properly installed and completely insulated so that there is no possibility of it contacting the low-voltage side of the circuit.

Author: Bob Hammond - Copyright: Silicon Chip Elecronics

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Preamp Stage For Ceramic Phono Cartridge Or Violin Pickups

While we have published a number of variations on a standard RIAA preamplifier for magnetic phono cartridges, we have not published a preamp stage for ceramic phono cartridges. Typically, these were supplied as turnover cartridges in record changers but there were higher quality versions such as the Decca Deram. These phono cartridges are piezoelectric devices which require a very high input impedance. Similarly, violin pick-ups made by Fishman, Barcus Berry and others are piezo devices. These two circuits have been requested for a violin pickup but could equally well suit a ceramic or crystal pickup. The op amp circuit uses a TL071 connected as a voltage-follower. It can run from a battery supply of ±9V.

Circuit diagram:


The alternative transistor circuit uses a BC549 connected as an emitter-follower but with bootstrapping of the input bias network to provide a high input impedance. Both circuits have input coupling capacitors but since the transducers are capacitive (ie, piezo) they could possibly be omitted. Both circuits will probably need to be followed by further gain, depending on the output level. For a violin pickup, a parametric equaliser is also recommended, and for this we would suggest the 3-band parametric equaliser published in the July 1996 issue of SILICON CHIP. With a slight change to the feedback of the first op amp in this circuit, the extra gain required could also be provided.

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Solar Hot Water Panel Differential Pump Controller

This circuit optimises the circulation of heated water from solar hot water panels to a storage cylinder. It achieves this by controlling a 12V DC pump, which is switched on at a preset temperature differential of 8°C and off at about 4°C. This method of control has distinct advantages over some systems that run the pump until the differential approaches 0°C. In such systems, the pump typically runs whenever the sun shines. A small 10W solar panel charging a 12V SLA battery is sufficient to run the controller. Most commercial designs use 230VAC pumps, which of course don’t work when there is a power outage or there is no AC power at the site.

solar-hot-water-panel differential pump controller 


Temperature sensors TS1 & TS2 are positioned to measure the highest and lowest water temperatures, with one at the panel outlet and the other at the base of the storage cylinder. The difference between the sensor outputs is amplified by op amp IC1d, which is configured for a voltage gain of about 47. As the sensors produce 10mV/°C, a difference of 8°C will produce about 3.76V at the op amp’s output (pin 14). The output from IC1d is fed into the non-inverting input (pin 10) of a second op amp stage (IC1c), which is wired as a voltage comparator. The op amp’s inverting input (pin 9) is tied to a reference voltage, which can be varied by trimpot VR3. When the voltage from IC1d exceeds the reference voltage, the output of the comparator (pin 8) swings towards the positive rail.

A 10MW resistor feeds a small portion of the output signal back to the non-inverting input, adding some hysteresis to the circuit to ensure positive switching action. A third op amp stage (IC1b) acts as a unity-gain buffer. When the comparator’s output goes high, the buffer stage switches the Mosfet (Q1) on, which in turn energises the pump motor. Mosfet Q1’s low drain-source on-state resistance means that in most cases, it won’t need to be mounted on a heatsink. The prototype uses a Davies Craig EBP 12V magnetic drive pump, which draws about 1A when running and is suitable for low-pressure hot water systems only (don’t use it for mains-pressure systems as it may burst!). For mains-pressure systems, the author suggests the SID 10 range of brass-body magnetic drive pumps from Ivan Labs USA.

Circuit diagram:

solar-hot-water-panel-differential-pump controller circuit diagram

Solar Hot Water Panel Differential Pump Controller Circuit Diagram


Each LM335 temperature sensor and its associated trimpot is glued to a small copper strip using high-temperature epoxy. It is then waterproofed with silicon sealant and encapsulated in heatshrink tubing. Standard twin-core shielded microphone cable can be used for the connection to the circuit board. Before sealing the two units, adjust their trimpots to get 2.98V at 25°C [(ambient temperature x .01) + 2.73V] between the "+" and "-" terminals. When both have been adjusted, clamp them together and allow their temperatures to stabilise for a few minutes. Next, measure the output voltage from the differential amplifier (IC1d), which should be close to 0V. If not, tweak one of the pots until it is.

Separate the two and warm the panel sensor (TS1), monitoring the output of IC1d. You should see a marked increase in voltage, remembering that an 8°C difference between the sensors should give an output of about 3.76V. The pump switch-on point is set by VR3 and can be adjusted over a practical range of about 4-10°C differential (1.88-4.70V). Adjust VR3 to get about 3.8V on pin 9 of IC1c as a starting point. If set too low and the panels are located far from the cylinder, much of the heat will be lost in the copper connecting pipes. On the other hand, if set too high and the weather is mostly cloudy, then the pump will not switch on very often, as the panels will not get hot enough. For best results, use copper pipes for the panel plumbing and insulate them with tubes of closed-cell foam.

As the pipes cool down between pump operations, small diameter pipes of 15mm are more efficient than larger sizes as they contain less static water. In practice, the pump in the author’s setup switches on for about 30 seconds every 4-5 minutes. As the Davies pump shifts 13 litres/minute, it displaces the heated water from a single panel in about 14 seconds. There is a thermal lag in the sensor readings, so after the pump stops, the temperature difference will keep decreasing for 40 seconds or so as the panel sensor cools down and the cylinder sensor heats up.

Author: Mike Scaife - Copyright: Silicon Chip Electronics

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Ultra-Simple Microphone Preamplifier

This little project came about as a result of a design job for a client. One of the items needed was a mic preamp, and the project didn't warrant a design such as the P66 preamp, since it is intended for basic PA only. Since mic preamps are needed by people for all manner of projects, this little board may be just what's needed for interfacing a balanced microphone with PC sound cards or other gear. Unlike most of my boards, this one is double-sided. I normally avoid double-sided PCBs for projects because rework by those inexperienced in working with them will almost certainly damage the board beyond repair.

I consider this not to be an issue with this preamp, because it is so simple. It is extremely difficult to make a mistake because of the simplicity. As you can see, the board uses a PCB mounted XLR connector and pot, so is a complete mic preamp, ready to go. Feel free to ignore the terminals marked SW1 (centred between the two electrolytic supply caps), as they are specific to my client's needs and are not useful for most applications. The original use was to use them for a push-button switch that activated an audio switch via a PIC micro-controller. They are not shown on the schematic.


The DC, GND and output terminals may be hard wired to the board, you may use PCB pins or a 10-way IDC (Insulation Displacement Connector) and ribbon cable. Power can be anything between +/-9V and +/-18V with an NE5532 opamp. The mic input is electronically balanced, and noise is quite low if you use the suggested opamp. Gain range is from about 12dB to 37dB as shown. It can be increased by reducing the value of R6, but this should not be necessary. Because anti-log pots are not available, the gain control is not especially linear, but unfortunately in this respect there is almost no alternative and the same problem occurs with all mic preamps using a similar variable gain control system.



The circuit is quite conventional, and if 1% metal film resistors are used throughout it will have at least 40dB of common mode rejection with worst-case values. The input capacitors give a low frequency rolloff of -3dB at about 104Hz. If better low frequency response is required, these caps may be increased to 4.7uF or 10uF bipolar electrolytics. These will give response to well below 10Hz if you think you'll ever need to go that low. The project PCB measures 77 x 24mm, and the mounting centers for the pot and XLR connector are spaced at 57mm. If preferred, a traditional chassis mounted female XLR can be used, and wired to the board with heavy tinned copper wire. The PCB pads for the connector are in the correct order for a female chassis mount socket mounted with the "Push" tab at the top.


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Yes-No Indicator Has Zero Standby Current

This circuit produces a random "Yes" or "No" with a single button press - indicated by the illumination of a red or green LED. The circuit has two advantages over similar circuits. First, it uses just a single momentary contact pushbutton, so no on-off switch is required. When the pushbutton is pressed, an oscillator comprising the 10nF capacitor and 22kΩ resistor at pins 1 & 2 is almost immediately stopped by FET Q1, which pulls the oscillator's timing capacitor to the positive rail. However, the 220nF capacitor and 470kΩ resistor in the gate circuit of Q1 introduce a tenth of a second's delay, so that about 250 oscillations take place before the clock is stopped.

Due to variations in charge on the circuit's capacitors, as well as voltage and temperature variations, and the unpredictability of when the pushbutton will be pressed, randomness is assured. The circuit has a high degree of randomness because it takes advantage of a near-perfect complementary square waveform at pins 10 and 11 of the 4047 IC. The oscillator frequency (available at pin 13) is passed through an internal divide-by-2 circuit in the 4047. This appears at pin 10 (Q), and is inverted at pin 11 (Q-bar), thus assuring a near perfect 50:50 duty cycle for the two LEDs.

Circuit diagram:

yes-no-indicator-has-zero standby current

Yes-No Indicator Circuit Diagram

However, that the "impartiality" of the circuit is partly contingent on the value of the 10nF capacitor and on a reasonably equal current flow through both LEDs. Over five trials, the Yes-No Indicator scored 142 Yes, 158 No, with Yes falling behind No in the fourth trial. Because the circuit only works while switch S1 is pressed, standby current is zero, therefore a miniature 12V battery may be used to power it. In this case the circuit could be used thousands of times before the battery would run flat. The circuit has a further potential use. If the LEDs are omitted and a piezo (capacitive) sounder is wired directly to pins 10 and 11, it will produce a loud beep when equipment is turned on, and will continue to draw less than 0.5mA until it is switched off. The frequency of the beep may be changed by altering the value of the 10nF capacitor and its duration by altering the value of the 220nF capacitor.

Author: Thomas Scarborough - Copyright: Silicon Chip Electronics

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Luminescent Generator

When spun rapidly between the fingers, a bipolar stepper motor will generate around 10VAC. If this is stepped up with a small 240V to 6-0-6V transformer in reverse (with series connected secondaries), a small bipolar stepper motor is capable of powering a standard 5cm by 6cm luminescent sheet at full brightness. These are designed to be powered from 20V to 200VAC (typically 115VAC), producing 1.5 candelas of light - which will dimly light the average room, or adequately light a camp table. They are manufactured by Seikosha (RS Components Cat. 267-8726).

Circuit diagram:

luminescent-generator-circuit diagram

Luminescent Generator Circuit Diagram

The transformer should be a small one (around 100mA or so), otherwise efficiency is compromised. The wires of the motor's two phases are usually paired white & yellow and red & blue. Just one of these phases is employed in the circuit. If a small bipolar stepper motor from a discarded 3.5-inch disk drive is used, the Luminescent Generator may be built into a very small enclosure. To sustain rapid, smooth spinning of the motor, a geared handle may be added.

Author: Thomas Scarborough - Copyright: Silicon Chip

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Motorcycle Battery Monitor Circuit Diagram

A circuit for monitoring the status of the battery and generator is undoubtedly a good idea for motorcyclists, as for other motorists. However, not every biker is willing to drill the necessary holes in the cockpit for the usual LED lamps, or to screw on an analogue accessory instrument. The circuit shown here manages to do its job with a single 5-mm LED, which can indicate a total of six different conditions of the onboard electrical system. This is done using a dual LED that can be operated in pulsed or continuous mode (even in daylight). Built on a small piece of prototyping board and fitted in a mini-enclosure, the complete circuit can be tucked inside the headlamp housing or hidden underneath the tank.


The heart of the circuit is IC2, a dual comparator. The comparator circuit is built without using any feedback resistors, with the indication being stabilised by capacitors C4 and C5 instead of hysteresis. Small 10-µF tantalum capacitors work well here; 220-µF ‘standard’ electrolytic capacitors are only necessary with poorly regulated generators. Voltage regulator IC1 provides the reference voltage for IC2 via voltage divider R2/R3. The onboard voltage is compared with the reference voltage via voltage dividers R4 /R5 and R6/R7, which are connected to the inverting and non-inverting comparator sections, respectively.


Using separate dividers allows the threshold levels to be easily modified by adjusting the values of the lower resistors. IC2a drives the anode of the red diode of LED D4 via pull-up resistor R10. The anode of the green diode is driven by IC2b and R11. T2 pulls R11 to ground, thereby diverting the operating current of the green diode of the LED, if the voltage of the electrical system exceeds a threshold level of 15 V (provided by Zener diode D3). The paralleled gate outputs on pins 10 and 11 of IC3 perform a similar task. However, these gates have internal current limiting, so they can only divert a portion of the current from the red diode of the LED.


The amount of current diverted depends on the battery voltage. The two gates are driven by an oscillator built around IC3a, which is enabled via voltage divider R14/R15 and transistor T1 when the battery voltage is sufficiently high. Depending on the state of IC3a, the red diode of the LED blinks or pulses. The circuit is connected to the electrical system via fuse F1 and a low-pass filter formed by L1 and C1. If you cannot obtain a low-resistance choke, a 1-Ω resistor can be used instead. In this case, the values of C3, C4 and C5 should be increased some-what, in order to help stabilise the indication. D1 protects the circuit against negative voltage spikes, as well as offering protection against reverse-polarity connection. Due to its low current consumption (less than 30 mA), the circuit could be connected directly to the battery, but it is better to power it from the switched positive voltage.

Source :

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Doorbell Memory

If you’re expecting an important visitor but you just have to step out for a moment, an electronic doorbell memory can come in handy so you can see whether someone rang while you were out. Of course, you can’t tell whether it was the visitor you were expecting who dropped by then, but a call to the mobile phone of the person concerned can quickly answer that question. A doorbell memory can also save you the trouble of going to the front door (if you live upstairs) when you think you heard the bell but aren’t sure. And if you can’t buy one, then of course you can build one yourself! Read on to find out how.

Circuit diagram:

doorbell-memory-schematic circuit-diagram

Doorbell Memory Circuit Schematic

Circuit description:

It takes only a handful of electronic components to build a handy tale-tale with an LED that indicates whether someone pressed the button of your doorbell. How many times have you thought you heard your doorbell while watching television in the evening? The sound of the well-known ‘ding–dong’ chimes occurs all too often, especially during the many commercials that nowadays remind us at the most inconvenient times that the gripping film we’re watching is only a fantasy. A glance at the LED of the doorbell memory will tell you whether you have to go to the door or can try to escape the ads by zapping to a different channel. Or if you’re expecting someone but have to make a quick trip to the neighbors to borrow a few beers for the occasion, it can be handy to be able to see whether your visitor already arrived while you were out. If so, you can always call him or her on the mobile to confess that you hadn’t properly prepared for the expected visit.

The circuit is as simple as it is effective. It is connected in parallel with the bell and powered by a 3-V supply formed by two 1.5-V penlight batteries connected in series. The doorbell memory draws so little current that a set of batteries will last several years in normal use. The circuit works as follows. When the supply voltage is switched on with switch S1, capacitor C1 (initially uncharged) prevents transistors T1 and T2 from conducting. LED D2 is off, and the memory is armed.
When the doorbell button is pressed, the memory circuit receives an AC or DC voltage via diode D1, depending on the type of doorbell. It can handle either type. Transistor T1 thus receives a base current, so it starts conducting and drives T2 into conduction. The LED lights up as an indication that the doorbell has rung (i.e. was energized). The combination of transistor T2 and resistor R3 keeps T1 conducting after the bell voltage goes away (when the button is no longer pressed). The memory remains in this state until switch S1 is opened. This switch thus acts as a reset switch as well as a power switch. The circuit can be assembled compactly on a small piece of perforated prototyping board, so it can be fitted into just about any model of doorbell. The transistors can be replaced by other, equivalent types as long as you use a combination of NPN and PNP types.

Copyright : Elektor Electronics 12-2006

Source :

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Multi-tone Siren Circuit

This multi-tone siren is useful for burglar alarms, reverse horns, etc. It produces five different audio tones and is much more ear-catching than a single-tone siren. The circuit is built around popular CMOS oscillator-cum-divider IC 4060 and small audio amplifier LM386. IC 4060 is used as the mult-itone generator. A 100µH inductor is used at the input of IC 4060. So it oscillates within the range of about 5MHz RF. IC 4060 itself divides RF signals into AF and ultrasonic ranges. Audio signals of different frequencies are available at pins 1, 2, 3, 13 and 15 of IC 4060 (IC1).

Circuit diagram:

Multi-tone Siren Circuit Diagram

Multitone Siren Circuit Diagram

These multi-frequency signals are mixed and fed to the audio amplifier built around IC LM386. The output of IC2 is fed to the speaker through capacitor C9. If you want louder sound, use power amplifier TBA810 or TDA1010. Only five outputs of IC1 are used here as the other five outputs (pins 4 through 7 and 14) produce ultrasonic signals, which are not audible. Assemble the circuit on a general-purpose PCB and enclose in a suitable cabinet. Regulated 6V-12V (or a battery) can be used to power the circuit.

Author: PradeeP G. - Copyright: Efy Mag

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Laptop Protector Circuit Diagram

Protect your valuable laptop against theft using this miniature alarm generator. Fixed in-side the laptop case, it will sound a loud alarm when someone tries to take the laptop. This highly sensitive circuit uses a homemade tilt switch to activate the alarm through tilting of the laptop case. The circuit uses readily available components and can be assembled on a small piece of Vero board or a general-purpose PCB. It is powered by a 12V miniature battery used in remote control devices. IC TLO71 (IC1) is used as a voltage comparator with a potential divider comprising R2 and R3 providing half supply voltage at the non-inverting input (pin 3) of IC1. The inverting input receives a higher voltage through a water-activated tilt switch only when the probes in the tilt switch make contact with water.

When the tilt switch is kept in the horizontal position, the inverting input of IC1 gets a higher voltage than its non-inverting input and the output remains low. IC CD4538 (IC2) is used as a monostable with timing elements R5 and C1. With the shown values, the output of IC2 remains low for a period of three minutes. CD4538 is a precision monostable multivibrator free from false triggering and is more reliable than the popular timer IC 555.Its output becomes high when power is switched on and it becomes low when the trigger input (pin 5) gets a low-to-high transition pulse. The unit is fixed inside the laptop case in horizontal position. In this position, water inside the tilt switch effectively shorts the contacts, so the output of IC1 remains low. The alarm generator remains silent in the standby mode as trigger pin 5 of IC2 is low.

Circuit diagram

Laptop Protector  Circuit diagram

Laptop Protector Circuit Diagram

When someone tries to take the laptop case, the unit takes the vertical position and the tilt switch breaks the electrical contact between the probes Immediately the output of IC1 becomes high and monostable IC2 is triggered. The low output from IC2 triggers the pnp transistor (T1) and the buzzer starts beeping. Assemble the circuit as compactly as possible so as to make the unit matchbox size. Make the tilt switch using a small (2.5cm long and 1cm wide) plastic bottle with two stainless pins as contacts. Fill two-third of the bottle with water such that the contacts never make electrical path when the tilt switch is in vertical position.

Make the bottle leak-proof with adhesive or wax. Fix the tilt switch inside the enclosure of the circuit in horizontal position. Fit the unit inside the laptop case in horizontal position using adhesive. Use a miniature buzzer and a micro switch (S1) to make the gadget compact. Keep the laptop case in horizontal position and switch on the unit. Your laptop is now protected.

Author : D. Mohan Kumar – Copyright : www . efymag . com

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Fan Controller Using Just Two Component

The Maxim MAX 6665 ( provides a complete temperature-dependent fan controller. It can switch fans operating at voltages of up to 24 V and currents of up to 250 mA. The IC is available from the manufacturer in versions with preset threshold temperatures between +40 °C (MAX6665 ASA40) and +70 °C (MAX6665 ASA 70). The device’s hysteresis can be set by the user via the HYST input, which can be connected to +3.3 V, connected to ground, or left open. The following table shows the hysteresis values available:

HYST = Hysteresis
open = 1 °C
ground = 4 °C
+3.3V = 8 °C

Circuit diagram:

Fan_Controller Circuit Diagram

Fan Controller Circuit Diagram

The other pins of the SO8 package are the FORCEON input and the status outputs WARN, OT and FANON. The test input FORCEON allows the fan to be run even below the threshold temperature. The open-drain output WARN goes low when the temperature rises more than 15 °C above the threshold temperature, while the open-drain output OT indicates when the temperature is more than 30 °C above the threshold. The push-pull output FANON can be used to indicate to a connected microcontroller that the fan is turned on.

Author: G. Kleine Copyright: Elektor Electronics

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Transformerless Power Supply Circuit

This circuit will supply up to about 20ma at 12 volts. It uses capacitive reactance instead of resistance; and it doesn't generate very much heat.The circuit draws about 30ma AC. Always use a fuse and/or a fusible resistor to be on the safe side. The values given are only a guide. There should be more than enough power available for timers, light operated switches, temperature controllers etc, provided that you use an optical isolator as your circuit's output device. (E.g. MOC 3010/3020) If a relay is unavoidable, use one with a mains voltage coil and switch the coil using the optical isolator.C1 should be of the 'suppressor type'; made to be connected directly across the incoming Mains Supply.

They are generally covered with the logos of several different Safety Standards Authorities. If you need more current, use a larger value capacitor; or put two in parallel; but be careful of what you are doing to the Watts. The low voltage 'AC' is supplied by ZD1 and ZD2. The bridge rectifier can be any of the small 'Round', 'In-line', or 'DIL' types; or you could use four separate diodes. If you want to, you can replace R2 and ZD3 with a 78 Series regulator. The full sized ones will work; but if space is tight, there are some small 100ma versions available in TO 92 type cases. They look like a BC 547. It is also worth noting that many small circuits will work with an unregulated supply.

Circuit diagram:

Transformerless_Power_Supply_Circuit Diagram

Transformerless Power Supply Circuit Diagram

You can, of course, alter any or all of the Zenner diodes in order to produce a different output voltage. As for the mains voltage, the suggestion regarding the 110v version is just that, a suggestion. I haven't built it, so be prepared to experiment a little. I get a lot of emails asking if this power supply can be modified to provide currents of anything up to 50 amps. It cannot. The circuit was designed to provide a cheap compact power supply for Cmos logic circuits that require only a few milliamps. The logic circuits were then used to control mains equipment (fans, lights, heaters etc.) through an optically isolated triac.

If more than 20mA is required it is possible to increase C1 to 0.68uF or 1uF and thus obtain a current of up to about 40mA. But 'suppressor type' capacitors are relatively big and more expensive than regular capacitors; and increasing the current means that higher wattage resistors and zener diodes are required. If you try to produce more than about 40mA the circuit will no longer be cheap and compact, and it simply makes more sense to use a transformer. The Transformerless Power Supply Support Material provides a complete circuit description including all the calculations.

Web-masters Note:

I have had several requests for a power supply project without using a power supply. This can save the expense of buying a transformer, but presents potentially lethal voltages at the output terminals. Under no circumstances should a beginner attempt to build such a project.

Important Notice:

Electric Shock Hazard. In the UK,the neutral wire is connected to earth at the power station. If you touch the "Live" wire, then depending on how well earthed you are, you form a conductive path between Live and Neutral. DO NOT TOUCH the output of this power supply. Whilst the output of this circuit sits innocently at 12V with respect to (wrt) the other terminal, it is also 12V above earth potential. Should a component fail then either terminal will become a potential shock hazard.


If you are not experienced in dealing with it, then leave this project alone. Although Mains equipment can itself consume a lot of current, the circuits we build to control it, usually only require a few milliamps. Yet the low voltage power supply is frequently the largest part of the construction and a sizeable portion of the cost.

Author: Ron J - Copyright: Zen

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Cheap Pump Controller

This simple but effective circuit can be used to control water level in a container. The prototype is used to pump water out of a bucket that collects condensation from a home air-conditioning system. The design is based around a 555 timer (IC1). Although the timer in configured as a mono-stable, it lacks the usual timing capacitor from pin 6 to ground. Instead, a metal probe inserted in the water provides a current path to a second, grounded probe. When the water level in the container reaches a third ("high") probe, the trigger input (pin 3) is pulled low, switching the 555 output high and energizing the relay via transistor Q1.

Circuit diagram:

cheap-pump-controller-circuit diagram 

Cheap Pump Controller Circuit Diagram

Once the water level drops below the "low" probe, the threshold input (pin 6) swings high, switching the output (pin 3) low and the relay and pump off. The two 100kΩ pull-up resistors can be replaced with larger values if more sensitivity is required (eg, if the 555 doesn’t trigger). A switch (S1) can be included to bypass the relay for manual emptying. The "low" probe should be positioned so that the pump doesn’t run dry.

cheap-pump-controller diagram

The high level probe is placed at the level that you want the pump to start. Since the water is held at ground potential, you must use stainless steel or copper wire to slow corrosion. With water fountain pumps available for less than $10, this circuit offers a cheap alternative for those who have an air-conditioner on an internal wall and don’t want to be continually emptying the bucket on humid days.

Author: Adrian Hudson - Copyright: Silicon Chip Electronics

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NTSC-PAL TV Signal Identifier

This circuit is able to identify PAL and NTSC video signals. Its output is high for an NTSC signal and low if the signal is PAL. This output signal can be used, for example, to automatically switch in a colour subcarrier converter or some other device while an NTSC signal is being received. One application is for the reception from satellites of 'free-to-air' TV signals, which in Australia generally contain a mixture of 625-line PAL and 525-line NTSC programs. Operation of the circuit is as follows.

IC1 is an LM1881 video sync separator which takes the video input signal and generates vertical synchronisation pulses.
For an NTSC signal, these pulses are 16.66ms apart, corresponding to the 60Hz field rate, while for a PAL signal they are 20ms apart, corresponding to the 50Hz field rate. The vertical sync pulses are fed into IC2a, the first of two dual retriggerable monostable multivibrators in the 74HC123A. IC2a has a period of very close to 17.9ms, set by the 200kO resistor and 0.22µF capacitor at pins 14 & 15. Because the monostable is retriggerable, NTSC sync pulses arriving every 16.66ms will keep its Q output, at pin 13, high.

Circuit diagram:

ntsc-pal-tv-signal-identifier Circuit

NTSC-PAL TV Signal Identifier Circuit Diagram

However PAL sync pulses arriving every 20ms will allow the Q output to go low after 17.9ms, before being triggered high again 2.1ms later. Thus an NTSC signal will give a constant high output while a PAL signal will result in a train of pulses 2.1ms wide. The Q output from IC2a is fed to the inverting input of IC2b, the second monostable, which has a period of about 0.5s, as set by the 270kO resistor and 4.7µF tantalum capacitor at pins 6 & 7. With its input constantly high, resulting from an NTSC signal, IC2b is not triggered and its Q output remains low.

However, the pulse train from a PAL signal will constantly retrigger it, so its Q output will remain high. The period of IC2b also effectively makes it a low-pass filter which removes spurious switching due to any input glitches. The output signal is taken from the Q-bar (inverted) output, so that an NTSC signal gives a high output, while PAL gives low. For the particular application for which the circuit was developed, diode D1 and the resistor network shown drive the base of an NPN switching transistor and relay. A dual-colour 3-lead LED can also be fitted to indicate NTSC (red) or PAL (green). Note that with no video input, the output signal is high and will indicate NTSC.

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Infrared Fire-Cracker Igniter Circuit

Firecrackers are normally ignited by using a matchstick or a candle. You have to run away quickly after igniting the fuse of the firecracker. This method of igniting firecracker is unsafe, because the danger of the firecracker bursting before you reach a safe distance is always there. The device described here uses remote control, usually used with TV receivers or CD players, to burst the fire-cracker. Thus the firecracker can be ignited from a safe distance using the circuit described below in conjunction with the remote control. In the diagram shown here, normally the output of IC1 is low and green LED2 is ‘on’ and the red LED3 ‘off.’ This indicates that the circuit is ready for use. When any key on the remote control is pressed, output pin 3 of IRX1 (IR receiver module TSOP1738) goes low. This output is connected to pin 2 of IC1 via LED1 and resistor R4 to trigger the monostable operation of IC1. The output of IC1 remains high for a period equal to 1.1×R2×C2. With the values of the components given in the circuit diagram here, the period works out to 3.5 seconds approximately.

Circuit diagram:

Infrared Fire-Cracker Igniter Circuit Diagram

Infrared Fire-Cracker Igniter Circuit Diagram

This activates relay RL1 and red LED3 glows and green LED2 turns off. ‘On’ state of red LED3 indicates that the firecracker is about to burst. R7 is a small part of the element of an electric heater (220V, 1000W), which is kept away from the electronic circuit and connected to the relay contacts through a thick electric cable. The resistance value of short length of the heater element (R7) is 3 to 3.5 ohms. A current of around 4 amperes flows through it when connected to a 12V battery. Flow of 4A current through R7 for 3.5 seconds makes it red hot, which ignites the fire-cracker. The circuit is powered by a 12V, 7AH battery. IC2 provides about 9V for the operation of the circuit. The circuit should be housed in a metallic cabinet to prevent it from being damaged by bursting of the firecracker. The IR receiver and the two LEDs should be fixed on the front panel of the cabinet. Wiring and relay used in the circuit should be chosen such that they are able to carry more than 5 amperes of current.

Author: Pardeep Vasudeva - Copyright: EFY Mag

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12V Flourescent Lamp Inverter

Fluorescent tubes use far less energy than incandescent lamps and fluorescent tubes last a great deal longer as well. Other advantages are diffuse, glare-free lighting and low heat output. For these reasons, fluorescent lighting is the natural choice in commercial and retail buildings, workshops and factories. For battery-powered lighting, fluorescent lights are also the first choice because of their high efficiency. The main drawback with running fluorescent lights from battery power is that an inverter is required to drive the tubes.

Circuit diagram:

Fig.1: two switch-mode circuits are involved here: the DC-DC inverter involving IC1, Q1 & Q2 and the fluoro tube driver which converts high voltage DC to AC via IC3 and Q3 & Q4 in a totem-pole circuit.
Inverter efficiency then becomes the major issue. There are many commercial 12V-operated fluorescent lamps available which use 15W and 20W tubes. However, it is rare to see one which drives them to full brilliance. For example, a typical commercial dual 20W fluorescent lamp operating from 12V draws 980mA or 11.8W. Ignoring losses in the fluorescent tube driver itself, it means that each tube is only supplied with 5.9W of power which is considerably less than their 20W rating. So while the lamps do use 20W tubes, the light output is well below par.


This circuit generates in excess of 300V DC which could be lethal. Construction should only be attempted by those experimenced with mains-level voltages and safety procedures.
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Cheap 12V to 220V Inverter

Even though today’s electrical appliances are increasingly often self-powered, especially the portable ones you carry around when camping or holidaying in summer, you do still sometimes need a source of 230 V AC - and while we’re about it, why not at a frequency close to that of the mains? As long as the power required from such a source remains relatively low - here we’ve chosen 30 VA - it’s very easy to build an inverter with simple, cheap components that many electronics hobbyists may even already have.

Though it is possible to build a more powerful circuit, the complexity caused by the very heavy currents to be handled on the low-voltage side leads to circuits that would be out of place in this summer issue. Let’s not forget, for example, that just to get a meager 1 amp at 230 VAC, the battery primary side would have to handle more than 20 ADC!. The circuit diagram of our project is easy to follow. A classic 555 timer chip, identified as IC1, is configured as an astable multivibrator at a frequency close to 100 Hz, which can be adjusted accurately by means of potentiometer P1.


Cheap 12V to 220V Inverter Circuit Diagram

As the mark/space ratio (duty factor) of the 555 output is a long way from being 1:1 (50%), it is used to drive a D-type flip-flop produced using a CMOS type 4013 IC. This produces perfect complementary square-wave signals (i.e. in antiphase) on its Q and Q outputs suitable for driving the output power transistors. As the output current available from the CMOS 4013 is very small, Darlington power transistors are used to arrive at the necessary output current. We have chosen MJ3001s from the now defunct Motorola (only as a semi-conductor manufacturer, of course!) which are cheap and readily available, but any equivalent power Darlington could be used.

These drive a 230 V to 2 × 9 V center-tapped transformer used ‘backwards’ to produce the 230 V output. The presence of the 230 VAC voltage is indicated by a neon light, while a VDR (voltage dependent resistor) type S10K250 or S07K250 clips off the spikes and surges that may appear at the transistor switching points. The output signal this circuit produces is approximately a square wave; only approximately, since it is somewhat distorted by passing through the transformer. Fortunately, it is suitable for the majority of electrical devices it is capable of supplying, whether they be light bulbs, small motors, or power supplies for electronic devices.

PCB layout:


PCB Layout For Cheap 12V to 220V Inverter Circuit Diagram


R1 = 18k?
R2 = 3k3
R3 = 1k
R4,R5 = 1k?5
R6 = VDR S10K250 (or S07K250)
P1 = 100 k potentiometer
C1 = 330nF
C2 = 1000 µF 25V
T1,T2 = MJ3001
IC1 = 555
IC2 = 4013
LA1 = neon light 230 V
F1 = fuse, 5A
TR1 = mains transformer, 2x9V 40VA (see text)
4 solder pins

Note that, even though the circuit is intended and designed for powering by a car battery, i.e. from 12 V, the transformer is specified with a 9 V primary. But at full power you need to allow for a voltage drop of around 3 V between the collector and emitter of the power transistors. This relatively high saturation voltage is in fact a ‘shortcoming’ common to all devices in Darlington configuration, which actually consists of two transistors in one case. We’re suggesting a PCB design to make it easy to construct this project; as the component overlay shows, the PCB only carries the low-power, low-voltage components.

The Darlington transistors should be fitted onto a finned anodized aluminum heat-sink using the standard insulating accessories of mica washers and shouldered washers, as their collectors are connected to the metal cans and would otherwise be short-circuited. An output power of 30 VA implies a current consumption of the order of 3 A from the 12 V battery at the ‘primary side’. So the wires connecting the collectors of the MJ3001s [1] T1 and T2 to the transformer primary, the emitters of T1 and T2 to the battery negative terminal, and the battery positive terminal to the transformer primary will need to have a minimum cross-sectional area of 2 mm2 so as to minimize voltage drop.

The transformer can be any 230 V to 2 × 9 V type, with an E/I iron core or toroidal, rated at around 40 VA. Properly constructed on the board shown here, the circuit should work at once, the only adjustment being to set the output to a frequency of 50 Hz with P1. You should keep in minds that the frequency stability of the 555 is fairly poor by today’s standards, so you shouldn’t rely on it to drive your radio-alarm correctly – but is such a device very useful or indeed desirable to have on holiday anyway? Watch out too for the fact that the output voltage of this inverter is just as dangerous as the mains from your domestic power sockets.

So you need to apply just the same safety rules! Also, the project should be enclosed in a sturdy ABS or diecast so no parts can be touched while in operation. The circuit should not be too difficult to adapt to other mains voltages or frequencies, for example 110 V, 115 V or 127 V, 60 Hz. The AC voltage requires a transformer with a different primary voltage (which here becomes the secondary), and the frequency, some adjusting of P1 and possibly minor changes to the values of timing components R1 and C1 on the 555.

Author : B. Broussas Copyright  Elektor Elecronics 2008

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Fuse Monitor

The idea for this project may have come to me in a flash of inspiration, and its a very simple way to check if a fuse has blown without removing it from its holder. The simplicity of this circuit uses just two components, but with just one resistor and an LED this circuit gives visual indication of when a fuse has blown. LED1 is normally off, being "short circuited " by the fuse, F1.

Circuit diagram:

blown_Fuse_Indicator Circuit Diagram Fuse Monitor Circuit Diagram

Should the inevitable "big-bang" happen in your workshop then LED1 will illuminate and led you know all about it! Please note that the LED will only illuminate under fault conditions, i.e. with a short circuit or shunt on the load. In this case the current is reduced to a safe level by R1.

Author: Andy Collinson - Copyright: Zen

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Maximum Minimum Voltage Indicator

This circuit indicates which of three voltages in the range from about about -4V to about +4V - at A, B and C - is the highest by lighting one of three indicator LEDs. Alternatively, it can be wired to indicate the lowest of three voltages or to indicate both the highest and lowest voltages. Op amps IC1a, IC1b & IC1c are wired as comparators, while the three indicator LEDs and their series 1kO current limiting resistors are strung across the op amp outputs to implement the appropriate logic functions.

Circuit diagram:

maximum-minimum-voltage-indicator circuit diagram Maximum Minimum Voltage Indicator Circuit Diagram

For example, LED A will light only when pin 8 of IC1c is low (ie, A greater B) and pin 7 of IC1b is high (ie, A greater C). Similarly, LED B will light only when pin 8 of IC1c is high (ie, B greater A) and pin 1 of IC1a is low (ie, B greater C). LED C works in similar fashion if the voltage at C is the highest. Note that if all the LEDs and their parallel 1N4148 diodes are reversed, the circuit will indicate the lowest of the three input voltages. And if each 1N4148 diode is replaced by a LED, the circuit will indicate both the highest and lowest inputs.

Author: Andrew Partridge - Copyright: Silicon Chip

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Two Basic Motor Speed Controllers

Here are two simple 12V DC motor speed controllers that can be built for just a few dollars. They exploit the fact that the rotational speed of a DC motor is directly proportional to the mean value of its supply voltage. The first circuit shows how variable voltage speed control can be obtained via a potentiometer (VR1) and compound emitter follower (Q1 & Q2). With this arrangement, the motor’s DC voltage can be varied from 0V to about 12V. This type of circuit gives good speed control and self-regulation at medium to high speeds but very poor low-speed control and slow starts. The second circuit uses a switchmode technique to vary motor speed.

Circuit diagram:


Fig.1: a very simple motor speed controller based on a compound emitter follower (Q1 & Q2).

Here a quad NOR gate (IC1) acts as a 50Hz astable multivibrator that generates a rectangular output. The mark-space ratio of the rectangular waveform is fully variable from 20:1 to 1:20 via potentiometer VR1. The output from the multivibrator drives the base of Q1, which in turn drives Q2 and the motor. The motor’s mean supply voltage (integrated over a 50Hz period) is thus fully variable with VR1 but is applied in the form of high-energy "pulses" with peak values of about 12V.

Circuit diagram:


Fig.2: this slightly more complicated circuit gives better low speed control and higher torque.

This type of circuit gives excellent full-range speed control and gives high motor torque, even at very low speeds. Its degree of speed self-regulation is proportional to the mean value of the applied voltage. Note that for most applications, the power transistor (Q2) in both circuits will need to be mounted on an appropriate heatsink.

Author: Ravi Sumithraarachchi - Copyright: Silicon Chip Electronics

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