Module 7—Introduction to Solid-State Devices and Power Supplies
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The filter capacitor in the
LC choke-input filter circuit is not subject to extreme voltage surges because of the protection offered by the
inductor. However, the capacitor can become open, leaky, or shorted.
Shorted turns in the choke may reduce
the value of inductance below the critical value. This will result in excessive peak-rectifier current,
accompanied by an abnormally high output voltage, excessive ripple amplitude, and poor voltage regulation.
A choke winding that is open, or a choke winding which is shorted to the core will result in a no-output
condition. A choke winding which is shorted to the core may cause overheating of the rectifier element(s) and
With the supply voltage removed from the input to the filter circuit, one terminal of the capacitor can be
disconnected from the circuit. The capacitor should be checked with a capacitance analyzer to determine its
capacitance and leakage resistance. When the capacitor is electrolytic, you must use the correct polarity at all
times. A decrease in capacitance or losses within the capacitor can decrease the efficiency of the filter and can
produce excessive ripple amplitude.
Resistor-Capacitor (RC) Filters
The RC capacitor-input filter is limited to applications
in which the load current is small. This type of filter is used in power supplies where the load current is
constant and voltage regulation is not necessary. For example, RC filters are used in high-voltage power supplies
for cathode-ray tubes and in decoupling networks for multistage amplifiers.
Figure 4-28 shows an RC
capacitor-input filter and associated waveforms. Both half-wave and full- wave rectifiers are used to provide the
inputs. The waveform shown in view A of the figure represent the unfiltered output from a typical rectifier
circuit. Note that the dashed lines in view A indicate the average value of output voltage (Eavg) for
the half-wave rectifier. The average output voltage (Eavg) is less than half (approximately 0.318) the
amplitude of the voltage peaks. The average value of output voltage (Eavg) for the full-wave rectifier
is greater than half (approximately 0.637), but is still much less than, the peak amplitude of the
rectifier-output waveform. With no filter circuit connected across the output of the rectifier circuit
(unfiltered), the waveform has a large value of pulsating component (ripple) as compared to the average (or dc)
Figure 4-28.—RC filter and waveforms.
The RC filter in figure 4-28 consists of an input filter capacitor (C1), a series resistor (R1), and an
output filter capacitor (C2). (This filter is sometimes referred to as an RC pi-section filter because its
schematic symbol resembles the Greek letter p).
The single capacitor filter is suitable for many
noncritical, low-current applications. However, when the load resistance is very low or when the percent of ripple
must be held to an absolute minimum, the capacitor value required must be extremely large. While electrolytic
capacitors are available in sizes up to
10,000 microfarads or greater, the large sizes are quite expensive. A
more practical approach is to use a more sophisticated filter that can do the same job but that has lower
capacitor values, such as the RC filter.
Views A, B, and C of figure 4-28 show the output waveforms of a half-wave and a full-wave rectifier. Each waveform
is shown with an RC filter connected across the output. The following explanation of how a filter works will show
you that an RC filter of this type does a much better job than the single capacitor filter.
exactly the same function as it did in the single capacitor filter. It is used to reduce the percentage of ripple
to a relatively low value. Thus, the voltage across C1 might consist of an average dc value of +100 volts with a
ripple voltage of 10 volts peak-to-peak. This voltage is passed on to the R1-C2 network, which reduces the ripple
C2 offers an infinite impedance (resistance) to the dc component of the output voltage. Thus, the dc voltage is
passed to the load, but reduced in value by the amount of the voltage drop across R1. However, R1 is generally
small compared to the load resistance. Therefore, the drop in the dc voltage by R1 is not a drawback.
Component values are designed so that the resistance of R1 is much greater than the reactance (XC)
of C2 at the ripple frequency. C2 offers a very low impedance to the ac ripple frequency. Thus, the ac
ripple senses a voltage divider consisting of R1 and C2 between the output of the rectifier and
ground. Therefore, most of the ripple voltage is dropped across R1. Only a trace of the ripple voltage can be seen
across C2 and the load. In extreme cases where the ripple must be held to an absolute minimum, a second stage of
RC filtering can be added. In practice, the second stage is rarely required. The RC filter is extremely popular
because smaller capacitors can be used with good results.
The RC filter has some disadvantages. First, the
voltage drop across R1 takes voltage away from the load. Second, power is wasted in R1 and is dissipated in the
form of unwanted heat. Finally, if the load resistance changes, the voltage across the load will change. Even so,
the advantages of the RC filter overshadow these disadvantages in many cases.
Q24. Why is the use of
large value capacitors in filter circuits discouraged?
Q25. When is a second RC filter stage used?
FAILURE ANALYSIS OF THE RESISTOR-CAPACITOR (RC) FILTER.—The shunt capacitors (C1 and C2) are
subject to an open circuit, a short circuit, or excessive leakage. The series filter resistor (R1) is subject to
changes in value and occasionally opens. Any of these troubles can be easily detected.
The input capacitor
(C1) has the greatest pulsating voltage applied to it and is the most susceptible to voltage surges. As a result,
the input capacitor is frequently subject to voltage breakdown and shorting. The remaining shunt capacitor (C2) in
the filter circuit is not subject to voltage surges because of the protection offered by the series filter
resistor (R1). However, a shunt capacitor can become open, leaky, or shorted.
A shorted capacitor or an
open filter resistor results in a no-output indication. An open filter resistor results in an abnormally high dc
voltage at the input to the filter and no voltage at the output of the filter. Leaky capacitors or filter
resistors that have lost their effectiveness, or filter resistors that have decreased in value, result in an
excessive ripple amplitude in the output of the supply.
LC Capacitor-Input Filter
The LC capacitor-input filter is one of the most commonly used
filters. This type of filter is used primarily in radio receivers, small audio amplifier power supplies, and in
any type of power supply where the output current is low and the load current is relatively constant.
Figure 4-29 shows an LC capacitor-input filter and associated waveforms. Both half-wave and full-wave rectifier
circuits are used to provide the input. The waveforms shown in view A of the figure represent the unfiltered
output from a typical rectifier circuit. Note that the average value of output voltage (Eavg),
indicated by the dashed lines, for the half-wave rectifier is less than half the amplitude of the voltage peaks.
The average value of output voltage (Eavg) for the full-wave rectifier is greater than half, but is
still much less than the peak amplitude of the rectifier-output waveform. With no filter connected across the
output of the rectifier circuit (which results in unfiltered output voltage), the waveform has a large value of
pulsating component (ripple) as compared to the average (or dc) component.
Figure 4-29.—LC filter and waveforms.
C1 reduces the ripple to a relatively low level (view B). L1 and C2 form the LC filter, which reduces
the ripple even further. L1 is a large value iron-core induct (choke). L1 has a high value of inductance an
therefore, a high value of XL which offers a high reactance to the ripple frequency. At the same time, C2 offers
a very low reactance to ac ripple. L1 and C2 for an ac voltage divider and, because the reactance of L1 much
higher than that of C2, most of the ripple voltage is dropped across L1. Only a slight trace of ripple appears
across C2 and the load (view C).
While the L1-C2 network greatly reduces ac ripple it has little effect on
dc. You should recall that an inductor offers no reactance to dc. The only opposition to current flow is the
resistance of the wire in the choke. Generally, this resistance is very low and the dc voltage drop across the
coil is minimal. Thus, the LC filter overcomes the disadvantages of the RC filter.
Aside from the voltage
divider effect, the inductor improves filtering in another way. You should recall that an inductor resists changes
in the magnitude of the current flowing through it. Consequently, when the inductor is placed in series with the
load, the inductor maintains steady current. In turn, this helps the voltage across the load remain constant when
size of components is a factor.
The LC filter provides good filtering action over a wide range of currents. The capacitor filters best when the
load is drawing little current. Thus, the capacitor discharges very slowly and the output voltage remains almost
constant. On the other hand, the inductor filters best when the current is highest. The complementary nature of
these two components ensures that good filtering will occur over a wide range of currents.
The LC filter
has two disadvantages. First, it is more expensive than the RC filter because an iron-core choke costs more than a
resistor. The second disadvantage is size. The iron-core choke is bulky and heavy, a fact which may render the LC
filter unsuitable for many applications.
Q26. What is the most commonly used filter today?
Q27. What are the two main
disadvantages of an LC capacitor filter?
FALURE ANALYSIS OF THE LC CAPACITOR-INPUT FILTER.—Shunt
capacitors are subject to open circuits, short circuits, and excessive leakage; series inductors are subject to
open windings and occasionally shorted turns or a short circuit to the core.
The input capacitor (C1) has
the greatest pulsating voltage applied to it, is the most susceptible to voltage surges, and has a generally
higher average voltage applied. As a result, the input capacitor is frequently subject to voltage breakdown and
shorting. The output capacitor (C2) is not as susceptible to voltage surges because of the series protection
offered by the series inductor (L1), but the capacitor can become open, leaky, or shorted.
capacitor, an open filter choke, or a choke winding which is shorted to the core, results in a no-output
indication. A shorted capacitor, depending on the magnitude of the short, may cause a shorted rectifier,
transformer, or filter choke, and may result in a blown fuse in the primary of the transformer. An open filter
choke results in an abnormally high dc voltage at the input to the filter and no voltage at the output of the
filter. A leaky or open capacitor in the filter circuit results in a low dc output voltage. This condition is
generally accompanied by an excessive ripple amplitude. Shorted turns in the winding of a filter choke reduce the
effective inductance of the choke and decrease its filtering efficiency. As a result, the ripple amplitude
Ideally, the output of most power supplies should be a constant voltage. Unfortunately, this is difficult to
achieve. There are two factors that can cause the output voltage to change. First, the ac line voltage is not
constant. The so-called 115 volts ac can vary from about 105 volts ac to 125 volts ac. This means that the peak ac
voltage to which the rectifier responds can vary from about 148 volts to 177 volts. The ac line voltage alone can
be responsible for nearly a 20 percent change in the dc output voltage. The second factor that can change the dc
output voltage is a change in the load resistance. In complex electronic equipment, the load can change as
circuits are switched in and out. In a television receiver, the load on a particular power supply may depend on
the brightness of the screen, the control settings, or even the channel selected.
These variations in load
resistance tend to change the applied dc voltage because the power supply has a fixed internal resistance. If the
load resistance decreases, the internal resistance of the power supply drops more voltage. This causes a decrease
in the voltage across the load.
Many circuits are designed to operate with a particular supply voltage. When the supply voltage changes, the
operation of the circuit may be adversely affected. Consequently, some types of equipment must have power supplies
that produce the same output voltage regardless of changes in the load resistance or changes in the ac line
voltage. This constant output voltage may be achieved by adding a circuit called the VOLTAGE REGULATOR at the
output of the filter. There are many different types of regulators in use today and to discuss all of them would
be beyond the scope of this chapter.
A commonly used FIGURE OF MERIT for a power supply is its PERCENT OF
REGULATION. The figure of merit gives us an indication of how much the output voltage changes over a range of load
resistance values. The percent of regulation aids in the determination of the type of load regulation needed.
Percent of regulation is determined by the equation:
This equation compares the change in output voltage at the two loading extremes to the voltage produced
at full loading. For example, assume that a power supply produces 12 volts when the load current is zero. If the
output voltage drops to 10 volts when full load current flows, then the percent of regulation is:
Ideally, the output voltage should not change over the full range of operation. That is, a 12-volt
power supply should produce 12 volts at no load, at full load, and at all points in between. In this case, the
percent of regulation would be:
Thus, zero-percent load regulation is the ideal situation. It means that the output voltage is constant
under all load conditions. While you should strive for zero percent load regulation, in practical circuits you
must settle for something less ideal. Even so, by using a voltage regulator, you can hold the percent of
regulation to a very low value.
You should know that the output of a
power supply varies with changes in input voltage and circuit load current requirements. Because many electronic
equipments require operating voltages and currents that must remain constant, some form of regulation is
necessary. Circuits that maintain power supply voltages or current outputs within specified limits, or tolerances
are called REGULATORS. They are designated as dc voltage or dc current regulators, depending on their specific
Voltage regulator circuits are additions to basic power supply circuits, which are made up of rectified and filter
sections (figure 4-30). The purpose of the voltage regulator is to provide an output voltage with
little or no variation. Regulator circuits sense changes in output voltages and compensate for the
changes. Regulators that maintain voltages within plus or minus (±) 0.1 percent are quite common.
Figure 4-30.—Block diagram of a power supply and regulator.
Series and Shunt Voltage Regulators
There are two basic types of voltage
regulators. Basic voltage regulators are classified as either SERIES or SHUNT, depending on the location or
position of the regulating element(s) in relation to the circuit load resistance. Figure 4-31 (view A and view B)
illustrates these two basic types of voltage regulators. In actual practice the circuitry of regulating devices
may be quite complex. Broken lines have been used in the figure to highlight the differences between the series
and shunt regulators.
Figure 4-31A.—Simple series and shunt regulators. SHUNT REGULATOR.
Figure 4-31B.—Simple series and shunt regulators. SERIES REGULATOR.
The schematic drawing in view A is that of a shunt-type regulator. It is called a shunt-type
regulator because the regulating device is connected in parallel with the load resistance. The schematic drawing
in view B is that of a series regulator. It is called a series regulator because the regulating device is
connected in series with the load resistance. Figure 4-32 illustrates the principle of series voltage regulation.
As you study the figure, notice that the regulator is in series with the load resistance (RL) and that
the fixed resistor (RS) is in series with the load resistance.
Figure 4-32.—Series voltage regulator.
You already know the voltage drop across a fixed resistor remains constant unless the current flowing
through it varies (increases or decreases). In a shunt regulator, as shown in figure 4-33, output voltage
regulation is determined by the current through the parallel resistance of the regulating device (RV),
the load resistance (RL), and the series resistor (RS). For now, assume that the circuit is
operating under normal conditions, that the input is 120 volts dc, and that the desired regulated output is 100
volts dc. For a 100-volt output to be maintained, 20 volts must be dropped across the series resistor (RS).
If you assume that the value of RS is 2 ohms, you must have 10 amperes of current through RV
and RL. (Remember: E = IR.) If the values of the resistance of RV and RL are
equal, 5 amperes of current will
flow through each resistance (RV and RL).
Figure 4-33.—Shunt voltage regulator.
Now, if the load resistance (RL) increases, the current through RL will decrease.
For example, assume that the current through RL is now 4 amperes and that the total current through RS
is 9 amperes. With this
drop in current, the voltage drop across RS is 18 volts; consequently, the output of
the regulator has increased to 102 volts. At this time, the regulating device (RV) decreases in
resistance, and 6 amperes of current flows through this resistance (RV). Thus, the total current RS is
once again 10 amperes (6 amperes through RV; 4 amperes through RL). Therefore, 20 volts is
dropped across RS causing the output to decrease back to 100 volts. You should know by now that if the
load resistance (RL) increases, the regulating device (RV) decreases its resistance to
compensate for the change. If RL decreases, the opposite effect occurs and RV increases.
Now consider the circuit when a decrease in load resistance takes place. When RL decreases, the
current through RL subsequently increases to 6 amperes. This action causes a total of 11 amperes to
flow through RS
which then drops 22 volts. As a result, the output is 98 volts. However, the regulating device (RV)
senses this change and increases its resistance so that less current (4 amperes) flows through RV. The
total current again becomes 10 amperes, and the output is again 100 volts.
From these examples, you should
now understand that the shunt regulator maintains the desired output voltage first by sensing the current change
in the parallel resistance of the circuit and then by compensating for the change.
Again refer to the
schematic shown in figure 4-33 and consider how the voltage regulator operates to compensate for changes in input
voltages. You know, of course, that the input voltage may vary and that any variation must be compensated for by
the regulating device. If an increase in input voltage occurs, the resistance of RV automatically
decreases to maintain the correct voltage division between RV and RS. You should see,
therefore, that the regulator operates in the opposite way to compensate for a decrease in input voltage.
So far only voltage regulators that use variable resistors have been explained. However, this type of regulation
has limitations. Obviously, the variable resistor cannot be adjusted rapidly enough to compensate for frequent
fluctuations in voltages. Since input voltages fluctuate frequently and rapidly, the variable resistor is not a
practical method for voltage regulation. A voltage regulator that operates continuously and automatically to
regulate the output voltage without external manipulation is required for practical regulation.
Circuits which maintain constant voltage or current outputs are called dc voltage or dc current.
The purpose of a voltage regulator is to provide an output voltage with little or no
Q30. The two basic types of voltage regulators are
Q31. When a series voltage regulator is used to control output voltages, any increase in the input voltage
results in an increase/a decrease (which one) in the resistance of the regulating device.
shunt-type voltage regulator is connected in serial/parallel (which one) with the load resistance.
The schematic for a typical series voltage regulator is shown in figure 4-34. Notice that this regulator has a
transistor (Q1) in the place of the variable resistor found in figure 4-32. Because the total load current passes
through this transistor, it is sometimes called a "pass transistor." Other components which make up the circuit
are the current limiting resistor (R1) and the Zener diode (CR1).
Figure 4-34.—Series voltage regulator.
Recall that a Zener diode is a diode that block current until a specified voltage is applied. Remember
also that the applied voltage is called the breakdown, or Zener voltage. Zener diodes are available with different
Zener voltages. When the Zener voltage is reached, the Zener diode conducts from its anode to its cathode (with
the direction of the arrow).
In this voltage regulator, Q1 has a constant voltage applied to its base.
This voltage is often called the reference voltage. As changes in the circuit output voltage occur, they are
sensed at the emitter of Q1 producing a corresponding change in the forward bias of the transistor. In other
words, Q1 compensates by increasing or decreasing its resistance in order to change the circuit voltage division.
Now, study figure 4-35. Voltages are shown to help you understand how the regulator operates. The Zener used
in this regulator is a 15-volt Zener. In this instance the Zener or breakdown voltage is 15 volts. The Zener
establishes the value of the base voltage for Q1. The output voltage will equal the Zener voltage minus a 0.7-volt
drop across the forward biased base-emitter junction of Q1, or 14.3 volts. Because the output voltage is 14.3
volts, the voltage drop across Q1 must be 5.7 volts.
Figure 4-35.—Series voltage regulator (with voltages).
Study figure 4-36, view A, in order to understand what happens when the input voltage exceeds 20 volts.
Notice the input and output voltages of 20.1 and 14.4 volts, respectively. The 14.4 output voltage is a momentary
deviation, or variation, from the required regulated output voltage of 14.3 and is the result of a rise in the
input voltage to 20.1 volts. Since the base voltage of Q1 is held at 15 volts by CR1, the
Introduction to Matter, Energy, and Direct Current,
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Introduction to Electronic Emission, Tubes, and Power Supplies,
Introduction to Solid-State Devices and Power Supplies
Introduction to Amplifiers, Introduction to
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