Technical solutions, industry trends and insights for designing and managing power supplies.
    • Oct 18, 2017

    Power management: the big picture

    Figure 1: Remote lake in central Canada Every few years, my friends and I canoe in the Canadian wilderness for a week, eating only what we can catch (fish) or carry in with us. We cook over a fire and wash dishes with water collected from the lake (trust me, leaving dirty dishes by a campfire is a really bad idea). We are at the mercy of the weather;...
    • Oct 17, 2017

    Powering up the performance of sensitive test and measurement systems

    When creating high-performance test and measurement equipment, the last thing on your mind is what is powering the board. It may be hard to believe, but the power supply can have a drastic impact on the performance of high-precision successive-appro...
    • Oct 16, 2017

    Finding the maximum adapter power for the fastest battery charging

    Figure 1: Smartphone charging When you plug in your smartphone to charge, you want it to charge as fast and safely as possible. The integrated circuit (IC) that a smartphone (or other mobile device) cable plugs into is typically a battery-charger IC like the one shown in Figure 2. This IC powers the phone and charges the battery so that it can power...
    • Oct 13, 2017

    How to approach a power-supply design – part 4

    In the previous installments of this series, I focused on specification , transfer ratios and basic power ratings , and buck, boost and buck-boost topologies . In this installment, I’ll introduce the single-ended primary inductance converter (SEPIC) and Zeta converter. Both topologies can be a cost-effective alternative to a buck-boost converter...
    • Oct 12, 2017

    Vary the output voltage in an inverting buck-boost topology

    In this blog post, I’d like to discuss a methodology for providing a variable output voltage in an inverting buck-boost topology. In this topology, the choice of resistors on the feedback voltage divider network defines the output voltage, as shown in Figure 1. Figure 1: Configuration of an inverting buck-boost converter For a different...
    • Oct 11, 2017

    An easy power-module reference design for RF data converter negative voltages

    Do you have a need for a negative voltage rail to bias a radio frequency (RF) sampling data converter such as the DAC38RF80 ? Most applications don’t require the generation of a negative voltage, but you do need it to bias the current sinks in many types of high performance digital-to-analog converters (DACs). In a multi-channel, multi-device...
    • Oct 10, 2017

    Signal integrity in multiphase, smart power-stage applications

    While a proper high-current power-stage layout is always important in DC/DC applications, paying attention to regulator signal routing during printed circuit board (PCB) layout is more important than ever. Revision 1.3 of the popular PMBus protocol brings with it faster 1MHz clock speeds as well as the option of a high-speed 50MHz AVSBus. These digital...
    • Sep 27, 2017

    Sequencing solutions: simple, reliable and cost-effective

    As electronics increase in complexity, designers of even simple systems are running into issues associated with multiple power rails. One challenge with having multiple power rails is often the sequencing of the enable signals, because the startup order and timing of these rails can be strict. The LM3880 and LM3881 analog power-supply sequencers...
    • Sep 22, 2017

    Upgrade your TO-220 linear regulator with a pin-compatible buck power module

    Designers have used linear regulators for decades in electronic applications because of their simplicity and low cost. For a complete step-down power supply, you only need an input and output capacitor along with a linear regulator, which is much simpler to design and has lower noise when compared to a switching regulator. In applications where the...
    • Sep 20, 2017

    LDO Basics: Thermals – How hot is your application?

    A low-dropout (LDO) regulator’s nature is to regulate a voltage by turning excess power into heat, making this integrated circuit an ideal solution for low power, or small V IN to V OUT differential applications. With this in mind, choosing the right LDO with the right package is crucial to maximizing an application’s performance. This is...