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How to Use a Solderless Breadboard
Written By: John R. Sewell

Power Supplies fall under 3 types: Unregulated, Regulated Linear & Regulated Switching.

"Unregulated" or Brute Force Power Supplies will provide an approximate output dependant on the load and input voltage. Any variation in the input voltage has a direct affect on the output. The unregulated is a simple supply as it only contains a step down (or Up) transformer, couple of rectifier diodes and a possibly a filter capacitor. The output does not remain constant with loading or line changes. Unloaded output can be almost double the rated output under rated load. Unregulated supplies are rated by their output Voltage at the rated load. Example 12VDC @ 1A supply will give you 12V when loaded at 1A, at 1/2A the output will rise to a higher value say 17V or when overloaded at 1.5A the output could be lowered to around 9V. Wall Plug-In (plug directly into the wall) Unregulated Power Supplies are limited to around 40 Watts because of the transformer and capacitor weight stress on the wall outlet. Bench top or built-in unregulated supplies offer no weight restrictions and supply many watts of power. The basic use is to provide a Raw DC voltage to a bus from which it is supplied to multiple DC/DC converters or regulators, motors etc. The output voltage will vary as the Line & Load changes.

With regulated supplies there are 2 basic types based upon how the regulation is achieved, Linear or switching. The Linear Regulated Supply adds a regulator circuit to the basic unregulated design. A Bulky transformer lowers (or Raises) the voltage, Rectifiers change current to pulsing DC, the capacitor removes (filters) some of the pulse ripple and a pass transistor & regulator circuit provide the constant output Voltage under varying load conditions. Linear supplies have little or no RFI/EMI.

A "Switching" Regulated Power Supply rectifies & filters the incoming AC line voltage, then switches the resultant High DC Voltage at a high frequency through a light weight transformer to reduce the size & weight of components but will require extra filtering & shielding for RFI. Both designs provide a output voltage that remains close to its rating; usually within 1% or better over the load range. Drawing almost no power when not loaded. Switching Power Supplies can operate over the 90-265VAC universal input voltage range. Switching Regulated Power Supplies are quickly becoming the most used type in order to reduce wasted energy costs and comply with international standards. Vary high output regulated power is available in benchtop and fixed units. Light weight Regulated Plug Switching supplies can output 100+ watts of power while remaining light weight and able to “hang” from the wall outlet or plug strip.

Both Regulated & Unregulated supplies should meet All safety certifications by the CE, UL, CSA, TUV or other listing companies.
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