General Introduction to DC power supplies:
The electrical power is almost exclusively generated, transmitted and distributed in the form of ac because of economical consideration but for operation of most of the electronic devices and circuits, dc supply is required. Dry cells and batteries can be used for this purpose. No doubt, they have the advantages of being portable and ripple free but their voltages are low, they need frequent replacement and are expensive in comparison to conventional dc power supplies.
Now a days, almost all electronic equipment include a circuit that converts ac supply into dc supply. The part of equipment that converts ac into dc is called DC power supply. In general at the input of the power supply there is a power transformer. It is followed by a rectifier (a diode circuit)a smoothing filter and then by a voltage regulator circuit.
From the block diagram, the basic power supply is constituted by four elements viz a transformer, a rectifier, a filter, and a regulator put together. The output of the dc power supply is used to provide a constant dc voltage across the load. Let us briefly outline the function of each of the elements of the dc power supply.
Transformer is used to step-up or step-down (usually to step-down) the-supply voltage as per need of the solid-state electronic devices and circuits to be supplied by the dc power supply. It can provide isolation from the supply line-an important safety consideration. It may also include internal shielding to prevent unwanted electrical noise signal on the power line from getting into the power supply and possibly disturbing the load.
What is a rectifier in general?
Rectifier is a device which converts the sinusoidal ac voltage into either positive or negative pulsating dc. P-N junction diode, which conducts when forward biased and practically does not conduct when reverse biased, can be used for rectification i.e. for conversion of ac into dc. The rectifier typically needs one, two or four diodes. Rectifiers may be either half-wave rectifiers or full-wave rectifiers (centre-tap or bridge) type.
The output voltage from a rectifier circuit has a pulsating character i.e., it contains unwanted ac components (components of supply frequency f and its harmonics) along with dc component. For most supply purposes, constant direct voltage is required than that furnished by a rectifier. To reduce ac components from the rectifier output voltage a filter circuit is required.
Thus filter is a device which passes dc component to the load and blocks I ac components of the rectifier output. Filter is typically constructed from reactive circuit I elements such as capacitors and/or inductors and resistors.The magnitude of output dc voltage may vary with the variation of either the input ac voltage or the magnitude of load current. So at the output of a rectifier filter combination a voltage regulator is required, to provide an almost constant dc voltage at the output of the regulator. The voltage regulator may be constructed from a Zener diode, and or discrete transistors, and/or integrated circuits (ICs). Its main function is to maintain a constant dc output voltage. However, it also rejects any ac ripple voltage that is not removed by the filter. The regulator may also include protective devices such as short-circuit protection, current limiting, thermal shutdown, or over-voltage protection.