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AC Current Monitor

Senses high current-flow into power cables No wire-cutting, three versions available

Circuit diagram:

R11 to R17__________1K


Resistor (See Notes)
Trimmer Cermet

25V Electrolytic Capacitors

63V Electrolytic Capacitors

D1________________5mm. Red LED

D3,D4___________1N4002 100V 1A Diodes
D2,D5,D6,D7_______LEDs (Any color and size)

45V 800mA PNP Transistor


Low current BIFET Op-Amp (First version)

Low Power Dual Op-amp (Second version)
Low Power Quad Op-amp (Third version)


miniature Inductor (See Notes)

RL1______________Relay with SPDT 2A @ 220V switch

Coil Voltage 12V. Coil resistance 200-300 Ohm
J1_______________Two ways output socket

Device purpose:
This circuit was designed on request, to remotely monitor when a couple of electric heaters have been left on. Its sensor must be placed in contact with the feeder to be
able to monitor when the power cable is drawing current, thus causing the circuit to switch-on a LED.
The circuit and its sensor coil can be placed very far from the actual load, provided an easy access to the power cable is available.
Any type of high-current load or group of loads can be monitored, e.g. heaters, motors, washing machines, dish-washers, electric ovens etc., provided they dissipate a
power comprised at least in the 0.5 - 1KW range.
This design features three versions. The basic one illuminates a LED when the load is on. The second version activates a Rela y when a pre-set current value flows into

the power cable. The third version switches-on D7 when the load power is about 1KW, D6 when the load power is about 2KW and D5 when the load power is about
Circuit operation:
The basic circuit is shown top left in the drawing and must be used in all three versions. IC1 acts as a differential amplifier having a gain of 220. The small AC voltage
picked-up by L1 is therefore amplified to a value capable of driving the LED D1.
The second version is drawn bottom left, must be connected to the basic circuit and uses a dual op-amp: therefore IC1 will be labeled IC1A and its pin layout varies
slightly. IC1B acts as a voltage comparator and its threshold voltage can be precisely set by means of trimmer R6. Q1 is the Relay driver and D2 illuminates when the
Relay is on. You can use the Relay contacts to drive an alarm or a lamp when the AC load exceeds a pre-set value, e.g. 2KW.
The third version is shown to the right of the drawing, must be connected to the basic circuit and uses a quad op-amp, therefore IC1 will be labeled IC1A and its pin
layout varies slightly. IC1B, C and D are wired as comparators. They switch on and off the LEDs, referring to voltages at their non-inverting inputs set by the voltage
divider resistor chain R11-R14.
The pick-up coil L1 is a common 10mH miniature inductor, having the shape of a small rectangular plastic box of 10x7x4 mm. with radial leads.
This inductor must be placed tightly against one wire of the power cable, leaving the other wire some centimeters apart.
The sensitivity will be doubled if the inductor is placed tightly between the two wires as shown in the diagram, top left. On the contrary, do not place the inductor
against paired wires as the signal tends to cancel and the circuit will not work.
The LED limiting resistor R5 should have a value comprised in the 100R - 1K range, depending on the output voltage obtained.
LED D1 and its limiting resistor R5 can be omitted in versions two and three of the circuit.
Versions one and three draw a small current, thus allowing possible 9V battery operation.


Basically a high-efficiency dimmer, but can also be used as a flasher. In dimmer mode, the LM358 (dual op-amp) is wired to send pulses at a constant frequency. By
adjusting the width of these pulses, brightness of the bulb is controlled. In flasher mode, the same potentiometer is used to control the frequency from about 1 to 20
flashes per second.
By lowering the brightness power consumption drops considerably, thus extending battery life. Flasher mode is even more efficient. This nice little circuit will work
with any DC power supply/battery from 4.5 to 15V. A heat sink on the TIP32 power transistor should not be necessary


While there are a plethora of similar 2-transistor schematics available, this one is above average. A major improvement over the little 1 -transistor circuit that weve
discussed previously, this transmitter consist of two stages. The first transistor is used to amplify audio, which means that the microphone is now much more sensitive
to sound. The second one acts as an oscillator.
All in all, this is an interesting project for beginners and more experienced hobbyists alike. Use any stiff wire or telescope whip antenna, just make sure that its not too
long. Range should be about 100m or even more in the open. Stability is still a problem, though.
R1 270
R2, R5, R6 4k7
R3 10k
R4 100k
C1 1n
C2 5.6p
C3, C4 10u
C5 3-18p
L1, L2 5 turns of enamel coated magnet wire with an inside diameter of about 4mm
Mic Electret microphone
Q1, Q2 2N2222, 2N3904 or any other general-purpose NPN

Dew sensor by LM358

Dew (condensed moisture) ad- versely affects the normal per- formance of sensitive electronic devices. A low-cost circuit described here can be used to switch off any
gadget automatically in case of excessive humidity. At the heart of the circuit is an inexpensive (resistor type) dew sensor element.

Solar panel voltage regulator by LM358

For regulating a solar panels output, there are several possible ways. A linear series regulator can be used, but has the disadvantage of causing some voltage drop and
having some internal power consumption at times when the sun is weak and the load is heavy. Its much better to use a shunt regulator, which is inactive at such times,
and springs to life only when there is excess energy. For this reason, most solar panel regulators use the shunt scheme, the one presented here being no exception.
D1 can be any diode that can safely survive the panels current. If the panel has a very low voltage output (less than 33 cells in series), it is an advantage to employ a
Schottky diode in this place.

Q1 and Q2 are common power Darlington transistors. They need to be heatsinked for safe long-term operation at the 12 Watt dissipation level. Thats easy enough to
do, but many newcomers misjudge how much thermal resistance is introduced by a mica insulator! Plan on 1K/W thermal resistance inside each transistor, two times as
much in the insulator (if you use any), and 370K safe junction temperature. For typical environmental conditions, this makes you need a heatsink having a thermal
resistance of about 1.3K/W. If it is larger, you get more safety margin.
R1 and R2 will have to be made by combining a number of power resistors in parallel. Yes, you need to make two resistor arrays of 4 Ohm, 80W each! This 80W figure
includes a reasonable safety margin. These resistors will produce a lot of heat, and you may cook your coffee on them! Be sure to mount them in such a way that they
have lots of ventilation, and that the heat from them will not reach the other components.
R3 and R4 may to have be built from parallel combinations too, because of the low value of only 0.15 Ohm.
U2 is a voltage reference IC. You cannot replace it by a standard Zener diode! Zeners are much too unstable! If you cant find this chip locally, you may use the
ubiquitous 7805 regulator instead, but the power drain from the battery will be higher. In this case, of course you dont need R8, but you would need a 1uF capacitor at
the 7805 output.
Q3 is a power MOSFET that has a very low Rds(on). You may use a different one, provided that it has a resistance thats low enough for your application. You may use
several in parallel. The one I used has low loss even at loads of 20A, and can handle much more!

ECM microphone preamplifier

Both transistors are low noise types. In the original circuit, I used BC650C which is an ultra low noise device. These are hard to find so I now use
BC109C. The circuit is very device tolerant and will set its quiescent point at roughly half the supply voltage at the emitter of the last transistor.
The ECM is a mic insert, designed to operate at around 2 - 10 Volts DC. The 1k resistor limits the current to the mic. The output impedance is very
low and well suited to driving cables over distances up to 50 meters. Screened cable therefore is not necessary.
The frequency response measured across the 10k load resistor is shown below:

The noise response of the amplifier measured across the 10k load is shown below. Please note that was measured with the mic insert replaced by a
signal generator.

This circuit has an excellant overload margin, and can cope with anything from a whisper to a loud shout, however the amplifier you
connect this too can be overloaded, so care should be taken.

HI-FI AF Preamplifier

This circuit has an exceptionally good high frequency response, as demonstrated by applying an 100kHz squarewave to the input. I have produced
some response graphs using Tina Pro to highlight these characteristics.

The Preamp's Frequency and Phase Response

Squarewave Response with 100kHz Input Applied

Total Noise at Output Measured with 600R Load

Signal to Noise Ratio at Output

Battery Monitor

The schematic

Click here for PIC software and

the hex file can be found here.

Finesse Voltage Regulator Noise!

System designers often find themselves battling power supply hum, noise, transients, and various perturbations wreaking havoc with low noise
amplifiers, oscillators, and other sensitive devices. Many voltage regulators have excessive levels of output noise including voltage spikes from switching
circuits and high flicker noise levels from unfiltered references. Ordinary three-terminal regulators will have several hundred nanovolts per root-hertz of
white noise and some reference devices exceed one microvolt per root-hertz. DC to DC converters and switching regulators may have switching
products ranging into the millivolt range covering a wide frequency spectrum. And many systems have offending devices that "dirty up" otherwise clean
supply rails.

The traditional approach to reducing such noise products to acceptable levels could be called the "brute force" approach - a large-value inductor
combined with a capacitor or a clean-up regulator inserted between the noisy regulator and load. In either case, the clean-up circuit is handling the
entire load current in order to "get at" the noise. The approach described in this paper uses a bit of finesse to remove the undesired noise without
directly handling the supply's high current.
The key to understanding the "finesse" approach is to realize that the noise voltage is many orders of magnitude below the regulated voltage, even
when integrated over a fairly wide bandwidth. For example, a 10 volt regulator might exhibit 10 uV of noise in a 10 kHz bandw idth - six orders of
magnitude below 10 volts. Naturally, the noise current that flows in a resistive load due to this noise voltage is also six orders of magnitude below the
DC. By adding a tiny resistor, R, in series with the output of the regulator and assuming that a circuit somehow manages to reduce the noise voltage at
the load to zero, the noise current from the regulator may be calculated as Vn/R. If the resistor is 1 ohm then, in this example, the noise current will be
10uV/1ohm = 10uA - a very tiny current! If a current-sink can be designed to sink this amount of AC noise current to ground at the load, no noise
current will flow in the load. By amplifying the noise with an inverting transconductance amplifier with the right amount of gain, the required current
sink may be realized. The required transconductance is simply -1/R where R is the tiny series resistor.
Consider the low power version shown in fig. 1 which might be suitable for cleaning up the supply to a low current device. A 15 ohm resistor is inserted
in series with the regulator's output giving a 150 millivolt drop when the load draws 10 mA - typical for a low-noise preamplifier or oscillator circuit. The
single transistor amplifier has an emitter resistor which combines with the emitter diode's resistance to give a value near 15 ohms. The regulator's noise
voltage appears across this resistor so the noise current is shunted to ground through the transistor's collector. The noise reduction can be over 20dB
without trimming the resistor values and the intrinsic noise of the 2N4401 is only about 1 nanovolt per root-hertz. Trimming the emitter resistor can
achieve noise reduction greater than 40 dB.

For higher current loads it is desirable to have a much lower series resistor. For such applications more gain is needed and one approach is to replace
the single transistor in fig. 1 with a compound transistor as shown in fig. 2. The effective emitter resistance is on the order of 0.25 ohms so an emitter
resistor near 0.75 ohms is needed for a series-pass 1 ohm resistor. The circuit is biased with a bit more current by the 470 ohm resistor and it can
handle 10mV glitches of either polarity. The darlington may be replaced with a 2N4403 but the effective emitter resistance wi ll be slightly above 1 ohm.

The simplicity of the one-transistor circuit is attractive and it is interesting to investigate the possibility of using this circuit for higher currents. One
limiting factor is the intrinsic resistance of the emitter which limits the gain of the single st age. Choose a large die device or a device rated for high
collector current. A power transistor is a good choice even though the power dissipation will be low. The emitter resistor in figure 1 is set to zero and
the bias resistor is reduced to about 5 or 10k. The collector resistor is selected to achieve the desired gain: as this resistor drops in value, the emitter
resistance drops by about .025 / Ic, not including the intrinsic resistance. A 2N5192 with a 270 ohm collector resistor and a 4.7k bias resistor will work
well with a 1 ohm current sense resistor and will consume about 40mA. The transistor gain is obviously sensitive to temperature with no emitter
degeneration but good noise reduction will be maintained over a wide temperature range.
The experimentally inclined may wish to try a TL431 shunt regulator in place of the single transistor. The flicker noise will be a bit high but the circuit
could be useful for eliminating switching regulator spikes. The high gain of the TL431 should allow the use of very low series resistance. Another
interesting device is the CA3094 which has a built-in darlington transistor capable of handling up to 100 mA and the op-amp noise is a respectable 18
nV at 10Hz.

These two circuits are representative of many possible versions using the same basic technique. A three-transistor version has been constructed for use
with a 0.05 ohm resistor and a couple of op-amp versions have been constructed with the LM833. Although these versions work quite well the
complexity begins to rival low noise voltage regulators. One advantage, however, is that no high-current pass element is needed so the circuit can be
quite small.

The following circuit is designed for filtering 15 volt supplies like those typically found in instrumentation. The shunt will greatly reduce white noise,
spurious signals, and line-related signals on the power supply; the attenuation can exceed 40 dB with careful construction. The values are not critical
except that the gain of the amplifier should be very near the ratio of the transistor emitter resistor to the series shunt resistor. In this case the gain is
15/0.05 = 300. Actually the gain is 301 with the indicated values so a 299k resistor would be theoretically better but the resistor tolerances and the
actual resistance in the 0.05 ohm shunt path will cause more variation. One of the gain resistors may be made variable to allow the performance to be
tweaked for the deepest null, if desired. Choose a low noise metal foil or wirewound potentiometer for best results. Standard fixed values will give
excellent noise reduction sufficient for most applications. The LM833 is an excellent choice but many other low noise op-amps will work well. Choose an
op-amp with a high bandwidth and low input noise voltage. A higher value shunt resistor may be used if the voltage drop can be tolerated; adjust the
gain of the amplifier to match as described above. The LM833 is a dual op-amp so two shunts may be implemented with the one package for filtering
two different supplies or for cascading two shunts for additional line rejection and noise reduction. The noise shunt provides no load rejection beyond
the rejection provided by the source regulator through the 0.05 ohm resistor.

The following graph shows the performance of the noise shunt when powered by a three-terminal regulator. The regulator's noise is 330 nV per roothertz at 100 hertz and the circuit reduces this noise to 20 nV. This 24 dB reduction is achieved without any selected values and with no particular
attention paid to the layout. The one potential problem area is the grounding; heavy ground traces or even ground plane are recommended. The
ultimate rejection of the circuit is better than the apparent rejection in the plot; low frequency performance is impacted by the size of the coupling
capacitors and the noise floor is limited by the performance of the LM833 and resistor noise.

13.8 V / 15 A from a PC Power Supply

Safety Instructions

Caution mortal danger: The following circuit operates at a mains voltage of 230 Vac. Because of rectification some of the components conduct dc
voltage of more than 322 V. Work has to be carried out only if the circuit is disconnected from the mains and de-energized. Note that capacitors located
to the primary side can be charged with high voltage for several seconds even after switching of the mains voltage.
The major disadvantages of usual linear power supplies are high power dissipation, the size and the appropriated weight. When looking for an
alternative solution, I decided to use a switch mode power supply (SMPS). The efficiency of such power supplies is around 70 % to 90 % at a power
density of 0.2 W / cm. Because homebrewing was out of the question due to lack of time, I tried the modification of a PC switch mode power supply.

Fig.1: Block diagram of a primary switching power supply

Brief description of PC SMPS Features

Depending on the PC model, these are rated anywhere between 150 and 240 W. For supplying socket 7 main boards they have four different output
voltages of +5 V, +12 V, -12 V and -5 V. They are mainly primary switching power supplies with power switches arranged in a half-bridge configuration.
The outputs can drive the usual 20 A (+5 V), 8 A (+12 V) and 0,5 A (-12 V, -5 V). At approx. 205 W output power and a typical efficiency of 75 % this
means a dissipation of only 68 W. I had acquired an unbranded PC power supply, measuring 140 x 100 x 50 mm (W, D, H) and weighing 350 g. Most
power supply units are designed according to the same principle (half-bridge configuration) and hence the following described modification should be
applicable also to power supplies from other producers.

Fig.2: Half-bridge configuration of power switches

After switching on the mains voltage the circuit operates for a short duration as a free-running oscillator. This behavior is caused by a feedback winding
at the output transformer T2. As soon as the auxiliary voltage Uaux is present the pulse width modulator IC TL494CN from Texas-Instruments takes
over the control function and synchronizes the "oscillator".
The error amplifier in the TL494 compares the voltage at the +5 V output (actual value) with a reference voltage (set value), calculates the analogue
control variable according to the PI algorithm and adjusts the pulse width modulator (see Fig. 6). The modulator sends altern ate pulses to the driver
transistors Q5 and Q6. The pulse duration is reverse proportional to the control variable rating. Increasing loading on the +5 V output makes for wider
pulses, lighter loading causes narrower pulses. As there is a finite minimum pulse width, a minimum load of 0.1 A is required. Without this load the

power supply may be destroyed. The switching frequency is approx. 33 kHz as usual for PC power supplies. It is defined by a resistor and a capacitor
located at pin 5 and 6 of IC1.

Fig. 3: Primary side mains filter, rectifier, power switches and drivers

Monitoring Circuit
Several protection circuits are included in the original power supply. Excessive primary current due to a very high secondary current leads to a high
alternating voltage at the T3 output. If this voltage is above a fixed threshold the TL494 stops immediately generating cyclically pulses and changes to
the intermitted mode (on / off). The circuit and the load are protected likewise against over-voltage at the +5 V output or short-circuit at the -12 V and
-5 V outputs. Switching off is executed via H-signal to the IC1 protection input (pin 4) too.
If you see a KA7500 or IR3MO2 PWM regulator IC on the board, each one is a pin compatible second source to the TL494CN. IC3 is a dual comparator
from LM339 type. Some power supplies are not equipped with this IC, but with a two transistor discrete monitoring circuit, offering the same
Mods to the Secondary Rectification
The intent is for all of the available power at the 12 V secondary of T1 to be rectified, regulated, protected and filtered to provide a single output of
13.8 V DC at 205 W, or more if possible. A first check indicates that the +12 V wire was of the same diameter as the +5 V wire.
First unsolder and remove all components on the secondary side of T1 which are provided for rectification, filtering and regulation of the four output
voltages. On that part of the board are only remaining three RC members RC1 to RC3 and the components for providing the auxil iary power supply

Fig.4: Secondary rectification as found in the original PC power supply

Reconstruction of the secondary side.

Break the PCB tracks between the RC members RC1 / RC2 and both 5 V taps of the T1 secondary winding.
Modify L4 for 12 V at 20 A. Remove windings L4a, L4b and L4c from the toroid (counting turns of L4c). Rewind
the toroid L4* with a single winding, turn count as old L4c but with 2.5 times the thickness. Take two wires with
1 mm diameter each, bifilar wounded.
Install two low ESR electrolytic capacitors of 2200 uF each and the 100 Ohm bleeder resistor as permanent load.
Use the old PCB tracks from the +5 V section and GND tracks as terminals for L4* , the 100 Ohm resistor and the
two 2200 uF capacitors. Insert L4* at the same place onto the PCB component side where the L4b winding was
connected before.
The original cooling of the rectifier diode D5 is insufficient. Adequate cooling is achieved by a finned heat sink
measuring 70 x 50 x 30 mm (W, D, H) instead of the old aluminium sheet metal.
Fasten D5 to the heat sink and extend the three leads by 40 mm long wires. Use isolation material and thermal
compound. D5 carries on some boards the abbreviation SKD.
Place the finned heat sink approx. 40 mm above the "stripped" secondary (see photo) with plastic spacers and
long M3 screws (avoid short-circuit to common).
Connect the anode leads of D5a and D5b with one RC member RC1 / RC2 each. The cathodes have to be
connected to the nodal point of RC1, RC2 and L4.
Establish two links between the 12 V terminals of T1 and the RC members by two thick wires. D5 will be fed from
the 12 V winding.
A simple and clear structure of the secondary rectification was achieved after "stripping" and "reconstruction".

Fig. 5: New designed secondary for Ua = 13,8 V

Mods to the Regulation and Protection Circuit

The part of the circuit responsible for regulation and monitoring has to be modified at three places. Arrange additional components free standing onto
the component side of the PCB.
R24* is calculated for 13.8 V output voltage. The voltage at the (+) input of the error amplifier must be equal to
2.5 V after control loop stabilization, i.e. half the 5 V reference voltage when the output is at 13.8 V.
R24* = 20 kOhm = 2 x 10 kOhm in series
Arrange a second universal diode 1N4148 and a 8,2 V Zener diode in series to D16.
Usum = 8,2 V + 2 x 0,7 V = 9,6 V
Simplify the voltage divider (R36, R42, R45 and D14) in the short-circuit protection circuit. For this remove R36
and D14. Connect the free end of R42 to common (GND) and replace R45 with one of higher value to ensure no
shut-down at normal operation. The voltage across R42 must be less than 1,7 V (I chose 1,2 V).
R45* = 15 kOhm
The areas marked with dotted frames, show the modified or additional components that are necessary for 13.8 V output voltage.

Fig. 6: Regulation and protection circuits incl. all modifications

Further Modifications
After commissioning the modified board, the situation regarding to interferences looks very bad. The whole reception range from 3,5 MHz to 30 MHz
was disturbed by harmonics of the 33 kHz switching frequency. S-meter readings showed S5 on 80 m down to S2 on 10 m. As I was testing the board
in a metal box, the HF radiation could only get out on the mains cable and/or DC output leads. The insertion of an additional standard 230 VAC mains
filter and a home-brewed pi-filter in the output rendered the interference inaudible.
Insert an additional 230V / 2A mains filter to the primary side, close to the place where the mains cable enters
the enclosure rear wall.
Insert a 20 A pi-filter to the DC output , behind the +/- DC terminals at the rear wall.
The power supply enclosure must absolutely consist of iron sheet metal to screen magnetic fields. Aluminum
plates protect only against electrical fields.
Optional on the primary: Replace the 220 uF smoothing capacitors C1 and C2 by 470 uF capacitors. This reduces
primary ripple, which helps output regulation at full load.

Testing the Power Supply

Phase 1: These tests have to be carried out at a low DC supply voltage in order to avoid component destruction in case of possible errors. The 13.8 V
output is loaded with a 12 V / 50 W car headlight bulb and a 15 V / 1 A lab power supply is connected to GND and Uaux. The TL494 IC gets its
operating voltage and generates control pulses with maximum pulse duration. Check the signals at Q5 and Q6.
Phase 2: During the second test phase the galvanic isolated primary side of the circuit is supplied by the lab supply too. For this purpose make a short
cable link between Uaux and U+ as well as between GND and U-. The PWM controller tries to offer 13.8 V at the output at maximum pulse duration.
The later cannot be successful due to the low 15 Vdc input voltage and the present transformer ratio. With an oscilloscope measured signals at the
measuring points TP1 (emitter Q1 against emitter Q2) and TP2 (cathode D5 against GND) must look like as shown in figure 7.

Fig. 7: Signal shape at TP1 and TP2

Phase 3: Nor disconnect the lab supply from the primary side only. Instead connect a 48 V / 1 A mains transformer to the L1 a nd N terminal in order to
feed the board with a galvanic isolated Ac voltage. 60 Vdc at C1 and C2 is in Europe defined as a non-dangerous voltage rate. 48 VAC at the input
causes a rise of the output voltage up to +6 V.
If everything is all right up to now, one can proceed with the exciting test at 230 Vac. The laboratory power supply, the 48 V transformer, the measuring
instruments and all provisional cable links attached for the test etc. must obviously be removed. The car bulb are further needed as a load and for the
functional checks. If after applying of the 230 Vac mains voltage the lamps light up brightly, the output voltage amounts to 13.8 V and no undefined
noises or smells are noticeable one has won the first round. If a non recognizable error has passed the pre-testing the two switching transistors and
copper tracks say good-bye with a more or less loud bang.
For the following load test some high power resistors with resistance 1 Ohm and sufficent power rating are required. The current flowing wi th this load
should not cause excessive heating of the rectifier diode and the switching transistors during a 5 minutes test period e.
Warning: Check temperature of components only if the mains voltage is switched off
Cooling of the switching transistors Q1 and Q 2 at a continuos current of 15 A has to be improved in any case. When exchanging the small heat sinks,
note that they form an electrical connection between coper tracks on some boards. Replace the missing connection by wire links. As one can see on the
photo, I did not taken this measures for further power improvement.
Operation Experience
The modified board was permanently installed in the speaker cabinet SP120 that matches my transceiver. The mains lead exit from its back, which also
carries the DC terminals, an on-off switch, the additional mains filter and a small 12 V blower. A green LED power-on indicator was inserted in the front
panel into a 5 mm hole drill. I had installed the small blower just in case, but found it superfluous; at the low duty cycle of CW and SSB, none of the
components is getting hot. The power supply has been used for several years and has given no problems.

Fig. 8: Modified power supply board in the SP120 speaker cabinet