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T E C H N I C A L I N F O R M A T I O N F R O M T H E - d p - L A B O R A T O R I E S
Vol. 13, No. 11


The Present Attainments

of Adjustable Power Supplies

The power supply designs discussed in the accompanying tional orders came. As H-Labs' reputation grew, power supplies
article are those of -hp-'s Harrison Laboratories division. H Labs came to be the major item in H-Labs' product line.

was formed in 1954 to design and build specialized equip Growing at a very high rate, Harrison Labs turned to outside

ment for TV studios, the first product being an aperture equal sources in expanding its facilities, resulting n its association

izer for TV camera chains. In 1955 H-Labs designed a power with -np-.

supply as a part of a TV equipment package, the specifications Harrison Laboratories of Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, with

requiring that the power supply have low impedance at the William Harrison as manager, is now a division of Hewlett-

color sub-carrier frequency. The H-Lab supply designed for Packard. It is expected that -np-'s future efforts n the d-c solid-

this requirement performed so well and so reliably that addi state power supply field will be centered at H-Labs.

COPHISTICATION in laboratory power rent limiting, low output impedance over a

supply design is bringing more flexibility wide band of frequencies, short recovery time
to these instruments and new conveniences to to instantaneous changes in line voltage or
the user. Remote programming, remote sens load current and no overshoot on turn-on,
ing, and the ability to operate with one-knob turn-off or power failures. At the same time,
control either in series or in parallel with better use of components results in compact
other supplies are some of the features pres units of high efficiency and low heat dissipa
ently being designed into power supplies. tion.
Power supply performance now includes full Considerable engineering effort has been
overload protection through adjustable cur expended on making modern power supplies

i. -

H :
" O
Fig. 1. Harrison Laboratories' Model 865B Power Sup Fig. 2. High-efficiency SCR power supply, H-Lab Model
ply is less than 8 inches wide, weighs only 12 pounds but 520A, supplies 0-25 amps at 0-6 volts in 5j inches high
supplies up to 0.5 amp at 0-40 volts. Any number of these rack mounting cabinet. Lou' power-loss in circuits does
compact supplies may be operated in series or parallel for away with need for cooling fan. Fast circuit response
higher voltages or currents. Either constant voltage or eliminates line transients from output.
constant current mode of operation is possible.

P R I N T E D I N U . S . A . C O P Y R I G H T 1 9 6 2 H E W L E T T - P A C K A R D C O .

Copr. 1949-1998 Hewlett-Packard Co.

abruptly reduces the current to a HOW THE CV/CC
trickle charge when the preselected
voltage level is reached. A preliminary look at a constant
In the constant current mode, voltage regulator, Fig. 4, will help
CV/CC supplies are well suited for to introduce the operation of the
supplying fixed currents to focusing constant current regulator. As is
coils or other magnetic circuits, the common practice, the voltage com
current remaining constant despite parison amplifier and regulator com
temperature induced changes in coil prise a feedback control system
resistance. Having both constant which adjusts the output voltage


voltage and constant current modes to bring the voltage difference be

TRANSITION BETWEEN CONSTANT VOLTAGE AND CONSTANT of operation in one supply in no tween the inputs of the comparison

way degrades performance in either amplifier to zero. While this is the

mode. basic principle of a voltage regu
Fig. 3. Voltage/ current characteristics lator, it is of interest to note that
of CV/CC power supply. No switching is Under light or no load condi
required for transition from constant tions, the CV CC supply operates in terms of feedback theory, the
voltage to constant current operation or in the constant voltage mode, main regulated supply may be considered
vice versa, as a d-c power amplifier in which
taining the output voltage at the
value selected by the front panel the "input" is the reference voltage,
immune to most laboratory mishaps, P is the divider ratio, and line volt
(or remote) control, as shown by
such as accidental shorts, open-cir age and load changes are disturb
point A on the graph of Fig. 3. As
cuits, or sudden line transients ances in the j. circuit. The feedback
the load resistance decreases, the
caused by spot welders, electric acts to suppress these disturbances
current increases with little or no
ovens and the like. Some of these by the factor 1/(1 /3), where /x/3
voltage change until the selected
design features, as embodied in a is the loop gain.
maximum current limit is reached.
broad variety of power supplies As shown here, one amplifier in
This is the "critical" value of load
manufactured by Harrison Labora put is connected to the negative
resistance (point B) and represents
tories, -hp-'s power supply division, output bus. The other input is con
the V/'I ratio of the front panel con
are described here. nected to summing point P, which
trol settings. Further decrease in
C O N S T A N T - V O L T A G E C O N S T A N T - load resistance causes the voltage to is shown at the junction of fixed re
drop but the current output now sistor R, and Output Voltage Adjust
A recent innovation in laboratory remains constant, as represented by variable resistor R,,. The control ac
instruments is represented by the point C on the graph. The critical tion continuously adjusts the volt
constant voltage /'constant current value B is arbitrarily moved around age on the positive bus to bring the
(CV/CC) power supply. These sup by the independent voltage and
plies operate in the conventional current controls.
^Oliver, B. M. "Automatic Volume Control as a
Feedback Problem." Proc. IRE, Apr. '48.
constant voltage mode when the load
draws less than some chosen maxi
mum current. If the load should in
crease and attempt to draw more
than the selected current, the CV/
CC supply then behaves as a con
stant current source, adjusting its
output voltage to constrain the cur
rent to the chosen level.
Besides safely limiting the maxi
mum current when used as a con
stant-voltage source, the CV/CC
supply also limits the maximum
open-circuit voltage when operat Unregulated D-C Output Voltage Adjust
ing as a constant-current source. As
a battery charger, for instance, the
CV CC supply charges a battery at Fig. 4. be voltage regulated power supply. Voltage sensing circuit may be
connected through separate leads directly to load, achieving optimum regulation
a constant selected rate and then at load terminals.

Copr. 1949-1998 Hewlett-Packard Co.

a low value current monitoring re
sistor R (typically 3 ohms in a 0.5
amp supply) is inserted in series
with the negative bus. The action
of the control circuit now is to
bring the comparison amplifier in
puts to the same potential by match
ing the voltage drop across RI to the
voltage drop across R,,. The output
current thus becomes a function of
the Current Adjust resistor R,,I. Here
again the Current Adjust resistor R,,i
may be disconnected and an external
resistance used for remote program
Fig. source and current regulated supply. Reference voltage source and ming, or an external reference volt
high contrast amplifiers achieve constant current operation, in contrast u'ith cur age may be substituted.
rent limiting which only prevents current from exceeding selected maximum. The combination of constant
voltage and constant current regu
voltage at point P to the negative to point P may be disconnected lators in one power supply is shown
bus potential. from the internal reference and re in Fig. 6. The amplifiers described
With point P held at the negative connected to any external voltage, previously are simply connected in
bus voltage, the voltage drop across thus converting the power supply parallel to a common series regu
fixed resistor R, is the same as the into a unipolar d-c power amplifier. lator. In practice, the outputs of
reference voltage, and this voltage The terminal strip connections also the comparison amplifiers are taken
drop remains constant during op permit remote error sensing to be from the collectors of transistors,
eration. The current I,, through re used if heavy currents in the leads each one of which cuts off and is
sistor R,., and thus through R like connecting the load cause trouble ineffective when the other has con
wise is held constant so that the some voltage drops. trol of the output. Either or both of
IR voltage drop across R is deter A constant current regulator cir the regulating functions may be
mined solely by the resistance value cuit is shown in Fig. 5. The same programmed remotely and they are
of Rp. The power supply output volt series regulator and constant volt adjustable separately.
age then is a linear function of the age reference source of the CV regu A popular CC CV power supply
resistance of Rp. lator are employed here, but the using these techniques is the Har
As will be discussed later, there current programming resistor R,, is rison Lab model 865B, shown in
are several advantages to deriving a returned to the negative bus. Also, Fig. 1. This compact unit supplies
control voltage in this manner. For
one, the arrangement makes it pos
sible to program the power supply
remotely by disconnecting R and
substituting an external resistance.
The remote programming resistor
may be nxed, variable, or switched
to discrete values, switching ex
ternal resistors enabling the power
supply to be reset to precise voltages.
Connections to R, are brought to
a terminal strip at the rear of H-Lab
supplies for convenient changeover
to remote programming. The out
put voltage then is specified in
terms of volts per ohm of program Fig. supply. In voltage/ constant current (CVCC) regulated supply. In
heavy duty H-Lab CV /CC supplies, disconnect diodes in series with compari
ming resistor. In addition, the com son amplifier outputs sharpen transition from constant voltage to constant
parison amplifier input connected current operation.

Copr. 1949-1998 Hewlett-Packard Co.

voltage, will track the Master volt
age proportionally. - M A S T E R S U P P L Y ,
. Amperes """" *"y I

The CV, CC supplies may be in
terconnected for parallel operation,
as shown in Fig. 8, without the
large circulating currents that usual
ly arise from slight inequalities in
the output voltages of any two low
impedance sources. Here, the volt
age regulators of the slave supplies
are disconnected from their own ref
erences and reconnected as shown.
Each slave regulator adjusts its cur
rent output so that the voltage drop
across its current monitoring re
sistor matches that across the cur
rent monitoring resistor in the mas
ter supply. This action is effective
throughout both the constant volt
age and constant current operating
ranges, with all control coming
from the master supply. Any num
5-er ber of H-Lab power supplies of the
same model number may be con
Fig. 7. Series connection (Auto-series) of nected for Auto-Parallel operation.
Fig. 8. Parallel connection (Auto-paral
power supplies for one-knob control. lel) of pomer supplies. One-knob control
Master supply becomes reference source ZERO OUTPUT
is retained in either constant voltage or
for slave supplies so that slave voltages constant current operation.
track master voltage proportionally. For tightest voltage regulation,
and also to prevent mutual coupling
between parallel loads, the effective evident that in the CV mode, the
up to 0.5 amps at any voltage be
output impedance of a power sup output impedance decreases as regu
tween 0 and 40 volts. High gain in
ply ideally should be zero. Former lator gain increases, the impedance
the regulator chain holds the out
ly, the impedance of regulated sup approaching but never quite reach
put voltage within 0.01% or 1 mv
plies never quite reached zero, for ing zero.
(whichever is greater) for a 0.5 amp
reasons explained here. If positive feedback is added to
change in load, or holds the output
The output impedance Z of a the amplifier of gain u in the ex
current within 250 tamps during
regulated power supply (or any pression above, totally within the
constant current operation.
feedback amplifier) can be expressed negative feedback loop, there re
AUTO-SERIES AND AUTO- sults a new value of feedback am
by the equation1:
plifier gain L, expressed by the re
For higher voltages, power sup lation:
plies simply may be stacked with
the positive bus of one tied to the where Z,, is the impedance looking
negative bus of the next but control back into the supply with the am where -' is the locally introduced
of all supplies by a single Voltage plifier disconnected, /.i/?sr is the loop positive feedback factor. Now, j8'
Adjust control is enabled by the gain with the output short cir may be chosen to make the product
addition of one control lead, as cuited, and ju/?oc is the loop gain //./?'=!, in which case the denomina
shown in Fig. 7. With this connec with the output open circuited. In tor vanishes and //.' goes to infinity.
tion, the "Master" supply becomes the constant voltage mode, /u./?sc=0 This value of t.' may be substituted
the reference voltage for the others, and /J./?,K. is very large. In the con for i in the original expression for
which have had their internal volt stant current mode, i/3t,,.=Q and output impedance, in which case Z
age references disconnected (a new H/3SC is very large and negative. It is becomes zero.
fixed resistor Rr' is added). The slave iBode, H. W. "Network Analysis and Feedback Adding a positive feedback loop
Amplifier Design," Chap. 5, D. Van Nostrand
supplies, set individually to any Co. Inc., New York, 1945. to the comparison amplifier, simply

Copr. 1949-1998 Hewlett-Packard Co.

put at all times, right down to zero
volts out.
A smaller power transistor hav
ing higher frequency response may
be used for Ql, reducing the power
supply output impedance over a
wider band of frequencies. The pre
regulator also reduces ripple and
improves line voltage regulation be
cause of the emitter-follower type
action of Q2.
Fig. 9- Power supply with preregulator. For higher power, addi
tional preregulators may be added either in series or parallel. Where heavy current outputs are
required, some form of control de
by adding a resistor between output fier voltage to the desired output vice often is added to the rectifier
collector and input base of a two- level. In such "brute force" designs, circuit to further limit power loss
stage amplifier, can result in zero excess power handling capacity in the regulators. The control limits
output impedance. As a matter of must be built into the series regu the rectifier output voltage to some
fact, by increasing the positive feed lator to meet this condition. level suitably higher than the out
back beyond the optimum point, a A more efficient regulator design put terminal voltage.
negative output impedance is ob makes advantageous use of a "pre The rectifier voltage control may
tained which means that the output regulator," as shown in Fig. 9- Here, be simply an autotransformer me
voltage rises slightly if output cur resistor Rs in series with the main chanically coupled to the output
rent increases. With enough posi regulator dissipates most of the voltage control to make the recti
tive feedback to make Ja'=x, the power when the supply is used for fier voltage track the output volt
circuit could be on the verge of low output voltages at high cur age. This method, though, is not
oscillating were it not stabilized by rents. In a 40 volt supply, for in adapted readily to remote program
the overall negative feedback loop. stance, the resistor reduces QTs col ming and has the further disadvan
The 865B, as adjusted at the fac lector-emitter voltage to approxi tage of not protecting the regulat
tory, has less than 0.01 ohms inter mately 1.5 volts, limiting Ql's pow ing elements in the event of a short-
nal impedance from d-c to 100 cps. er dissipation. circuit on the output terminals.
Above 100 cps, the gain of the posi When the supply is to be used More recent techniques use thyra-
tive feedback loop falls off but the near its maximum output voltage, trons or silicon controlled-rectifiers
internal impedance is no more than the series resistor is removed from (SCR's) as rectifying elements. The
0.02 ohms at 1 kc, rising to 0.1 ohms, the circuit by the action of Q2, firing angles of these devices are
typically, at 100 kc. At higher fre which turns on whenever the volt controlled to keep the input capaci
quencies, the inductance of the out age drop across Ql is low enough. tor charged to a level only a few
put capacitor (0.3 ,"h) determines The preregulator therefore func volts higher than the output volt
the output impedance. Computer- tions as a variable resistance to dis age. With this method, the rectifier
grade low - inductance electrolytic sipate power as needed. Ql, how voltage can be made to track the
capacitors are used in all H-Lab ever, retains full control of the out output voltage automatically. So-
The series regulator of a simple
regulated power supply with fixed
rectifier voltage is often called upon
to dissipate considerable amounts of
power. This power reaches a maxi
mum when full current is drawn at
Fig. avail High voltage (320 f) from an all solid-state supply is avail
a low output voltage since the regu able in H-Labs' Model 895 A. supplying up to 1.5 amps dc, "Piggy
lator is required to drop the recti back" transistors. eliminates need for expensive high-voltage transistors.

Copr. 1949-1998 Hewlett-Packard Co.

phisticated control circuits with
SCR's as the only power controlling
element are able to maintain 0.5%
A simplified diagram of a typical ~ Output

H-Lab SCR regulated power supply

is shown in Fig. 11. The same refer
ence voltage, summing point and
voltage comparator circuitry dis
cussed previously are used but there
is no series regulating element. In
stead, silicon controlled - rectifiers
are placed in two of the rectifier
bridge arms.
The rectifiers pump up the rela
tively large input capacitor to the
required voltage. This capacitor D l - ? - 1 " R D 4 ; .

feeds the large output capacitor -30V I Ramp Capacitor

through the small series filter re

sistor (typically 0.04 ohms in a 25 Reset Signal

amp supply). The comparison am

plifier then monitors the voltage on
the output capacitor and controls Fig. be Regulated supply u'ith SCR control. These supplies may be con
nected Auto- remote programming, remote sensing, Auto-series, and Auto-
the firing angle of the SCR's to parallel operation.
maintain this voltage at the desired
fire earlier during the a-c cycle, sup The series filter resistor is also
The output of the comparison am
plifier is a constant current which plying more energy to the input used as a monitoring resistor for
charges ramp capacitor CK. The capacitor. current limiting in the SCR regu
ramp, shown in Fig. 12 A, starts An important feature of Harrison lated supply. A typical SCR supply,
at the beginning of each half cycle Lab SCR regulated high current H-Lab model 520A (Fig. 2), sup
of the input a-c waveform and ter supplies is their immediate response plies up to 25 amperes at 0 to 36
minates when C K is discharged at to changes in the input line voltage. volts. Combined line and load regu
the end of the half cycle. When the This fast response is the result of lation is within 0.5 f for a load
ramp voltage reaches the turn-on a-c bias, added to the ramp, which change from no load to full load ac
level of blocking oscillator transis alters the firing angle of the block companied by an input line change
tor Q3, this transistor, previously ing oscillator to make this angle re from 125 to 105 volts a-c. Ripple
cut-off, conducts and generates an sponsive to the amplitude of the a-c and noise are less than \%.
output pulse. The SCR which is input. For instance, if the input volt
fired by the blocking oscillator con age were to increase, the resulting SERIES REGULATION
tinues to conduct, of course, during increase in a-c bias would delay the For extremely tight output volt
the remainder of the half cycle. firing angle of the blocking oscilla age regulation and ripple require
Conduction time is just long enough tor. Conduction time of the SCR's is ments, SCR regulated supplies are
to bring the charge on the input then reduced, compensating for the combined with series regulators
capacitor up to the desired level. increased line voltage. This compen similar to those discussed previous
The steepness of the ramp slope, sation occurs within one cycle of a ly. The SCR control circuit itself
determined by the current supplied change in input line voltage before does not use a voltage comparator
by the voltage comparator, there the output voltage is affected by the in the usual manner but responds
fore controls the firing angle of the change. This half cycle speed has a instead to the voltage drop across
SCR's. A slight drop in the output far faster response than that found the series regulators. This main
voltage as a result of increased cur in magnetic amplifier power sup tains a fixed voltage drop across the
rent demand, for example, increases plies, and produces remarkable im regulators, nominally two to three
the ramp current. The SCR's then munity to line transients. volts. The main regulator controls

Copr. 1949-1998 Hewlett-Packard Co.

'i Fig. regulator. Solid-state high voltage supply with "piggy-back" regulator. Piggy-
hack combined supply itself delivers no more than 20 volts to combined output.
Charge Supplied "
To Input Capacitor
ing series regulation with SCR con out to the positive bus of the SCR
trol, supplying up to 7.5 amps at supply.
0-60 volts and while allowing a The SCR control monitors the
voltage change of less than 0.02% voltage drop across the series regu
Fig. 12. SCR control waveforms. or 10 mv, whichever is greater, for lators and adjusts the SCR voltage
a 7.5 amp load change. to maintain the desired voltage
the output voltage while the SCR drop. This means that the SCR con
circuit merely maintains the volt POWER SUPPLIES trol, in an effort to adjust the series
age across the series regulating A significant innovation in semi regulator voltage drop, brings the
transistor just above its saturating conductor power supplies is made summing point within the operat
voltage. possible by combining SCR control ing range of the comparison ampli
The preregulator normally would with series regulated control in an fier. In this way, the Voltage Ad
not be required since the voltage other manner. Higher voltage out just resistor controls the combined
across the regulators is limited, but puts (up to 320 v) now are possible output voltage from zero all the
it is included to protect the regu way to 320 volts.
without use of expensive high-volt
lator during transient conditions. Current monitoring is included
age transistors. The efficiency and
For example, if the output of the with this type of supply so that
reliability of semiconductor circuit
power supply were shorted sudden the SCR's respond immediately to
ry are brought here to a field for
ly, most of the original output volt changes in output current demand.
age would appear across the regu merly dominated by vacuum tubes.
Also, a-c bias for line control is in
lators for a brief interval while the The diagram of such a supply is
cluded. Diode D6 is included for
input capacitor discharges. During shown in Fig. 13. The series regula
short circuit protection; a short on
this transition period, the preregu tor known as a "piggy-back" regu
the output terminals would drop
lator functions as previously de lator, rides on top of the main SCR the output voltage before the SCR
scribed to limit the voltage drop supply. As shown on the diagram input capacitor could discharge. D6
across the main regulator. of Fig. 13, the piggy-back regulator conducts, draining away the charge
These power supplies react im is a CV CC control of the type de while protecting the series regula
mediately to sudden changes in out scribed earlier but it has its own tors against a reverse voltage.
put current. This is accomplished d-c source and functions indepen The H-Lab model 895A (Fig. 10),
simply by adding a control link dently of the main SCR supply. Its using a piggy-back regulator, sup
which senses the voltage drop across positive bus, however, is tied in plies up to 1.5 amps at 0-320 volts.
the current monitoring resistor. series with the negative bus of the Load and line regulation is within
The Harrison Labs model 81 OB is main SCR supply while the voltage O.Olf or 30 mv at any output volt
typical of power supplies combin- programming resistor is extended age from no load to full load.

Copr. 1949-1998 Hewlett-Packard Co.


The new versions in power sup

* 99*
- Mr
' ply design described here were de
veloped by the following engineers
of -hp-'s Harrison Labs Division:
Fig. 14. Two compact H-Lab supplies fit on one rack mounting Bob Buckner, Brad Bunker, Art
panel. Model 865B, described in text, is shown with companion
0-18 v, 0-1.5 amp Model 55B. Switched meters read either voltage Darbie, Bob Graham, Bill Harrison
or current output. and Don Tighe.


- Time required for output voltage recovery to within "N" millivolts of nominal output voltage, where "N" is load regulation and nominal output volt-
age is defined as mean between no load and full load voltages.

Can be operated as either constant voltage or constant current source.

Data subject to change without notice. Prices F.O.B. factory.

Copr. 1949-1998 Hewlett-Packard Co.