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12v to 18v Converter

Meade Instruments makes a little device ("#1812 Electronic DC Adapter") for converting 12vDC to
18vDC for use with its LX200 series telescopes. It sells for the outrageous price of $85. Unfortunately,
I burned mine up and I would like to repair it instead of forking over another $85.

(I killed it twice actually. The first time I hooked it up with the polarity reversed in the input. That blew
the LT1170. Later, after replacing the LT1170, I shorted the output and burned up some of the other
components. A 3 amp fuse on the input would be a good idea.)

This circuit is very similar to the one provided on the data sheet for its main component, the LT1170.
The component values are as calculated by Linear Tech's SwitcherCAD program, whose cyptic output
Ikufumi provided. I believe therefore that it is in the public domain.


Parts list
Id Type Value Part # Notes
Hurricane HL-
L1 inductor 100 µH must handle at least 3 amps
Coiltronics PL52E-
56 µf Nichicon x1
C1 capacitor 25V ESR=.800 Irms=.155A
33 µf UPL1E330MAH
C2 capacitor 330 µf Nichicon x2
35V ESR=.028 Irms=2.440A
390 µf UPL1V391MPH
Cc capacitor 1 µf
switching Linear Technologies
LT IC data sheet
regulator LT1170CT
Any high speed diode that can handle the power
Motorola 1N5824
D1 Schottky 5A would do. Schottky type is best but not absolutely
R1 resistor 16.7k; 1% R1 and R2 set the output voltage; The ratio of R1
R2 resistor 1.24k; 1% to R2 should be 13.5 to 1.

Rc resistor 1k

How it works
Harvey White says:
The supply works by shorting the inductor across the 12 volts through the regulator. This stores energy
in the inductor. When the internal switch in the LT1170 goes off, the inductor is placed in series with
the 12 volts, adding to it. This voltage pulse is stored in the output capacitor and smooths the output.
The diode is used to keep the output capacitor from discharging during switching.
Richard Johnson says:
It contains a 100 khz current based oscilator whose output is controled by feedback provided by R1 and
R2. These make a voltage divider such that at the wanted output voltage there is 1.24V at the junction
of these two resistors. They carry only 1 ma of current and are there to provide a reference voltage to an
op amp in the IC. As you draw more current from the output the total voltage would drop as would the
1.24v reference signal. The op amp feeds this to the oscillator telling it to provide more current to fill
the demand. This brings the voltage up to 1.24v reference or 18 output. Reduce the load and the
opposite happens.

Now you are wondering where the transformer is. Well this works on a bit different principle. At 60Hz
you need a transformer and a pulsing current to step up voltage. At the much higher frequency this
works at L1 and D1 do the same thing as well as rectify the current. Remember instead of the
transformer windings ratio controlling voltage it is the feedback of your two (fried) resistors that
establish the voltage.

The guts of this circuit is (obviously) the LT1170; you can see it's data sheet at Linear Technology's
Web site; the PDF version of the sheet has much more information. Here is a block diagram of the
LT1170; the pin configuration is at right.

Ric Ecker has a similar circuit on his WWW site.

Brian Bond has a version of this site with a little extra info about the inductor.

Roger Doering says:

I'm an electrical engineer. After spending a few hours looking over the stuff on your page and the
leinear data sheet, I can make a couple of important additions.

1. The criptic output from the linear program claims that both the LT1170 chip and the Schottky diode
REQUIRE a heat sink! Basically a large chunk of metal with fins that the part is screwed/clamped to
that will carry away the heat produced by the parts. The IC heat sink is specified at less than 8 degrees
C/Watt. Since the IC package has its own thermal resistance which is only 2 DegC/W in the
LT1170CT, the TO-220 package, if you get good coupling from the package to the heat sink (not real
likely unless you use heat coupling grease) you'll end up with about 10 DegC/W and since the IC will
be dissipating about 3 Watts that will raise the temperature inside by 30 degrees over ambient. -The
good news is that ambient is usually not all that high while doing field work with a telescope- even 104
F is only 40 degrees C which should keep the temperature low enough! Note that with no heat sink, the
thermal rating on the IC is 75 DegC/W which will raise the temp by 225 degrees, easily exceeding the
100 degree C maximum rating on the part. Be aware that if you enclose the heat sinks inside a box, the
ambient temperature inside the box will rise. A metal project box, or one that has at least a metal lid
might provide enough cooling, if the parts are well connected to the metal, but I don't have the numbers
handy. Be aware that the heat tab on the IC is connected to its ground pin, and that the diode therminals
must not be accidentally connected to the IC through the heat-sink.

2. The data sheet specifically states that the IC cannot provide protection from short-circuits on the
output because current can pass from the battery straight through the inductor and the diode to the
output. The implication here is that a Fuse would a real good idea to prevent a total melt down. Most
batteries are capable of Huge currents, and with nothing to limit them, you're likely to melt the
insulation right off the wires. The output of the converter is a better place to put a fuse in this step-up
type of converter, although either place is better than none. I would recommend a 3 amp fuse. A fuse on
the input should be rated for higher current, say 5 amps. Any fuse will cause a slight decrease in overall

3. One user commented that they burned out their unit by connecting the input voltage backwards. That
will certainly burn out the IC and pop C1, the input capacitor. This could be prevented by adding
another Schottky diode to the +12V input which would prevent any current from flowing if the inputs
were reversed accidentally. This diode would also require heat sinking and would lower the overall
efficiency by a couple of percent- but would prevent an accident with battery clips from destroying the
converter. A fuse on the input side would also prevent the cables from melting, but would not save the
IC from certain death.

Roger Doering
U.C. Berkeley

John Weber says:

Over the last few weeks I have done considerable research with regard to the 1812 converter.

All the components are available from Digi-key, they have a $25 minimum order policy - however, if
your order total is less than $25 they will only charge a $5.00 handling fee. All the parts they carry are
equivalent to the values listed in your components table, except for the following: L1 is rated at 2.8
amps, capacitors C1 and C2 are only available in 56 uf 35v and 390 uf 35v respectively, R1 is available
in 16.5k or 16.9k - not 16.7k. As for my particular problem with the 1812; as I mentioned before my
converter output was 18 volts without a load, but apparently below that under load, because the motors
ran considerably slower than normal. The only thing that I remember happening that could have caused
this problem is that, one night, I left my scope running and went to bed. The next day, I
found it with the optical tube pointing almost straight down and my battery totally dead.
Anyway, I replaced the inductor with one from Digi-key (part number DN 4512 - ND),
only because white smoke residue on the inside of the case was most concentrated around
this component, and my converter is operating just fine so far! I also unscrewed the
LT1170CT from the circuit board, stood it up, and and attached a larger heat sink to it (it
had been hot enough to burn the circuit board). Now I had to place the board in a deeper
project box, which I got from Radio Shack.

As a result of this project I have collected much more additional information, some
general, some specific in nature. If you receive other inquiries about the 1812 please feel
free to pass along my e-mail address, as I may be of some help to others.

This page was put together by reverse engineering the burned out Meade unit and with the generous
help of Roger Doering, Harvey White, Richard Johnson, Simon Field, John Weber, Bill Tyler, Edwin
Spector, Jean-Francois Theoret and especially Ikufumi Makino. Thanks guys!

I have tried to be as accurate as possible, but I'm not electronics expert. I haven't even actually built this
thing yet. If you fry something because of a stupid mistake I made, it's not my fault :-)

Bill Arnett; last updated: 2003 Nov 2

12V to 16V 2A DC-DC inverter

A DC-DC inverter able to convert unregulated 12V DC input to 16V DC at a rated 1.6A. With a
heatsink it seems to cope fine driving loads at up to 2.1A.

I originally built this little inverter to power/charge my VAIO PCG-C1X Picturebook laptop from the
12V supply of my motorcycle. It's also been useful for extending the otherwise woeful battery life of
the VAIO itself when used in conjunction with a decent lead-acid battery.

I take no responsibility for what you do to your VAIO, blah blah blah...

parts list

• 1 x LM2577T-ADJ voltage regulator chip (e.g. Farnell 408-268)

• 1 x 1N5821 3A 40V schottky power diode (e.g. Farnell 573-139)
• 1 x 100uH 3A inductor (e.g. Pulse Engineering 92108K, Farnell 552-288)
• 1 x 1k 0.25W 5% resistor
• 1 x 2.2k 0.25W 5% resistor
• 1 x 12k 0.25W 5% resistor
• 1 x 0.15uF polyester capacitor
• 1 x 0.1uF monolithic capacitor
• 1 x 2200uF 25V electrolytic capacitor
• 1 x aluminium plate, bolt, nut, washer
• wire, breadboard, solder pins, a box, plugs, solder etc

power plugs
Because I couldn't find a source for the weird Sony DC power plug, I chopped the one off my AC
adaptor, leaving about 10cm of cable, and soldered a pair of male/female inline DC connectors to the
chopped cable ends. The inverter could then be connected via the resulting widget.

Since then, I've received this info from the C1-Forum mailing list (thanks to Bob Hawbaker) :

Date: Mon, 26 Jun 2000 11:34:12 -0500

From: "Terry J. Neville"
Organization: Lind Electronics, Inc.
Subject: Re: Power Supply for Sony C1X/505

We obtain our pre-molded cable and connector from a company in the far east.
It's called a #MP205 connector. I have not seen it sold in local retails
either. If someone wishes to purchase one of our premolded cables we can make
them available by calling #800-659-5956 at $6.00 each plus shipping. Please
note that the newer #PCG-C1X Sonys now use a rectangular connector and we have
not been able to source that one yet. Thanks, Terry Neville

I soldered the components to a generic prototyping PCB, with wires or the component legs themselves
forming interconnections. I used rigid solder pins to terminate the input and output leads, tying a knot
to prevent stress.

The whole PCB fit snugly into a small plastic bulkhead mounting case with wire inlets that I found
locally at Jaycar.

Refer to the photos and the schematic diagram below for construction details. Note the small aluminium
plate bolted between the regulator tab and the case, forming a heatsink. The bolt holds the entire circuit
inside the case.
how it works
The circuit is a boost step-up regulator based around an LM2577-ADJ (pdf, 896k) voltage regulator
chip and a few other discrete components. Resistors R1 and R2 set the regulated output voltage.

A switch inside the voltage regulator closes between pins 4 and 3, causing current to flow through the
inductor to ground. When the switch is released a few microseconds later, a back-EMF 'kick' is
produced by the inductor, resulting in a positive pulse with respect to the input voltage. This pulse
charges the output capacitor via the schottky diode, which tends towards an equilibrium voltage.

The switch continues to oscillate, the diode preventing the switch from shorting the output capacitor
during the 'on' phase. The output voltage is monitored via the voltage divider R1/R2, causing the duty
cycle of the switch oscillator to be continuously regulated in order to maintain a constant output voltage
under varying loads.