The transistorized low-dropout voltage regulator circuit ideas explained in the following article can be used for getting stabilized output voltages right from 3 V and above, such as 5 V, 8 V, 9 V, 12 V, etc with an extremely low dropout of 0.1 V.
For example, if you make the proposed 5 V LDO circuit, it will continue to produce an output of a constant 5 V even if the input supply is as low as 5.1 V
Better than the 78XX Regulators
For the standard 7805 regulator we find that they compulsorily need a minimum of 7 V to produce a precise 5 V output, and so on. Meaning the dropout level is 2 V which looks very high and undesirable for many applications.
The LDO concepts explained below can be considered better than the popular 78XX regulators like 7805, 7812 etc since they do not require the input supply to be 2 V higher than the intended output level, rather can work with outputs within 2% of the input.
In fact, for all linear regulators such as the 78XX or LM317, 338 etc the input supply must be 2 to 3 V higher than the interned stabilized output.
Designing 5 V Low-Dropout Regulator
The figure above shows a simple low-dropout 5 V stabilized voltage regulator design that will give you a proper 5 V stabilized even when the input supply has dropped to less than 5.2 V.
The working of the regulator is actually very simple, Q1 and Q2 form a simple high gain common-emitter power switch, which allows the voltage to pass from the input to the output with a low dropout.
Q3 in association with the zener diode and R2 work like a basic feedback network which regulates the output to the value equivalent to the zener diode value (approximately).
This also implies that by changing the zener voltage value, the output voltage could be changed accordingly, as desired. This is an added advantage of the design since it enables the user to customize even the non-standard output values which are not available from the fixed 78XX ICs
Designing a 12 V Low-Dropout Regulator
As explained in the previous section, merely changing the zener values change the output to the required stabilized level. In the above 12 v LDO circuit, we have replaced the zener diode with a 12 V zener diode to get a 12 V regulated output through inputs of 12.3 V to 20 V.
The current output from these LDO designs will depend on the value of R1, and the current handling capacity of Q1, Q2. The indicated value of R1 will allow a maximum of 200 mA, which can be increased to higher amps by appropriately lowering the value of R1.
To ensure optimal performance, make sure that Q1, and Q2 are specified with high hFE, at least 50. Also, along with Q1 transistor, Q2 also must be a power transistor, as it might also get a bit hot in the process.
Short Circuit Protection
One apparent drawback of the explained low drop circuits is the lack of short circuit protection, which is normally a standard built-in feature in most normal fixed regulators.
Nevertheless, the feature can be added by including a current limiting stage using Q4 and Rx as shown below:
When the current increases beyond the predetermined limit, the voltage drop across Rx becomes sufficiently high to turn ON Q4, which begins grounding the Q2 base. This causes Q1, Q2 conduction to become highly restricted, and the output voltage shuts down, until of course the current draw is restored to the normal level.
Low-Drop Transistor Regulator with Soft Start
This high gain voltage regulator using just a couple of transistors includes qualities better than those of the widely used multiple emitter-follower variants.
The circuit had been tried in a 30 watt stereo amplifier that strictly demanded a highly regulated supply and also an output voltage which could climb slowly and gradually through zero volts to maximum, whenever the circuit was initially powered up.
This soft-start plan (around 2 seconds) for the power amplifiers helped the 2000 uF output capacitors to charge without triggering too much collector current within the output transistors.
Normal regulator output impedance is 0.1 ohm. Output voltage is found by solving the equation by:
VO = VZ - VBE1.
The rise time of the output voltage is evaluated by calculating through the formula:
T = RB.C1(1 -Vz/V ).
A number of digital devices call for a preset switch on sequence for their power supplies. By establishing proper RB/C1 values, the rise time of the circuit's output could be fixed to deliver this sequence or delay interval