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FIGURE 15.11 Parallel connection of circuit boards from a single power source. Each board has its own voltage regulator.
Some computer components require voltages above the normal supply. An example are the high-side power MOSFET transistors in an H-bridge driver circuit. You can use the circuit shown in Fig. 15.13 (refer to the parts list in Table 15.4) to double the supply voltage to provide the desired voltage. The current level at the output is very low, but it should be enough to be used as a high-voltage pulse. The circuits described in the previous sections of this chapter are quickly and inexpensively built, but because of their simplicity they can leave a lot to be desired. If you need more precise power supplies, the power management ICs from Maxim, Texas Instruments, and others are probably the better bet. See Appendix B, Sources, for more information.
Battery Monitors
Quick! What s the condition of the battery in your robot With a battery monitor, you d know in a flash. A battery monitor continually samples the output voltage of the battery during operation of the robot (the best time to test the battery) and provides a visual or logic output. In this section we ll profile the most common types.
208 ALL ABOUT BATTERIES AND ROBOT POWER SUPPLIES
VCC R1 56K 7 R2 10K 6 2 C1 0.033 GND 1 8 4
IC1 555
3 C2 220 D1 1N4148 D2 1N4148 R3 10K C4 10
-VCC
FIGURE 15.12 A polarity inverter circuit. Current output is low but enough for a few op amps.
TABLE 15.3
PARTS LIST FOR POLARITY INVERTER.
IC1 R1 R2 R3 C1 C2 C3 D1,D2
555 timer IC 56K resistor 10K resistor 10K resistor 0.033 F ceramic capacitor 220 F electrolytic capacitor 10 F electrolytic capacitor 1N4148 diode
All resistors have 5 or 10 percent tolerance, 1/4-watt; all capacitors have 10 percent tolerance.
4.3-VOLT ZENER BATTERY MONITOR
Figure 15.14 (refer to the parts list inTable 15.5) shows a simple battery monitor using a 4.3-volt quarter-watt zener diode. R1 sets the trip point. When in operation, the LED winks off when the voltage drops below the setpoint. To use the monitor, set R1 (which should be a precision potentiometer, 1 or 3 turn) when the batteries to your robot are low. Adjust the pot carefully until the LED just winks off. Recharge the batteries. The LED should now light. Another, more scientific way to adjust R1 is to power the circuit using an adjustable power supply. While watching the voltage output on a meter, set the voltage at the trip point (e.g., for a 12-volt robot, set it to about 10 volts).
ZENER/COMPARATOR BATTERY MONITOR
A microprocessor-compatible battery monitor is shown in Fig. 15.15 (refer to the parts list in Table 15.6). This monitor uses a 5.1-volt quarter-watt zener as a voltage reference for a
BATTERY MONITORS 209
VCC R1 2.2K 8 7 R2 15K 6 2 C1 0.01 GND 3 C2 220 1 C3 220 D2 1N4148 C4 470 4 D1 1N4148 C5 220
IC1 555
V SOURCE
FIGURE 15.13 A voltage doubler. The voltage at the V Source terminal is roughly double the voltage applied to the Vcc terminal.
TABLE 15.4 PARTS LIST FOR VOLTAGE DOUBLER
IC1 R1 R2 C1 C2,C3 C4 C5 D1,D2
555 timer IC 2.2K resistor 15K resistor 0.01 F ceramic capacitor 220 F electrolytic capacitor 470 F electrolytic capacitor 220 F electrolytic capacitor 1N4148 diode
All resistors have 5 or 10 percent tolerance, 1/4-watt; all capacitors have 10 percent tolerance.
339 quad comparator IC. Only one of the comparator circuits in the IC is used; you are free to use any of the remaining three for other applications. The circuit is set to trip when the voltage sags below the (approximate) 5-volt threshold of the zener (in my test circuit the comparator tripped when the supply voltage dipped to under 4.5 volts). When this happens, the output of the comparator immediately drops to 0 volts. One advantage of this circuit is that the voltage drop at the output of the comparator is fairly steep (see Fig. 15.16).
USING A BATTERY MONITOR WITH A MICROPROCESSOR
You can usually connect battery monitors to a microprocessor or microcontroller input. When in operation, the microprocessor is signaled by the interrupt when the LED is triggered. Software running on the computer interprets the interrupt as low battery; quick get a recharge. The robot can then place itself into nest mode, where it seeks out its own battery charger. If the charger terminals are constructed properly, it s possible for the robot to plug itself in. Fig. 15.17 shows a simplified flow chart illustrating how this kind of behavior might work.
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