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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Boost Converter Intro with Arduino «

Boost Converter Intro with Arduino

Driving some neon lights.

Let’s say that you’re trying to drive a few Nixie clock tubes, or you want to make a strobe light. A variable high voltage DC power supply from 50-200+ volts may be required. Transformers are terrific, but difficult to find the right one and a pain to wind. Why not use a boost converter? They’re easy and don’t necessarily require a guru for basic operation. This guide is meant for the individual who wants to build a simple boost converter, and may need refreshing on the theory. It will also help determine what parts will be required.

Is this guide right for you?

boost           equations

Basic inductor and boost converter equations. D is the duty (0 fully off, 1 fully on)

Boost converters typically get less efficient as they increase voltage out/voltage in ratio. If 100+ volts are required from a 12v source, the load will need to be a fairly high impedance. Don’t expect to run a 60watt light bulb from this boost converter! If precision is required, you may want a dedicated boost converter IC which will do the job better. This guide is intended for educational purposes.


I’m going to be using, oh you guessed it — an Arduino for this example! As usual any micro controller will do (3.3v or 5v), but this project requires analog voltage reading. If your favorite micro controller doesn’t have an ADC (Analog to Digital Converter), buy one or you can make your own!



Now this is something I would like to build!:)


DC/DC Boost calc DIY boost converter calculator!


For many small projects, its cheaper and easier to DIY a boost converter than to buy a specialty chip. DIY converters are usually not as efficient but they're quick & cheap!

The above (at the very top of this page) schematic section shows how I designed a 30-60V vacuum fluorescent tube display driven from a microcontroller pin.

Tubes such as VFDs, Nixies, Decatrons, etc require high voltage to light the gas in the tube. In order to reduce cost, we use a microconrtoller to make a boost converter and avoid paying $5 for a seperate chip. We can do this because we don't need a precision output and the current draw is mostly constant. The boost regulator is run open-loop there is no feedback resistor divider as it isn't necessary as long as the input voltage is within a reasonable range

The microcontroller runs at 8MHz so the 8-bit PWM output is 31250 Hz. The inductor and output capacitor is calculated below. The diode is a standard Schottkey type, but make sure you specify one that can handle the full voltage difference and peak current. The switch just has to be able to handle the max voltage plus some for safety. Note that this design is meant for 'static' output currents, not for variable current draw designs. There is no feedback and its very approximate! This is not for precision electronics!


An introduction to DC boost converters
An introduction to DC boost converters - Hack a Day
Boost Converter Intro with Arduino «
Make a simple boost converter

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