Archive for Circuit Design

Tutorial on the Design and Characterization of Class-B and AB Amplifiers


In this episode Shahriar continues his investigation of discrete Bipolar amplifier design. The advantages and disadvantages of Class-A amplifiers are explained. The conceptual schematic of a Class-B amplifier is presented which leads to the introduction of Class-AB amplifier circuit to overcome the ‘dead-zone’ impairment of a push-pull Class-B design. To further improve the Class-AB amplifier and lower its input impedance, a final Class-A followed by Class-AB amplifier is presented  The component parameters are calculated and the schematics is explained in detail. All circuits are then implemented on a breadboard and tested both in the time domain and frequency domain. All schematics can be downloaded from here.


Tutorial and Experiments on Magnetic Levitation


In this episode Shahriar demonstrates one of the simplest magnetic levitation circuits. First, the basic concept of magnetic levitation is examined. Two different methods of detecting the location of the levitating object is presented and the Hall effect sensor method is chosen. A semi-digital overall system is implemented where a PWM control IC is employed to control the magnetic field strength. The block diagram and functionality of this IC is presented. Finally, the schematic of a dual-Hall effect sensor solution is presented. The circuit is built and tested in both open-loop and close-loop configuration. Magnetic levitation is demonstrated with the capability of adjusting the levitation location. The schematic of circuit can be downloaded here and the electromagnet can be purchased from here.


Tutorial and Experiments on Energy Harvesting ICs

Energy Harvesting Tree

In this episode Shahriar investigates some state-of-the-art energy harvesting ICs from Linear Technology. The LTC3105 is a highly efficient 400mA Step-Up DC/DC Converter with Maximum Power Point Control and 250mV Start-Up. After exploring the IC’s internal block diagram, the evaluation board for this energy harvesting chip is presented. Various experiments, including the calculation of efficiency, maximum power delivery, start-up behavior and MPPC are presented. As a last experiment, a two stage energy harvesting setup using a solar panel and a super-capacitor capable of charging an iPhone is demonstrated.

The second IC of interest is the LTC3109 which is an Auto-Polarity, Ultralow Voltage Step-Up Converter and Power Manager Energy Harvesting chip. The block diagram and the evaluation board of this IC is presented. The ultra-low voltage capability of the circuit is demonstrated through the use of a Peltier cooler thermo-electric component to generate a 5V output voltage. As a final experiment, several ice cubes are used in conjunction with the thermo-electric generator in order to harvest enough energy to charge an iPhone for 30 seconds.

Tutorial on the Theory, Design and Characterization of a Single Transistor Bipolar Amplifier

Bipolar Amp

In this episode Shahriar presents a tutorial on the design and characterization of a single-stage low-noise bipolar amplifier suitable for audio applications. Given a set of specifications, a common-emitter topology is investigated. The circuit employs a beta-insensitive biasing scheme which is simultaneously optimized for  maximum output swing. The small-signal gain of the circuit is calculated and the bandwidth is set for audio frequencies. A non-inverting operational amplifier is used as a second stage to achieve the desired overall gain. The circuit is assembled on a breadboard where the gain and bandwidth are measured and compared with design specifications. As the final experiment, the circuit is used to amplify signals from a microphone. All documents can be downloaded from here.


Tutorial on Waveform Shaping and Signal Constellation in an Optical Link

3D Constellation

In this episode Shahriar uses a few components to beyond what there were originally intended for in order to setup an optical link! By using a BlinkM RGB LED, a Color Sensor, and two PIC USB Boards from Sparkfun Electronics, a stand-alone optical link is established. Various theories of operation, including multilevel data transmission, signal constellation and detailed circuit diagrams are also presented. The final result is an 8-PAM, 3-Wavelength optical link with a colorful three-dimensional constellation graph. The code for the transmitter IC, receiver IC and Matlab functions are available to download from here.