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Magnetic Amplifiers

Magnetic Amplifiers

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Published by: 452452 on Jan 05, 2011
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08/08/2012

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Regulating multiple outputs of a switching power supplyhas always presented an additional challenge to thedesigner. With a single pulse-width modulated controlsystem, how can the control loop be configured to keep alloutputs in regulation when each may have varying loads?Although it is sometimes possible to average an error signal from each output-degrading the regulation on someoutputs to improve on others -a more commonapproach, as shown in Figure 1, is to close the overall power supply loop to the output with the highest load current and opt for someform of auxiliary -or secondary -regulation for all the other outputs., /, //.ltr: ~ Vo,(MAIN) N1~ ux REG~ V02I1!]:!!!I=u xREGI ~ VO3 etcFigure 1. A typical multiple output power supplyarchitecture with overall control fromone output.Secondary RegulatorsThe problem with multiple outputs originates from the factthat the open-loop output impedance of each winding,rectifier, and filter set is not zero. Thus, if one assumes thatthe overall feedback loop holds the output of VO1 constant,then the energy delivered to N1 must increase with increasing load on that output.This is accomplished by increasingthe duty cycle on Np which, of course, is seen by all thesecondaries causing the unregulated outputs to rise.Similarly, a changing load on one of the unregulated outputs will cause a directchange in that output as a functionof its output impedance. Since the overall feedback loop isnot sensing this output, no correction can take place. Whilethese problems are minimized by closing the feedback loop on the highest power output, they aren't eliminated inany multiple output supply which sees varying loads. Using secondary regulatorson each output other than theone controlled by the feedback loop is the usual solution.One additional benefit of these regulators, particularly as
 
higher frequencies reduce the transformer turns, is to compensate for the fact that practical turns ratios may notmatch the ratio of output voltages.Clearly, adding any form of regulator in series with an output adds additionalcomplexity and power loss. The challenge is to minimize both. Before getting intomag amps, itis worth discussing some other commonly used solutionsto this problem.0--.I ~AIN OUTPUTJII~IlL0--I PRIMARY PWMCONTROLINp:-Figure 2. Secondary regulation by means of alInear, DC regulator.1. Since our premise is that these regulators would beused on the lower power outputs, their power lossesmay be a small percentage of the overall power supply losses.2. The fact that a secondary regulator needs only tocompensate for the non-zero output impedances of the various outputs means that its input need not seea widely varying input voltage level.3. There have been "high-efficiency" linear regulatorsintroduced, such as the UC3836 shown in Figure 3,which allows the minimum input voltage to go downto less than 0.5 volts over the output voltage. With alow minimum (VIN -Vo), the average value can also be low, offering significant power savings.VIN I. "i Vor- uc3s36 -,K Ref I I1---IFigure 3. The UC3836 provides a more efficientlinear regulator by minimizing theminimum input-output differential.The advantages of a linear regulator are simplicity, goodregulation unaffected by other parts of the power supply,and lowest output ripple and noise.7-1
 
UNITRODE CORPORATION. 5 FORBES ROAD. LEXINGTON, MA 02173.TEL. (617) 861-6540. TWX (710) 326-6509. TELEX 95-1064Magnetic AmplifiersAlthough called a magnetic amplifier; this application reallyuses an inductive element as a controlled switch. A magamp is a coil of wire oound on a core with a relativelysquare B-H characteristic. This gives the coil too operatingmodes: when unsaturated, the core causes the coil to actas a high inductance capable of supporting a large voltagewith little or no current flow. When the core saturates, theimpedance of the coil drops to near zero, allowing currentto flow with negligible voltage drop. Thus a mag ampcomes the closest yet to a true "ideal switch" with significant benefits toswitching regulators.Before discussing the details of mag amp design, there area few overview statements to be made. First, this type of regulator is a pulse-width modulated down-switcher implemented with a magneticswitch rather than a transistor: It'sa member of the buck regulator family and requires an output LC filter to convertits PWM output to DC. Instead of DCfor an input, however; a mag amp oorks right off the rectangular waveform fromthe secondary winding of the power transformer: Its action is to delay the leading edge of this power pulse until the remainder of the pulse width is just that required to maintain the correct output voltagelevel. Like all buck regulators, it can only substract from theincoming waveform, or; in other oords, it can only lower theoutput voltage from what it oould be with the regulator  bypassed.As a leading-edge modulator; a mag amp is particularly beneficial in current mode regulated power supplies as itinsures that no matter how the individual output loadingvaries, the maximum peak current, as seen in the primary,always occurs as the pulse is terminated.Independent SwitchersA second type of commonly used secondary regulator issome kind of switching DC to DC converter -usually a buck regulator as shown in Figure 4. In the past, thisapproach was often used when load current levels madethe power loss of a linear regulator unacceptable. The disadvantage of thecomplexity over a linear regulator has been minimized with the availability of several integratedcircuit products. Figure 4, for example, shows the combination of a PIC-600 power stage and a UC3524 PWMcontroller, usable for load currents to 10 amps. An equally popular solution is Unitrode's L296 4-amp buck regulator:The obvious advantage of a switcher is potentially higher 

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