Category Archives: Auto

Dome light dimmer (with delay)

Intro & disclaimer
For all you guys out there that want a fading dome light (aka courtesy light aka theatre lighting) without having to pay for one, you can build your own. I have attached the schematics and you can build it for a few bucks given that you don’t have any spare components lying around otherwise it can cost you absolutely nothing. Of course you can rip some parts from your TV, CD player, radio, etc., but I’m not responsible for the damage you cause this way

The way it works
I won’t bother you with technical details, but if someone is interested just let me know and I’ll explain in detail. For now just the basics. There are two stages: first one is delaying and the second one is fading. When you open the door the light turns on. You get inside and close the door, but the light stays on (delay stage) for an adjustable period of time (0-40 sec. for the values in the scheme, but you can easily modify that i.e. put a bigger capacitor) so you can see where to insert the key or do whatever you do when you get in the car, then fades away (fading stage) with an adjustable speed. If you connect the ACC wire (which is entirely optional) when you turn the key to ACC position the light turns off (actually fades) even if the delaying stage is not over (it cancels the delay stage).

The SR1 trimmer pot adjusts the delaying time (the period that the bulb is at full intensity) and you have a “witness” LED that is lit during the delaying stage; that way you can set it visually to whatever duration you like. When the first stage ends (marked by the LED not being lit anymore) enters the second stage – fading. The SR2 trimmer pot adjusts the fading time (or speed if you prefer)

The image above depicts how the dome light switch is usually connected (depending on the make and model of your car the connection may be different in which case you’ll have to figure it out).
The image below shows the schematic and the connections to the dome light switch.

Copyright 2005, kronos

Automatic 12 Volt Lamp Fader

The lamps are faded by varying the duty cycle so that higher power incandescent lamps can be used without much power loss. The switching waveform is generated by comparing two linear ramps of different frequencies. The higher frequency ramp waveform (about 75 Hz.) is produced from one section of the LM324 quad op-amp wired as a Schmitt trigger oscillator. The lower frequency ramp controls the fading rate and is generated from the upper two op-amps similar to the “fading eyes” circuit. The two ramp waveforms at pins 9 and 1 are compared by the 4th op-amp which generates a varying duty cycle rectangular waveform to drive the output transistor. A second transistor is used to invert the waveform so that one group of lamps will fade as the other group brightens. The 2N3053 will handle up to 500 milliamps so you could connect 12 strings of 4 LEDs each (48 LEDs) with a 220 ohm resistor in series with each group of 4 LEDs. This would total about 250 milliamps. Or you can use three 4 volt, 200 mA Xmas tree bulbs in series. For higher power 12 volt automobile lamps, the transistor will need to be replaced with a MOSFET that can handle several amps of current. See the drawing below the schematic for possible hookups.


Copyright 2003 Bill Bowden

Automotive 12V to +-20V converter (for audio amplifier)

The limitation of car supply voltage (12V) forces to convert the voltages to higher in order to power audio amplifiers.

In fact the max audio power x speaker (with 4 ohm impedance) using 12V is (Vsupply+ – Vsupply-)^2/(8*impedance) 12^2/32 = 4.5Watts per channel, that is laughable…

For powering correctly an amplifier the best is to use a symmetric supply with a high voltage differential. for example +20 – -20 = 40Volts
in fact
40^2/32 = 50 Watts per channel that is respectable.

This supply is intended for two channels with 50W max each (of course it depends on the amplifier used). Though it can be easily scaled up or the voltages changed to obtain different values.

[b:bfe129f0c8]Overview – How it works[/b:bfe129f0c8]
It is a classic push-pull design , taking care to obtain best symmetry (to avoid flux walking). Keep in mind that this circuit will adsorb many amperes (around 10A) so take care to reinforce power tracks with lots of solder and use heavy wires from the battery or the voltage will drop too much at the input.

The transformer must be designed to reduce skin effect, it can be done using several insulated magnet wire single wires soldered together but conducting separately. The regulation is done both by the transformer turn ratio and varying the duty cycle. In my case i used 5+5 , 10+10 turns obtaining a step up ratio of 2 (12->24) and downregulating the voltage to 20 via duty cycle dynamic adjust performed by the PWM controller TL494.

The step-up ratio has to be a little higher to overcome diode losses, winding resistance and so on and input voltage drop due to wire resistance from battery to converter.

[b:bfe129f0c8]Transformer design[/b:bfe129f0c8]
The transformer must be of correct size in order to carry the power needed, on the net there are many charts showing the power in function of frequency and core size for a given topology. My transformer size is 33.5 mm lenght, 30.0 height and 13mm width with a cross section area of 1,25cm^2, good for powers around 150W at 50khz.

The windings , especially the primary must be heavy gauged, but instead of using a single wire it is better to use
multiple wires in parallel each insulated from the other except at the ends. This will reduce resistance increase due to skin effect. The primary and secondary windings are centertapped, this means that you have to wind 5 turns, centertap and 5 windings again. The same goes for the secondary, 10 turns, centertap and 10 turns again.

The important thing is that the transformer MUST not have air gaps or the leakage inductance will throw spikes on the switches overheating them and giving a voltage higher than expected by turn ratio prediction, so if your voltage output (at fully duty cycle) is higher than Vin*N2/N1 – Vdrop diode, your transformer has gap (of course permit me saying you that you are BLIND if you miss it), and this is accompanied with a drastical efficiency reduction. Use non-gapped E cores or toroids (ferrite).

[b:bfe129f0c8]Output diodes, capacitors and filter inductor[/b:bfe129f0c8]
For rectification i preferred to use shottky diodes since they have low forward voltage drop, and are incredibly fast.
I used the cheap 1N5822, the best alternative for low voltage converters (3A for current capability).

The output capacitors are 4700uF 25V, not very big, since at high frequency the voltage ripple is most due to internal cap ESR fortunately general purpose lytics have enough low esr for a small ripple (some tens of millivolts). Also at high duty cycle they are feed almost with pure DC, giving small ripple. The filter inductor on the secondary centertap furter increases the ripple and helps the regulation in asymmetrical transients

[b:bfe129f0c8]Power switch and driving[/b:bfe129f0c8]
I used d2pak 70V 80A 0.004 ohms ultrafets (Fairchind semiconductor), very expensive and hard to find. In principle any fet will work, but the lower the on-resistance, the lower the on-state conduction losses, the lower the heat produced on the fets, the higher efficiency and smaller the heatsinks needed. With this fets i am able to run the fets with small heatsinks and without fan at full rated power (100W) with an efficiency of 82% and perceptible heating and with small heating at 120W (some degrees) (the core starts to saturate and the efficiency is a bit lower, around 75%)

Try to use the lowest resistance mosfet you can put your dirty hand 🙂 on or the efficiency will be lower than rated and you will need even a small fan. The fet driver i used is the TPS2811P, from Texas instruments, rated for 2A peak and 200ns. Is important that the gate drive is optimized for minimal inductance or the switching losses will be higher and you risk noise coupling from other sources. Personally i think that twisted pair wires (gate and ground/source) are the best to keep the inductance small. Place the gate drive resistor near the Mosfet, not near the IC.

I used the trusty TL494 PWM controller with frequency set at around 40-60 Khz adjustable with a potentiometer. I also implemented the soft start (to reduce powerup transients). The adjust potentiometer (feedback) must be set to obtain the desired voltage. The output signals is designed with two pull-up resistors on the collector of the PWM chip output transistor pulling them to ground each cycle alternatively. This signal is sent to the dual inverting MOSFET driver (TPS2811P) obtaining the correct waveform.

[b:bfe129f0c8]Power and filtering[/b:bfe129f0c8]
How i said before the power tracks must be heavy gauged or you will scarify regulation (since it depends of transformer step up ratio and input voltage) and efficiency too. Don’t forget to place a 10A (or 15A) fuse on the input because the car batteries can supply very high currents in case of shorts and this will save you face from a mosfet explosion in case of failture or short, remember to place a fuse also on the battery side to increase the safety (accidental shorts->fire, battery explosion, firemen, police and lawyers around). Input filtering is important, use at least 20000uF 16V in capacitors, a filter inductor would be useful too (heavygauged) but i decided to leave it..

[b:bfe129f0c8]Final considerations[/b:bfe129f0c8]
This supply given me up to 85% efficiency (sometimes even 90% at some loads) with an input of 12V because i observed all these tricks to keep it functional and efficient. An o-scope would be useful, to watch the ripple and gate signals (watching for overshoots), but if you follow these guidelines you will avoid these problems.

The cross regulation is good but keep in mind that only the positive output is fully regulated, and the negative only follows it. Place a small load between the negative rail and ground (a 3mm led with a 4.7Kohm resistor) to avoid the negative rail getting lower then -20V. If the load is asymmetric you can have two cases:

-More load on positive rail-> no problems, the negative rail can go lower than -20V, but it is not a real issue for an audio amplifier.
-More load on negative rail-> voltage drop on negative rail (to ground) especially if the load is only on the negative rail.

Fortunately audio amplifiers are quite symmetrical as a load, and the output filter inductor/capacitors helps to maintain the regulation good during asymmetrical transients (Basses)



Copyright Jonathan Filippi – [url][/url]Parts:Resistors
2 R1,R2 = 10
4 R3,R4,R6,R7 = 1k
1 R5 = 22k
1 R8 = 4.7k
1 R9 = 100k

2 C1,C2 = 10000uF
2 C3,C6 = 47u
1 C4 = 10u
3 C5,C7,C14 = 100n
2 C8,C9 = 4700u
1 C12 = 1n
1 C13 = 2.2u

Integrated Circuits
1 U1 = TL494
1 U2 = TPS2811P

2 Q1,Q2 = FDB045AN

4 D1-D4 = 1N5822
1 D5 = 1N4148

1 FU1 = 10A
1 L1 = 10u
1 RV1 = 2.2k
1 RV2 = 24k
1 T1 = TRAN-3P3S

Simple car battery tester

This circuit uses the popular and easy to find LM3914 IC. This IC is very simple to drive, needs no voltage regulators (it has a built in voltage regulator) and can be powered from almost every source.

[b:7bd0f5dac2]This circuit is very easy to explain:[/b:7bd0f5dac2]
When the test button is pressed, the Car battery voltage is feed into a high impedance voltage divider. His purpose is to divide 12V to 1,25V (or lower values to lower values). This solution is better than letting the internal voltage regulator set the 12V sample voltage to be feed into the internal voltage divider simply because it cannot regulate 12V when the voltage drops lower (linear regulators only step down). Simply wiring with no adjust, the regulator provides stable 1,25V which is fed into the precision internal resistor cascade to generate sample voltages for the internal comparators. Anyway the default setting let you to measure voltages between 8 and 12V but you can measure even from 0V to 12V setting the offset trimmer to 0 (but i think that under 9 volt your car would not start). There is a smoothing capacitor (4700uF 16V) it is used to adsorb EMF noise produced from the ignition coil if you are measuring the battery during the engine working. Diesel engines would not need it, but i’m not sure. If you like more a point graph rather than a bar graph simply disconnect pin 9 on the IC (MODE) from power. The calculations are simple (default)

For the first comparator the voltage is : 0,833 V corresponding to 8 V
* * * * * voltage is : 0,875 V corresponding to 8,4 V

for the last comparator the voltage is : 1,25 V corresponding to 12 V

Have fun, learn and don’t let you car battery discharge… 😉

Copyright Jonathan Filippi – [url][/url]

HiJack Alarm

This circuit is designed primarily for the situation where a hijacker forces the driver from the vehicle. If a door is opened while the ignition is switched on, the circuit will trip. After a few minutes delay – when the thief is at a safe distance – the alarm will sound and the engine will fail.


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