An Efficient Low-Power Arduino Switching Voltage Regulator

Posted on Feb 6, 2014

The voltage regulator built onto the Arduino Uno is a linear-type regulator and is horribly inefficient. If you are running the ATmega238 at 5V using a 9 V battery, approximately half of the battery`s energy will be dissipated as heat by the regulator. This post demonstrates a DC/DC switching-type voltage regulator circuit that can be use with a b

An Efficient Low-Power Arduino Switching Voltage Regulator
Click here to download the full size of the above Circuit.

readboard Arduino and is much more efficient then a typical 7805 regulator. The switching regulator used is a Texas Instruments MC33063A. This IC can be used with external components to make a boost regulator (to step up voltage), a buck regulator (to step down voltage), or an inverting regulator. Here I am setting it up as a buck regulator to step down a 12 V battery pack to run a 3. 3 V breadboard Arduino and XBee radio. Here is the voltage regulator circuit schematic. In my design, I am using R1 = 100 kOhm and R2 = 200 kOhm giving me an output voltage of approximately 3. 75 V to power both an ATMega328 and an XBee Series 1 radio. Depending on the values of R1 and R2, this switching regulator circuit uses about 2. 5 to 3. 5 mA of current when not powering a load. This compares to about 10 15 mA for a 7895 linear regulator. By using this regulator circuit design, my battery lasts for almost two weeks.

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