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Unread 02-24-2003, 05:26 PM   #1
jtroutma
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Default 12V to 5V rail converter

Alright, this one is for all you Electrical Engineers out there that have nothing better to do than tell me that I cant do Calculus worth a darn! (personal rant, nothing more )

Anyways, My PSU on my machine is having some problems keeping up with my voltage requirements. I have a 550W (650W max) PSU and with my fully loaded case, I am only getting 4.79-4.83V out of my +5V rail. My +12V rail is 12.36V. I figure that the 5V rail is over drawn and I want to "ease" its pains, and make it more effecient in the process.

I am wondering what is keeping me from running all my HDDs and CDROM drives off of JUST the 12V rail. (It seems to have plenty of juce to go around)

Here is my question: how difficult would it be to build a 12V to 5V transformer that will probably run off the PIV 12V connector that is attached to my PSU? This transformer will take the (2) 12V lines from the PSU and use one line for the 12V requirements on the CDROMS/HDDs and use the second line with a transformer to convert from 12V to 5V. This way, I figure, it will releave a LOT of strain on my 5V rail and move all that load over to the 12V rail. The PSU is rated for 12V @ 24A draw max. I figure that I am useing maybe 4-5A at most off of the 12V rail and my 5V is getting hit hard by the heavy OC that I am doing.

Is this fesable? Wouldnt it be as simple as a 12V transformer and a few capacitors to help regulate the current flow on the 5V line?

Remember, this would only be used to power HDDs and CDROMS (maybe my Radeon 9700 if there is room)
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Unread 02-24-2003, 06:21 PM   #2
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Just use a 5 V regulator circuit. If you need me to elaborate a little more let me know. Maybe I can post a schematic. Just be aware that there are dozens of way to do this and dozens of opinion on how it should be done.
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Unread 02-24-2003, 07:22 PM   #3
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It's possible, and is usually fairly easy, but you'll need to know the amp load, and that's what makes the whole exercise tricky. Getting 1 or 2 amps is very straightforward.

But you're doing fine, really.

At 12.36V, you're 3% over the mean, and that's still within the 5% spec.

at 4.79 - 4.83, you're nearing the 5% limit, but you're not there yet. Measured properly, this would be an indication that your power supply is reaching it's limit, either because of design, or age.

But you might be able to tweak it back into spec, if you have the ability to open up a PSU: find the trim pot, and make the adjustment. DO NOT do this with a PC as a load: you'll need a power resistor.

Also, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, your voltages need to be measured accurately: you can loose 0.2 v at the ATX power connector alone. Again, if you have the ability to crack open a PSU, you can set your clip/probes directly on the output, on the PCB. An easier way, is to get the PSU going with a load (aforementionned resistor), then measure the voltages right on the exposed wire of the molex connectors.
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Unread 02-24-2003, 08:11 PM   #4
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I agree with BB2k, those are within specs.

If you have a "regular" computer, with a couple of hard drives, cdroms, board, cpu , graphics card, and a couple of fans, in average, you should be drawing about 250-260W off your PSU, because the 9700pro is a behemoth. I barely use 220W myself. My 300W (crappy brand) PSU does the job just fine. Keeps the 12v rail at 12.4 and the 5v rail at 4.95 with all those components, plus alot of usb devices and a CCF.

If you dont have stability issues on your machine, dont do anything. Most people dont realize how much wattage they are actually using ... and i know a couple of guys how bought a 200 bucks 550W PSU for no actual reason than "dick size". A 300W would do the same job, and cost alot less.
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Unread 02-24-2003, 08:51 PM   #5
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That is true he is with in tolerance but his question was

" how difficult would it be to build a 12V to 5V transformer that will probably run off the PIV 12V connector that is attached to my PSU?"

I still say not hard at all..
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Unread 02-24-2003, 09:05 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by joemac
That is true he is with in tolerance but his question was

" how difficult would it be to build a 12V to 5V transformer that will probably run off the PIV 12V connector that is attached to my PSU?"

I still say not hard at all..
True, but the reason for wanting 5V off the 12V rail may not be valid. Remember, you're proposing to add a DC-DC converter, which will be an unnecessary heatsource, and additional point of failure.

If it's so easy, then why is the 5V line still available for the 5 1/4 bays?
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Unread 02-25-2003, 01:43 AM   #7
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I think it might be a valid point. Reasoning:

Yes my PSU is withing "normal" operating variables. However, I really dont like my 5V rail dipping that low below 5.0V at all. Also right now I am having to deal with some serious stability problems that could easily be explained by a low 5V rail.

My current PSU is an Enermax EG651P-VE 550W PSU. (BTW my "dick" size was perfectly fine before I bought this unit. )
I got such a large PSU because I am running: 5 disk SCSI RAID array, 3 CDROM drives, Radeon 9700, and all the works including a highly OC CPU that is very power hungry. I figured that if I invest in a large PSU that I would not have to worry about a 300W PSU going up in smoke due to all the devices on this thing.

All this is supose to do is move more of the load off the 5V & 3.3V rail to the 12V rail where there seems to be plenty of headroom to spare. Yes, this would add another point of failure. Yes, it seems counter productive. I am just wondering if it is worth it or not. Otherwise, I will have to invest in ANOTHER Large PSU and that does not appeal to me at the moment (not if there is another alternative that might be interesting to try)

There is still a part of me that tried to make due with what I have available AND make it look/sound interesting at the same time.
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Unread 02-25-2003, 02:26 AM   #8
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www.mpja.com normally has a variety, but none at the moment. some other electronic stores will definately have them though.

it might also be cheaper simply to buy a new psu....


very cool idea though!
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Unread 02-25-2003, 07:18 AM   #9
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5 scsi disks array? damn. I want it . Anyway , i think that even with all those devices, for a 550W PSU, you really shoulndt have those problems with the rails (stability issues)... unless the 5v and 3.3v rails have a low power factor (low amperage ceiling to be more precise), and the combined wattage of the PSU is misleading to the real ceiling of each rail. Could you copy the lateral info on the PSU to here? It could help.

Either way , you can use a simple circuit to transform the 12v line to the 5v :

http://www.hut.fi/Misc/Electronics/circuits/psu_5v.html

Something like this. The problem is, the 7805 does heat up a bit with higher amps, you'll need a small heatsink. Its dirty cheap to do, and works very well. Most of the reobuses out here use the same principle.
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Unread 02-25-2003, 09:16 AM   #10
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Ok, I'm an EE and I've designed switching power supplies.

I would strongly recommend just getting a beefier supply, but...

There are ways to do this. A 7805 is one way, although it is extremely inefficient. One Amp of current in at 12V provides one Amp of current out at 5V. You get an extra 5W available on your 5V rail, while 7W are dissipated in the 7805.

A better way to do it would be with a switching DC-DC converter, but such may be difficult to find cheaply. Assuming reasonably easy to achieve efficiency; One amp of current in at 12V provides around 2 amps of current out at 5V. You get an extra 10W available on the 5V rail, while 2W are dissipated in the DC-DC converter.

The problem is that small regulators (switching or otherwise) are not usually designed to share an output with some other regulator. (Your PSU) The two regulators, which are both trying to control the output voltage, may get into a pissing contest that blows your system up.

If you are going to do something like seperate the 5V rail for the drives, and use the additional rail only for powering the drives, you can avoid the pissing contest scenario, but how much trouble is this worth?

There really is no simple method of doing this, that is going to be very effective and/or reliable.

Edit: Just noticed you have a 550W supply. I guess the best thing I can recommend is to add an additional AT supply just for powering all those drives.
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Unread 02-25-2003, 10:37 AM   #11
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Althou i have an 300W PSU, i also have an extra 250W ATX PSU (the old one) just in case. And because my Full tower can harbour both of them ... its not a problem. You could get a new psu (a cheap one) and divide de power between them . If you dont have a second psu harbour, you can always do this :


PSU in a box... er, a bay. Its and old 220W AT PSU that i use for testing (stuff) purposes.
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Unread 02-25-2003, 04:34 PM   #12
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"PSU in a box... er, a bay. Its and old 220W AT PSU that i use for testing (stuff) purposes"


Now THAT looks cool!!!! I must say that that is an excellent package; did you come up with that?


(Back to the immediate reality)

Well, I have done some thinking and am now wondering IF there is some sort of voltage adjustment "knob" inside the PSU that I can use to give the 5V line a little nudge. I opened up a POS Sparkle PSU that I had laying around the house last night and found (2) pots inside. Have no idea what they do....

Does anyone have some details as to what adjustments MIGHT be inside my PSU? I will have to go home and crack the PSU case anyways to satisfy my curiosity but before I make any adjustments, I would like to get some feedback. I will have pictures after I am done.

BTW I am not completely throwing out the idea of a voltage converter or extra PSU just yet......
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Unread 02-25-2003, 05:23 PM   #13
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>Now THAT looks cool!!!! I must say that that is an excellent
>package; did you come up with that?

I saw it done in a site somewhere, cant take the credit for it. The AT psu had a particularity that made this alot , and let me say it again, ALOT easier. The shottky power diodes ( pair one , and the other power diode pair) were laying pressed against de psu casing, in the bottom thus reversed soldered, and using the casing to dissipate the heat. So i didnt have to cut anything. It fitted right into that old cdrom drive, a Dysan (the crappiest i've seen, and i bought two at the time, grunf), and are using the same principle there. Because its a test psu, and doesnt remain on for alot of time, it doesnt really get that hot. If it was supposed to be 24/7, i'd have to put in a couple of fans for active cooling (witch i tried on another occasion, and works fine) .

>(Back to the immediate reality)
>Well, I have done some thinking and am now wondering IF there
>is some sort of voltage adjustment "knob" inside the PSU that I
>can use to give the 5V line a little nudge. I opened up a POS
>Sparkle PSU that I had laying around the house last night and
>found (2) pots inside. Have no idea what they do....

Cant really help you there without getting the proper schematic. But there is a couple of potentiometers to regulate the 12v and 5v rails at least, and those are probably it. Dont mess around with them without a schematic ... or an extra psu.

If your case can take 2 psu's, you can always get a cheap one to power at least the cdroms or the hard drives.

http://www.tweakshop.nl/n/prod/psu/psu.htm

For what i've seen here, you've got plenty of juice in the 3.3 and 5 rails.
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Unread 02-25-2003, 06:10 PM   #14
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Quote:
If it's so easy, then why is the 5V line still available for the 5 1/4 bays?
Heat
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Unread 02-26-2003, 12:58 AM   #15
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Well, be it heat, crappy PSU, or just bad luck.... I am comming to the inevidable conclusion that it is time for a new PSU. DAMN IT!! That's why I payed $140 about a year ago, so I would NOT have to buy another expensive PSU!!

Anyways, I have just spent 2+ hours combing the web for reviews and opinions about PSU and I am stuck between these two units:

Fortron- P530XF530W $78
Antec TRUE550 550W $125

According to the lables on both units, they both seem to have dedicated power circutry for each rail. Also I have read many good reviews on the Antec (and had good luck with them in the past) and the Fortron.

I am tempted by the Fortron but the Antec almost seems like a better long term purchase............then again I thought the Enermax was a good long-term investment...

IF any one has any suggestions to what I might be able to do to save the Enermax, I would like to hear it otherwise please put in your votes for which PSU I should INVEST in.

Thank you

BTW I did open up the Enermax, there are no trim pots.....DAMN!
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Unread 02-26-2003, 01:26 AM   #16
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Wow....I think I know why my system is SOO unstable.......

Take a look:

Can anyone else see what is wrong.

If I had known that my 3.3V line was soo bad I would have had the new PSU in my hands right now......
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File Type: jpg mbm.jpg (25.5 KB, 72 views)
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Unread 02-26-2003, 10:12 AM   #17
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That 3.3v line is waaay down. It shouldnt be any lower than 3.125v. I think you've spot the problem. But if i recall, you have 40 amps on the 3.3 line. Weird.

Do you have any overclocks , Vmods or something?.
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Unread 02-26-2003, 04:42 PM   #18
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Well, you cant see it from the picture but I am running my Memory @ 2.83V (normal @ 2.5V), CPU @ 1.9V (normal is 1.6V), and I am running a Vmod to my chipset @ 1.82V (normal 1.55V). This problem only really happened after I did the Vmod to the chipset but I never expected such a HUGE dip in voltages. My +5V line was getting low before I started (4.89V).

Apparantly I just need a new PSU and quickly. So any one have anything to add about the choices? I want to get this thing ordered by tomorrow so I can put it in by Friday.
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Unread 02-26-2003, 05:50 PM   #19
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Personally i'd debug the current PSU first. Get everything to default and test again the rails. If it goes "normal" then you know what it was. And buy a psu with a larger amp ceiling in the 3.3v and 5v. Buying a new psu without knowing the root of the problem is a risk.

Ok, its a calculated risk ...
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Unread 02-26-2003, 06:04 PM   #20
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Here here.

Tweak your PSU back into 3.3; if it keeps dipping quickly, then the PSU needs to be replaced (or a MOSFET replaced).

Between the Antec and the Fortron, I wouldn't have a problem with the Fortron; they're very good. See my 300+300=600W thread in the mods forum for more info.

You might want to take the time to figure out your load, before buying another PSU. Watch out for PSUs that post their max amperages (like Fortron), versus their intended amp load.
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Unread 03-03-2003, 12:29 AM   #21
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Well, as it turned out, there was a few things that was causing my instabilites.

Yes, I did run out and buy the Antec True550.........

First, PSU. I would have random reboots, BSOD, and Explorer errors. It would also randomly lockup trying to access the BIOS. (very annoying). Replaced the Enermax with the Antec TruePower 550W and my BIOS lockups and voltage irregulations went away.

Second, RAM. The RAM itself is wonderful but I discovered that if I used the RAM units in the slots that the MB recommended for 128bit BUS, it was unstable. I moved both units closest to the CPU and my Explorer errors and RAM timmings were fixed.

Third, OS. Because of the combination of RAM and PSU, my OS got screwed up. Luckly, I created a disk image before I started to heavily OC my system. Restored the image and updated the drivers and that solved my random BSODs.

I am now running 99.99% stable at 2310@210FSB w/ 2-2-2-5 RAM timmings @ 2.05V.

The CPU runs at about 40C underload, which is a bit high for my taste but it will have to do.

BTW I followed my GUT tech instincts on the PSU and I was right.
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Unread 03-25-2003, 09:16 AM   #22
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I also use an Enermax EG651P-VE and my +5V rail is actually around +5.10V with almost no load.
I plan to apply this mod to my Enermax if the +5V rail should go under 5V at full load (all 4 HDD's, fans, CD, CDR, DVD, CCFL's connected):
http://members.rogers.com/2caaronc/Enermax%20Mod.htm

CD
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Unread 03-25-2003, 04:31 PM   #23
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Nice mod....

However, I would SERIOUSLY NOT RECOMMEND USING IT! Reason for this is actaully documented at the very bottom of the page. Notice that he successfuly got his 5V line up to 5.5V (no load) and 5.1V (under load) BUT his 12V line is now +13V. VERY BAD!!! (unless you like smoking CDROMS and HDD )

Using the mod with the potentiometer that he was talking about could result in much better voltages on all rails with fine adjustments but using just the 1.5K OHM resistor would not be a wise idea.

That is my 0.02 cents...

Thanks for the document though!!
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Unread 03-25-2003, 04:44 PM   #24
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I concur.

whatever ya'll do, keep your lines within 5%: those are the specifications.

for 5v: that's between 4.75 and 5.25
for 12v: that's between 11.4 and 12.6
for 3.3: that's between 3.14 and 3.46

IF you must tweak this... measure your voltages at the mobo, not the PSU. For an overclocker, if you must put your PSU out of spec, try to keep it within 3% above nominal.
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