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Simple Relay Step-Up Circuits(BC558)

2015-01-11 13:29  
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This article describes the Simple Relay Step-Up Circuits (BC558). The principle is very simple, very practical. The circuit components can help you understand better grasp this principle. For example, in this circuit, you can go to find and buy these components: BC558.

Have you ever needed to power a 12-volt relay in a circuit but only had 6 or 9 volts available? This simple circuit will solve that problem. It allows 12-volt relays to be operated from 6 or 9 volts, or 24-volt relays from 12 volts. While most normal relays require the manufacturer-specified coil voltage to reliably pull the contacts together, once the contacts are together you only need about half that rated voltage to hold them in. This circuit works by using that principle to provide a short burst of twice the supply voltage to move the contacts and then applies the available 6 or 9 volts to the relay to lock the contacts in place.


Figure 1 

With reference to Figure A., when the main supply is applied to the circuit the 220-μF capacitor, C1, charges quickly to 6 volts through resistor R3. The circuit is now awaiting voltage on the control input. When a control voltage (can be as little as 3 volts) is applied to the control input, transistor T1 switches on. The other transistor, a BC558, is also switched on. This allows connection of the relay coil to the main supply rail while T1 shorts the positive terminal of the 220-μF capacitor to ground. Now the negative terminal of the capacitor is at a potential of –6 volts. This is applied to the other side of the relay coil. The relay coil potential is then briefly 12 volts — enough to actuate the contact(s).


Figure 2 

However, the coil voltage drops to the supply voltage fairly quickly. The period is determined by the R-C time constant of the relay coil resistance and the 220-μF capacitor. While this circuit is simple and works well in many situations, it has a few weaknesses in its current form. The relay may remain energized for as long as one second after the control input has fallen. Also, if the control input goes high before the capacitor has fully recharged, it may not have enough energy to control the relay reliably. Also, the voltage drop across the diode limits the voltage to about 10.8 volts.

The more complex version of the circuit shown in Figure B fixes these problems by using an extra transistor and diode. In this arrangement, the BC558 is now isolated from the recharge current of the capacitor. The new transistor provides fast charging for the capacitor. Charging is completed within the mechanical response time of the relay. When using these circuits it should be noted that the contact pressure of the relay contacts may be al little lower than with the nominal coil voltage. It is therefore advisable to keep contact currents well below the maximum specified value.



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