Increasing output current of smps with multiple darlington transistors

Thread Starter

uraniumhexoflorite

Joined Oct 23, 2016
204
I've been working on a buck converter using an MC34063, but the output current is far lower than I need. I want to be able to pull at least 700 ma. I was able to get 70 ma without an external transistor. Yesterday, I set up an external transistor and increased the current to 150 ma. The external transistor I used is a TIP116. I was wondering if having another TIP116 would help to increase the current output more. Basically making a darlington transistor using darlington transistors. I apologize if this question seems a bit ridiculous, but I have very little experience with amplifiers. I have op amps aswell, but I'm not sure if they are what I should use. Thanks. :)
 

RichardO

Joined May 4, 2013
2,271
We need your exact circuit diagram to give an accurate answer. What is your switching frequency and what is the specification for the inductor that you are actually using?

Just guessing from what you said, I suspect that your inductor is not rated for high enough current and is saturating. The MC34063 by itself appears to be able to supply enough current without a buffer transistor.

Adding a Darlington transistor is not likely to help much. In fact it may make your problems worse because it drops more voltage when on and has a lower switching speed. At these low currents a non-Darlington transistor might help some.
 

RichardO

Joined May 4, 2013
2,271
How do I tell if the inductor is saturaring?
You need an oscilloscope. You monitor the current through the current sense resistor (Rsc in the examples in the data sheet).

This is best done by using two scope probes with the scope set for differential mode. Put one probe on each end of Rsc.
The waveform should be a linear ramp. If the waveform starts out as a ramp and then suddenly increases then the inductor is saturating.

This measurement is hard enough to do that it is usually easier to get a data sheet for your inductor or buy an inductor that has the correct rating. The data sheet has the equations to calculate the peak inductor current.
 

Thread Starter

uraniumhexoflorite

Joined Oct 23, 2016
204
It might not be the inductor. I'm using one I salvaged from a broken cigarette lighter adapter charger. The circuit in the adapter charger put out approximately 700 ma.
 

ian field

Joined Oct 27, 2012
6,539
I've been working on a buck converter using an MC34063, but the output current is far lower than I need. I want to be able to pull at least 700 ma. I was able to get 70 ma without an external transistor. Yesterday, I set up an external transistor and increased the current to 150 ma. The external transistor I used is a TIP116. I was wondering if having another TIP116 would help to increase the current output more. Basically making a darlington transistor using darlington transistors. I apologize if this question seems a bit ridiculous, but I have very little experience with amplifiers. I have op amps aswell, but I'm not sure if they are what I should use. Thanks. :)
Darlington transistors barely saturate, so they increase on time losses. There's not much you can do to increase carrier purging from the B/E region, so turn off time can be slower which increases transition losses. Its best to favour any schemes in the appnote that don't involve Darlingtons.
 

ian field

Joined Oct 27, 2012
6,539
would a FET or a BJT be better?
A MOSFET is generally better, but AFAICR; there are no examples in the appnote.

You have to remember that the MOSFET is voltage driven instead of current driven. Most power MOSFETs need at least 6V gate drive to turn them fully on and minimise on time losses. Logic level types are OK with only a few volts gate drive. The main problem you could run into is charging and discharging the gate capacitance quickly enough to minimise transition losses - but its no worse than purging charge carriers from a bipolar B/E region.
 

Thread Starter

uraniumhexoflorite

Joined Oct 23, 2016
204
I did some more experimenting. I accidentally set up the MC34063 in an external NPN configuration, but the TIP116 still works better than a 1011 BJT or a TIP110.
 

Thread Starter

uraniumhexoflorite

Joined Oct 23, 2016
204
I did some more experimenting. I accidentally set up the MC34063 in an external NPN configuration, but the TIP116 still works better than a 1011 BJT or a TIP110.
 

RichardO

Joined May 4, 2013
2,271
I would run the oscillator at more like 50KHz as per the example in the attached data sheet. Make sure that your inductor works at that frequency. You need to at least measure its inductance to have a chance of using it.

I also attached a couple of application notes that you should find useful.
 

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RichardO

Joined May 4, 2013
2,271
I did some more experimenting. I accidentally set up the MC34063 in an external NPN configuration, but the TIP116 still works better than a 1011 BJT or a TIP110.
I did some more experimenting. I accidentally set up the MC34063 in an external NPN configuration, but the TIP116 still works better than a 1011 BJT or a TIP110.
Both of these observations say that you have something fundamentally wrong.

I suggest that you select the most basic circuit and get it working -- no external transistors. Maybe at the lower frequency things will work a lot better.
 

Thread Starter

uraniumhexoflorite

Joined Oct 23, 2016
204
Both of these observations say that you have something fundamentally wrong.

I suggest that you select the most basic circuit and get it working -- no external transistors. Maybe at the lower frequency things will work a lot better.
I had it working in the basic step down configuration, but it couldn't supply enough current. All I'm trying to get it to do now is supply more current.
 

ian field

Joined Oct 27, 2012
6,539
I would run the oscillator at more like 50KHz as per the example in the attached data sheet. Make sure that your inductor works at that frequency. You need to at least measure its inductance to have a chance of using it.

I also attached a couple of application notes that you should find useful.
50kHz is probably near the bottom end of where you need to start thinking along the lines of multilayer ceramic chip filter capacitors.

You certainly won't get away with cheap electrolytics, smaller MLCC caps in parallel would be useful to reduce temperature rise.
 

RichardO

Joined May 4, 2013
2,271
I had it working in the basic step down configuration, but it couldn't supply enough current. All I'm trying to get it to do now is supply more current.
I believe that the most basic circuit will deliver a current similar to what you want. As an example, see Figure 10 in the data sheet I posted earlier.
 
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