Voltage Regulators

Figure 1

Voltage Regulators play an important role in almost every electronic circuit as they provide a steady voltage. They can keep the output voltage constant as long as the input voltage stays above a certain threshold. They are the heart of most power supplies, and a lot them appear on the TI cards.

Voltage Regulators come in different voltage regulator outputs. The most common in the computer world would be 12 volt, 5 volt, and -5 volt. There are even adjustable voltage regulators, which, with the addition of potentiometer can supply an adjustable voltage. In fact one of the easiest and useful electronic projects for a beginner would be to construct an adjustable power supply. I will have plans for this at the bottom of the page.

As shown in figure 1 above, voltage regulators have 3 pins, and they are the Input, Output, and Ground. Just make sure that you hook them correctly.

Figure 2

A lot of heat is generated by voltage regulators and they should always have a heat sink. This allows the voltage regulator to run cooler. Voltage regulators do have internal circuitry to shut them selves down if they get to hot, but then, of course, so does your circuit. Always use a little Heat Sink Grease between a part and it's heat sink. This allows more heat to be transfered.