The circuit described here is mostly aimed at development engineers who are looking for an economical step-down converter which offers a wide input voltage range. As a rule this type of circuit employs a step-down converter with integrated switching element. However, by using a more discrete solution it is possible to reduce the total cost of the stepdown converter, especially when manufacturing in quantity. The TL5001A is a low-cost PWM controller which is ideal for this project. The input voltage range for the step-down converter described here is from 8 V to 30 V, with an output voltage of 5 V and a maximum output current of 1.5 A. When the input voltage is applied the PWM output of IC1 is enabled, taking one end of the voltage divider formed by R1 and R2 to ground potential.
The current through the voltage divider will then be at most 25 mA: this value is obtained by dividing the maximum input voltage (30 V) minus the saturation voltage of the output driver (2 V) by the total resistance of the voltage divider (1.1 kΩ). T1 and T3 together form an NPN/PNP driver stage to charge the gate capacitance of P-channel MOSFET T2 as quickly as possible, and then, at the turn-off point, discharge it again. The base-emitter junction of T3 goes into a conducting state when the PWM output is active and a voltage is dropped across R2. T3 will then also conduct from collector to emitter and the gate capacitance of T2 will be discharged down to about 800 mV. The P-channel MOSFET will then conduct from drain to source. If the open-collector output of the controller is deactivated, a negligibly small current flows through resistor R2 and the base of T1 will be raised to the input voltage level. The base-emitter junction of T1 will then conduct and the gate capacitance of T2 will be charged up to the input voltage level through the collector and emitter of T1. The P-channel MOSFET will then no longer conduct from drain to source. This driver circuit constructed from discrete components is very fast, giving very quick switch-over times. Diodes D2 and D3 provide voltage limiting for the P-channel MOSFET, whose maximum gate-source voltage is 20 V. If the Zener voltage of diode D2 is exceeded it starts to conduct; when the forward voltage of diode D3 is also exceeded, the two diodes together clamp the gate-source voltage to approximately 19 V.
The switching frequency is set at approximately 100 kHz, which gives a good compromise between efficiency and component size. Finally, a few notes on component selection. All resistors are 1/16 W, 1 %. Apart from electrolytic C1 all the capacitors are ceramic types. For the two larger values (C2 and C5) the following are used: C2 is a Murata type GRM21BR71C105KA01 ceramic capacitor, 1 μF, 16 V, X7R, 10 %; C5 is a Murata type GRM32ER60J476ME20 ceramic capacitor, 47 μF, 6.3 V, X5R, 10 %. D1 (Fairchild type MBRS340T3) is a 40 V/3 A Schottky diode. Coil L1 is a Würth WE-PD power choke type 744771147, 47 μH, 2.21 A, 75 mΩ. T1 (BC846) and T3 (BC856) are 60 V, 200 mA, 310 mW complementary bipolar transistors from Vishay. The TL5001AID (IC1) is a low-cost PWM controller with an open-collector output from Texas Instruments.