There are only a limited number of switching regulators designed to generate negative output voltages. In many cases, it’s thus necessary to use a switching regulator that was actually designed for a positive voltage in a modified circuit configuration that makes it suitable for generating a negative output voltage. The circuit shown in Figure 1 uses the familiar LM2575 step-down regulator from National Semiconductor (www.national.com).
This circuit converts a positive-voltage step-down regulator into a negative-voltage step-up regulator. It converts an input voltage between –5 V and –12 V into a regulated –12-V output voltage. Note that the output capacitor must be larger than in the standard circuit for a positive output voltage. The switched current through the storage choke is also somewhat higher. Some examples of suitable storage chokes for this circuit are the PE-53113 from Pulse (www.pulseeng.com) and the DO3308P- 153 from Coilcraft (www.coilcraft.com).
The LM2575-xx is available in versions for output voltages of 3.3V, 5 V, 12 V, and 15 V, so various negative output voltages are also possible. However, you must pay attention to the input voltage of the regulator circuit. If the input voltage is more negative than –12 V (i.e., Vin < –12 V), the output voltage will not be regulated and will be lower than the desired –12 V. The LM2575 IC will not be damaged by such operating conditions as long as its maximum rated input voltage of 40 V is not exceeded. High voltage (HV) types that can withstand up to 60 V are also available. Although the standard LM2575 application circuit includes circuit limiting, in this circuit the output current flows via the diode and choke if the output is shorted, so the circuit is not short-circuited proof. This can be remedied by using a Multi fuse (PTC) or a normal fuse. There is also an adjustable version of the regulator with the type designation LM2575-ADJ (Figure 2). This version lacks the internal voltage divider of the fixed-voltage versions, so an external voltage divider must be connected to the feedback (FB) pin. The voltage divider must be dimensioned to produce a voltage of 1.23 V at the FB pin with the desired output voltage. The formula for calculating the output voltage is:
Vout = 1.23 V × (1 + [R1 ÷ R2])
The electrolytic capacitors at the input and output must be rated for the voltages present at these locations.