In many circuits, we need to generate an internal adjustable voltage. This circuit shows how it is possible to use a trusty old NE555 timer IC and a bit of external circuitry to create a voltage inverter and doubler. The input voltage to be doubled is fed in at connector K1. To generate the stepped-up output at connector K2 the timer IC drives a two-stage inverting charge pump circuit. The NE555 is configured as an astable multivibrator and produces a rectangular wave at its output, with variable mark-space ratio and variable frequency. This results in timing capacitor C3 (see circuit diagram) being alternately charged and discharged; the voltage at pin 2 (THR) of the NE555 swings between one-third of the supply voltage and two-thirds of the supply voltage.
The output of the NE555 is connected to two voltage inverters. The first inverter comprises C1, C2, D1, and D2. These components convert the rectangular wave signal into a negative DC level at the upper pin of K2. The second inverter, comprising C4, C5, D3, and D4, is also driven from the output of IC1 but uses the negative output voltage present on diode D3 as its reference potential. The consequence is that at the lower pin of output connector K2 we obtain a negative voltage double that on the upper pin.
Now let us look at the voltage feedback arrangement, which lets us adjust this doubled negative output voltage down to the level we want. The NE555 has a control voltage input on pin 5 (CV). Normally the voltage level on this pin is maintained at two-thirds of the supply voltage by internal circuitry. The voltage provides a reference for one of the comparators inside the device. If the reference voltage on the CV pin is raised towards the supply voltage by an external circuit, the timing capacitor C3 in the astable multivibrator will take longer to charge and to discharge. As a result, the frequency of the rectangle wave output from IC1 will fall, and its mark space ratio will also fall. The source for the CV reference voltage in this circuit is the base-emitter junction of PNP transistor T1. If the base voltage of T1 is approximately 500 mV lower than its emitter voltage, T1 will start to conduct and thus pull the voltage on the CV pin towards the positive supply. In the feedback path NPN transistor T2 has the function of a voltage level shifter, being wired in common-base configuration. The threshold is set by the resistance of the feedback chain comprising resistor R3 and potentiometer P1. When the emitter voltage of transistor T2 is more than approximately 500 mV lower than its base voltage it will start to conduct. Its collector then acts as a current sink. Potentiometer P1 can be used to adjust the sensitivity of the negative feedback circuit and hence the final output voltage level. Using T1 as a voltage reference means that the circuit will adjust itself to compensate not only for changes in load at K2, but also for changes in the input supply voltage. If K2 is disconnected from the load the desired output voltage will be maintained, with the oscillation frequency falling to around 150 Hz.
A particular feature of this circuit is the somewhat unconventional way that the NE555’s discharge pin (pin 7) is connected to its output (pin 3). To understand how this trick works we need to inspect the innards of the IC. Both pins are outputs, driven by internal transistors with bases both connected (via separate base resistors) to the emitter of a further transistor. The collectors of the output transistors are thus isolated from one another . The external wiring connecting pins 3 and 7 together with means that the two transistors are operating in parallel: this roughly doubles the current that can be switched to ground. The two oscilloscope traces show how the output voltage behaves under different circumstances. The left-hand figure shows the behavior of the circuit with an input voltage of 9 V and a resistive load of 470 Ω connected to the lower pin of output connector K2. The figure on the right shows the situation with an input voltage of 10 V and a load of 1 kΩ on the lower pin of output connector K2. The pulse width and frequency of the rectangle wave at the output of IC1 are automatically adjusted to compensate for the differing conditions by the feedback mechanism built around T1 and T2. Because of the voltage drops across the Darlington output stage in the IC (2.5 V maximum) and the four diodes (700 mV each) the circuit achieves an efficiency at full load (470 Ω between the output and ground) of approximately 50 %; at lower loads (1 kΩ) the efficiency is about 65 %. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/555_timer_IC