Sir Isaac Newton was famously quoted for saying that “if I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”. Hence the noble reference design, which lets us see tried and tested working circuits upon which to base new designs.

The Ham Converter

There is one greater love than power electronics at PID – food. And our adopted home of Spain is never far from our hearts, either. Nothing says “Spain” in the culinary better than salt-cured hams, so we present this fanciful breakdown of how premium Iberian Ham is produced.

First, sweet delicious flavor is stored in the acorns of the Holm Oak, forming the input source to the Ham Converter. The Iberian Black-footed Pig then boosts and concentrates that flavor, in a process controlled by a pig pastor. Once the pigs have stored enough flavor, a second stage converts them into ham, controlled this time by professional butchers and salt-curing experts Jaime and Carlos of Jamones Duque in El Bodón, Salamanca.

Illuminated Sword LED Driver

You probably know the common name of this product, but the owners of the trademark guard their rights jealously, so we´ll just say “illuminated sword.”

This circuit uses the highest power red-green-blue plus white LED that would fit in the hilt, the SBM-160 from Luminus Devices. A single buck LED driver can put up to 4A through the LEDs, which are stacked in series and controlled with an N-MOSFET in parallel to each die. Use a simple GUI to program the color of the blade to your liking! With this much power even a solid aluminum hilt would get far too hot, so a temperature control loop keeps the hilt to 40ºC or less. Precise brightness control allows the blade to flicker just like the “real” thing, and the white LED gives off a brilliant flash when the blade strikes another object.

Ambient Light Harvester

If you´re like us, you feel guilty every time you buy a disposable battery, and even guiltier when you throw them away, even when you take them to the e-waste facility. And if you´re like us, you tried replacing everything AA and AAA with rechargeable NiMH cells, only to find that those 300 mV differences start to add up.

This circuit is a harvester and battery charger for ambient light using an amorphous silicon solar cell, for things like your electronic thermostat that don´t get any direct sunlight. A further development adds a small LED light for the game “Quien Soy” whose display never seems to be readable for everyone.

Guitar Pedal Isolator

Switching converters are often modeled as transformers that process DC currents and voltages, and that´s exactly what this guitarist needed when he put one effects pedal in parallel with his amplifier but tried to power it with a multi-output supply that also supplied other pedals in series with the guitar. The result was a nasty 50 Hz hum from a common-mode path, so we designed a simple 9V to 9V isolated switcher to power his pedal without transmitting the noise.