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Basic Lamp Dimmer

Lamp dimmers using traics can be quite simple, nothing more than a potentiometer, resistor, capacitor and triac with a built-in diac. (See Teccor's application note for examples and other technical data.) The circuit below is similar to designs using uni unction transistors to generate the triggering pulse. The uni unction is replaced b! a two-transistor "flasher" circuit that dri#es a pulse transformer. This t!pe of circuit gi#es a wide range of control while exhibiting little h!steresis or line #oltage sensiti#it!. The two diodes rectif! the line #oltage such that the flasher sees a positi#e #oltage pulse on each halfc!cle and, after a dela! set b! $ and the %.&u' capacitor, the flasher circuit triggers the triac. The capacitor discharge is deep so the dimmer starts fresh on the next half-c!cle. (ote that the triac alwa!s gets the same polarit! of trigger pulse.

The dimmer ma! be controlled in a number of wa!s. The first option for $ shows a t!pical mechanical control and the second option shows the use of an opto-isolator for electricall! controlling the dimmer. The electronic control would be useful in applications li)e computer control, color organs, power flashers,

heaters, speed controllers, and other feedbac) s!stems. The base of the *(* is another sensiti#e spot to add control but the designer must remember that the whole circuit must be floating and large #oltage swings are present.

Remember, the entire circuit is "hot" and dangerous! Line power circuitry should be constructed only by qualified persons. G ! brea"ers are always a good idea!
The flasher could be powered from a full-wa#e rectified transformer secondar! if line isolation is desired. +o not filter the rectified #oltage or the circuit will not wor) properl!. ,se a fairl! high #oltage secondar!, perhaps -% .$/S to get full power control. (Lower if using a 0(11%&.) The circuit will generate significant $' noise and a line filter is recommended. (2t is usuall! prett! eas! to find potted line filters in surplus catalogs.) 3lso, ma)e sure to include a fuse, as indicated. The circuit ma! be used for other 34 applications including motor speed control and the cle#er designer might add in positi#e feedbac) based on current consumption to achie#e near constant motor $*/ with changing load (a nontri#ial challenge). 5r, consider appl!ing negati#e feedbac) #ia the optoisolator. Substitutions6 The &(1%%7 onl! see about &%% #olts re#erse and the current is fairl! low so other rectifiers ma! be substituted. The 0(---& ma! be replaced with a lower #oltage transistor li)e the 0(11%& if the &%) resistor is decreased to 8.9) (to limit the collector #oltage). 'ull brightness will be reduced a slight amount but for most applications the loss will be insignificant. The 0:) resistors should be at least &;0 watt or the resourceful experimenter ma! wish to double their #alue along with the &%) if the triac is sufficientl! sensiti#e. The pulse transformer was designed for triggering th!ristors but other t!pes ma! wor) as substitutes - tr! a &6& phone transformer, for example. <ere is a hand-made dimmer built onto a piece of laminate. The triac is an $43 T0:&% and the pulse transformer is a Sprague &6&, 88=>%8. (?oth are older parts from m! #ast surplus collection@) $ead the construction page for more information about this pro ect. ,sers of Axpress*4? ma! download the design file. The board was built into a grounded metal chassis with a line filter and fuse.