Here’s a handy gadget that allows the user to turn speaker systems on and off with a TV or laptop computer. It can also be used to turn on lamps and other electric appliances. The gadget is environmentally green, since it uses a unique Silicon Controlled Rectifier (SCR) voltage regulator to reduce standby power consumption to only a few milliwatts.
The SCR regulator is much more energy efficient and robust against damage from power surges than the zener diode regulator that would normally be used in this type of circuit. The gadget also uses a triac to switch the load instead of a mechanical relay, for a more compact size, lower power consumption, and improved reliability.
I use a similar circuit to turn on a shopvac whenever any woodworking tools are turned on for dust collection. It was built from an 30 year old Radio or Popular or Elementary Electronics magazine article (was that yours?.) Is that a Klipsch in the background?
No, I created the original version of this gadget back in 1973 entirely on my own. The updated version is also entirely my work. Up until I saw a Sears unit for power tools in 2003, I had never seen or heard of such a thing before. I have already emailed the editor about the SCR mistake. I don't know where he got that from. I took for granted that everyone who would be interested in building the gadget would know what an SCR was.
It would indeed be very unique if it actually used a "Selective Catalytic Reduction" voltage regulator. With better editing, I think the article would have stated more correctly that it uses a Silicon Controlled Rectifier voltage regulator.
Looks like a very nice design! I was going to make my own using a hall effect sensor, a PICAXE micro, and a relay. The use of a MPU gives a bit more flexibility in programming the current sensing sensitivity and delayable on-off period.
Eleven years ago one of those rare, brilliant moments emerged from the crack staff of Design News: Let’s put the tinkerers among our audience community to work in designing and building some truly wacky devices. And Gadget Freak was born.
Followers of Design News’ Gadget Freak blogs will have the opportunity next week to take home a wireless remote demo package that can be used to build garage door openers, tire pressure monitors, keyless entry systems, and much more.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.