AC-DC Converters

Project Overview

Early in the development of a high-power nanosecond pulser program, it became necessary to have a multi-kW high-voltage supply. Before we were able to purchase a commercial unit, I built a (mildly dangerous) passive AC-DC converter. It was effectively a set of stacked half-wave rectifiers, which allowed for the output of 1x, 2x, and 3x the peak input voltage.

We called it "The Beast" because it used ~30 capacitors due to voltage and value limitations of the individual capacitors.

Plugged into a three standard 120VAC breakers, it produced output voltages of 170VDC, 340VDC, and 610VDC. It became clear after it was built that the 340VDC was offset from ground, so we couldn't use that output as we needed a grounded voltage. The supply was only needed for the 610V option however, so this was never fixed.

Skills Demonstrated / Gained

  • Basic circuit modeling and design
  • Electric circuit construction
  • Machining

Schematic of "The Beast" power supply