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LED Bar Off IndicatorThe simple indicator presented in this article may be combined, in principle, with any circuit that contains an LED bar display driven by a Type LM3914 IC. It ensures that an LED will light when all LEDs driven by the LM3914 are out. This prevents one drawing the erroneous conclusion that, since all the LEDs are out, the circuit is switched off. The circuit then continues to draw current, which, especially if it is battery powered, costs unnecessary money, apart from other considerations. The LED in the monitor draws a current of only 1 mA. When the LEDs forming the bar, D1–D10 are all out, there is no potential difference across R3, so that T1 is off and T2 is on.
This results in T3, in conjunction with R5 and the internal reference voltage of IC1, to form a current source that causes a constant current to flow through D11 so that the diode lights. When on of diodes D1–D10 lights, a potential difference ensues across R3, which causes T1 to come on. This results in T2 being switched off so that there is no collector current through T3. Consequently, there is no feedback at the emitter of T3, so that the current through R2 rises appreciably. The current through R2 determines the current through the LEDs in the bar. Therefore, when T3 is enabled, the current through R2, and thus the total current in the circuit, is reduced considerably.