Ultra Low Drop Linear Voltage Regulator

This circuit is a Mosfet-based linear voltage regulator with a voltage drop of as low as 60mV at 1A. The circuit uses a 15V-0-15V transformer and employs an IRF540 N-channel Mosfet (Q1) to deliver the regulated 12V output. The gate drive voltage required for the Mosfet is generated using a voltage doubler circuit consisting of diodes D1 & D2 and capacitors C1 & C2. To turn the Mosfet fully on, the gate terminal should be around 10V above the source terminal which is connected to the DC output. The voltage doubler feeds this voltage to the gate via resistor R3. IC2, a TL431 adjustable shunt regulator, is used as the error amplifier. It dynamically adjusts the gate voltage to maintain the regulation at the output. With an adequate heatsink for the Mosfet, the circuit can provide up to 3A output at slightly elevated minimum voltage drop.

Circuit diagram:
Ultra low drop linear voltage regulator circuit schematic
Ultra Low Drop Linear Voltage Regulator Circuit Diagram

Trimpot VR1 is used for fine adjustment of the output voltage. The RC network consisting of R5 and C6 provides error-amplifier compensation. The circuit is provided with short-circuit crowbar protection to guard against an accidental short at the output. This crowbar protection works as follows: under normal working conditions, the voltage across capacitor C5 will be 6.3V and diode D5 will be reverse-biased by the output voltage of 12V. However, during output short-circuit conditions, the output will momentarily drop, causing D5 to conduct. This triggers the MOC3021 Triac optocoupler (IC1) which in turn pulls the gate voltage to ground. This limits the output current. The circuit will remain latched in this state and the input voltage has to be switched off to reset the circuit.