Introduction: Easy and Cheap Lab Regulator for Any PSU

Picture of Easy and Cheap Lab Regulator for Any PSU

I was tired of looking for the correct transformer or the right pack of batteries just to try out some electronics and buying a Lab PSU costs a lot of money so instead of converting a PC ATX or a LED Switching PSU, I thought why not plug "something" in front of it which could stop any mistakes like a short-circuit, allowing a variable voltaje and setting a max current to my project.

Step 1: How It Works

Picture of How It Works

One of the cool things about having this "device" separated (besides of not destroying a PSU) is that you can switch between a transformer or another power source in no time really.

Another feature is you can create more than one of this and plug them into same PSU (as long as the power of the PSU is enough for all) and you'll get different outputs to work with from same source.

Step 2: What You Need

Picture of What You Need

All the links I put in this list are to send a reference to the exact ones I got but not from where I bought them (I bought everything in my local stores here in Argentina)

1 x DC Voltmeter Ammeter (this is the one I got)

1 x DC-DC buck step-down converter (this is the one I got) > any could work just make sure it has a potentiometer for voltage and another one for current at least.

2 x Knob Potentiometers (resistance of each will depend of your step-down)

2 x Banana Connectors for Chassis (example)

1 x On/Off Switch (optional)

Step 3: Wiring and Testing

Picture of Wiring and Testing

So, if got the parts, follow the diagram for connections and it's time to try it out!.

I think first pic explains the wiring pretty well, the most important thing is how you set the current reading from the display, it could sounds weird because of cable colors but it must be connected in series to your circuit so it can read amperage.

So you probable haven't replaced the trim pots yet (we'll get there), so ignore that from the photos and just play with the potentiometers using a screwdriver so in this step you can be sure everything is working.

Step 4: Changing the Potentiometers

Picture of Changing the Potentiometers

First thing is to remove the current trim pots and replace them with pinouts, well you can solder cables directly if you want, I did it in this way cause I want to try out some potentiometers later.

Now let's identify which are the potentiometer's resistance to replace: if we follow the Datasheet for trim pots it will give you the resistance for each code and over the trimpot it's the code (followed by a W), mine where those 2 in the pic. 10K for voltage and 1K for current. They are pretty sensitive really so I'm gonna be playing with the resistance in the future, if I find better ones I'll come here and update this 'ible.

After we get the knob potentiometers (be sure they are Linear, a 10K will show a B10K, B meaning Linear) we need to know which is the order of them to plug in, so I left there a pic to show it. Changing the order of pin 1 and 3 will only lead into CCW or CW for increasing/ decreasing the value.

Step 5: Printing and Installing the Top Case

Picture of Printing and Installing the Top Case

I designed a case for this little device so it won't be to messy to carry and have it around and it's for 3d Printing but you can use any case really there is not much complicated holes in it.

Files and details for printing can be found at Thingiverse

Step 6: Closing and Enjoying

Picture of Closing and Enjoying

So not much to say at this point if you got here please share your build!

And any question/ comment/ idea is more than welcome!



Quantz made it! (author)2017-06-03

Great idea here, thanks for writing up this nice Instructable. I made a few changes in my version. First I used a different regulator board. Mainly I chose the one at this link because it is about half the cost of the one you specified. Also, this unit will handle much more current than the one you specified, and although I plan to limit the current draw to around 5A, this unit will handle up to 12A and has the heatsinks to handle sustained high current draw for long periods of time.

I also used an "off-the-shelf" Radio Shack project box since I don't have access to a 3D printer and with so many stores closing, the sale prices at the Shack are too good to ignore.

The last change I made was to use a Banana jack/binding post for the input as well as the output to give me a bit more flexibility in connecting things up.

Thanks again, Quantz

pjnovas (author)Quantz2017-06-03

that looks really good!, yeah that buck looks much better it's a good upgrade really, I have found 5A it's not as big as I thought, I may also upgrade mine later. Also the banana plugs at the bottom are a great idea!

Thanks for sharing!

RuiMonteiro (author)2017-05-13

Are both supplies floating? I mean, isolated from each other?

pjnovas (author)RuiMonteiro2017-05-13

well that's gonna depend on how you use them, I created 2, but you can make one or N, the main idea here is there is no PSU, you choose if you're gonna use one for all (non isolated) or each one with its own psu. It's your call :)

RuiMonteiro (author)pjnovas2017-05-16

So, by other words, it isn't possible to plug the positive lead from one PSU to the negative lead of the second one...

Guddi11 made it! (author)2017-05-07


what shall I say, this is a very cool project, which serves my modest hobby crafting needs perfectly. It's a very nice and clear inst'ble too - well written, well explained and understandable 'till the end.

I made one of my own (just following your receipe, so thank you so much for posting it) and it works just fine.

I did it on low budget, i.e a) I used an off-the-shelf electronics case (110x60x30mm) instead of using your printed version. Quite tight but I fit it in. And b) my poti knobs are not as fancy as yours ;)

Bought the wrong switch, so the led doesn't work, but the switch does the job anyway...

And instead of using a PSU, I bought a power adapter (just for the outlet in the wall) which outputs 24 VDC, and installed a connector in the new regulator to get it powered from it.

Thanks again,


pjnovas (author)Guddi112017-05-07

duuuudeeee that looks awesome!, thanks for sharing :)

Guddi11 made it! (author)Guddi112017-05-07

I have no idea, why the first pic is upside down...

rncbme (author)2017-02-21

This is a super project and one that most of us need quite often. I would suggest either a fuse or a circuit breaker to prevent a flammable possibility.

pjnovas (author)rncbme2017-02-21

hey thanks

The protection is coming from the step-down converter it has for short-circuit and overload too. ;)

mertkaraca (author)2017-02-21

This project look like very usefully

Can I set max current apply any load This device? (when I can set current limit? on load or before apply voltage? )


pjnovas (author)mertkaraca2017-02-21

hey thanks.
So "any load" will mainly depend on the step-down bucket converter you buy.
About the current limit is a good question, you cannot see what is the current limit until you have a load in there so what I do is get the current all the way down, put the load and start increasing the knob so I'll see where is getting for the current voltage pre set and I can stop anytime.

t.rohner (author)2017-02-17

Quite easy and good for most needs.

For me, a Lab supply has to go down to 0V and needs a current limiting function.

I know, that you will need a auxillary negative supply for achieving it. Most people don't go this far.

Yonatan24 (author)t.rohner2017-02-17

0V? 0.what?

pjnovas (author)t.rohner2017-02-17

thanks man, yeah I'm not too deep in electronics yet (it's a hobby for me) so my current needs are much easier to achieve :)

EduardoS77 (author)2017-02-17

This setup is unable to give you something like 24V 350ma . You will need to add as good heat sink on the regulator. Otherwise it will activate the internal thermal shutdown.

pjnovas (author)EduardoS772017-02-17

yup you'r right good catch! I haven't gone into that case yet but I think there is enough room inside the box to get a good heat sink for the regulator.

If I get there I'll give the update here for sure.


RichardM350 (author)2017-02-16

If you series a 10K with a 1K the 10K will give a 'coarse' adjustment and the 1K will give a 'fine' adjustment, to use set the 1K @ center, get in the ballpark with the 'coarse' 10K, then adjust more finely with the 'fine' 1K and life is good

pjnovas (author)RichardM3502017-02-17

wow I had no idea that existed, this seems to be a good resource to try it out, thanks!

WannaDuino (author)2017-02-16


I made a portable 6400mAh 4,5V to 29.5V output.

And if i need lower voltage i also made ( the smallest power supply on the world)

to hook it on too.

maybe you can do that also to make it more usable all round.


WannaDuino!!! STYLE.

pjnovas (author)WannaDuino2017-02-17

nice build, I got a comment from supernoodle2014 with the idea of getting a battery as psu to make it portable, you got just that :)

SuperRistopaha. (author)2017-02-16

I have been looking for something like this a long time! Great!

pjnovas (author)SuperRistopaha.2017-02-17


supernoodle2014 (author)2017-02-16

Nice. You can also connect it to a battery and make it portable.

pjnovas (author)supernoodle20142017-02-17

that's great idea! and one of the points of creating it without psu (you can connect to any powers source :D ), thanks!

FrankL72 (author)2017-02-16

I'm going to build this great idea.

I'm going to use multi turn linear potentiometer for more accuracy.

Thanks a lot.

pjnovas (author)FrankL722017-02-17

awesome! please share it when you get it.

A multi turn is a good point, I looked for them here but couldn't find any, at least without paying around ARS$200 each (I bought those for ARS$40)

MattB144 (author)2017-02-16

Great Idea, Just what I was looking for

pjnovas (author)MattB1442017-02-17

great! if you create something around it please share your build I think it's even better for others to see ideas/ mutations around it in the comments

Deus Tempestas (author)2017-02-16

Very clean, tidy and compact design. Nicely done.

pjnovas (author)Deus Tempestas2017-02-17

thanks :)

-AFS- (author)2017-02-16

I like it a lot!

It remembers me part of a project I made:

But with a great better case!

I love it!

pjnovas (author)-AFS-2017-02-16

oh your 'ible is awesome!, thanks

jtechian (author)2017-02-16

One note.. If you do make more then one for different voltages on a project, they will all have a common ground IE say charging battery cells in series you cant set the voltage for each cell to do a balance charge. But this is a nice project and good share.

pjnovas (author)jtechian2017-02-16

oh that's a good point, I haven't really think about this one as a battery charger but yeah if you'r gonna use same PSU for more than one you'll get same ground for them, maybe for that case just using another power source for each charger idk

nandohaze (author)2017-02-15

this work to control the power of a tool like a cheap rip-off dremel (I'm this case the rpm) or the power in a heat gum, glue gun ect?

pjnovas (author)nandohaze2017-02-16

mm so it will really depend on the current supported of your psu and your step-down, I did some tries with small motors and didn't had any issues so far

Yonatan24 (author)nandohaze2017-02-16

This should work in a hot glue gun, but a heat gun has a fan/motor so I'm not sure...

ohoilett (author)2017-02-16

I like the enclosure design. It looks great.

Sampad66 (author)2017-02-14

Good one..

Swansong (author)2017-02-14

Awesome :) This looks great!

pjnovas (author)Swansong2017-02-14

thanks :)

mczee (author)2017-02-14

te quedó re bueno!

pjnovas (author)mczee2017-02-14


tittiamo68 (author)2017-02-14

congratulations for the explanation of the project

pjnovas (author)tittiamo682017-02-14


About This Instructable




More by pjnovas:Water Level Indicator Using MagnetsEasy and cheap lab regulator for any PSU
Add instructable to: