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Thread: Cheap (Free?) 12 volt power supply from an old computer

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  1. #1

    Default Cheap (Free?) 12 volt power supply from an old computer

    Just sharing this. This isn't anything new, but if someone has an old computer laying around, is tight on funds, and needs a relatively small 12 volt regulated power supply for a moderately low output transmitter, using an old computer power supply is pretty easy and quick.

    I put together a quick little YouTube video on the wiring. It's real simple. The old computers I have around here didn't have on/off switches on the actual unit. The main connection plug that goes to the computer motherboard has the on/off wires easily accessible.

    The green wire and any of the black wires can be tapped for a simple switch that is properly rated. For the power supply in the video the unit offers 300 watts, or say 15 amps at 12 volts. Again this isn't for massive high output stuff, but for smaller mobile rigs, or HTs it might be an easy option.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0PzBeoI6EA4

    Be safe. Have fun.

    Dan
    N3HNA

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Beautiful Downtown Colorado. (Montrose, SW corner)
    Posts
    29,848

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by N3HNA View Post
    Just sharing this. This isn't anything new, but if someone has an old computer laying around, is tight on funds, and needs a relatively small 12 volt regulated power supply for a moderately low output transmitter, using an old computer power supply is pretty easy and quick.

    I put together a quick little YouTube video on the wiring. It's real simple. The old computers I have around here didn't have on/off switches on the actual unit. The main connection plug that goes to the computer motherboard has the on/off wires easily accessible.

    The green wire and any of the black wires can be tapped for a simple switch that is properly rated. For the power supply in the video the unit offers 300 watts, or say 15 amps at 12 volts. Again this isn't for massive high output stuff, but for smaller mobile rigs, or HTs it might be an easy option.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0PzBeoI6EA4

    Be safe. Have fun.

    Dan
    N3HNA
    You mean like this one?

    ATX Supply K8ERV .JPG\

    TOM K8ERV Montrose Colo

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    Carmel, IN
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    6,283

    Default

    Nice video, I use an old computer supply for my 10M beacon. Thanks!
    Leroy
    Be sure to listen for my beacon on 28.278.8 MHz

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    Crest, Ca (just East of El Cajon)
    Posts
    31,007

    Default

    I might point out the 12V supply in these computer things is not a high current supply, and, as shown by the meter, was only 11.59V. This would be ok for a QRP rig, but don't even think of hooking a HF transciever up to it. Or a reasonable power 2M FM. HF rigs usually start to FM once the supply voltage gets down to 12V. That is why I have to use a Battery Booster with my gel Cel. The computer supplies are mainly for the high current 5V, and 12V was just there for some circuitry that needed 12V. I suppose in an emergency it would work. But I will hook my rigs to an Astron.
    I love my cats!
    PHOEBE and PENELOPE MEW!

  5. #5

    Default

    Sadly, many will not understand the idea of "start to FM". Maybe an anthology of all the QRZ posted info on power supplies, indexed and consuming a year of time to do so, would help. I am not so sure if it would, though.

    The sendoff of "Be safe, have fun" was never more true, however.
    It would really help new amateurs who want to build antennas to find an older copy of the ARRL Antenna book. There are too few explanations and too little data in the current editions. By old I mean say pre-1989. Cruise hamfest tables and Ebay, there are plenty available pretty cheap.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
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    Beautiful Downtown Colorado. (Montrose, SW corner)
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    29,848

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by WA6MHZ View Post
    I might point out the 12V supply in these computer things is not a high current supply, .
    I think you mean not a high voltage supply. The current depends on the PS wattage rating, mine puts out
    10 amps easily. Some supplies have a trimpot that can boost the voltage a bit, but probably not to 13.8.

    But the price is right.

    TOM K8ERV Montrose Colo

  7. #7

    Default

    Great comments. Many thanks. Exactly something like that, Tom - good job.

    And, yes, without any major modification this is for smaller rigs. The price is certainly right.

    Good idea for a beacon supply, Leroy. I hadn't thought about that.

    Dan
    N3HNA

  8. #8

    Default

    With many (maybe most) PC supplies, especially the older AT and ATX versions, the loading on the +5V bus allows the +12V bus to properly regulate and will also effect the output voltage on the +12V rail.

    I have some here that with a 5A load on the +5V rail, the output is actually about 12.6Vdc on the +12V rail. If I reduce the +5V load to only 1A the power supply still functions but the +12 drops down to about 11.9 or 12.0. It makes a rather large difference.

    Of course the 5A load on the +5 dissipates 25W which is just "thrown away," but might be useful for a bunch of LEDs or something.
    What if soy milk is just regular milk introducing itself in Spanish?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Bakersfield, CA
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    4,862

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    Take a look at the article in the AntenneX preview files. There's a 15VDC 40A power supply and using the limits of plus or minus 15% of 13.8VDC for almost all the rigs out there the 15VDC is an acceptable level.
    The download is here at; http://www.antennex.com/preview/. Just below the page intro are the listings of things you are allowed access. A few are restricted and they'll tell you so when you try to view them but the others are for you to enjoy. The 15VDC 40A supply is on the left list just about the bottom.
    BTW Steve that's a lot of LED's. Perhaps you wish to light up the room?
    Have fun
    73
    Gary
    Last edited by KO6WB; 11-14-2012 at 01:34 AM.

  10. #10

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by KO6WB View Post
    Take a look at the article in the AntenneX preview files. There's a 15VDC 40A power supply and using the limits of plus or minus 15% of 13.8VDC for almost all the rigs out there the 15VDC is an acceptable level.
    The download is here at; http://www.antennex.com/preview/. Just below the page intro are the listings of things you are allowed access. A few are restricted and they'll tell you so when you try to view them but the others are for you to enjoy. The 15VDC 40A supply is on the left list just about the bottom.
    BTW Steve that's a lot of LED's. Perhaps you wish to light up the room?
    Have fun
    73
    Gary
    I don't like the idea of using a "15 Volt" supply for my radios. That's right at the limit (or within one volt) specified for many of my radios, and a spike or even small overshoot can exceed that. Even 14 Volts is more than necessary for most radios, and will not accomplish anything other than generating a bit more internal heat.
    If the "15 Volt" supply could be adjusted down to 14 or 13.8 Volts, I'd feel a lot more comfortable about attaching one of my radios to it.

    One drawback to using old PC type computer supplies to power radios (aside from the possiblity of being on the low side of 12 Volts) is that many are poorly filtered, and can cause horrendous RFI. Just a caveat to consider. YMMV

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