There are two main types of battery charger – constant voltage and constant current. Both have their advantages and disavantages. For constant voltage, the battery cannot be overcharged but the charging rate is slow. Constant current mode can charge batteries more swiftly but there is the danger of overcharging them.
The dual mode battery charger circuit featured here was designed to combine both modes, but without their disadvantages, for use with a 6V sealed lead-acid battery. The main players of the circuit are voltage regulator IC1, which is used for constant current mode, and precision adjustable shunt regulator IC2, which is used for constant voltage mode.
In constant current mode, resistor R4 sets the current at 370mA, according to the equation:
R4 = (1.25/I) x 1000
where I = the constant current required, in milliamps.
Diode D3 prevents the battery from discharging back into IC1 if the input supply is disconnected. Resistor R3 provides current to switch one transistor TR1 when the input supply is present.
Shunt regulator IC2, resistors R6, R7 and preset potentiometer VR1 form the network which determines whether on not the battery has reached its required voltage. When the voltage at IC2’s reference input reaches 2.5V, IC2 switches on its internal transistor, connecting IC1’s ADJ (adjust) pin to 0V. In this condition, IC2 holds IC1 in constant current supply mode. Capacitor C3 helps to stabilise the switching of IC2.
Capacitor C1 and C2 decouple the DC input supply voltage. Light emitting diode D1 is a power-on indicator, and LED D2 is turned on when constant voltage mode is activated. A heatsink may be needed with IC1.
In use, adjust preset VR1 so that the voltage at the output suits the peak voltage required by the sealed lead-acid battery, which is usually printed on its body. Once adjusted correctly, it should not need further adjustment.
The authos used a 12V 600mA DC adapter for powering the dual mode battery charger circuit. The battery with which it is used has a peak voltage range of 6.9V to 7.12V.