At a recent press briefing, I received a press kit that had something unusual in it—a circuit board. The board was a fully assembled and tested platform to evaluate the new LM25576 SIMPLE SWITCHER step-down converter from National Semiconductor. If you believe the company, and there’s no reason not to, this board was a cinch to design.
To design this type of board, you simply go to the company’s web sight at www.national.com, click on WEBENCH Tools, sign in and you’re on your way. The latest twist on this tool, which has been around for a few years, is the ability to “dial-in” the size and efficiency requirements of the converter. There’s actually a virtual dial that you turn with your mouse. As you turn the dial, you can see how increasing or decreasing the switching frequency affects size or other parameters of the circuit. This looks like a real time saver to me.
The new members of the family, and there are six of them, have a feature that makes this dialing tool possible— an adjustable switching frequency range. Three of the family members have a range from 50 kHz to 1 MHz, and three others from 50 kHz to 500 kHz. Previous members of the family were fixed-frequency devices.
Mal Humphrey from National made it seem as though anyone, even novice engineers, could design with this tool and, as I recall, he even gave me access to it. I haven’t tried it out yet, but will probably do so in the near future and write about the experience in my blog on www.eepn.com. But I’m also interested in finding out if some of you have used WEBENCH and what you think of it. You can e-mail me or respond to the blog once it’s written. Another great feature of WEBENCH is the final product you can order and receive in 24-48 hours—a board just like the one in my press kit.
If you’re interested in finding out more about the new SIMPLE SWITCHER family, just turn to page 10. Otherwise, I’ll finish reporting on this in my blog.
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