Benchtop Power Supply Review

By Robert Cong

A workbench is not complete unless it contains all the right equipment for measurement and power. Jameco can help in both categories, but the focus here is going to be on power.

Circuits can be built and tested time and time again in an R&D department, which is why you need to have a reliable benchtop power supply ready to go at all times. You want to be able to just plug in your banana plug test leads and be good to go.

Extech 382213 Triple Output Benchtop Power Supply
Extech 382213 Triple Output Benchtop Power Supply

The Extech 382213 features two fixed output voltages of 5V and 12V that provide up to 500mA of current. It also has a third output which is adjustable from 0-30V and 0-3A. The independent fixed voltages work well for TTL or CMOS projects and have easy terminals for jumper wire connections. The adjustable output provides a wide range in which you can test for overload thresholds, maximum ratings and other criteria in your designs.

Benchtop power supplies can provide extra features like multiple outputs, constant current and constant voltage operation and tracking mode, which can be vital to your projects and testing procedures.

Multiple outputs at different voltages give you the ability to power multiple circuits, devices and components at the same time. Constant current (CC) mode allows users to apply the same current to the circuit while the load fluctuates. The same is true for constant voltage (CV) with the fluctuations in the load, while keeping in mind the current limit setting.

The CC and CV features are extremely valuable when you want to test the current and voltage operating ranges of your circuits. Simply connecting the circuit to the supply and using the knobs and gauges to slowly increase and decrease the voltage and current allows you to see how wide of a range your circuit can operate in before it fails or until you are satisfied with its performance.

Tracking mode automatically holds the outputs at a ratio like ±5V and ±12V, tracking the output voltage of another output, which is great for rail-to-rail operation. You can adjust the positive and negative inputs together with the adjustment of a single knob, which lets you see the different effects in performance simultaneously.

Uniteq PS-2303 Triple Output Benchtop Power Supply with Tracking Mode
Uniteq PS-2303 Triple Output Benchtop Power Supply with Tracking Mode

The Uniteq PS-2303 provides a triple output supply with one fixed output of 5V at 3A and two adjustable outputs of 0-30V at 0-3A each. It features tracking mode so you can connect in series or parallel without additional cables and have easy control with master and slave knob adjustments.

Place it in series mode with the push of a button and instantly become connected as positive and negative supplies for rail-to-rail operation. The 4-digital panel meters let you clearly see exactly what kind of output is being supplied from each adjustable output so you can have precise control.

Safety and protection are key as there are many things that can possibly go wrong in the laboratory. Don't let a simple mistake damage your supply! Be sure that short-circuit, reverse polarity and overload protection is built-in to withstand these threats. After all, you have enough to worry about with meeting deadlines and troubleshooting, you don't need the added headache of faulty equipment.
Robert is a graduate from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in Electrical Engineering. He is originally from Lincoln Heights in Los Angeles, California. His interests include sports, movies, music and playing with cool, new gadgets.