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Monday, October 18, 2010

High Voltage Power Supply for Geiger Tubes


power supply circuits are generating 500 volts but they may be modified to supply a couple of hundred to nearly 1000 volts by changing the zener diodes. These circuits generate high voltages and can cause dangerous shocks! Do not build these devices unless you are experienced and qualified to work onhigh voltage devices

The difference is subtle; the feedback signal increases the voltage on the base of the 2N4403 to stop the oscillator instead of stealing current from the capacitor on the emitter. The result is much lower power dissipation when there is little or no load on the high voltage. The new circuit draws less than 1/2 mA when operating at 9 volts without a load using a 1:1 600 ohm audio isolation transformer.

The 3 volt circuit may be modified in the same way but make sure to switch to a MPSA18 (or a similar very high gain transistor). The 120 volt zeners are also an improvement over trying to grade ordinary diodes; grading is just too much trouble! A 1N5273A is a typical type to try. Remember, this circuit can only supply a few microamperes so an ordinary 10 megohm voltmeter will load the output too much. (500 volts/10 megohms = 50 uA.)
With some transformers and zeners, the circuit will work better if the 10 megohm resistor is moved up to be in series with the diodes (see next schematic). It is a good idea to add a resistor in series with the diodes anyway, perhaps 100 k, to prevent damage when probing around. When operating properly, the current should drop down to below 1/2 mA with no load. The series 10 megohm resistor will make gas discharge devices work well in place of the zeners, too (neon bulbs, for example). Also try a .1 uF capacitor from base to emitter of the MPSA18. This capacitor modification combined with the series 10 megohm allowed a single Lumex gas discharge tube to regulate the output voltage of the circuit at 600 volts while drawing only 300 uA, unloaded.
The transformer in the prototype is a small isolation transformer with opposite ends of the primary and secondary connected together to boost the output voltage. Other transformers will also work, including tiny audio interstage transformers, as long as the impedance is relatively high on both windings. If you don't get a high voltage, try reversing one of the winding connections. If the current doesn't cut back with no load, try the techniques mentioned in the note above. The circuit will work without the secondary connection simply by connecting the collector of the MPSA42 directly to the first .02 uF cap. and diode and leaving the secondary winding disconnected. Using the two winding voltage boost is recommended when attempting to run the circuit on a lower supply voltage.
Source: High Voltage Generator for Geiger Tubes