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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Long-Interval Pulse Generator

A rectangular-wave pulse generator with an extremely long period can be built using only two components: a National Semiconductor LM3710 supervisor IC and a 100-nF capacitor to eliminate noise spikes. This circuit utilises the watchdog and reset timers in the LM3710. The watchdog timer is reset when an edge appears on the WDI input (pin 4). If WDI is continuously held at ground level, there are not any edges and the watchdog times out. After an interval TB, it triggers a reset pulse with a duration TA and is reloaded with its initial value. The cycle then starts all over again. As a result, pulses with a period of TA + TB are present at the RESET output (pin 10).

As can be seen from the table, periods ranging up to around 30 seconds can be achieved in this manner. The two intervals TA and TB are determined by internal timers in the IC, which is available in various versions with four different ranges for each timer. To obtain the desired period, you must order the appropriate version of the LM3710. The type designation is decoded in the accompanying table. The reset threshold voltage is irrelevant for this particular application of the LM3710. The versions shown in bold face were available at the time of printing. Current information can be found on the manufacturer’s home page ( The numbers in brackets indicate the minimum and maximum values of intervals TA and TB for which the LM3710 is tested. The circuit operates with a supply voltage in the range of 3–5 V.