LM2596 CircuitI decided to have some fun and build my own down converter for my Raspberry Pi. On my first try I used a LM7805 but quickly realized it would not work with 14V and the TO-220 heatsink I had on hand. I saw some videos on the cheap Amazon/Chinese/eBay voltage down converters, and I really wasn’t impressed. They looked poorly made with copied LM2596’s and are probably very noisy, which isn’t good for my radios. I wanted quality and efficiency to use my Raspberry Pi on batteries, so with a few dollars worth of quality parts I managed to throw my own DC-DC step down converter together with the circuit design direct from Texas Instruments above.

LM2596 Made Circuit
LM2696 with switch, on LED, USB output, and +- out terminals.

Parts List:

Overall, this wasn’t very tough to make, though I now realize I made a poor decision on the 16V 680uF capacitor if I wanted to do voltages higher than 16V. I only mainly use around 10.5V with batteries, or 13.75V with my 20A linear power supply, but you may want to look for something around 35-40V when building one. It took me two hours to do all of the soldering even with a cat jumping all over me. It worked on the first try, besides forgetting to give power to the LED. The board layout plan wasn’t that great, but it sure works well. It generates far less heat than my LM7805 circuit, and I know I got quality real parts. I am hoping with 8x Powerex 2700mAh rechargeable batteries, this DC-DC step down converter will give me at least 48 hours of run time on my Raspberry Pi. Doing the calculations, under perfect efficiency they should last 50.4 hours from my load amperage readings.

Behind the LM2596 circuit. A little messy!
Behind the LM2596 circuit. A little messy!

I am going to see if I can run this on an oscilloscope to see if it is very dirty or not. Its near field RF switching @ 150KHz isn’t noticeable from background noise on my radios from 2ft away. I would consider that very quiet RF wise and would be great for doing Ham Radio on the Raspberry Pi.

3 Comments on Making My Own LM2596 5V DC-DC Step Down Converter

  1. “I wanted quality and efficiency” …

    You can measure efficiency vs. output current (“load current”) using nothing more than a digital multimeter and an assortment of load resistors:

    Efficiency = Pout / Pin = (Vout * Iout) / (Vin * Iin)

    Different load resistors draw different output currents “Iout”, allowing you to make a nice plot, which helps you locate your implementation’s Peak Efficiency.

  2. looks like a great job. you might consider a follow on inductor/cap filter for even better ripple and noise suppression. The other thing to consider would be to put the inductor or the entire assembly into a “faraday” cage, i.e. just use a few more radio shack boards and solder them together to make a box around the critical components.
    73, Paul

  3. Can this be used as a 22vDC input to 12vDC output ok? Would all the components, apart from LM2596 5, be the same? Replacing the LM2596 5 with LM2596 12.

    I would be using a power pack from a “dead” modem. Input 240v AC, output 22v DC 818mA.

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