Example circuit: enter image description here

Since LM317 is a linear regulator it will get very hot when i try to draw around 1 amp @1.25v with a 24v input. The transformer i have at home have these taps: 24v 12v 5v

Is it possible to add some kind of relay to make the transformer switch tap when the voltage gets over/under a specific voltage? I would prefer that the transformer automaticly switches tap. But if that is too advanced for me i can go with a manual a way (a switch) that changes the tap.

LM317 Datasheet


  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes. And it's easy if you throw in a MCU. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 9, 2016 at 6:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ Why can't you simply use the 5v tap all of the time? \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark
    Commented Jul 9, 2016 at 6:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Never used an mcu before. I guess mcu = microcontroller? Could you show me an example circuit? \$\endgroup\$
    – Xane
    Commented Jul 9, 2016 at 6:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mark because i want an adjustable power supply from 1.25 to 24v \$\endgroup\$
    – Xane
    Commented Jul 9, 2016 at 7:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ OK, I see. So you will be manually adjusting a pot from 1.25v to 24v? Then something that changes to the next higher tap when the output approaches the current tap might be appropriate? I will have to think . . . \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark
    Commented Jul 9, 2016 at 7:05

1 Answer 1



simulate this circuit – Schematic created using CircuitLab

Figure 1. Transformer tap selector.

This isn't a complete answer but will give you some ideas to work on. Whatever electronic solution you come up with is going to need a steady voltage to work with. This makes it awkward to derive from the transformer as you have a full-wave bridge rectifier on it. A commercial product would add an auxiliary winding to the transformer to give, for example, a 12 V supply that doesn't change with the tap selector. Since this is a one-off project we can add a second transformer (ex wall-wart) to generate this.

How it works

  • The main supply is derived from XFMR1 via two tap-selecting relays. If both are off the 5 V tap is selected. If MED is energised the 12 V tap is selected. If HIGH is energised the 24 V tap is selected.
  • XFMR2 and the bridge form a secondary supply which remains steady.
  • R3 and 4 divide the output voltage down to < V+AUX. A 4:1 ratio would be fine. CMP1, a comparitor, compares the divided down output voltage with the reference set by R7. When Vout > Vref the comparitor output will switch low energising the MED relay.
  • A second comparitor circuit (not shown) is required for the HIGH relay.


The circuit is messy. Some hysteresis may be required to prevent the relays switching back and forward when close to the transition points. Vaux will droop every time a relay picks and this will upset the reference, etc.

All these problems can be designed out but a switching regulator solves them all with far less complexity.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for the detailed answer, i really appreciate it! I'm going to try to build this circuit (no the exact one but take ideas from it). If i fail i might as well switch to a switching supply. Cheers! \$\endgroup\$
    – Xane
    Commented Jul 9, 2016 at 8:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ Note that a switching supply will introduce noise into the supply, which is why a number of test gear manufacturers put up with the complexity and losses of a multitap transformer attached to a linear regulator. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 9, 2016 at 8:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Transistor Is there a name or search term for the MED and HIGH relay arrangement you drew here above which formed a tree taps into one ouput? \$\endgroup\$
    – winny
    Commented Mar 10, 2020 at 14:12

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