Do I have to get a bench power supply to work on electronics on a breadboard? I know I can power an LED from a Raspberry Pi, but once you get more stuff on the board you need external power. I don't want to spend money on a power supply yet. Can I use a battery? These would be small projects for learning. I also saw a kit with the that will connect to the wall for cheap, but that looks dangerous.

Edit: The kits I've seen use the LM317, but again, it's a screw down block for wires from the wall (I think). I'm not sure that's good.

  • \$\begingroup\$ no surplus ATX supplies? \$\endgroup\$ Oct 9, 2016 at 19:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TonyStewart.EEsince'75 Yes, I have access to them. But I thought that was supposed to be bad because they aren't the same as a bench supply. \$\endgroup\$
    – johnny
    Oct 9, 2016 at 19:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ This would depend on your needs of course. AA's aren't bad for experiments if you can get a combination with the needed voltage but beware it will change as they drain and with load. 9v batteries really aren't a match for most current technology, and will tend to run down quickly. At ATX supply is kind overkill for most beginner projects - it's a better fit for something needing multiple voltages at once or higher currents like a 3d printer. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 9, 2016 at 20:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Your 1st project can be a make/buy Boost Converter with an adjustable current limiter or use an LM317 as a current limiter with a pot controlled transistor for current shunt. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 9, 2016 at 20:41

1 Answer 1


Yes, batteries can be used instead of a bench supply. Keep in mind that batteries change voltage as they are drain, and cannot supply the same amount of current as any given bench supply. Plenty of examples online.

As suggested, you can get a breadboard regulator for batteries. Or for a wall wart to screw terminals (pretty safe as long as you tighten it down and don't trip over it). There are also modules that have barrel connectors or even usb connectors. With a usb power supply, you get a regulated five volt supply.


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