Recently, I am doing the flyback, when I design the control stage I have some questions:

This is the optocoupler(PC817) I used and this figure is Current Transfer Ratio vs. Forward Current. There are my questions:

1.) How to decide the CTR value, because the forward current will change when the circuit is in the closed-loop control.

2.)This curve has two slews positive slew and negative slew, which one is the best to decide.

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3.) How to decide the RL value, the minimum current value is 2.5m, so I just let the current above 2.5m is OK? what else do I need to consider?

enter image description here


In a closed-loop system like with a switching power supply, the optocoupler collector current will vary depending on the operating conditions. For most of the controllers configurations, regulation is ensured by pulling down the FB pin. This is easy for the PCB layout as you do not need to resort to another bias and route it to the opto.

In the below configuration, you can see that the pull-up resistance is 20 kohms and the internal \$V_{dd}\$ bias is 5 V. The maximum collector current is therefore obtained with the collector-emitter junction saturates at 150 mV or so: \$I_{c,max}=\frac{V_{dd}-150m}{20k}=242.5\;µA\$

enter image description here

This collector current will then be reflected in LED current by an \$I_F\$ value depending on the optocoupler current transfer ratio or CTR. Now it depends on several aspects on how you want to select your CTR:

  1. you do not want to operate the LED at too high a current because its life-time depends on it. Fortunately, with a 250-µA collector current worst-case, you will operate the LED at a very small current and its dynamic resistance \$r_d\$ will affect the overall gain. Unfortunately, in this low-current operating mode, the CTR is extremely poor and values of 100-200 given by the data-sheet often drop to 20-30%.

The below table excerpted from the SFH615A shows how the CTR drops at two different LED currents:

enter image description here

  1. if you want to push crossover and do not want to be bothered by the low-frequency optocoupler pole, then you will select low CTR grades. They have a smaller parasitic capacitance compared to the large CTRs ones but obviously impose larger circulating currents. If you select the large CTR grade, you will see how poor the dynamic response will be.

  2. if you look for the smallest standby power at no load, you want to minimize the LED current and will shoot for the largest CTR. For a 19-V output, assume a CTR of 30-40%, then the 250-µA collector current becomes a 833-µA LED current which, multiplied by 19 V gives 16 mW lost in regulation. When brought back to the primary side, it can easily be the double. Now choose a higher CTR grade having around 100% despite the low LED current and the regulation power drops to (250u/1)*19 = 4.75 mW which is much lower than before.

The PC817 is a popular reference and I have seen also the SFH615A quite often in high-volume designs.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi Verbal Kint Thanks for your answer, I have few things I not quite clear. 1.) why you choose 20k to calculate the Ic,max current? 2.)How do you know the lower CTR have smaller parasitic capacitance? 3.) When IF=10mA, the CTR range between 100~200, how do I know the accurate value I used. 4.) large CTR grade, you will see how poor the dynamic response will be, where I can find this situation. \$\endgroup\$ – Jitter456 Apr 27 at 16:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ "How do you know...?" experience speaks! : ) I picked 20 k because it is in the control IC specs that I selected as an example (NCP1250 for instance). \$\endgroup\$ – Verbal Kint Apr 27 at 16:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ OK, experience. I have three parts I am not clear, hope you can help me. 1.) in the SFH615A datasheet Fig.10, when IF=10mA the CTR is a constant value, why in the Table you post the RTC range between 100 ~200? 2.) In Fig.10 the IF current between 1mA to 10mA is like a linear region, but 0.1mA to 1mA is not like linear, so I can't operate in 0.1mA to 1mA right? 3.)Is it ok I can operate the SFH615A after 10mA, because the slew becomes a negative slew. \$\endgroup\$ – Jitter456 Apr 27 at 17:32

The design of feedback loop in a isolated flyback power supply is never a trivial task.

The CTR of the opto coupler plays an important role because it adds a pole in the transfer function. Yet, it's not that easy writing a short and clear answer in a few lines.

I suggest you to read chapter 2 of an application note written by Texas Instruments:

"Practical Feedback Loop Design Considerations for Flyback Converter Using UCC28740"


In particular see Figure 5 at page 4 which shows the frequency response of LTV-817A optocoupler, which is different from yours but it can give you some hints to trigger you.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi Enrico Migliore Thanks for your answer I will read it \$\endgroup\$ – Jitter456 Apr 27 at 16:35

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