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For example, a 600 V DC/DC converter is powered only from its HV input, yet it somehow can run its internal electronics (I guess 3.3 V or something like that). Do they use a small DC/DC converter for this? How would that small converter work?

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Once common method uses a depletion mode (normally "on") FET connected to the high voltage to start the controller, then an auxiliary winding on the main transformer (for isolated topologies) starts up a "housekeeping" supply and shuts off the FET to keep power dissipation down. Then the control circuitry runs from the low voltage housekeeping supply.

Alternately a large value resistor and zener can provide a trickle current to start the controller, which then runs off of the aux winding after it's up and running. Not as power efficient as the depletion FET though.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This; some even integrate the FET/resistor, either on a separate pin, or tapping off the internal switch drain pin itself (see LNK623 and friends for example). Small ones can even be entirely self-powered this way since the control current is so small (the LNKs can be used this way). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 10, 2022 at 18:25

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