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I want to regulate the voltage from a battery down to 5v to power an Arduino and a Wi-Fi webcam. I’m not too keen on a linear regulator as a lot of power is wasted, so that’s led me to look at switching regulators. I’ve also stumbled on UBECs, which seem to do a similar thing.

The two components I am looking at are these:

What's the main difference between these? Is either one more suitable for my purposes? My load will be under 1A.

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A UBEC (Ultimate Battery Elimination Circuit) is basically a step-down voltage regulator. I feel that the jargon deserves a bit of explanation and history, so here goes:

In hobbyist grade remote control cars/planes/boats/etc. the electronics (receiver, speed controller, servos) need a power source. With engine powered craft, a small 6V battery pack was used to power the electronics. When electric motors became more popular, people wanted to use the large motor battery packs to power the low-power electronics. Typically, the electronic speed controller absorbed this function, and it became known as a Battery Elimination Circuit (BEC). With battery packs usually in the 9V-11V range, the electronics would probably need 5-6V to be happy.

Evidently there has been a push to use higher voltage battery packs (10V-25V), probably to take advantage of the brush-less motors. As a result, if the servos draw any appreciable current, a linear regulator would burn a lot of power. Obviously, when your flight/driving time is based on how efficiently you use your battery, a linear regulator is not what you want. Ultimate Battery Elimination Circuits are basically separate regulators (usually switch-mode) that deliver 5V-6V at hopefully high efficiency.

Now for the comparison. Your parts basically have two different end-use requirements. The Dimension Engineering product tries to match the form factor of a common linear regulator (7805). It would probably integrate better with any finished PCB you would make, and has a metal shell which hopefully shields EMI. The Hobbywing regulator is a more cost-conscious physical design, with a bit better efficiency spec. Honestly they're pretty much the same thing, so you could probably go with the cheaper one (Hobbywing).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks - a very informative answer - I'll go with the UBEC instead of the standard switching regulator. \$\endgroup\$ – finster Dec 29 '10 at 9:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ Just to follow this up, the Hobbywing UBEC arrived and works great - I've got it connected to a 7.2v NiMH battery outputting 5v and its powering the webcam fine. \$\endgroup\$ – finster Dec 31 '10 at 22:22
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From the pages Google shows when looking up UBEC it looks like UBEC is a brand name. In any case it seems to be an ordinary SMPS (switch-mode power supply).

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