It is not uncommon for those who work with electronics to need regulated power sources at common voltages, such as 3.3v, 5v, and 12v. Power bricks supplying these voltages are common around the house, but their outputs are normally limited to no more than one amp or so. An old ATX power supply from a computer, which is sure to be found in storage in and old PC, can supply plenty of current for more ambitious projects with ease, usually up to 20 amps or more on the 12v rail! Today I will convert this computer ATX power supply to a bench power supply that we can use for all future projects!
The power supply I decided to use came out of an old computer that was too outdated to be used. It is rated for 350 watts and up to 18 amps on the 12v rail! Sweet!
Without modification, the power supply has a bunch of clunky and proprietary connectors on all of its output wires, making it very hard to draw power from! Lets take care of that...
I simply cut off all of the connectors while leaving the wires as long as possible.
These can go in the trash can...
Now I am left with dozens of loose wires. I organized them by color and used heatshrink to bundle them up.
In general, here are how the colors relate to the function of the wires:
Black: Ground Yellow: +12v Red: +5v Orange: +3.3v Blue: -12v Green: On/Off signal Brown/Grey: Misc. Measure with a multimeter to find out :)
I set aside one black wire (ground) and the green wire. This is used to wake the power supply up and to let current pass through to the outputs.
There will be a few odd colored wires that can be cut off or isolated for later use. (for example the blue wire is usually -12v (yes, negative :D)
At this point it would be smart to cut all the wires of the same color to the same length for easy soldering.
In order to control when the power supply is on or off, I simply wired a switch between the aforementioned green and black wire. When the green wire is grounded (when the switch is "on") the power supply will turn on.
I just mounted the switch to the enclosure with some glue.
I wanted to know when the supply was on as well as the health of the system. I used a small voltage meter readout I had lying around and wired it to a spare 12v output. This was mounted to the top of the enclosure and lights up whenever the supply is turned on.
Next was to get usable output from all the loose wires. I stripped the ends of the wires of one color and tinned them together with my soldering iron. Then I attached female bullet connectors and heatshrinked them with the corresponding color (I had to use green for 3.3v because I didn't have orange heatshrink). I also attached a special connector to the 12v rail for use with my Li-po charger.
Now that all the outputs were organized, it was test time! I tried powering my charger and monitored the five volt rail with my multimeter. It works!
Now I have a fully functional bench power supply! Perfect for almost any DIY project!
I also used some braided tubular mesh to protect and organize the wires further. Looks good!