Nuvation Research Corporation (Nuvation) is an Engineering Design Services firm specializing in the design of a wide range of electronic and embedded systems for telecommunications, automotive, and consumer electronics applications, among others. In 2012, a client requested that the company develop a surge stopper circuit for an automotive application. Modern automotive circuits are complex and powered by the vehicle’s 12V battery, as shown in Figure 1. However, the battery also supports high power elements, including the starter motor, lights, and windshield wipers, producing significant transients, some of which may be large enough to permanently damage logic-level integrated circuits (ICs). Hence, effective circuit protection is necessary to minimize the effects of these high power, high voltage transients. In this particular case, Nuvation’s client required a surge stopper circuit design that can effectively protect logic level ICs and switch power from a primary battery to an auxiliary voltage source for specific vehicle requirements.
Eric Yam, a 2nd year Mechatronics Engineering co-op student from the University of Waterloo, was asked to design an automotive surge stopper circuit to meet the client’s requirements.