However, I prefer to use a power source with the
proper voltages required by my individual
I salvage the wall warts from any device that has one
before disposing of it. I quickly check the voltage with a
meter and write in down on the side with a silver Sharpie
before storing them away for future use. This makes it easy
to find the necessary adapter when searching through a
box filled with them. It also means I do not need to track
down a pair of reading glasses beforehand!
Computer Power Supplies
These offer another viable alternative. Several hacks are
available online to convert your computer supply into
something we can utilize in our projects. There are also
many breakout boards available. I make my own (Figure 3),
but a nice kit is offered by RobotShop (see Resources).
Even if these will not fit into your project plans, they do
make a great benchtop power supply (Figure 4). I find it
very handy to have clean reliable power at hand when
working on circuits. This is a good way to reuse a power
supply from an otherwise useless and non-functioning
computer. I have a box of these that friends have given me
before they disposed of old computers and they eventually
find a home in one of my creations.
If this will be a stand-alone project, then we
are forced to consider battery power (Figure 5).
Cost, capacity, convenience, and durability are all
important factors to consider when assessing
your power requirements. Let’s take a quick look
at some of the advantages and disadvantages of
The primary advantage to this is that you are
no longer tethered to a plug. You now have the
freedom to install your character wherever they
are needed. The remoteness of the placement is
no longer a factor!
The portability also allows you to make your
character mobile. If you are constructing a robot,
this is really your only option.
Adding batteries to your project can, however,
significantly increase the cost. You will either need to
continually replace batteries or purchase rechargeable
Post comments on this section and find any associated files and/or downloads at
SERVO 01.2017 33
Figure 3. My ATX adapter board.
Figure 4. Benchtop computer power supply.
RobotShop — http://tinyurl.com/jnvpn9p
ServoCity — http://tinyurl.com/zc4ehyp
Hitec — http://tinyurl.com/jltbqxh
DIY Animatronics Forum —
My Website — www.halstaff.com
My You Tube Channel —
Figure 5. Big or small,
take your pick!