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Don’t let the sexy name fool you, the Extech 382213 is all business — the business of powering your awesome hacking projects!

The 382213 plays the desktop power supply role — it gives you carefully measured voltages to play with when working on a project, reducing the number of batteries you might waste, as well as preventing you from ‘letting the smoke out’ by blasting your components with too much juice. The 382213 is about 6×9 inches and weights 11 pounds.

Like most power supplies, the 382213 has ports for banana plugs and dials for choosing how much voltage and current you want. It maxes out at 30V and 3A, with LCD displays showing clearly how much of each you’ve selected.

However, for me the intriguing aspect of this supply are the “speaker-style” plugs in front, which ordinary wires can be connected — the spring-clips keep them from falling out. Unlike the banana plug ports, however, the spring clips have fixed voltage and current, with one set outputting 5V and the other 12V — not coincidentally, very common numbers for electronics hobbyists. I can see the spring clips being great for longer projects where you just want a couple of wires snaking down from your shelf and powering a breadboard, without needing to have the power supply next to your project. One subtle bonus is that the two positive leads are separated by the two ground leads, reducing the chance of using the wrong one and frying your hack. On the down side, the current is fixed at half an amp for both the 5V and 12V.

My 382213 is currently camped out at the hackerspace, and I’ve already used it in a couple of projects. It seemed elegant and easy to understand, and I could see myself using it for years to come. Wanna buy one? They’re about $200 at Mouser, Amazon and other outlets, though you can get the same product in analog for about $30 cheaper.

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John Baichtal

My interests include writing, electronics, RPGs, scifi, hackers & hackerspaces, 3D printing, building sets & toys. @johnbaichtal nerdage.net


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Comments

  1. mikegrb says:

    You should be able to twist the banana plug terminals counter clock wise to expose a hole in the side of the post for inserting non banana plug terminated wires.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Used PC Power Supply: Free.

    Converting one to provide variable DC: Useful, $5.

    Current limiting is trickier, but it isn’t -that- tricky. A kit that accepts standard motherboard power connectors and provides the major features of this $200 box shouldn’t exceed $30 in parts, $40 if the digital displays are in there.

    This would seem to be a useful project for Open Source Hardware.

  3. Highly recommended. Even when doing 5v microcontroller stuff, being able to set the current limit to 100mA has saved me many dollars in smoked parts.

  4. I used to lust after these, or the PC controlled version ($$), until I came across something with a little more “geek cred”. If you search the web a little, you can find several projects that use an Arduino as a current and voltage regulator with front panel controls and USB hookup. You just feed it DC from a $10-$30 ebay power brick, and you’ve got a very capable supply for maybe $60 total. I just spotted a 36V 10A supply for about $30, including shipping. Daddys’ got a new project!

  5. As an alternative, I have a pair of Mastech HY1803D (http://amzn.to/m6Rc4P) which have served me pretty darned well (and they’re cheap!)