# Diac's Again

T

#### Trudeau

Jan 1, 1970
0
I have several general questions on Diac's.

It seems that some electronic places dont sell Diac's . I went to one place
that I buy parts from and they said they dont sell them.
Another place didnt have them out on the shelf for me to look at but I had
to have a part number. The sales person was somewhat unfamiler with them.
Are diac's little used ?
It also seems that there are a relatively small number of Diacs NTE I think
has about 4 that I can see.
I'm just wondering if anyone knows why the Diac seems to be so maginalized.

Some web sites list them as "Bidirectional Diode Thyristors". At least I
asume thats a Diac. eg. It is in the Thyristor family, it is two diodes
oposite each other and it is bidirectional.

Thanks

C

#### Chris

Jan 1, 1970
0
There aren't as many manufacturers. Try Teccor, which makes DIACs in
the DO-35 (small signal axial diode package) as well as DO-214 (surface
mount). One distributor is Digi-Key; another is Mouser (they only
stock the thru-hole parts).

DIACs were made primarily for analog phase control of AC loads using an
RC charging circuit. That's nowhere near as amazing as it was in the
'60s, when these parts were developed. The simple phase control
circuit (view in fixed font or M$Notepad): ___ o -|___|--o--------------. Load | | | | ..-. | | |<----. | | | | | Q4010L '-' | _|_ 120VAC | | |<| V_A o------o-|\|-/ | | |>| | --- HT-35 | --- | | | | | o---------o--------------' created by Andy?s ASCII-Circuit v1.24.140803 Beta www.tech-chat.de has a lot of limitations. Non-resistive loads don't fire well, the R-C charging constant is dependent on line voltage, and these circuits all have "snap-on hysteresis", which means you don't have good control of the phase at the low end. The circuit tends to generate EMI/RFI, which is a no-no. Also, these triggers have asymmetry in their bidirectional trigger voltages, which leads to a DC component applied to the load (can be very bad for inductive loads, lets the smoke out). These problems led to some manufacturers dropping out of this market in the 80s and 90s. Also, some of the ICs which did this job far better and more elegantly than a standard DIAC were single-source, and were dropped due to lack of demand and yield issues (I still like the old GE ST-4, and have a treasured few tucked away -- but I'm not sure exactly why anymore. I guess it's like that when you get older ;-) ). After the 2N4991/2/3 (Motorola) and the ST-4 (GE) left the picture, the stuff that was left mostly DIACs triggered at higher voltages (30V and up), which again reduced the market (you can't turn on the triac until the AC gets up to 30v). This made the whole concept even less popular. These days a lot of phase control of AC loads is done digitally, especially with small microcontrollers. All you need to do is read the AC line zero crossing, determine if you're at 50Hz or 60Hz, and measure out a time until triggering the triac. You can get full 180 degree phase control, and can get easy integration with any sensors attached to the stuff you're controlling, as well as a plethora of added features which jack up the price. Sure beats one plain Jane dial for control, I guess. By the way, a DIAC is more complicated than just two avalanche/zener diodes back-to-back. Once the voltage across the DIAC reaches the trigger voltage, it turns on and remains on until the voltage reaches the breakback voltage, typically 7V or so. This gob of current being discharged from the cap into the gate of the triac is what turns it on. Try reading a few appnotes from the Littelfuse/Teccor knowledgebase to get up to speed: http://www.littelfuse.com/cgi-bin/r...?LFSESSION=D3vQhBBLET&ContentID=86&WhichApp=6 particularly AN1003 - Phase Control Using Teccor Thyristors as well as the DIAC datasheet: http://www.littelfuse.com/data/en/Data_Sheets/E8Diac.pdf Good luck Chris R #### Rudolf Wiesendanger Jan 1, 1970 0 Trudeau said: I have several general questions on Diac's. It seems that some electronic places dont sell Diac's . I went to one place that I buy parts from and they said they dont sell them. Another place didnt have them out on the shelf for me to look at but I had to have a part number. The sales person was somewhat unfamiler with them. Are diac's little used ? It also seems that there are a relatively small number of Diacs NTE I think has about 4 that I can see. I'm just wondering if anyone knows why the Diac seems to be so maginalized. Some web sites list them as "Bidirectional Diode Thyristors". At least I asume thats a Diac. eg. It is in the Thyristor family, it is two diodes oposite each other and it is bidirectional. Thanks Hi, Diacs are mostly used with Thyristors or Triacs to control a lamp (so called Dimmer). http://home.howstuffworks.com/dimmer-switch.htm http://www.epanorama.net/documents/lights/lightdimmer.html The better Technology is to always switch power at zero crossing of mains voltage and to feed the power while whole periods to the lamp. For this purpose there are IC's to control the Thyristor/Triac. Because Diacs are used in a such special application, the market is small and not so many manufacturer and types. HtH RW T #### Trudeau Jan 1, 1970 0 Chris said: There aren't as many manufacturers. Try Teccor, which makes DIACs in the DO-35 (small signal axial diode package) as well as DO-214 (surface mount). One distributor is Digi-Key; another is Mouser (they only stock the thru-hole parts). DIACs were made primarily for analog phase control of AC loads using an RC charging circuit. That's nowhere near as amazing as it was in the '60s, when these parts were developed. The simple phase control circuit (view in fixed font or M$ Notepad):

___
o -|___|--o--------------.
| |
.-. |
| |<----. |
| | | | Q4010L
'-' | _|_
120VAC | | |<| V_A
o------o-|\|-/ |
| |>| |
--- HT-35 |
--- |
| |
| |
o---------o--------------'
created by Andy?s ASCII-Circuit v1.24.140803 Beta www.tech-chat.de

has a lot of limitations. Non-resistive loads don't fire well, the R-C
charging constant is dependent on line voltage, and these circuits all
have "snap-on hysteresis", which means you don't have good control of
the phase at the low end. The circuit tends to generate EMI/RFI, which
is a no-no. Also, these triggers have asymmetry in their bidirectional
trigger voltages, which leads to a DC component applied to the load

These problems led to some manufacturers dropping out of this market in
the 80s and 90s. Also, some of the ICs which did this job far better
and more elegantly than a standard DIAC were single-source, and were
dropped due to lack of demand and yield issues (I still like the old GE
ST-4, and have a treasured few tucked away -- but I'm not sure exactly
why anymore. I guess it's like that when you get older ;-) ). After
the 2N4991/2/3 (Motorola) and the ST-4 (GE) left the picture, the stuff
that was left mostly DIACs triggered at higher voltages (30V and up),
which again reduced the market (you can't turn on the triac until the
AC gets up to 30v). This made the whole concept even less popular.

These days a lot of phase control of AC loads is done digitally,
especially with small microcontrollers. All you need to do is read the
AC line zero crossing, determine if you're at 50Hz or 60Hz, and measure
out a time until triggering the triac. You can get full 180 degree
phase control, and can get easy integration with any sensors attached
to the stuff you're controlling, as well as a plethora of added
features which jack up the price. Sure beats one plain Jane dial for
control, I guess.

By the way, a DIAC is more complicated than just two avalanche/zener
diodes back-to-back. Once the voltage across the DIAC reaches the
trigger voltage, it turns on and remains on until the voltage reaches
the breakback voltage, typically 7V or so. This gob of current being
discharged from the cap into the gate of the triac is what turns it on.
Try reading a few appnotes from the Littelfuse/Teccor knowledgebase to
get up to speed:

http://www.littelfuse.com/cgi-bin/r...?LFSESSION=D3vQhBBLET&ContentID=86&WhichApp=6

particularly AN1003 - Phase Control Using Teccor Thyristors

as well as the DIAC datasheet:

http://www.littelfuse.com/data/en/Data_Sheets/E8Diac.pdf
Good luck
Chris
Thanks Chris,

I have read some tutorials and lessons on line regarding Diac's. And will
read the little fuse faq. I just sort of thought that Diacs would be a
usefull thing. in reducing stray low voltages. Admintedly the circuit has to
withstand the dam bursing when it suddely conducts but it just seemed like
usefull tool and simple. I wanted one that had a breakover voltage of about
20volts but virtually they all start at about 28. I probably wount buy it
because I'm not going to mail order one part for 2 bucks.

Thanks again for the usefull info.

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