A small resistor between the input and output of a linear regulator can boost the available output current.
Adding a 33Ω resistor between the input and output of a linear regulator, as shown in Figure 1, boosts the regulator's output current to 200mA. Note: this technique requires that the application draws a known minimum output current.
IC1 by itself provides a maximum output current of 150mA, but for applications that require a slightly higher maximum while maintaining a finite minimum, the small resistor offers a simple and stable solution. For the Figure 1 circuit, adding the 33Ω resistor boosts the maximum by 50mA while imposing a minimum output current (IMIN) of 50mA:
Like most linear regulators, IC1 is unable to maintain regulation by sinking current. If the output current (IOUT) drops below IMIN, the output voltage rises above the regulated level, as high as VIN, according to Kirchoff's Law:
Figure 2 compares load regulation for the Figure 1 circuit with and without the extra resistor. The dotted line represents output voltage (with the resistor in place) when IOUT drops below IMIN.
This design idea appeared in the October 2005 issue of Electronic Techniques (China).