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Green USB switch

According to the Energy Saving  Trust, if you add up all the current drawn in standby mode by items such as stereos, TVs, VCRs and DVDs over a year in the UK alone, it amounts to 3.1 million tonnes of CO2 released into the atmosphere.This is without factoring in the current drawn by all the PCs,laptops and their associated peripherals left in standby mode. 

Circuit diagram :
Green USB switch-Circuit Diagram
Green USB switch Circuit Diagram

It  is  not  necessary  to  spend  a  great deal of money or time to  make a difference on a personal  level. The circuit described here  is designed for use by laptop or  notebook computers. It will automatically switch off all mains  powered peripheral equipment  including monitor, printer, scanner, TV tuner and USB hub etc  when it detects that the notebook  is switched off. The circuit is quite  straightforward; in addition to an  optocoupler it requires a 12 V  double-pole  relay  with  mains  rated contacts and a small power  supply  for  the  optocoupler.  When the laptop is switched on  5 V appears at the USB socket,  activating the relay and switching  through  the  mains  supply  on K3 and K4. The notebook’s  USB socket is still available to be  used as normal but it’s worth remembering that the optocoupler  takes a few milliamps from the  USB supply and this may cause a  problem if a high-current device  is plugged into the USB socket.  In the case where the laptop has  more than enough USB sockets it may be worthwhile us-ing one of them solely for this  circuit, the extension USB connector K2 would then not be  required. 

The circuit is mounted into a  mains plug enclosure which  provides a socket where the  mains extension strip will be  plugged into. With any luck  there will be sufficient space  to fit the entire circuit into the  mains extension strip enclosure and save the need for a  separate enclosure. The slow-blow 6.3-A fuse (F1) protects  the equipment plugged into  the strip. 

In  addition  to  the  optocoupler  and relay the circuit also has a  ‘freewheel’ diode D1 and a relay  driver formed by T1 and its base  bias voltage divider network R2/ R4. The two ‘snubber’ networks  C1/R3 and C2/R5 reduce the  possibility of arcing which can  occur  when  the  relay  contacts  open (especially with inductive  loads). Capacitors C1 and C2  must be class X2 types which  can handle mains voltage plus any  spikes.  The  power  supply  consists of a small mains trans-former  (12 V,  50 mA),  bridge  rectifier and smoothing capacitor C3. 

The laptop’s mains adaptor itself  can also be switched by this circuit when the laptop is fitted with  its rechargeable battery which  allows the computer to boot up  without a mains supply. The en-tire USB switch circuit draws cur-rent even when it is off but this value  is  tiny  compared  to  the  combined standby current of all  the peripherals. 

Note that parts of this circuit are  connected to the (potentially lethal) mains supply voltage; it is  essential to provide protection  to ensure that nothing can accidentally make contact with these  parts of the circuit. It is also important to observe correct separation between parts of the circuit carrying low voltage and  those carrying the high volt-age. Please observe the electrical Electrical Safety guide-lines which are reprinted in  Elektor  Electronics  several  times a year. 

The  circuit  is  less  suitable  for use with desktop PCs be-cause  the  majority  of  these  machines supply 5 V over the  USB socket even though they  have been shut down via soft-ware. The only way to turn off  in this case is to reach around  the back of the machine and  switch off at the main switch.