Semtech Single-Cell LED and Motor Timer-Controllers Simplify Design of AA/AAA Battery-Operated Electronic Appliances



Semtech Corp. announced the newest devices in its sub-1V mixed-signal LED and motor timer-controller platform for easy, fast and cost-effective design of small, light weight, ultra-low power, battery-operated electronic appliances. The new SX8120 and SX8121 devices operate intrinsically at 0.9V to control a DC motor or other continuous low-voltage element and drive a high-brightness LED directly from a single battery. Because they operate inherently at 0.9V, these devices do not require an external boost converter and inductor, saving board space and cost. Additionally, unlike MCUs, which require custom development, these controllers feature pin-programmable timer functions, eliminating the need for lengthy software tuning, making them easy to use and cost-effective. This combination of features significantly reduces the overall size and weight, extends the battery life, simplifies design, shortens time-to-market, and lowers the total BOM (bill-of-materials) cost for a wide range of small consumer home and office appliances, such as shavers, electric toothbrushes, buzzers, toys, and LED lamps. When the battery is rechargeable, the devices also include a voltage monitor to enable a simple USB charger. "When it comes to small, battery-operated consumer products, it's all about compact size, light weight, long battery life and low cost," said Michel Chevroulet, System Engineering Manager for Semtech's Advanced Communications and Sensing Group. "SX8120 and SX8121 directly address these requirements with easy-to-use, application-specific timer-controllers that reduce battery requirements down to a single cell, do not need additional components, and require zero custom development. No other vendor currently offers such a simple, direct solution." SX8120 and SX8121 timer-controllers operate between 0.9V and 2V over the full industrial temperature range of -40 to +85°C, making them ideally suited to operate from one AA or AAA alkaline, NiMH or NiCd battery. The devices have a continuous output that can be activated on the press of a button to control either a DC motor or other continuous low voltage function, as well as a burst output to drive a high-brightness white or green LED, or other feature requiring a voltage boost. SX8120 and SX8121 are battery safe. They start controlling I/Os at 0.6 V to prevent unexpected behavior in external components and current drain during start-up phase. They also feature a battery overload indicator for slow NiMH or NiCd chargers management. At power down (low battery), the I/Os are controlled again down to 0.6 V and the current consumption is guaranteed less than 10 μA over the full industrial temperature range to avoid battery leakage. In addition, the circuits will not start a load when the battery is low and it will stop a load if it drops the battery too low. This allows for completely safe and predictable battery operation under any conditions. The SX8120 provides an on/off switch to start/stop a motor with a 15 or 30 second timeout, making it a good choice for toys, electric toothbrushes and LED pointers. SX8121 offers the option of a 10 minute timeout for applications such as electric razors, trimmers or epilators, or a no timeout for direct motor and LED control in devices like portable LED torchlights. Timeout and motor control polarity are pin-programmable. Since these 0.9 V mixed-signal motor timer-controllers do not require a boost converter and inductor, they simplify PC board layout and design, with the added benefit of eliminating the EMI (electromagnetic interference) inherent in inductors. And, because they operate from just one battery (instead of the usual two or three batteries) they help dramatically reduce the overall end-product size and weight. Key Features of SX8120 and SX8121 Timeout Controllers:

  • Single-cell operation: AA or AAA alkaline, NiMH or NiCd battery
  • Battery safe operation with 0.6 V I/O control
  • 0.9 V to 2 V operation over the full industrial temperature range (-40 to +85°C)
  • 1-button operation with 15 or 30 sec timeout (SX8120) and 10 min or no timeout (SX8121)
  • DC motor control and boost control for high-brightness white or green LEDs
  • No external boost converter and inductor required
  • No software development needed
  • Packaging: SOIC 8-pin, lead-free, halogen-free, fully RoHS and WEEE compliant
Applications Wide range of sub-1 V small consumer home and office appliances: Timer/Timeout Control; Brushed DC Motor Control; Voltage Monitor for USB Charger; LED Boost; Voltage Boost applications in products such as electric toothbrushes, shavers, automatic perfume dispensers, toys, LED pointers and LED torches. Pricing and Availability The SX8120 and SX8121 (order codes: SX8120ISTRT, SX8121ISTRT) are available immediately in production quantities and are priced at $0.36 each in 2,500-piece lots. The ordering code for starter kits is SX8120EVK. Semtech offers comprehensive design assistance, including field- and factory-based support. Data sheets, volume pricing, and delivery quotes, as well as evaluation kits and samples, are available at