ZVS Driver

A “ZVS driver” is a very simple circuit that can oscillate a large amount of power with about 90% efficiency. To the right exists a simplified version of the oscillator, known as the “Baxandall converter”.

When power is applied at +V current starts to flow through both sides of the primary and on to the mosfets’ drains. Simultaneously that voltage appears on both of the mosfets’ gates and starts to turn them on. Because no two components are exactly alike one mosfet turns on a little faster than the other one and more current can then flow through that fet. The extra current flowing in that side of the primary robs the gate current from the other fet and starts to turn it off. A condenser forms an LC tank with the primary and the voltage proceeds to rise and fall sinusoidally. If it were not for that capacitor, the current would continue to increase until the transformer’s core saturated and the mosfets exploded.

Imagine that Q1 was the first to turn on. The voltage at point Y will be at near ground while the voltage at Z rises to a peak and falls back down as the LC tank goes through one half cycle. As the voltage at Z passes through zero the gate current to Q1 is removed and the mosfet turns off. The voltage at point Y is now allowed to start rising and Q2 turns on. That mosfet clamps the voltage at Z to ground; something that makes sure Q1 stays off. This same process repeats for Q2 completing the other half cycle, and the oscillator continues cycling. In order to prevent the oscillator from drawing huge peak currents and exploding, L1 is added in series with +V as a choke. The LC impedance is what limits the actual current (the choke just mitigates current spikes).

A keen eye will notice that this oscillator is zero-voltage switching (ZVS), meaning that the mosfets switch when they have zero volts across them. This is good because it allows the mosfets to switch when they are carrying the least power; something that for the most part eliminates the switching losses which generate huge amounts of heat. This means only small heat sinks are needed, even when oscillating 1000 watts!

Being a resonant oscillator the frequency that the mazilli will run at is determined by the inductance of the transformer’s primary coil and the capacitor. You can use the following formula to figure this out:

f = 1 / ( 2π * √[L * C] )

f  is the frequency in Hertz
L is the inductance of the primary in Henries
C is the capacitance of the capacitor in Farads

Now in reality mosfets are rather fragile components and if the gates are +/- more than 30V from the source the mosfets will be destroyed, or at least degraded significantly. In order to prevent this scenario from occurring we’ll need gate protection; something easily added with a few extra components. See the schematic to the right.

• The 470 ohm resistors limit the current that charges the gates as too much gate current can cause damage.
• The 10K resistors pull the gates down to ground to prevent latchup; a process in which the mosfet gets stuck on.
• The Zener diodes prevent the gate voltage from exceeding either 12, 15 or 18V depending on the zeners you use.
• The UF4007 diodes pull the gates down to ground when the voltage on the opposite leg of the tank is at ground.

One may notice that instead of charging the gates with the LC tank we are instead using +V to charge them up and we are using the LC tank to discharge them via the ultrafast diodes. This improves the overall performance of the circuit.

The following schematic was made very easy to understand, I hope you like it.

Due to a bit of black magic known as resonant rise the voltage in the LC tank will be about pi*vcc, so you’ll need to make sure your mosfets can withstand this tension. A good rule of thumb is to use mosfets that are rated at 4x the voltage you plan on feeding the oscillator and the IRFP250 or the better IRFP260 is a good mosfet for the task. You’ll need some heatsinks for the mosfets, but they do not need to be large. They must not be put on the same heatsink unless insulating pads are used since the metal back of the mosfet is not electrically insulated (it is connected to the drain). Also be sure to use thermal goop when you attach a heatsink else the thermal transfer will be crap. 

The capacitor must be a good one, an MKP, mica or Mylar cap is a good option. Do not use an electrolytic cap, it will without a doubt explode. The two primary windings must also be wound in the same direction or else the oscillator will not function. The oscillator will also fail to function if there is no air gap in the transformer’s core, so always make sure that one exists.

Below is a youtube video of the oscillator powering a flyback transformer at 12, then 24, then 36V. Skip to 0:47 for the 36V if you are impatient.


Problems with the Circuit

The oscillator has one fatal flaw: it likes to explode above 70V. 60V, does well, 70 is meh… 80 KABLOOEY. The problem is above 70V the powers tend to be so high that the diodes responsible for turning off the gates fail to fully do so, and the oscillation stops with one mosfet left on. That’s essentially a short circuit so the mosfet responds with suicide. To anyone who is reading this article, I propose to you a challenge: fix this problem. First one to do so will receive a present. I don’t know what but it’ll be something. Neon John attempted a fix, but it’s still pretty unreliable…

UPDATE: I partially solved the problem by placing a 0.5 ohm wirewound resistor in series with the filter inductor. Now things don’t explode if the load inductance plummets. Still asplodes when VCC>70V though. ∎

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  1. Andrew Borg

    Sir I’ve built this circuit and it gives really large sparks. I would like to lessen it’s voltage out around 1kv. Is this possible cause I need this driver for another project?.
    Thanks for the info.

  2. At 60V supply the Vdss of IRFP260N will be near the 200V breakdown limit.
    So exceeding the 60V supply voltage limit the Vdss go over the 200V maximum and the mosfet will be damaged.

  3. You might fix this Mazzelli converter by adding two small signal transistors and three resistors to each mosfet’s drive circuit.

    Connect an npn transistor with its collector to the gate of the mosfet and its emitter to the source. Then connect a pnp transistor with it’s emitter to the gate of the mosfet and its collector connected to the base of the npn though a resistor. Connect a resistor from the gate of the mosfet to the base of the pnp and another resistor from the base of the pnp to the anode of the diode.

    What happens… the cathode of the diode goes low and it pulls the base of the pnp down causing it to conduct which turns the npn on clamping the mosfet gate to source.

    The problem is the combined forward drop of the diode plus the voltage drop across the mosfet’s Rdson on isn’t low enough to reliably keep opposite mosfet off. The npn transistor clamps the mosfet off effectively.

    Also connect the two 470 Ohm resistors to a regulated voltage. The zener current climbing as V+ is cranked up isn’t helping.

  4. It might help to make the inductor at least 4 times larger than the primary inductance of the transformer and use a freewheeling diode. Connect the diode’s cathode to the V+ side of the inductor and connect the diode’s anode to ground. The diode should be rated to carry the input current. A large bypass capacitor in parallel with the diode is a good idea too.

  5. what is the yoscillator’s frequency that one of second circuit

  6. Hi is it possible to build a PWM to change frequency on this ZVS driver? Any schematics please?

  7. Mr. Plasma-CRAZY

    One way to fix the circuit is the get better MOSFETS with a higher voltage and current rating upgrade to 1 watt 15 volt Zener diodes and get faster, higher voltage rated diodes. And lastly upgrade to 5 watt 470 ohm resistors

  8. Andrew

    Can I change the frequency on this driver? If yes what should I do?

    • Henry O'Keeffe

      Changing the inductance of the coil or the capacitance of the resonant capacitor(s) will change the frequency. See the main page for the formula, but basically the lower the capacitance or the lower the inductance the higher the frequency.

      • Dare Diamond

        Hello Henry, Good morning.

        Please mine drive.with a 7nf Ceramic Capacitor generates 600khz. I would sure like to know a way to calculate the Frequency determinant parameters like the inductance and capacitance.

        So please where do I go to get that.

        P.S: This circuit can be turned into a Self-Powered one provided resonance is introduced to the Secodary.

  9. kumail

    thank you for the circuit its very good but i have a problem i kill the power supply its 12V 8A

  10. I’ve recently taken to experimenting with flyback transformers because of my interest in lightning and other natural phenomena. The website link that I posted will show a circuit that is designed to provide a sort of pulse width modulation. The tuning effects are interesting, however, the site that this circuit came from is inoperable at present and so the corona demo (along with sound effects) is not available. I have just recently built the ZVS driver that is described here after winding my own flyback for the cause. This was a fun project and I want to thank you for taking the time to make this an informative and interesting project. Having “cut my teeth” thus far I plan to revisit this PWM design. Any comments appreciated…thanks.

    • Evan T St. Mars

      Hey felix I would love to wind my own flyback but i dont know which ferrite cores to get and how to wind .. Im trying to produce 15kv for a cockroft – walton multiplier i am building .. any help would be appreciated byu anyone who know s anything thank you ..

      [email protected]

  11. boogy-man

    try to use other mosfet transistors and parallel them about 2*10pcs irfp460n and better gate drivers with separated 15v supply voltage and try to slowly increase supply voltage to less then 1/3 max rated voltage of mosfet transistors used and not to forget to first powerup gatedrivers and then apply and slowly increase suply voltage to the inverter

  12. boogy-man

    and this particular inverter dos not like sudden load changes

  13. SO, explain this to me. I’m in the process of building this but I can’t possibly see how it won’t catch fire. I’m using a small, 12v lead-acid battery and other parts are as spec’d, but the resistance of the mosfet when on is tiny, and the resistance of the choke plus the 5 loops of wire wrapped around a ferrite core is also tiny. At the moment the mosfet is fully on, I have trouble believing the total resistance seen by the battery is going to be much over 0.1 ohms, giving a peak amperage of 120A. Why don’t the wires melt and the mosfets explode? Insight welcome.

    What I need is a bright, hot noisy spark that can bridge about 1/2″, and run more or less continuously without melting down, from a 12v battery and a portable circuit. I’m hoping this circuit it is, but suggestions are welcome.

    • The DC resistance is very low, but the AC impedance can be whatever you desire.

      This is good :-)

    • fuqthegovt

      z = 6.28fL. DC resistance is practically 0 but at the resonant frequency AC far from that. With 47uH and .68 uF = 28,166Hz = 9 ohms = 36v/4A.

  14. I, think, you can fix problem running in 70 volts using not 470 omh resistors, but about 3 kiloomhs. And using not 10 kiloom resistors, but 20-30 kiloomh. On 13-19 volts I try succesful with 1 kiloomh resistors 5 W (not 470 omh) and with 5 kiloom resistors betwen gate and sorce (not 10 kiloomh). (Zener I use 16 volts. Mosftes that use, I now not remeber.)

  15. Hello
    Thank you for this beautiful article. I’d like to know which has been your minimum limits in capacitance to try to reach the maximum frequency on this circuit?
    Thank you in advance for any answer

    • It keels over at about 400kHz.

      • Paul Roy

        Thank for this article, but I’d like to find the smallest capacitor used in other experiments with this circuit, I’m interested in obtaining close to the mentioned frequency here.

  16. Hi,

    Beautiful circuit. Thanks for this article.
    I wonder if it would be possible to adapt this circuit like a Meisner circuit, where the load, say a battery and it’s capacitance provides the feedback to switch the fets?

  17. Hello
    Tryig to build this circuit I was looking for the capacitor mentioned here and comparing the picture of the one shown with http://www.ebay.ca/itm/6d-12-PCS-lot-Capacitor-0-47uf-1kV-1000V-MKP-A-R76-/350970844580?pt=Vintage_Electronics_R2&hash=item51b77e15a4 I noticed that here was used a big one.

    Could somebody explain to me why please?
    Thank you and great circuit.

  18. At 70 volts you need good cooling of the mosfets and instead 470 ohm resistors, you must use 3-4 kilo-ohm resistors.

  19. poteto

    Why can you substitute IRFP260N elsewhere?

    • Poteto, any mosfet with a BVDS > 200V should do. It does not need to be an IRFP260N.

  20. Is there anything special about the 47 – 200 uH inductor? Just needs to match up with the current draw? And the current draw depends largely on the inductance of the primary coil and size of the capacitor?

    • It’s a low pass filter to keep peak currents low, nothing special there.

  21. I’m thinking of using this as the power supply for a 40 kV Cockroft-Walton voltage multiplier, that’s going to be driving a pulsed DC load, with time average power of about 14 – 30 W. Is there anything I should worry about when running a flyback at such low loads? Peak output current of about 5-20 mA, but as it charges my pulse capacitor, it naturally drops off.

    • Certainly not; these transformers after all were designed to run at about 30W. This mazilli circuit pushes them much further than that, however.

    • Henry O'Keeffe

      One potential problem with this is that all modern flyback transformers have a built in half-wave rectifying diode and output DC, the best way to get AC is to make your own flyback transformer (that’s what I did)

      • I was actually going to buy one from Information Unlimited (www.amazing1.com) that didn’t have the built in rectifier. I’ve just been reading from some other sources that a Mazilli driver is a bad supply to use for capacitor charging because the leakage inductance heats the ferrite core of the flyback too much. Didn’t know if it was worth worrying about of if it’s just random internet people talking.

  22. Can I substitute GP15D diodes for the UF4007’s. The GP15D has a Vrrm=200V, If=1.5A and trr=3.5uS. I dont expect to run the ZVS at more than 48V supply.


    • (3.5 microseconds)^-1 = 285kHz, so as long as you stay under 30kHz or so, they should work.

      A good rule of thumb is to never have the diode recovery exceed 10% of your switching time.

  23. “The mazilli oscillator has one fatal flaw: it likes to explode above 70V. 60V, does well, 70 is meh… 80 KABLOOEY. The problem is above 70V the powers tend to be so high that the diodes responsible for turning off the gates fail to fully do so, and the oscillation stops with one mosfet left on. That’s essentially a short circuit so the mosfet responds with suicide. To anyone who is reading this article, I propose to you a challenge: fix this problem.”
    http://www.speedyshare.com/KP4PW/colored-schem80volts.png click on colored schem80volts.png

  24. Hi Adam,
    I’ve had something odd happen and was wondering of you could help explain it.

    I was running my ZVS circuit @ ~56V (My PSU is a couple of “large” transformers in series with a bridge and a about 1,500uF filter capacitance,the open voltage is 87V but I’m overloading the transformers.)

    Anyway, I was playing around with a fairly messy setup with long leads from the ZVS to the flyback windings and was running the flyback open (In a plastic container under oil.) both leads had little .5-.75″ hissing streamers when there was a “spraying” discharge from the HV output lead through the container to one of the primary coil leads, this has damaged the circuit or flyback and now the output is producing what looks like Tesla coil streamers that are ~3″ long and have a low frequency hum, both MOSFETs get hot quick, one more than the other (The one that got zapped.) and when they do the streamers shrink but if I run a high flow fan on them I can run it for few sec. at a time.

    My question is, what is happened to cause this really cool output?

    Here is a link to a video of it in action: http://youtu.be/Q_gsenpwsVs

  25. I made 110volt(rms) zvs oscillator for my induction heater.
    the circuit is similar, but i used larger mosfets, two 5watt zener diodes
    and some power supply bypass capacitors
    your circuit has inductor to block rf signal
    but it is not enough to block all rf,
    because ferrite core easily saturated and lose its inductance at high current.
    rf signal in power line cause improper voltages on mosfet gate.
    so i add two parallel 200v 100uf capacitor with 630v 1uf mylar for bypassing it.

  26. Thanks for the nice explanation. I am wanting to use this circuit to drive a mini induction heater where the work coil is only about 5mm diameter. I estimate its inductance to be about 0.25uH. I was planning on using a modification of the circuit I saw in which the center tapped coil is replaced with a non-center tapped coil and two choke inductors were used one to feed the each side of the coil. However I am skeptical that this would work based on the explanation given here. Is there a way to have the work coil not neter tapped – its pretty hard in my set up to amke the work coil center tapped?

  27. Will using normal 9 V batteries work? What about a DC power supply?
    Will using RU2 instead of UF4007 make a difference? It’s reverse recovery time is 0.12 microseconds.

  28. Hi Jerry

    9V batteries does not have the power to supply this circuit.

    Kind regards

  29. If you want to by ZVS Driver for Flyback transformer, here is some good website selling only them: https://sites.google.com/view/samo-jakov/почетна

  30. Anuj Kumar

    Hi! i tried the circuit and it worked properly but after three to four tests MOSFET got burnt. I tried to figure out the problem and its possible solution.
    possible solution-
    1. use multiple strand copper wires in heating coil as well as for connecting it
    to the capacitor bank.
    2. adjust damping factor of the oscillator circuit so that the second trough of
    underdamped response curve touches the zero level.
    3. design a circuit that clamps the voltage to zero after each half cycle of the
    I tried this and got the result. Now my circuit works properly without getting burnt.
    Note- I have arrived at the solution by analyzing the problem mathematically and I have detailed solution to the problem. If you want the solution you can contact me through my e-mail – [email protected]

  31. Anuj Kumar

    you can also find the detailed mathematical solution from the link –

  32. Anuj Kumar

    you mentioned that after connecting a resistance of 0.5 ohm your circuit MOSFETs don’t explode. Actually the value of resistance depends upon the MOSFET cutoff voltage and the applied voltage. I tried to derive a mathematical expression for the value of resistance that should be connected, as the function of applied voltage. you can view the expression from the link below-

  33. I need this oscillator to output 40khz at about 300V … is this acheivable only by reducing the input voltage?

    • Yes, just make sure your transformer’s turns ratio is not too high and it should be fine. I have used this circuit for almost exactly that purpose before.

      • Adam thank you so much for your excellent page and your reply!
        So that mean for my application I should not be using a flyback transformer, but just a regular transformer, for example a microwave transformer?
        Best regards.

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