How to build a 12-volt DC to 5-volt DC converter

Updated February 20, 2018

Many electrical and electronic devices must convert electrical energy from one form to another before the device can operate. Computer power supplies, for example, convert household electrical energy (120 volts AC in North America) into several regulated DC voltages (+12, -12, and +5 volts DC). When multiple voltage levels are required by one device (such is the case for desktop computers), an electrical circuit called a voltage divider must be used.

Cut two lengths of wire, and strip 1/2 inch of insulation from the ends of each wire end. Twist together one end of the first wire with one of the leads from the 700Ω resistor. Solder this connection.

Twist together the free lead from the 700Ω resistor with one of the leads from the 500Ω resistor. Slip a ring terminal over the twisted leads, and solder the terminal to the leads. Twist together the free lead from the 500Ω resistor with one end of the second wire, and slip the remaining ring terminal over the twist connection. Solder the terminal to the twist connection.

Attach the free end of the first wire to the positive terminal on the power supply. Attach the free end of the second wire to the negative terminal on the power supply.


The voltage difference between the two ring terminals is 5 volts DC.

Things You'll Need

  • One 12-volt DC power supply
  • One 700Ω resistor
  • One 500Ω resistor
  • Electrical wire
  • Electrical pliers
  • Two ring terminals
  • Soldering iron
  • Electronic (rosin core) solder
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About the Author

David Sandoval has served as a trainer and technical writer since 2000. He has written several articles online in the fields of home improvement, finance, electronics and science. Sandoval has an Associate of Applied Science in microelectronics from Northern New Mexico College.