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# A PWM Circuit using Operational Amplifiers A very simple circuit based upon Schmidt trigger circuit can be used

for pulse width modulation purposes. The two operational amplifier A and B operate as a triangular wave generator whose frequency depends upon the values of R and C. The triangular output voltage is then compared with a reference voltage to obtain a rectangular pulse which is on for some time and off for the remainder of the time period. Operational amplifier C is used as a comparator.

## Figure 1: PWM circuit

The circuit operation can be explained as follows using ideal operational amplifiers. Let us assume that all the operational amplifiers are operating from a singleended dc supply. The positive supply terminal of each operational amplifier is connected to Vs while the negative terminal is grounded. Resistors R 3 and R 4 determine the dc voltage that is applied to the inverting terminal of operational amplifier A and the noninverting terminal of operational amplifier B. We will refer to the dc voltage as Vdc . The presence of feedback at the inverting terminal of B ensures that its voltage is nearly equal to Vdc . The voltage at the noninverting terminal of A determines whether the output voltage of A is high at its maximum value of Vs or zero.

## PWM using Op Amps

We begin our analysis assuming that the voltage at the noninverting terminal of A is less than Vdc so that the output voltage of A is zero. That is, v oa ( t = 0) = 0. The current through R can now be computed as
i( t ) = Vdc R (1)

The constant (dc) current through R maintains its continuity through the capacitor C and charges the capacitor. The voltage across C, with the polarity as marked, is v( t ) = Vdc t + VC ,min RC (2)

where VC,min is the voltage across C from the prior operation. This analysis assumes that

the circuit has been operating for a long time. We have labeled the voltage as VC,min because the voltage across the capacitor is increasing due to the charging process. The charging process will continue until the voltage at the noninverting terminal is just above the voltage at its inverting terminal ( Vdc ). At that instant, the voltage across the capacitor will be at its maximum and so will be the output voltage of B. Let us assume that the time taken for the voltage across the capacitor to reach its maximum value is TC , where the subscript C stands for the charging time. Setting v a ( t ) = Vdc , we can write the following equation in terms of the maximum value of the output voltage of B as

R2 R1 + R 2

(3)

## R Vob, max = Vdc 1 + 1 R 2

Thus, the maximum voltage across the capacitor is

(4)

## R VC,max = Vob,max Vdc = Vdc 1 R 2

(5)

Note that the maximum voltage across the capacitor depends upon the circuit elements

## PWM using Op Amps

From (2), at t = TC , v(TC ) = VC ,max , the change in the voltage can be expressed as VC,max VC ,min = Vdc TC RC (6)

We will use (6) to compute the charging time once the minimum voltage across the capacitor is known. Once the output voltage at the output of B tends to go beyond Vob. max , it makes the differential voltage at the input terminals of A greater than zero, which in turn switches the output of A to high. Under the ideal condition, the output voltage is as high as the dc supply voltage Vs . In reality, however, this voltage is bound to be less than Vs owing to the voltage drop across the internal circuitry of the operational amplifier. In our analysis, let us assume that the high voltage of A is equal to the dc supply voltage Vs . The case when it is less than the dc supply voltage will be analyzed later with the help of an example. Since Vs is greater than Vdc , the current reverses its direction through R and C. This reversal of the current begins to discharge the capacitor form its maximum value to its minimum value and takes TD seconds to do so. In this case, the subscript D stands for the discharge time. The discharging process continues until the output voltage of B reaches its minimum value of Vob, min . As it tends to go below its minimum value, the differential voltage at the input terminals of A reverses and its output voltage becomes zero again. The cycle begins all over again. The expression for the minimum voltage of B can be written as

## R2 Vdc = Vob ,min R +R 1 2

R1 + Voa , max R +R 1 2

where Voa , max = Vs for the ideal operational amplifier. It may in fact be one or two volts less than Vs for a practical operational amplifier. This equation yields the minimum value of the output voltage of B as

(7)

## PWM using Op Amps

Therefore, the minimum value of the capacitor voltage, with the polarity as indicated, is

## R VC,min = Vob,min Vdc = (Vdc Voa ,max ) 1 R 2

(8)

Let us now obtain expression for the discharge time TD . During the discharge cycle, the current through R is i( t ) = Vdc Voa ,max R

which, once again, is a constant current less than zero because Vdc < V0a ,max . Consequently, the capacitor discharges linearly as v( t ) = Vdc Voa . max t + VC ,max RC

The capacitor voltage attains its minimum value when t TD > Thus, the minimum value of the capacitor voltage is VC,min = VC ,max + Vdc Voa ,max RC TD (9)

The differential voltage change across the capacitor is VC,max VC ,min = Voa ,max Vdc RC TD (10)

In summary, we use equations (5) and (8) to determine VC,max and VC. min . Equations (6) and (10) helps us determine the charging and discharging times. The time period and the frequency of the triangular wave is T = TC + TD (11)

f=

1 T

(12)

The triangular output voltage is applied at the noninverting terminal of comparator C where it is compared with the variable reference voltage Vref , which is expected to be greater than minimum output voltage of B, Vob, min .The output of the comparator is a rectangular pulse whose duration depends upon the reference voltage Vref as shown below. The lower the reference voltage, the wider the pulse width of the output voltage of comparator C.

## Figure 2: Output voltages of operational amplifiers B and C.

Example :_____________________________________________________________
The PWM circuit of Figure-1 is operated from a 12-V dc supply. The various circuit elements are as follows: R 1 = 33 k , R 2 = 100 k , R 3 = 20 k , R 4 = 10 k , R = 10 k , and C = 1 F. if Vref = 4 V, determine (a) the maximum and minimum values of the voltage across the capacitor, (b) maximum and minimum values of the output voltage, (c) the charging time and discharging times, (e) the time period and frequency, (f) the on and off times of the output voltage of comparator C, and (g) the duty cycle (ratio). Solution: The controlling dc voltage is

Vdc =

Vs R 4 12 10 = = 4V R3 + R4 30

## PWM using Op Amps

(a)

The maximum and minimum voltages across the capacitor, from (5) and (8), respectively, are

R VC,max = Vdc 1 R 2

## R VC,min = (Vdc Voa ,max ) 1 R 2

Note that we have assumed that Voa ,max = Vs = 12 V. (b) The maximum and minimum output voltages at the output of operational amplifier B are Vob, max = Vdc + VC,max = 4 + 1.32 = 5.32 V Vob,min = Vdc + VC ,min = 4 2.64 = 1.36 V (c) The charging and discharging times form (6) and (12), respectively, are TC = VC, max VC ,min Vdc

TD = (d)

## 1.32 + 2.64 3 6 RC = 10 10 (1 10 ) = 4.95 ms 12 4

The time period and frequency are T = TC + TD = 9.9 + 4.95 = 14.85 ms f= 1 1 = = 67.34 Hz T 14.85 10 3

(e)

From Figure 2, the equation for the charging time may be written as v ob ( t ) = Vob ,min + Vob, max Vob ,min TC t

When t t 1 , v ob ( t 1 ) Vref = 4 V, and the output of comparative becomes nearly equal to Vs . The above equation yields the expression for t 1 as t1 = Vref Vob ,min Vob max Vob min TC = 4 1.36 (9.9 10 3 ) = 6.6 ms 5.32 1.36

## PWM using Op Amps

An equation for the discharging cycle may be written as v ob ( t ) = Vob ,max Vob ,max Vob,min TD t

Note that the reference has been moved to the point when the capacitor begins the discharge cycle. When t t 2 , v ob ( t 2 ) Vref = 4 V, and the output of comparative becomes nearly zero. The above equation yields the expression for t 1 as t2 = (f) Vref Vob ,max Vob min Vob max TD = 4 5.32 (4.95 10 3 ) = 1.65 ms 1.36 5.32

The on and off times of the output waveform of operational amplifier C are TON = TC t 1 + t 2 = 9.9 6.6 + 1.65 = 4.95 ms TOFF = T TON = 14.85 4.95 = 9.9 ms

(g)

The duty cycle (ratio) is D= TON 4.95 = = 0.3333 (or 33.33%) T 14.85

## Problems: ______________________________________________________________ 1. Repeat the example if R 1 = 56 k , R 2 = 120 k , R 3 = 20 k , R 4 = 20 k ,

R = 20 k C = 1 F and Vref = 5 V.

2.

In the above example, select R and C so that the time period is 100ms. What must be the setting of the 100 k potentiometer to obtain a duty cycle of 75%?

3.

For the two topologies shown above using a single operational amplifier, compute the on-time, off-time, and the duty cycle. Sketch the output voltage and the voltage across the capacitor for each circuit.