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Experiment 5

Transients in RC Circuits

Introduction
The purpose of this experiment is to study the transient response of simple RC
circuits to step-function excitation. In our first circuit, the time constant will be so long
that we will be able to study and observe the behavior using meters. Using the second
circuit we will have a much shorter time constant resulting in us having to use the
oscilloscope to make the observation and study. In order for us to get a large time
constant we need large resistors and large capacitors. The problem here is that the
insulation in these electrolytic capacitors is not of very high quality and current will still
flow through it. With a short time constant we can use our decade capacitor boxes since
they are of high quality and their leakage of resistance is basically negligible.
Furthermore, we had to calculate i and v. Then we would graph these values and get a

logarithmic plot of the experimental data. Lastly, we would use the oscilloscope to sketch
VC and VR.

Procedure
1. Set up the circuit shown below, Figure 1, with C = 50

and VS = 25 V.

Figure 1
2. Connect a wire from one terminal of the capacitor to the other and then remove it
to discharge the capacitor.
3. Close the circuit and read the current every 10 seconds for approximately the first
three time constants of the circuit. Wait another 4 or 5 time constants and record if.
4. Find the theoretical time constant using the nominal values of the components.

5. Determine the actual time constant of the circuit using the method described in
Part II.A.4.
6. Determine the actual values of C and Rp.
7. Study the difference between the circuit above and the circuit below, Figure 2.

Figure 2
8. Change the circuit to Figure 2 without discharging C and read v every 10
seconds for approximately the first 3 time constants using the Simpson 260.
9. Then use v to find i, using the internal resistance of the Simpson meter.
10. Using the values found in Part III.A.6 determine the theoretical value of the new
time constant.
11. Using the values found in Part II.B.3 determine the new time constant and
compare it with the theoretical value.
12. Set up the circuit shown below, Figure 3, and set the frequency to 1000 Hz, R =
1000 ohms, C = 0.2

F , VS = 10 V. Set the oscilloscope to observe VS and VC.

Figure 3
13. Sketch VC to scale for C = 0.01, 0.03, 0.1, 0.3, and 1.0 F .
14. Set the oscilloscope to observe VR = VS VC, and sketch VR to scale for the same
values of C.

Results (Data)
Part A:
V =IR
R=

V
I

22.5 V
6
50 x 10 A

R=450,000 =450 k
A.1.
=RC
450 k ( 50 F )
=22500 ms=22.5 s

A.2.,A.3.
3 =3 ( 22.5 )=67 s
( s)

i(A )
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
110

35
23
15
10.5
7
5
3.5
0.5
Table 1

A.5.
=

2010
=23.82 s
35
ln i( )
21

Time vs Log of Current


2
1.5
1
Log i(t) (micro-amps)
0.5
0
-0.5

20

40

60

80

Time(s)

Figure 4: Time vs Log of Current


A.6.
if =

Vs
R+ R p

R p=

V
R
it

22.5 V
450 k
0.5 A

R p=44.66 M
C=

R+ R p

R Rp

C=53.17 F
Part B:
B.1.,B.2.
( s)
10
20
30

V (V)
20.5
17
14

i(A )
20.5
17
14

100

120

40
50
60
70

12
10
8
6.5

12
10
8
6.5
Table 2

B.3.
=49.40 s
B.4.
20.5
17
ln i()=53.41 s
2010
=

Time vs Log of Current


1.4
1.2
1
0.8
Log i(t) (micro-amps ) 0.6
0.4
0.2
0
0

10 20

30 40
Time (s)

Figure 5: Time vs Log of Current


Part C:

50 60

70 80

Figure 6: VC for C = 0.01

Figure 7: VR for C = 0.01

Figure 8: VC for C = 0.03

Figure 9: VR for C = 0.03

Figure 10: VC for C = 0.1

Figure 11: VR for C = 0.1

Figure 12: VC for C = 0.3

Figure 13: VR for C = 0.3

Figure 14: VC for C = 1.0

Figure 15: VR for C = 1.0

Discussion of Results and Conclusion


The purpose of this experiment was to study the transient response of simple RC
circuits to step-function excitation. First we needed to find out time constant and
determine our current with a capacitor in our circuit. This capacitor essentially caused our
current to drop exponentially relative to time. When comparing both graphs to the
theoretical values we notices that the graphs values had a slightly higher percentage error
due to human errors. The drop in current at 50

was much larger than that of the

drop in V at 25V. This essentially reflects that the electric conductance is higher. The
sketches of the oscilloscope in Part C show VC and VR. From the oscilloscope we can
determine that with a higher value of conductance, the waveforms for both voltages are
less of a sinusoidal wave, but more of square periodic wave.