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ECE 3710 Lab 2: Resistor Networks and Wheatstone Bridge

Objective: To reinforce understanding of


Solution methods for electrical circuit voltages and currents
Potentiometers
Sensors and Wheatstone Bridges

Table of Contents:
Materials Needed 1
Pre-Lab Assignment 1
Background 1
Systematic Solution Methods 1
Potentiometer 2
Wheatstone Bridge 3
Lab Procedures 3
Part A) Circuit 1 4
Part B) Circuit 2 4
Part C) Potentiometer 4
Part D) Position Sensor Using Wheatstone Bridge 6
Appendix 8

Materials Needed

100 rotary potentiometer


950 resistor
4 x 1k (1% tolerance) resistor
2 x 2k resistor

Pre-Lab Assignment
1) Solve the circuits in the Appendix for the voltages and currents requested. Turn in your prelab
with the rest of the lab and include all of your calculations.

Circuit 1: i1 = _____________, v2 = _______________

Circuit 2: i1 = _____________, v2 = _______________

2) Read the Background section of this laboratory exercise.

Background:
Systematic Solution Methods
Several different solution methods may be used to solve for voltage and currents in a circuit: Mesh
Analysis, Node Analysis, Thvenin Equivalent circuit, and Norton Equivalent circuit. Both Mesh and
Node analysis result in a set of simultaneous algebraic equations.

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Mesh Analysis introduces intermediate variables called mesh currents and systematically
implements Kirchhoffs Voltage Law to solve for those mesh currents.
Node Analysis introduces intermediate variables called node voltages and systematically
implements Kirchhoffs Current Law to solve for those node voltages.
Thvenin and Norton Equivalent circuits replace a portion of a circuit with a simple
source/resistance circuit that has the same current and voltage provided by the original
circuit. Using Thvenin Equivalent and Norton equivalents, source transformation is a
graphical method to replace a schematic with a simpler schematic in a series of substitutions.

Potentiometer(or pot)
A potentiometer is a variable resistor that varies its value proportional to the rotation of the shaft
(rotary potentiometer) or a distance that a slider has traveled (linear potentiometer). Pots typically
have three leads: two end points and the wiper. There is an externally adjustable trim that adjusts
the position of the wiper with respect to the ends of the internal resistor. The symbol for a pot is
shown on the left below; on the right is the equivalent circuit.

Potentiometer Position Sensor


The three potentiometer leads are used when the pot is to be used in a voltage divider circuit as
shown in the figures below, a linear pot on the left and a rotary pot on the right. In the voltage
divider configuration, one lead is to be attached to +vs, one lead is to be attached to ground, and the
other lead is connected to the wiper (or pick-off point), vo.
+ vs

vo + vs
y (m) vo

Linear potentiometer Rotary potentiometer

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Wheatstone Bridge
A Wheatstone Bridge is used commonly to measure small voltage resistance changes from a nominal
value. In the figure below,

R1 R2
vs
+ a b
-

R3 Rx

R3 R x
When balanced, Vba = 0v and = . When Rx increases, then Vba increases. When Rx decreases,
R1 R 2
Vba decreases (becoming more negative).

Lab Procedures

To help build and troubleshoot circuits, lay out a circuit on the breadboard the same way it is drawn
in the schematic. An example schematic and breadboard layout is shown below to emphasize this
tactic. Do not build this circuit.

Wider gap The groups along the side rails


are all connected in a long row
To voltage
to make a giant node.*
supply R2
Each row is a node

R1

On some breadboards, there is a wider gap between some of the groups in the side rails. This wide gap
indicates that those two groups are not connected, as shown in this breadboard.

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Part A) Circuit 1
Build Circuit 1 from the Appendix and verify that you get the same
You need to have an
answer from your analysis done in the prelab. (hint: to measure i1, it is
instructor sign off for one
easiest to measure the voltage across R1 and divide by R1. )
of the parts to this lab.

Circuit 1 (Measured): i1 = _____________, v2 = _______________

Compare your results determined analytically from the Appendix.

Circuit 1 (Analytical): i1 = _____________, v2 = _______________

Verify that the experimental and computed values are approximately equal. If not, ask an instructor
to check your analytical answers to determine where the problem lies.

Part B) Circuit 2
Repeat Part A) with Circuit 2 from the Appendix. Note that you just have to add one resistor to the
circuit built for Part A)

Circuit 2 (Measured): i1 = _____________, v2 = _______________

Compare your results determined analytically from the Appendix.

Circuit 2 (Analytical): i1 = _____________, v2 = _______________

Verify that the experimental and computed values are approximately equal. If not, ask an instructor
to check your analytical answers to determine where the problem lies.

Part C) Potentiometer
Objective: be able to use a potentiometer in a circuit.

Review the background information on potentiometers. An image of a rotary pot placed in a


breadboard is shown below. Notice the white trimmer on the top that allows you to adjust the
resistance with a screwdriver. This particular type of pot is often called a trimpot.

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Look for the three wires coming from the pot. The leads in the image below match the equivalent
circuit schematic of a pot given in the background section.

To be used as a variable resistor, use the connections between Point a and the wiper, or between
Point b and the wiper (leaving the other end point unconnected).

Connect a 100 pot in the breadboard and measure the resistance across the pot between Point a
the wiper as you turn the trim in the clockwise direction starting from all the way on the left to all the
way to the right.

Starting resistance____________ Ending resistance _____________

Repeat the procedure for the connection between Point b and the wiper.

Starting resistance____________ Ending resistance _____________

Verify that these resistances match the behavior in the equivalent pot schematic shown in the
background section, that is, that the resistances match Rp and RT-Rp where RT is 100 .

Put the 100 rotary pot in series with a 950 1% tolerance resistor (blue in color). You can use either
the Point a wiper leads or the Point b wiper leads for the pot resistance, which is placed in series
with the 950 resistor. Measure the total resistance of pot plus the resistor as you rotate the pot
trim from one extreme to the other.

Max R ____________ Min R _________________

This configuration allows us to have a small varying resistance to a nominal fixed resistance.

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Part D) Position Sensor

Objective: build a position sensor using a Wheatstone Bridge.

Build the Wheatstone Bridge in the Background section where R1 = R2 = R3 = 1000 (with 1%
tolerances, so blue resistors). Put the series combination of 100 rotary pot and 950 resistor in the
place of Rx. Layout the circuit on the breadboard in the same way it appears in the schematic (to
help with troubleshooting). For example, it can be built as follows. The schematic on the left is
equivalent to the wheatstone bridge schematic in the diamond formation shown in the background
section.

Balance the Wheatstone Bridge by adjusting the pot so that Vba has the smallest value possible (this is
the voltage from a to b). This trim position becomes the Zero Angle Position. An angle sensor that
uses a Wheatstone Bridge is often calibrated by taking voltage readings with known angles. To do a
rough calibration:
Set the DMM to Auto in order to autoscale the measurements
Do the measurements to fill in the following table.

All rotations are measured with respect to the Zero Angle position. For comparison sake, you are
asked to record Vb as well, that is, the potential at node b with respect to the negative side of the
source voltage.

Angle Vba Vb
Zero Angle Position
45o clockwise rotation
90o clockwise rotation
-45o counterclockwise rotation
-90o counterclockwise rotation

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Which has better resolution for determining the angle-voltage relationship, Vba or Vb? Why?

To finish calibrating your sensor, use the results in the table to plot a line of the angles vs voltages
(voltages being on the x axis).

Angle
(deg)

Vba

From your plot, determine the angle if the Vba voltage measurement is 100 mv: ____________

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Appendix:

Circuit 1:
i1

R1 +
15v
+ v2
R4 R2
- -
R5 R3

R1 = R3 = R5 = 1000; R2 = R4 = 2000;

Circuit 2:
R6

i1

15v R1 +
+ v2
R4 R2
- -
R5 R3

R1 = R3 = R5 = R6 = 1000; R2 = R4 = 2000;

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