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Shell Nigeria Graduate Training Programme Instrumentation



This lecture on measurements will be confined to a description of the instruments

commonly used to measure current, voltage, power and energy. Commercial
resistance test sets are mentioned together with a brief outline of one or two digital



Moving-coil Movement

In this type of meter movement, known as the d' Arsonval movement, the pointer is
deflected in proportion to the amount of current through a coil. Figure 1 a shows a
basic d' Arsonval meter movement. It consists of a coil of wire wound on a bearing
mounted assembly that is placed between the poles of a permanent magnet and a
pointer is attached to the moving assembly. When there is no current flow through
the coil, a spring mechanism keeps the pointer at its left-most (zero) position. When
current flows through the coil, electromagnetic forces act on the coil, causing a
rotation to the right. The amount of rotation depends on the amount of current;
Figure 1 b shows a construction view of the parts of a typical movement.

Figure 2 illustrates how the interaction of magnetic fields produces rotation of the coil
assembly. The current flows inward at the "cross" and outward at the "dot" in the

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single winding shown. The inward current produces a clock-wise electromagnetic

field that reinforces the permanent magnet field at the bottom. The result is a
downward force on the right conductor as shown. An upward force is developed on
the left side of the coil where the current is outward. These forces produce a
clockwise rotation of the coil assembly.

Iron- Vane Movement

This type of movement consists basically of two iron bars placed within a coil. The
electromagnetic field produced by the current in the coil induces a north pole and a
south pole in the iron bars. The like poles repel each other, causing the moving
element to move away from the stationery element. The attached pointer is deflected
by the movement of the element in proportion to the current through the coil.

A "vane" is attached to the movement and is housed in air chamber for damping
purposes. Figure 3a illustrates the basic mechanism, and Figure 3b shows the

construction of the basic movement.

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Electrodynamometer Movement

Figure 4a shows the basic electrodynamometer movement. It differs from the d'
Arsonval movement in that it uses an electromagnetic field rather than a permanent
magnetic field. Current in the stationary coil produces the electromagnetic field. The

pointer is attached to the moving coil. This type of movement is commonly used in
wattmeters. Figure 4b shows the construction of a typical movement.

Current Sensitivity and Resistance of the Meter Movement

The current sensitivity of a meter movement is the amount of current required to

deflect the pointer full scale (all the way to its right-most position). For example, a 1-
mA sensitivity means that when there is 1 mA through the meter coil, the needle is at
its maximum deflection. If 0.5 mA flows through the coil, the needle is at the halfway
point of its full deflection.

The movement resistance is simply the dc resistance of the coil wire used in the

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A typical d' Arsonval movement might have a current sensitivity of 1 mA and a

resistance of 50Ω . In order to measure more than 1 mA, additional circuitry must be
used with the basic meter movement. Figure 5a shows a simple ammeter with a
shunt resistor across the movement. The purpose of the shunt resistor is to bypass
current in excess of 1 mA around the meter movement. For example, let us assume
that this meter must measure currents of up to 10 mA. Thus, for full-scale deflection,
the movement must carry 1 mA, and the shunt resistor must carry 9 mA, as indicated
in Figure 5b.

Determining the Shunt Value

In our example a proper value of shunt resistance must be used. The following
calculations illustrate how this resistance is determined. Since the shunt resistor RsH
and the 50 Ω meter movement are in parallel, the voltage drops across them are the
same; that is


But V SH = IsHRsH and V MM = IMMRMM , and therefore


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I MM RMM (1mA)(50Ω )
RSH= = =5.56 Ω
I SH 9mA

Multiple-Range Ammeter

The example meter just discussed has only one range. It can measure currents from
0 to 10 mA and no higher. However, most practical ammeters have several ranges.
Each range must have a different shunt resistance, which is selected with a switch.
For example, Figure 6 shows a two-range ammeter. A 100-mA range is incorporated
with the 10=mA range previously described.
When the switch is in the 10-mA position, the
meter indicates 10- mA at full-scale deflection of
the pointer. When the switch is in the 100-mA
position, 100 mA is indicated at full scale.

The value of the 100-mA shunt resistor is

determined in the same manner used for the
10-mAshunt. At full scale, the voltage across
the movement is (1 mA) (50O) = 50 mV. Therefore, since the shunt must carry 99
mA at full scale, RSH = 50 mV/99 mA = 0.51 O. We can obtain other current ranges
by switching in appropriate values of shunt resistances.

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Example 1

Show a three-range basic ammeter that

has a 1-A range in addition to the 10-mA
and 100-mA ranges of the example meter
just discussed.


First, we must find the shunt resistance

for the 1-A range. Again V SH = (1 mA)
(50 O) = 50 mV. The shunt resistor must carry all of the 1 A except the 1 mA to
operate the movement at full scale. Thus,

ISH = 1 A -1mA = 0.999 A

RSH = =0.05 O
0.999 A

The three-stage meter is shown in Figure 7.

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Effect of the Ammeter on the circuit

As you know, an ammeter is connected in series to measure the current in a circuit.

Ideally, the meter should not alter the current that it is intended to measure. In
practice, however, the meter unavoidably has some effect on the circuit, because its
internal resistance is connected in series

The internal resistance of the ammeter is the shunt resistance in parallel with tile coil
resistance of the movement. In our example meter, it is approximately 0.05 0 on the
1-A range. Figure 8b shows the meter on the 1-A range and connected to measure
the current in the circuit of Figure 8a. The 0.05 O internal resistance (RINT) of the
meter is negligible compared to the 100 O circuit resistance. Therefore, the meter
does not significantly alter the actual circuit current. This characteristic is necessary,
of course, because we do not want the measuring instrument to change the quantity
that is being measured and thus the accuracy of the measurement.

Ammeter Scales

A typical ammeter or milliammeter has more than one scale, each corresponding to
different range switch positions. Figure 9 shows a two-scale meter as an example.
This particular meter has four ranges, as indicated on the range switch diagram.

The scales are read in conjunction with the range switch as follows: If the range
switch is set at 10 mA or 100 mA, the top scale is used. If the range switch is set at
30 mA or 300 mA, the bottom scale is used. The range switch setting always

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corresponds to the full-scale deflection current. For example, if the range switch is
set on 100 mA, the "10" mark on the top scale represents 100 mA.


The voltmeter utilizes the same type of movement as the ammeter. Different external
circuitry is added so that the movement will function to measure voltage in a circuit.

As you have seen, the voltage drop across the meter coil is dependent on the
current and the coil resistance. For example, a 50-µA, 1000-Ω movement has a full-
scale voltage drop of (50-µA). (1000-Ω ) = 50 mV. To use the meter to indicate
voltages greater than 50 mV, we must add a series resistance to drop any additional
beyond that which the movement requires for full-scale deflection. This resistance is
called the multiplier resistance and is designated RM.

A basic voltmeter is shown in Figure 10 with a single multiplier resistor for one range.
To make it to measure 1 V full scale, we must determine the value of the multiplier
resistance as follows: The movement drops 50 mV at full-scale current of 50µA.
Therefore, the multiplier resistor RM must drop the remaining voltage of 1 V- 50 mV =
950 mV. Since RM is in series with the movement, it also carries 50 µA at full scale.

RM = = 19KΩ

Therefore, for 1- V full-scale deflection, the total resistance of the voltmeter is 20 K O

(the multiplier resistance plus the coil resistance).

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Voltmeter Sensitivity

Voltmeter sensitivity is defined in terms of resistance per volt (O /V). The example
meter just discussed has a sensitivity of 20 KO/V, because it has a total resistance of
20 kO and a full-scale deflection of 1V. This is a common sensitivity figure for many
commercial meters.

Multi-range Voltmeter

The meter in Figure 10 has only one voltage range (1-V); that is, it can measure
voltages from 0 V to 1V. In order to measure higher voltages with the same
movement, additional multiplier resistors must be used. One multiplier resistor is
required for each additional range.

For the 50 µA movement, the total resistance required is 20 KO for each volt of the
full-scale reading. In other words, the sensitivity for the 50 µA movement is always
20 k O /V regardless of the range selected. Thus, the full-scale meter current is 50
µA in any range. For any range, we fmd the total meter resistance by multiplying the
sensitivity by the full-scale voltage for that range.

For example, for a 10-V range, RT = (20 k O /V) (10 V) = 200 K O.

The total resistance for the 1- V range is 20 K O; so RM for the 10- V range must be
200 KO -19 K O -1K O = 180 KO. This two-range voltmeter is shown in Figure 11.
Additional ranges require the appropriate value of multiplier resistance added in

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Example 2

Show the circuit for a basic voltmeter having 1- V, 10- V, and 100- V ranges


We have already determined RM for the I-V and the 10-V ranges. We need only to
calculate the additional RM required for the 100- V range. This calculation is as

RT = (20 k O/V) (100 V) = 2 M O.

Now, we subtract the meter resistance of the existing two-range meter from 2 M O to
get the RM required for the 100- V range:

RM3 = RT -RM1 -RMM

= 2 MO - 180 kO -19 k O -1 k O

= 2 M O -200 k O

= 1.8 k O

The schematic for this three-range voltmeter is shown in Figure 12.

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Loading Effect of a Voltmeter

As you know, a voltmeter is always connected in parallel with the circuit component
across which the voltage is to be measured. Thus, it is much easier to measure
voltage than current, because you must break a circuit to insert an ammeter in
series. You simply connect a voltmeter across the circuit without disrupting the circuit
or breaking a connection.

Since some current is required through the voltmeter to operate the movement, the
voltmeter has some effect on the circuit to which it is connected. This effect is called
loading. However, as long as the meter resistance is much greater than the
resistance of the circuit across which it is connected, the loading effect is negligible.
This characteristic is necessary because we don't want the measuring instrument to
change the voltage that it is measuring.

Figure 13a shows a simple resistive circuit. Part b of the figure shows the same
circuit but with higher resistor values.

Example 3

Determine the exact voltage that would be measured with a 20-k O /V voltmeter
across R2 in the circuit of Figure 13.


In the circuit of Part a, the meter is in parallel with the 1-k O R2. The combined
resistance of the meter and R2 is

(200KΩ )(1KΩ ) = 0.995KΩ

200K Ω

Using the voltage divider rule, we determine V 2 as follows:

0.995K Ω
V2 = (12V )= 5.985V

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Without the meter's loading effect, V2 is 6 V. The meter loading produces an error of
15 mV, which in most cases is not enough to worry about. Figure 14 illustrates this

In the circuit of Part b, the meter is in parallel with the 200 k O R2. The combined
resistance of the meter and R2 is

(200 K O x 200 K O)/(200 K O + 200 K O) = 200 K O/2 = 100K O.

Using the voltage divider formula, we find V2 as follows:

100K Ω
V= (12V )= 4V

In this situation, the error is 2 V, which is unacceptable. The voltmeter loading is

significant, and this voltmeter could not be used in this case.

You would have to use a voltmeter with a higher internal resistance (the internal
resistance of a meter is usually referred to as input impedance).

Figure 15 illustrates this second case.

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The meter movement used for the ammeter and the voltmeter can also be adapted
for use in an ohmmeter. The ohmmeter is used to measure resistance values.

A basic one-stage ohmmeter is shown in Figure 16a. It contains a battery and a

variable resistor in series with the movement. To measure resistance, we connect
the leads across the external resistor to be measured, as shown in Part b. This
connection completes the circuit, allowing the internal battery to produce current
through the movement coil, causing a deflection of the pointer (needle) proportional
to the value of the external resistance being measured.

Zero Adjustment

When the ohmmeter leads are open, as in Figure 17a, the pointer is at full left scale,
indicating infinite (a) resistance (open circuit). When the leads are shorted, as in
Figure 17b, the pointer is at full scale, indicating zero resistance.

The purpose of the variable resistor is to adjust the current so that the pointer is at
exactly zero when the leads are shorted. It is used to compensate for changes in the
internal battery voltage due to aging.

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Ohmmeter Scales

Figure 18 shows one type of ohmmeter scale. Between zero and infinity (00), the
scale is marked to indicate various resistor values. Because the values decrease
from left to right, this scale is called a back-off scale

Let us assume that a certain ohmmeter uses a 50-µA, 10000 movement and has an
internal1.5- V battery. A current of 50-µA produces a full-scale deflection when the
test leads are shorted. To have 50 µA, the total ohmmeter resistance is 1.5 V/50 µA

= 30 kΩ . Therefore, since the coil resistance is 1 kΩ , the variable zero adjustment

resistor must be set at 30 k.Ω -1 kΩ = 29 kΩ .

Suppose that a 120-kΩ resistor is connected to the ohmmeter leads. This combined
with the 30- kΩ internal meter resistance; the total R is 150 kΩ . The current is 1.5 V
/150 kΩ = 10 µA, which is 20% of the full-scale current and which appears on the
scale as shown in Figure 18. Now, if a 45-kΩ resistor is connected to the ohmmeter
leads, a current of 1.5 V/75 kΩ = 20 µA, which is 40% of the full-scale current flows
in the circuit. This is marked on the scale shown. Additional calculations of this type
show that the scale is non-linear. It is more compressed toward the left side than the
right side.

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Multiple-Range Ohmmeter

An ohmmeter usually has several ranges. These typically are labelled R x 1, R x10,
R x100, R x 1k, R x 10k, R x 100k, and R x 1M, although some ohmmeters may not
have all of the ranges mentioned. These range settings are interpreted differently
from those of the ammeter or voltmeter. The reading on the ohmmeter scale is
multiplied by the factor indicated by the range setting. For example, if the pointer is
at 20 on the scale and the range switch is set at R x 100, the actual resistance
measurement is 20 x 100, or 20 ill. This example is illustrated in Figure 19 for a
typical scale.

To measure small resistances, you must use a higher ohmmeter current than is
needed for measuring large resistance values. Shunt resistors are used to provide
multiple ranges on the ohmmeter to measure a range of resistance values from very
small to very large. F or each range, a different value of shunt resistance is switched
in .The shunt resistance increases for a higher ohm ranges and is always equal to
the centre scale reading on any range. In some meters, a higher battery voltage is
used for the highest ohm range A typical circuit is shown in Figure 20.

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The 'MEGGER' is basically an ohmmeter arranged to test insulation. There are

several models. The most commonly used types are the model WM4 (the 'WEE
MEGGER@), which has a hand generator, and the battery-operated tester. Both
types are used for testing insulation and continuity.

The simplified circuits for the WM4 'MEGGER' are shown in Figure 21. Diagram (a)
is the circuit for insulation test and diagram (b) that for the continuity test. For
simplicity, the changeover from one circuit to the other is done by means of a switch.

The generator consists of a permanent magnet rotated by hand through suitable

gearing. This induces alternating current in the stator winding, which is fed to the
ohmmeter circuit via a voltage doubler circuit consisting of two diodes and two
capacitors. The test voltage is 250 V or 500 V.

The ohmmeter movement consists of two coils fixed at an angle to each other. The
control or pressure coil is connected across the generator output in series with
resistor D. This coil replaces the control spring in other types of instruments, and
when the generator handle is turned it causes the pointer to move towards infinity.
For insulation tests the deflecting or current coil is connected to the generator output
in series with the insulation resistance under test and the deflecting circuit resistance
C. This coil causes the pointer to move towards zero. The instrument measures the
ratio of the currents in the two coils, which will depend only on the resistance of the
insulation being tested. Thus the instrument is an ohmmeter and it is calibrated in
megohms and thousands of ohms.

For continuity tests (figure 21(b» the changeover switch connects the deflecting coil
in parallel with the resistance under test, so that for very low resistances the
deflecting coil current is small and the pointer will move anticlockwise, that is, the
scale reads in the opposite sense from that used for insulation tests. For the
continuity test a reduced voltage is applied by using only part of the stator winding.
The scale is calibrated in ohms.

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Tests of an installation and equipment and the location of faults

Most simple tests can be carried out using a 'MEGGER' continuity and insulation

Before any tests are made the circuit or equipment must be isolated from the supply
by opening the circuit switch or circuit breaker or removing the circuit fuses. Further
precautions are generally necessary, especially in large installations and where the
tests are being carried out at a point remote from the control switchgear.

When a circuit has been isolated the following insulation tests can be made using a

'MEGGER ' .All fuse links are left in the circuit except those, which had to be
removed in order to isolate the circuit.

1. All conductors are connected together electrically and the test made between
these conductors and the earth connector. All fuse links must be in place and all
switches closed. The insulation resistance should not be less than 1 MQ.

2. If possible, all appliances and equipment, including lamps and motors, should be
removed or disconnected from the circuit and all switches closed. If this is not
possible, switches controlling equipment left connected should be opened. The test
is now made between each conductor in turn and the other conductors in the circuit.
Again, the insulation resistance should not be less than 1 MQ.

3. A test between the terminals and the casing or framework of each piece of
equipment should give an insulation resistance of not less than 0.5 MQ.

If lower values than these are obtained, then the circuit should be investigated to find
if a fault exists or is developing. Faults may develop owing to the presence of
moisture, deterioration of insulation due to heat or chemical vapours, or mechanical
damage to the cable or equipment. It may be necessary to sections the system in
order to locate the position of the fault.

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When testing equipment, such as motors, for a fault it may be necessary to separate
armature from field windings, rotor from stator windings, or, in ac motors and
equipment, to separate the phase windings where this is possible. Starters should be
tested as separate items. With transformers, each phase winding should be tested
as separately if possible, in order to isolate a fault, and the insulation test should be
made between primary and secondary windings.

It is possible, where long lengths of cable are concerned, either in series or in

parallel, for a low insulation resistance to be obtained. This is due to the fact that all
insulation resistances are in parallel. This is illustrated by Figure 22.

Generally, the ammeter, voltmeter, and ohmmeter functions are combined into a
single instrument for economy and convenience. This instrument is called a
multimeter; some multifunction meters are called volt-ohm-milliammeter, abbreviated

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Definition of
ing can be
defined as the process of recognizing the symptoms of a malfunction, identifying the
possible causes, and locating the failed component or components using a
systematic procedure. In order to be an effective trouble-shooter, you must
understand the basic operation of the circuit or system on which you are working,
and you must know how to use the test equipment required to do the job.

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Effective troubleshooting requires a familiarity with possible failure modes of the

components in an electrical or electronic system. For example, resistors most always
become open or their resistance changes to a much higher value when they fail,
incandescent lamps open, and dc power supplies or batteries produce either
insufficient voltage or no voltage at all.

A resistor can bum out and open if it is dissipating more power than it is rated for.
Also, a resistor that is operated well below its power rating is less likely to fail than
one operated at or near its rated value.

The power in any resistor in a circuit under test can be established by measuring the
voltage across the resistor as shown in Figure 23a. Using the formula p = y21R, the
power can be calculated from the measured voltage and the known value of the
resistor. If the resistance value is not known, the power can be determined from the
voltage and current measurements, as shown in Figure 23b, using the formula p =
VI. Ideally, a resistor should be operated at no more than one-half of its power rating
to assure long life.

Checking a Resistance Value

If you suspect that the value of a resistor is not the same as its colour code or
labelling indicates, it can be checked with an ohmmeter or the ohmmeter function of
a multimeter.

In order to check accurately the value of a resistor, it must be disconnected from the
circuit. This prevents possible damage to the ohmmeter due to any voltage source in
the circuit under test; it also prevents an inaccurate measurement caused by any
other resistive elements that may appear in parallel with the resistor in question.

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Two general rules should be followed when making a resistance measurement in a

circuit: (1) disconnect the circuit from the power supply; and (2) disconnect the
resistor from the circuit by
removing at least one of
its leads from its circuit
connection. This is
illustrated in Figure 24a.

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In addition to resistance measurements, the ohmmeter can be used to check

continuity from one point to another in a circuit. The purpose of a continuity check is
to see if a direct connection exists between the two given points. If there is a direct
connection, the ohmmeter indicates either infinity or a finite resistance as shown if
Figure 24b and c.

Using the Voltmeter and Ammeter

You already know how the basic operation of the voltmeter and ammeter and how
they are used to make circuit measurements. The following comments should be

• When connecting meters in a circuit under test, always turn the power off first

• Always connect the dc ammeter in series with the component through which
current is to be measured. This requires breaking the circuit and inserting the
meter. The positive terminal must go toward the most positive side of the

• Always connect the dc voltmeter in parallel with the component across which
the voltage is to be measured. The positive terminal must go toward the most
positive side of the circuit.

• Set the range switches to ranges higher than the anticipated current or
voltage in order to prevent "pegging" the meter when power is turned back on.

• Turn the power on and adjust the range switches to get the most accurate

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We have just finished the discussion on the basic meter movements in relation to dc
measurements. The d' Arsonval movement is restricted to dc only, because a
unidirectional current is required to produce an upscale deflection as a result of the
fixed magnetic field. For ac measurement of current and voltage, an additional
circuitry is required. This additional circuitry consists of a rectifier, which converts ac
to dc. There are two types of rectifiers: half-wave and full-wave.

A half-wave rectifier is shown in block form in Figure 25a with its input and output.
The ac input is converted to pulsating dc on every positive half-cycle. The full-wave
rectifier converts the ac to pulsating dc on both the positive and the negative half-
cycles, as indicated in Figure 25b.

Basically, in ac meter the rectifier precedes the meter movement. The movement
responds to the average value of the pulsating dc. The scale can be calibrated to
show r.m.s. average or peak values, because these relationships are fixed
mathematically, as you have learned. Figure 26 shows a basic meter with a full-wave
rectifier for converting ac to dc

The electrodynamometer movement can be used to measure both dc and ac

quantities with no additional circuitry .A change in current direction does not alter the
upscale deflection, because both the stationary and the movable coils experience a
reversal of their magnetic fields.

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The Oscilloscope

The oscilloscope, or scope for short, is one of the most widely used and versatile test

instruments. It displays on a screen the actual wave shape of a voltage from which
amplitude, time, and frequency measurements can be made.

The oscilloscope is built around the cathode ray tube (CRT), which is the device that
displays the waveforms. The screen of the scope is the front of the CRT (Figure 27).

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Cathode Ray Tube (CRT)

The CRT is a vacuum device containing an electron gun that emits a narrow,
focused beam of electrons. A phosphorescent coating on the face of the tube forms
the screen. The beam is electronically focused and accelerated so that it strikes the
screen, causing light to be emitted at the point of impact.

Figure 28 shows the basic construction of a CRT. The electron gun assembly
contains a heater, a cathode, a control grid, and accelerating and focusing grids. The
heater carries current that indirectly heats the cathode, which in turn emits electrons.
The amount of voltage on the control grid determines the flow of electrons and thus
the intensity of the beam. The electrons are accelerated by the accelerating grid and
are focused by the focusing grid into a narrow beam that converges at the screen.
The beam is further accelerated to a high speed after it leaves the electron gun by a
high voltage on the anode surfaces of the CRT.

Deflection of the Beam

The purpose of the deflection plates in the CRT is to produce a "bending" or

deflection of the electron beam. This deflection allows the position of the point of
impact on the screen to be varied. There are two sets of deflection plates. One set
for vertical deflection, and the other set is for horizontal deflection.

Figure 29 shows a front view of the CRT's deflection plates. One plate from each set
is normally grounded as shown. If there is no voltage other plates, as in Figure 29a,
the beam is not deflected and hits the centre of the screen. If a positive voltage is on
the vertical plate, the beam is attracted upward, as indicated in Part b of the figure.
Remember that opposite charges attract. If a negative voltage is applied, the beam is
deflected downward because like charges repel, as shown in Part c.

Likewise, a positive or a negative voltage on the horizontal plate deflects the beam
right or left, respectively, as shown in Figure 29d and e. The amount of deflection is
proportional to the amount of voltage on the plates.

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Sweeping the Beam Horizontally

In normal oscilloscope operation, the beam is horizontally deflected from left to right
across the screen at a certain rate. This sweeping action produces a horizontal line
or trace across the screen, as shown in Figure 30.

The rate at which the beam is swept across the screen establishes a time base. The
scope screen is divided into horizontal (and Vertical) divisions, as shown in Figure
30. For a given time base, each horizontal division represents a fixed interval of time.
For example, if the beam takes 1 second for a full left-to-right sweep, then each
division represents 0.1 second. All scopes have provisions for selecting various
sweep rates.

The actual sweeping of the beam is accomplished by application of a sawtooth

voltage across the horizontal plates, as illustrated in Figure 31. When the sawtooth is
at its maximum negative peak, the beam is deflected to its left-most screen position.
This deflection is due to maximum repulsion from the right deflection plate.

As the sawtooth voltage increases, the beam moves toward the centre of the screen.
When the sawtooth voltage is zero, the beam is at the centre of the screen, because
there is no repulsion or attraction from the plate. As the voltage increases positively,
the plate attracts the beam, causing it to move toward the right side of the screen. At
the positive peak of the sawtooth, the beam is at its right-most screen position.

The rate at which the sawtooth goes from negative to positive is determined by its
frequency, which in turn establishes the sweep rate of the beam.

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When the sawtooth makes the abrupt change from positive back to negative, the
beam is rapidly returned to the left side of the screen, ready for another sweep.
During this "flyback" time, the beam is blanked out and thus does not produce a
trace on the screen.

How a Wave-Form Pattern Is Produced

The main purpose of the scope is to display the waveform of a voltage under test. To
do so, we apply the voltage under test across the vertical plates through a vertical
amplifier circuit. As you have seen, a voltage across the vertical plates causes a
vertical deflection of the beam. A negative voltage causes the beam to go below the
centre of the screen, and a positive voltage makes it go above centre.

Assume, for example, that a sine wave voltage is applied across the vertical plates,
as a result, the beam moves up and down on the screen. The extent that the beam
moves above or below the centre depends on the peak value of the sine wave
voltage. At the same time that the beam is being deflected vertically, it is also
sweeping horizontally, causing the vertical voltage wave form to be traced out across
the screen as shown in Figure 32. All scopes provide for the calibrated adjustment of
the vertical deflection, so each vertical division represents a known amoW1t of

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Shell Nigeria Graduate Training Programme Instrumentation

Oscilloscope Controls

There are a wide variety of oscilloscopes available, ranging from relatively simple
instruments with limited capabilities and much more sophisticated models that
provide a variety of optional functions and precision measurements. Regardless of
their complexity, however, all scopes have certain operational features in common.
Figure 33 shows a representative oscilloscope front panel.

FIGUIRE 33' Representative dual-trace oscilloscope front panel.

Screen: In the upper portion of Figure 33 is the CRT screen. There are 8 vertical
divisions and 10 horizontal divisions indicated with grid lines or graticules. A
standard screen size is 8 cm x 10 cm. The screen is coated with phosphor that emits
light when struck by the electron beam.

Power Switch and Light: This switch turns the power on and off to the scope. The
light indicates when the power is on.

Intensity: This control knob varies the brightness of the trace on the screen. Caution
should be used so that the intensity is not left too high for an extended period of

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time, especially when the beam forms a motionless dot on the screen. Damage to
the screen can result from excessive intensity.

Focus: This control focuses the beam so that it converges to a tiny point at the
screen. An-out-of-focus condition results in a fuzzy trace.

Horizontal Position: This control knob adjusts the neutral horizontal position of the
beam. It is used to reposition horizontally a waveform display for more convenient
viewing or measurement.

Seconds/Division: This selector switch sets the horizontal sweep rate. It is the time
base control. The switch selects the time interval that is to be represented by each
horizontal division in seconds, milliseconds, or microseconds. The setting in Figure
33 is at 10 µs. Thus, each of the ten horizontal divisions represents 10 µs: so there
are 100µs from the extreme left of the screen to the extreme right.

One cycle of the displayed sine wave covers eight horizontal divisions. Therefore,
the period of the sine wave is (8 div) (10 µs/div) = 80µs. From this the frequency can
be calculated as f= 1/T = 1/80 µs = 12.5 kHz. If the sec/div switch is moved to a
different setting, the displayed sine wave will change correspondingly. If it is moved
to a lower time setting, fewer cycles will be displayed.

If it is moved to a higher time setting, more cycles will be displayed

Trigger Control: These controls allow the beam to be triggered from various
selected sources. The triggering of the beam causes it to begin its sweep across the
screen. It can be triggered from an internally generated signal derived from an input
signal, or from the line voltage, or from an externally applied trigger signal. The
modes of triggering are auto, normal, and TV .In the auto mode, a trigger occurs in
the absence of an adequate trigger signal. In the normal mode, a trigger signal must
be present for the sweep to occur. The TV mode provides triggering on the TV field
or TV line signals. The slope switch allows the triggering to occur on either the
positive-going slope or the negative-going slope of the trigger waveform. The level
control selects the amplitude point on the trigger signal at which the triggering

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Basically, the trigger controls provide for synchronization of the sweep waveform and
the input signal waveform. As a result, the display of the input signal is stable on the
screen, rather than appearing to drift across the screen.

Volts/Division: The example scope in Figure 33 is a dual-trace type, which allows

two waveforms to be displayed simultaneously. Many scopes have only single-trace
capability. Notice that there are two identical volts/ div selectors. There is a set of
controls for each of the two input channels.

The volts/div selector switch sets the number of volts to be represented by each
division on the vertical scale. For example, the displayed sine wave is applied to
channel land covers four vertical divisions from the positive peak to the negative
peak. The volt/div switch for channel is set at 50mV, which means that each vertical
division represents 50 mV. Therefore, the peak-to-peak value of the sine wave is
(4div) (50 mV/div) = 200mV. If a lower setting were selected, the displayed wave
would cover more vertical divisions. If a higher setting were selected, the displayed
wave would cover fewer vertical divisions.

Notice that there is a set of three switches for selecting channel (CH 1), channel (CH
2), or dual trace. Either input signal can be displayed separately, or both can be
displayed as illustrated.

Vertical Position: The two vertical position controls move the traces up or down for
easier measurement or observation.

ac-gnd-dc-Switch: This switch, located below the volts/div control, allows the input
signal to be ac coupled, dc coupled, or grounded. The ac coupling eliminates any dc
component on the input signal. The dc coupling permits dc values to be displayed.
The ground position allows a zero volt reference to be established on the screen.

Input: The signals to be displayed are connected into the channel 1 and channel 2
input connectors. This connection is normally done via a special probe that minimize
the loading effect of the scope's input resistance and capacitance on the circuit being

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