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# Lab 3: Thevenin Equivalent Circuit; Beyond Parallel and Series

## LAB EXPERIMENTS USING NI ELVIS II AND NI MULTISIM

Alexander Ganago Jason Lee Sleight
University of Michigan Ann Arbor

## Lab 3 Thevenin Equivalent Circuit; Beyond Parallel and Series

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Introduction Page 1 of 8

## Goals for Lab 3

Learn about the Thevenin equivalent circuit: in the pre-lab, model a simple circuit with a source resistance and variable load resistance in the lab, build such circuits and do the measurements of voltage and current in the post-lab, compare the results of your modeling with your lab data; draw conclusions on the maximal power transfer in your circuit

Explore (for extra credit) whether the NI ELVIS power supply acts as an independent voltage source (without a resistance in series); if your measurements disprove it, calculate the source resistance. Learn about circuits that do not reduce to parallel/series connection: model them in pre-lab build them on the NI ELVIS PB in the lab; measure the currents and voltages compare your lab data with the results of your modeling in the post-lab.

Explore (for extra credit) the relationship between the circuits you built in this lab with the Wheatstone bridge circuit, which you learned in Lab 2 Learn about potentiometers Explore (for extra credit) how to build circuits with potentiometers Explore (for extra credit) how the equivalent resistance of the circuits depends on the terminals, between which you measure it.

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Introduction Page 2 of 8

## Lab 3: Thevenin Equivalent Circuit; Beyond Parallel and Series

Introduction
In this lab, you will be working with more circuits and more methods for their analysis; you will learn concepts of key importance for you future careers. One of the reasons for learning new stuff is that the old stuff does not work so well. Consider an independent voltage source shown on this diagram. It is called so because we expect that this source maintained voltage difference of V S between its terminals is independent of anything else in the circuit, for example, independent of the equivalent load resistance R eq , to which the source is connected.
B B B B

According to this circuit model, the current through 2 VS VS 2 the load equals I = and the power absorbed by the load equals I R eq = thus R eq R eq both the current and the power can grow infinitely high as the load resistance R eq decreases to zero. If your voltage source is a model of an AAA battery, and your equivalent load resistance is that of many light bulbs connected in parallel, you can reach a conclusion that one battery could be enough to illuminate a large lecture hall, which is certainly absurd. Whats not working so well in this example is the oversimplified circuit model for a voltage source. A better model includes a source resistance as shown on the second diagram. Here the load is connected to the right of the terminals a and b, while to the left of these terminals are the source and its resistance. You as the user can alter the load resistance but have no control over the source resistance. As you will observe in the pre-lab, this circuit model is free from absurd conclusions such as infinitely high current or power. The current in this circuit and the voltage across the load resistance are easy to calculate using the formulas for series connection of resistors, voltage division, etc. You have probably noticed that subscripts on the second diagram changed from those on the first. The new subscripts V T and R T remind us about the important Thevenin theorem, which serves as a powerful tool for circuit analysis.
B B B B

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Lab 3: Thevenin Equivalent Circuit; Beyond Parallel and Series According to this theorem, any linear circuit that contains sources and resistors can be reduced to its equivalent, which includes only one voltage source V T along with its resistance R T .
B B B B

The Thevenin circuit is equivalent to the original one if they both exhibit the same load characteristics, which can be plotted as a voltage-current curve. For the Thevenin circuit, the load characteristic is linear; it can be drawn on the plot as a straight line connecting the two points on the axes, as shown on this sketch. One of these pointson the voltage axis corresponds to zero current and maximal voltage; it is called the open-circuit voltage and measured or calculated when nothing is connected to the terminals a and b. The other pointon the current axiscorresponds to zero voltage and maximal current; it is called the short-circuit current and could be measured when terminals a and b are connected with a wire of zero resistance. Note that in practice it can be dangerous to short-circuit the terminals of a voltage source thus we often obtain the load characteristics by plotting data measured with several different load resistances. For theoretical calculations, there is no danger in the assumption that terminals are short-circuited. The power that can be transferred from the circuit to the load reaches its maximum if the load resistance equals the Thevenin resistance of the circuit; in this case
I= VT VT = RT + RL 2 RT V = I RL = T 4 RT
2 2

PL , MAX

On the other hand, from the measured voltage VL and current I in the circuit with the known load resistance, you can calculate the Thevenin equivalent voltage VT and the Thevenin equivalent resistance R T (of course, in order to calculate both parameters, you should do the measurements with at least 2 load resistances). Multisim presents a powerful tool for modeling the circuits and predicting results of lab measurements but its predicting poweror accuracy of simulationsis limited, in particular, by the circuit model used in simulations: for example, simulation results depend on whether you take into account or neglect the Thevenin equivalent resistance of the power supply used in the lab.

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Introduction Page 4 of 8

Lab 3: Thevenin Equivalent Circuit; Beyond Parallel and Series Many circuits can be reduced to parallel/series combinations of resistors thus solved using familiar formulas for voltage and current division, but many more circuits cannot be reduced and should be solved with more advanced methods such as node voltages and mesh currents. Also, Multisim allows you to simulate circuits beyond parallel and series combinations of resistors, to calculate voltages and currents in such circuits, and to determine their parameters such as the equivalent resistance.

Resistance measurements
To measure the resistance of a resistor, we simply connect it to the two terminals of an ohmmeter, labeled HI and LO on the sketch below, and read the resistance from the display. Remember: you must disconnect the resistor from your circuit before measuring the resistance. Otherwise, you will not obtain the correct reading of resistance. Here is why. The ohmmeters internal circuitry includes a voltage source V S (usually, ~1 V) and has a certain equivalent internal resistance R S .
B B B B B

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Lab 3: Thevenin Equivalent Circuit; Beyond Parallel and Series The component whose resistance you wish to measure is connected to the two terminals labeled HI and LO on the equivalent circuit diagram shown here. From the voltage V S and the current I that flows through the terminals HI and LO (or the voltage drop between the terminals HI and LO), the instrument calculates the resistance R using the formula for voltage division, etc., and displays R in the units of ohms.
B B

Note the important rule: NOTHING is connected to the resistor on the right. If this rule is broken, the relationship between the voltage V S applied by your ohmmeter and the current through the terminals HI and LO will be distorted and the resistance R will be calculated wrongly.
B B

A typical beginners mistake is to hold the resistor between fingers while measuring its resistance: some current I 2 will flow through the human skin and body.
B B

Although, in resistance measurements, such currents are not harmful (and barely noticeable), results of such resistance measurement will be worthless.

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## Lab 3: Thevenin Equivalent Circuit; Beyond Parallel and Series

Another typical mistake is to keep the resistor, whose resistance you measure, connected to other parts of your circuit as shown here. Even if your circuit is not connected to a power supply, the current through the terminals HI and LO will now depend not only on the resistance R but also on the other parts of the circuit thus, from the relationship between this current and V S , the resistance R will be calculated wrongly.
B B

The worst mistake is to measure resistance of a resistor, which is still connected to the circuit that has its power supply turned on. In this case, the current through the terminals HI and LO will depend on the voltage V S2 applied by the power supply; if V S2 is high, it can even damage the ohmmeter.
B B B B

Learn about these mistakes and avoid them in the lab. The equivalent resistance of a circuit is defined as the ratio of the voltage applied to the circuit to the current that flows through that circuit; it does not matter whether the circuit is reducible to a series/parallel combination of resistors. For example, the entire Circuit 5 (see the pre-lab) can be represented with its V equivalent resistance R EQ = S . ITotal This definition applies to simulations and measurements: in the pre-lab, you will simulate the circuit, determine VS and ITotal and calculate R EQ ; in the lab you will build the circuit and measure VS and ITotal ; in the post-lab you will compare the two values of R EQ .

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## Lab 3: Thevenin Equivalent Circuit; Beyond Parallel and Series

Potentiometer
A potentiometer, or pot in the EE jargon, is basically a resistor with three connectors: in addition to the end connectors A and B, there is a movable tap C. The resistance between the potentiometers ends is fixed R AB = R P (the potentiometers resistance) while the resistance R X = R AC between the end and the tap is variable.
B B B B B B B B

Evidently, the resistance between the tap and the other end connector equals (R P R X ).
B B B B

Thus the potentiometer is equivalent to two resistors as shown on the second diagram here. Sometimes, for circuit analysis, it may help you to redraw the diagram with a pot into that with two resistors. Potentiometers are used for user control, such as loudness of sound (volume control) of an audio system, and can control a wide variety of functions in electronic circuits. In circuits, potentiometers are used as variable resistors and voltage dividers. Two equivalent circuit diagrams for a potentiometer. Node C is the movable tap.

When a pot is used as a variable resistor, one of its end connectors is either left open (this is what you will do in this lab) or connected to the tap, as shown on two diagrams below. This device potentiometer with two connectorsis sometimes called a rheostat.

## Potentiometer as a variable resistor

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## Lab 3: Thevenin Equivalent Circuit; Beyond Parallel and Series

Pre-Lab
Problem 1
The purpose of this problem is to compare circuit models for an independent voltage source and introduce the concept of maximal power transfer to the load. If a similar problem is assigned in homework, this one can be skipped. Part 1 Consider a C-type battery as an independent voltage source V S = 1.5 V, and equivalent load resistance that is varied from 0.01 to 100 . Use software, with which you are comfortable (EXCEL, MATLAB, MATHSCRIPT, etc.) to generate a plot that shows two variables as functions of the load resistance R eq (use a logarithmic axis for R eq and show at least 5 points per decade, such as between 0.01 and 0.1 or between 10 and 100 ):
B B B B B B

a. Current I in the circuit b. Power absorbed by the load resistance Part 2 Consider a C-type battery as a voltage source V T = 1.5 V with the source resistance equal R T = 1 , and the load resistance R L that is varied from 0.01 to 100 . Use software, with which you are comfortable (EXCEL, MATLAB, MATHSCRIPT, etc.) to generate a plot (use a logarithmic axis for R eq , as in Part 1) that shows:
B B B B B B B B

a. Current I in the circuit b. Power absorbed by the load resistance Part 3 Use your results obtained in Parts 1 and 2 to answer the following questions. A. Does the source resistance limit the power absorbed by the load? B. At what R L, max does the power absorbed by the load reach its maximum in each of the circuits?
B B

C. Which of the modelsPart 1 or Part 2seems more realistic to you and why? D. In Part 2, how does load resistance R L, max relate to the source resistance R T ?
B B B B

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## Lab 3: Thevenin Equivalent Circuit; Beyond Parallel and Series

Pre-Lab (continued)
Problem 2
The purpose of this problem is to compare circuit models for an independent voltage source and introduce the concept of maximal power transfer to the load. If a similar problem is assigned in homework, this one can be skipped. For the circuit used in Pre-Lab Problem 1 Part 2, plot the load characteristics and determine the open-circuit voltage and short-circuit current. From theory, we expect that the maximal power absorbed by the load resistance 1 equals PL, max = VOC ISC . 4 Calculate P L, max from the load characteristics and measure it from your plot in Pre-Lab Problem 1 Part 2; calculate the percentage difference between the two values and discuss whether they agree.
B B

Problem 3
In the lab, you will build a circuit, which includes a voltage source that has terminals a and b and two resistors 100 that is fixed and R L , which is variable.
B B

Using this circuit, you will measure the voltage across the load resistor R L and calculate the power transferred to the load (absorbed by R L ).
B B B B

When you begin this experiment, you do not know which circuit model (shown here as Circuit 1 and Circuit 2) to use for the source; in other words, whether you may neglect the source resistance R T or have to take it into account. Note that you will have access only to terminals a and b and the circuit to the right of them, but not to the guts of the voltage source.
B B

## (Continued on the next page)

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## Lab 3: Thevenin Equivalent Circuit; Beyond Parallel and Series

Pre-Lab (continued)
Problem 3 (continued)
Use Multisim to model Circuits 1 and 2 shown on these diagrams. In both circuits, assume V T = 6 V. In Circuit 2, assume R T = 50 (which is typical for many function generators). In both circuits, consider load resistances: 20 , 50 , 100 , 200 , and 500 .
B B B B

For each load resistance, obtain the voltage V L in each circuit and the power absorbed by the load. Fill the table below (use ohms, volts, and milliwatts).
B B

Explain how you would choose between the two models for the voltage source.

Circuit 1 R_Load Voltage V_L 20 50 100 200 500 Show your work on additional pages. Power P_L Voltage V_L

## Circuit 2 Voltage V_a Power P_L

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## Lab 3: Thevenin Equivalent Circuit; Beyond Parallel and Series

Pre-Lab (continued)
Problem 4
In the lab, you will build Circuits 3, 4, and 5 (shown on the next page) and measure currents through resistors, node voltages, and the equivalent resistances. Use Multisim to model Circuits 3, 4, and 5 shown on the diagrams. In all circuits, assume V S = 6 V.
B B

B B

R 2 = 1000
B B

R 3 = 500
B B

R 4 = 150
B B

B B

## For each circuit, determine: the node voltages V A and V B in volts,

B B B B B B

the total current I Total and the current through each resistor (in Circuit 4, also, the current through the wire connecting nodes A and B) in milliamps, and the circuits equivalent resistance in ohms.

## Record your results in the following table: Circuit 3 4 5 VA

B

VB
B

I1
B

I2
B

I3
B

I4
B

I 5 /I Wire
B B B

I Total
B

R eq
B

NA

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## Lab 3: Thevenin Equivalent Circuit; Beyond Parallel and Series

Pre-Lab (continued)
Problem 4 (continued)
Briefly explain why the equivalent resistances of the three circuits, which are built of the same components, are so different.

## Problem 5 (for extra credit)

Circuit 6 shown here is built with the same resistors as Circuit 5 above, with the variable resistor R X added in series with R 4 .
B B B B B B B

Determine the value of R X such that the current I 5 vanishes. Your result: R X = _____________ .
B B

Show your work. Hint: Refer to Lab 2; note that the current I 5 vanishes if V A =V B , which means that the Wheatstone bridge built of R 1 , R 2 , R 3 , R 4 is balanced.
B B B B B B B B B B B B B B

## Use Multisim to verify your result.

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## Lab 3: Thevenin Equivalent Circuit; Beyond Parallel and Series

Pre-Lab (continued)
Problem 6 (for extra credit)
Circuit 7 shown here is built with the same resistors as Circuit 5 above. Calculate the equivalent resistance R CD in ohms between terminals C and D. Note that Circuit 7 is reducible to parallel/series combination of resistors.
B B

## Your result: R CD = ______________ .

B B

Show your work. Use Multisim to verify your result. Briefly explain why the equivalent resistances of circuits 5 and 7, which are built of the same components, are so different.

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## Lab 3: Thevenin Equivalent Circuit; Beyond Parallel and Series

In-Lab Work
Part 1: Thevenin Equivalent Circuits
SAFETY NOTE: for this part of the lab, the power consumed by each individual resistor will be relatively high. You should thus use W resistors instead of the standard W resistors. Turn on the NI ELVIS II. Build Circuit 1 from pre-lab, it is repeated here for your convenience:

## Where R L = 100 . Use the VPS to supply the input voltage.

B B

Power on the PB. Open the NI ELVISmx Instrument launcher and run the DMM and VPS. On the VPS VI set the SUPPLY+ voltage to be 6 V. Run the VPS VI. On the DMM VI, ensure you are in DC Voltage mode. Run the DMM VI. Measure the voltage drop across R L and record it in the following table.
B B

Power off the PB. Repeat the measurements for each of the other values of R L .
B B

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R L ()
B B

B B

## 20 50 100 200 500

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## Part 2: Node Voltage, Mesh Current, and Equivalent Resistance

In this part, you will build Circuits 3, 4, and 5 from the pre-lab (the diagrams are repeated here for your convenience), take data and record them in the table below. In the post-lab, you will analyze your lab data and compare them with your pre-lab results.

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Lab 3: Thevenin Equivalent Circuit; Beyond Parallel and Series In all circuits use: R 1 = 50 ,
B B

R 2 = 1000 ,
B B

R 3 = 500 ,
B B

R 4 = 150 ,
B B

R 5 = 200 .
B B

B B

B B

B B B

## use the DMMs ammeter to measure I 5 /I Wire and I Total

B B B B B B

use the DMMs ohmmeter to measure R eq directly (make sure the power supply is disconnected for this measurement).
B B

Record your results in the table on page 5. Compare the results of your measurements with the results of your pre-lab simulations. If they differ by more than 5%, try to find your error but do not spend more than 5 minutes troubleshooting: ask your Lab instructor for help.

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Lab 3: Thevenin Equivalent Circuit; Beyond Parallel and Series Repeat the measurements for Circuit 4.

## Repeat the measurements for Circuit 5.

Circuit 3 4 5

VA
B

VB
B

I 5 /I Wire
B B B

I Total
B

R eq
B

NA

This is the end of the required lab. If you are not going to continue with the explorations, power off the PB and NI ELVIS II and clean up your workstation.

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## Part 3 (optional): Exploration

Build Circuit 6 from the pre-lab, it is repeated here for your convenience:

Where R 1 = 50 ,
B B

R 2 = 1000 ,
B B

R 3 = 500 ,
B B

R 4 = 150 ,
B B

R 5 = 200 ,
B B

B B

B B

B B

## Use the DMMs ammeter to measure the current through R 5 .

B B

Power on the PB and run the DMM and VPS VIs. Adjust R X until I 5 is 0 mA.
B B B B

## Continued on the next page

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Lab 3: Thevenin Equivalent Circuit; Beyond Parallel and Series After you adjusted R X so that I 5 is 0 mA, your next challenge is to measure R X .
B B B B B B

## This diagram shows the dangerous way to measure R X :

B B

the current from V S can flow through your ohmmeter and might damage it.
B B

This diagram, which we will call Method 1, shows a safer way to measure R X , which can be erroneous because other resistors contribute to the measured value (see below).
B B

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## Lab 3: Thevenin Equivalent Circuit; Beyond Parallel and Series

The third way to measure R X, which we will call Method 2, is to disconnect the potentiometer from the prototyping board and measure the resistance between its two terminals.
B B

Two challenges here are: avoid moving the tap, and remember between which terminals you have to measure R X
B

Record the resistance of R X using both Method 1 and Method 2. The rationale for using Method 1 is to get convinced that it can indeed lead to errors.
B B

## Disconnect the power supply from the circuit.

Measure R X according to Method 1 (see the diagram above).
B B

Remove the potentiometer from the circuit and measure its resistance R X according to Method 2.
B B

Record both results. Method 1 2 This is the end of the lab. Power off the PB and NI ELVIS II and clean up your workstation. R X ()
B B

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## Lab 3: Thevenin Equivalent Circuit; Beyond Parallel and Series

Post-Lab
Problem 1 In pre-lab Problem 3, you calculated the power transferred to the load in two circuits shown below: the difference is that in Circuit 1 you neglected the source resistance R T , while in Circuit 2 you assumed that R T equals 50 .
B B B B

In the lab, you built a circuit, with a voltage source and two resistors100 (fixed) and R L (variable), in which you measured the voltage V L across the load resistor R L .
B B B B B B

Use your lab data and calculate the power transferred to the load (absorbed by R L ). Write your results in the table on the next page. Show your work.
B B

When doing this experiment, you did not know which model (Circuit 1 or 2) to use for the source; in other words, whether to take R T into account. Now, from the known V T , R L , and V L , you can calculate R T in the circuit and conclude which of the models is correct.
B B B B B B B B B B

Use your lab data for each load resistance and calculate R T in ohms. Write your results in the table on the next page. Show your work. If your results for various loads differ, calculate the average and standard deviation in ohms.
B B

Briefly explain which model (Circuit 1 or 2) is better for the NI ELVIS II power supply. If you choose Circuit 2, specify the value of R T in ohms.
B B

## Continued on the next page

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## Lab 3: Thevenin Equivalent Circuit; Beyond Parallel and Series

Post-Lab (continued)
Problem 1 (continued)
R_Load 20 50 100 200 500 Average R T
B B

## Voltage V_L (your lab data)

Power P_L in mW

Source resistance RT
B B

B

## Continued on the next page

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## Lab 3: Thevenin Equivalent Circuit; Beyond Parallel and Series

TT

Post-Lab (continued)

Problem 2 In pre-lab Problem 4, you simulated Circuits 3, 4, and 5 (shown on the next page), obtained the currents through resistors, node voltages, and the equivalent resistances. In the lab, you built each of these circuits and measured the voltages, currents, and the equivalent resistance. Compare your lab data with your pre-lab simulations: for each of the parameters in the circuits, calculate the percentage difference Measured Simulated 100% Simulated Record your results in the table on the next page. Briefly explain whether your simulation results agree with your lab data. In case of a serious disagreement (>10%), repeat the simulation using the actual resistances, which you measured in the lab. Continued on the next page

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## Lab 3: Thevenin Equivalent Circuit; Beyond Parallel and Series

Post-Lab (continued)
TT

Problem 2 (continued)

Circuit 3 Simulated Measured % difference Circuit 4 Simulated Measured % difference Circuit 5 Simulated Measured % difference

VA
B

VB
B

I Total
B

R eq
B

V A (= V B )
B B B B

I Wire
B

I Total
B

R eq
B

VA
B

VB
B

I5
B

I Total
B

R eq
B

## Continued on the next page

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## Lab 3: Thevenin Equivalent Circuit; Beyond Parallel and Series

Post-Lab (continued)
Problem 3 (for extra credit) In pre-lab Problem 5 you simulated Circuit 6, which is built with the same resistors as Circuit 5 above, with the variable resistor R X added in series with R 4 , and determined the value of R X such that the current I 5 vanishes.
B B B B B B B B

In the lab, you built this circuit and varied the value of R X until I 5 vanished.
B B B B

## Summarize your results: Simulated: R X = _____________

B B

Measured (according to the correct Method 2, see the circuit diagram below): R X = _____________
B B

## Measured Simulated 100% = Simulated

Discuss the agreement/disagreement between theory and experiment.

In case of a serious disagreement (>10%), explain its possible cause. Continued on the next page

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## Lab 3: Thevenin Equivalent Circuit; Beyond Parallel and Series

Post-Lab (continued)
Problem 4 (for extra credit) In the lab, you measured R X using two methods: Method 1, which is erroneous because other resistors in the circuit contribute to the measured value,
B B

and Method 2, in which you disconnected the potentiometer from the prototyping board and measured the resistance between its two terminals. In pre-lab Problem 6, you calculated the equivalent resistance R CD whose presence in Method 1 circuit makes the difference.
B B

Use your pre-lab results to calculate the resistance measured according to the erroneous Method 1. Calculated: _____________ Measured: _____________ Calculate the percentage difference

## Measured Simulated 100% = Simulated

Discuss the agreement/disagreement between theory and experiment.

## In case of a serious disagreement (>10%), explain its possible cause.

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