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# RC Circuits

Purpose: 1. To study non linear, frequency dependent circuits 2. To construct high-/low-pass filter and find its cutoff frequency 3. To understand how to obtain frequency response of different RC circuits Apparatus: 1 10k Resistor 1 100 k Resistor 1 0.01 f capacitor 1 digital multimeter 1 oscilloscope 1 function generator 4 wires 3 BNC cables References: 1. Web appendix 2. Serway., Physics; For Scientists and Engineers 3. Gary A. Ybarra, Ph.D., Christopher E. Cramer, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Duke University
4. http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/~www_pa/Scots_Guide/experiment/highpass/hpf.html

Theory: An RC circuit is made of different combinations of capacitors and resistors. This kind of circuit has certain frequency response1 and thus can be used to reduce the amplitude of signals of certain input frequencies leaving others almost unaffected. In other words RC circuits built in different ways can allow to pass, say, low(high) frequencies cutting off high(low) frequencies (this kind of RC circuit is called low-pass(high-pass) filter) or they can allow to pass signals with a certain frequency range (so called band-pass filters2). Importance of learning of this type of circuits is determined but their wide area of applications: radio receivers, audio systems (e.g. low pass audio filter is used preselect low frequencies before amplification in a subwoofer) and even AC generators. Frequency dependent characteristics of RC the combined resistors and capacitors is due to the ability of a capacitor to store charge. While the capacitor in Figure 5-la, is charging, the voltage over the capacitor VC is increasing as in figure 5-lb until it reaches the power supply voltage VS. The current passing through the resistor R is initially large (figure 5-2) but it tends toward zero as the capacitor reaches full charge. As the capacitor discharges the voltage across the capacitor decreases.

Most common definition of a Frequency Response is a ratio of output voltage to input voltage H ( ) =

Vout Vin

Filters are frequency selective circuits (they have different impedance for input signals with different frequencies)

## (a) Fig. 5-1 Charging Capacitor in RC circuit with DC power source.

( b)

When the capacitor is first connected to the DC voltage source, there is a rush of charge current that is limited only by the value of resistor R. RC= is known as a time constant of the RC circuit. Fig. 5-2 Charging Capacitor current (IC) in RC circuit

Fig. 5-3 Primitive RC circuit (elements are connected in series). r internal resistance of the AC power source, V0 generators voltage, R and C are elements of the RC circuit. The time that it takes for the capacitor to respond is proportional to the product of the capacitance times the resistance. Time Constant == RC (5-1) In the present experiment, we will study two different ways to construct an RC circuit (which in our case will be called RC-filter). Our objective will be to study the effect of changing the frequency of the input voltage on the output signal. The physics involved in this problem is more understandable if the differential equation for the circuit is solved directly. Using Kirchhoff s second rule to algebraically add the potential drops around the RC circuit in Figure 5-1, the basic equation can be determined.

V0 = IR +

Q C

(5-2)

Since the input voltage is sinusoidal, it can be assumed to be: (5-3) V0=Vmsin(t+) where Vm is the maximum amplitude, is the angular frequency, and is an undetermined phase angle. The current through the circuit is assumed to be I = Im sin(t+) (5-4) where Im is the maximum current Figure 5-4 shows the input voltage and the current in the RC circuit.

Fig. 5-4 Phase shift between Input Voltage (V0) and current (I) Note that the current I and the voltage V0 are out of phase by 90. And it is a very simple fact: when capacitor is not charged the charging current is maximal but the voltage across it is minimal, on the other hand when it is almost charged current stop flowing but the voltage reaches its maximal value of Vm (AC source voltage). The angular frequency is related to the frequency by the expression: 2 = = 2f (5-5) T

Q= Im

(5-6)
Im cos(t ) C

## Now substituting V0, Q, and I into Equation 5-2:

Vm sin(t + ) = I m R sin(t ) (5-7)

A useful trigonometric identity is sin(a + b) = sin(a)cos(b) + cos(a)sin(b) (5-8) Using this identity on Equation 5-7 yields and combining terms with sin(t) factors we have: I [Vm cos( ) I m R ] sin(t ) + [Vm sin( ) + m ] cos(t ) = 0 (5-9) C Several interesting concepts can be obtained from this equation. The equation has units of voltage I (because Vm is voltage and sine and cosine factors are unitless) indicating that ImR and m must also C have units of voltage. ImR is the maximum voltage across the resistor VR. That is, VR = ImR (5-10) If a quantity, XC, is defined such that: XC=1/C (5-12) then XC must be a resistance since ImXC has units of voltage. The term used for this resistance is capacitive reactance. The maximum voltage across the capacitor is VC=ImXC (5-13) Now Equation 5-9 becomes

Vc ] cos(t ) = 0 (5-14) C Since sin(t) and cos(t) are linearly independent functions, then both the terms in brackets must be zero in order for the entire equation to be zero for arbitrary times t. Thus Vm cos( ) = Vr (5-15) [Vm cos( ) Vr ] sin(t ) + [Vm sin( ) Vm sin( ) = VC Dividing Equation 5-16 by Equation 5-15 yields
tan( ) = Substituting for Vc and Vr and canceling Im: tan( ) =

(5-16)

VC Vr XC Vr

(5-17)

(5-18)

2 (5-19) Vm = Vr2 + VC2 where the following trigonometric identity has been used: sin2() + cos2() = 1 (5-20)

Substituting for Vr and VC in Equation 5-19 yields: 2 2 Vm = Im (R2 + X C ) (5-21) Now a new quantity will be defined as the impedance, Z, of the circuit. That is, the "equivalent" resistance of the RC circuit: Vm=ImZ (5-22) Comparing Equations 5-21 and 5-22 immediately gives the quantity Z as Z2=R2+XC2 (5-23) One of the uses of the RC circuit is as a filter. A filter is a circuit whose output depends strongly on the input signal frequency. The resistor voltage is: RVm Vr = I m = RVm = I m = (5-24) Z or 2 ( RVm ) 2 (5-25) Vr = 2 1 2 R + C If the resistor voltage is used as the output of the RC circuit, Equation 5-25 indicates that at low frequencies Vr = 0 and at high frequencies Vr = Vm. This is called a high pass filter. Figure 5-6 shows the graph of the resistor voltage and its relationship to frequency. The capacitor voltage is: Vm (5-26) VC = (RC )2 + 1 If the capacitor voltage is used as the output of the RC circuit, Equation 5-26 indicates that at low frequencies Vc = Vm and at high frequencies Vc = 0. This is called a low pass filter. Figure 5-5 shows the graph of the capacitor voltage and its relationship to frequency.

It is important to see that cutoff frequency of such filter is expressed by: 1 fC = (5-27) 2RC The phase angle which exists between the input voltage and current in an RC circuit can be measured using Lissajous figures. Since the current in either circuit is in phase with the resistor voltage, then the phase angle between the input voltage and the resistor voltage will be the same as the phase angle between the input voltage and the current The Lissajous figure is formed by using the input voltage as the Y INPUT and the resistor voltage as the X INPUT. Since the two voltages have the same frequency, then the resultant Lissajous figure is similar to Figure 5-6. Y0 and Ym give the phase angle using the equation Y sin( ) = m (5-28) Y0

## Fig. 5-5 Frequency response of a low pass filter:

ideal curve (steep f-n) & cutoff frequency fC

Fig. 5-6 Frequency response of a high pass filter: ideal curve (steep f-n) & cutoff frequency fC

(a)

(b)

Fig. 5-7 Two different ways of constructing 2-element RC-filter (filter is outlined)

Procedure:
IMPORTANT: The amplitude of the function generator signal should be adjusted for each frequency such that it is always a constant voltage. (4 volts is recommended but is not required)

1.1 Setup:
a. Construct3 the circuit shown on Figure 5-8: using BNC cables connect Function Generator, and both channels of oscilloscope to the circuit board. MAKE SURE that all ground wires (shield from each BNC cable) are short circuited (according to fig. 5-8 that would be if BNC cable shield
from function generator and two other shields from oscilloscopes two channels would be connected to, say, bottom of the circuit); put filter capacitor (Cf), filter resistor (Rf), and load (Rl) in respective

b. c. d. e.

positions (for values of capacitance and resistance see figure description). CAUTION: double check your setup to avoid short circuiting (dead short) of ANY signal wire with the shield (either direct connection or thru the circuit board) this can damage function generator! Preset your Function Generator (Sine Wave form, desired frequency (see table 5-1), etc.) Ask instructor to check your circuit. Turn on the oscilloscope and preset4 it (both channels AC coupling; Volts/Div & Sec/Div as needed, both channels are NOT inverted). Turn on Function Generator, set the voltage to some integer easy to read value (say 4V). Remember that your input voltage can be controlled by CH-2. Set desired frequency (see Table 5-1).

1.2 Measurements:
a. Set the frequency of the Function Generator to the first listed in Table 5-1 and record your input (CH-2) voltage Vin and output (CH-1) voltage Vout. Control both voltage and frequency of the signal with oscilloscope and record possible uncertainties on respective Sec/Div and Volt/Div settings for future analysis. b. Changing settings of the vernier dial on the Function Generator go thru all frequencies listed making sure that your input voltage remains the same. Note: it is easy and convenient to go from higher to lower (or vice versa) frequency simply changing Function Generators multiplier vernier within a certain frequency band and then switching to another band and repeating the procedure. c. For each frequency in Table 5-1 record input voltage (CH-2) and output voltage (CH-1) d. Turn off the equipment.

## Fig. 5-8 RC filter with Capacitor in series (Rf=10k; Rl=100k; Cf=0.01F)

3 4

At this stage you will NOT take any measurements and you are NOT allowed to turn on any equipment. Make sure: your oscope is in YT mode; both channels have same Volt/Div settings and are CENTERED

2.1 Setup:

## Fig. 5-9 RC filter with Capacitor in parallel (Rf=10k; Rl=100k; Cf=0.01F)

a. Construct the circuit shown on Figure 5-9: similarly to step 1.1 for values of capacitance and resistance see figure description. CAUTION: double check your setup to avoid short circuiting (dead short) of ANY signal wire with the shield (either direct connection or thru the circuit board) this can damage function generator! b. Preset your Function Generator (Sine Wave form, desired frequency (see table 5-2), etc.) c. Ask instructor to check your circuit. d. Turn on the oscilloscope and preset it (both channels AC coupling; Volts/Div & Sec/Div as needed, both channels are NOT inverted). e. Turn on Function Generator, set the voltage to some integer easy to read value (say 4V). Remember that your input voltage can be controlled by CH-2. Set desired frequency (see Table 5-2).

2.2 Measurements:
a. Repeat the procedure 1.2a 1.2c and record respective values to the Table 5-2 b. Turn off the equipment.

Fig. 5-10 RC circuit with Capacitor and Resistor in series (Rf=10k; Cf=0.01F)

## Fig. 5-11 Phase Angle measurement with Lissajous figures

3.1 Setup:
a. Construct the circuit shown on Figure 5-10: for values of capacitance and resistance see figure description. CAUTION: double check your setup to avoid short circuiting (dead short) of ANY signal wire with the shield (either direct connection or thru the circuit board) this can damage function generator! b. Preset your Function Generator (Sine Wave form, desired frequency (see table 5-3), etc.) c. Ask instructor to check your circuit. d. Turn on the oscilloscope and preset it (MATH MENU subtraction: CH2 CH1; both channels AC coupling; Volts/Div & Sec/Div as needed, both channels are NOT inverted). e. Turn on Function Generator, set the voltage to some integer easy to read value (say 4V). Remember that your input voltage can be controlled by CH-2. Set desired frequency (see Table 5-3).

3.2 Measurements:
a. When Function Generator is preset and On find best fit for both signal keeping volts/div same for both channels. b. Switch CH-2 and make a measurement of input voltage (Vm) for highest listed in Table 3-1 frequency. Record the value in the table. c. Switch to CH-1 and get the output voltage (Vr) across the resistor (Rf). Record the value. d. To obtain capacitor voltage (VC) switch off both channels (double click on CH# button, then switch to MATH MENU choosing subtraction CH2 CH1 and record the value. MAKE sure both channels are at the same Volts/Div setting. e. Where it is needed to collect phase angles from Lissajous figures: switch off MATH Subtraction channel, switch both channels preset on the same Volt/Div setting and set DISPLAY MODE to XY. Obtain needed parameters Y0 and Ym (for Y0 & Ym see figure 5-11) and return to the procedure with other frequencies. f. Switch off the equipment and put everything in order.
Analysis: 1. Determining the properties of the RC circuit a. Calculate time constant of the RC circuit =RC, relate it to the respective frequency and make proper judgment about the characteristic time and frequency of your circuit (fig. 5-8 & fig. 5-9). b. For each frequency in Table 5-1 & Table 5-2 calculate frequency response H(f)=Vout/Vin H( f ) . c. For selected frequencies (see Tables 5-1 & 5-2) calculate the value of 2 d. Calculate theoretical cutoff frequency (fC) given by 5-27, for the RC circuit (fig. 5-8 & fig. 5-9). e. Create a graph (individually for Table 5-1 and for Table 5-2) x-axis of which would represent the frequency and y-axis Frequency Response H(f). On the x-axis mark the value of theoretical cutoff frequency fC calculated before and draw a vertical line to find the intersection with your H(f) plot (see fig. 5-5 and fig. 5-6). Compare respective value of the response function H(f) corresponding to the found point of intersection with your experimentally found H( f ) values. Was it close to any investigated frequency? Draw a number line to support your 2 result. Label the axis and the graph. f. Calculate Im for selected frequencies in Table 5-3 using Ohms Law for resistors voltage (Vr) and resistance Rf) and record it. (refers to fig. 5-10) g. For linear frequencies listed in table 5-3 calculate respective angular frequencies and record in Tables 5-4 & 5-5. h. Calculate the theoretical and experimental capacitive reactances XC for each frequency in Table 5-3 and record in Table 5-4. Calculate the percent error of the experimental result and record in

Table 5-4. i. Calculate the theoretical and experimental impedances (Z) for the RC circuit (fig. 5-10) and record in Table 5-4. Calculate the percent error of the experimental result and record in Table 5-4. f. Calculate the theoretical and experimental (from Lissajous figures) phase angles for each frequency listed in Table 5-4 and record in Table 5-5. Calculate the percent error of the experimental result and record in Table 5-5. g. Based on your graphs from step (e) find which of the RC circuits was a high-pass and which was low-pass (compare investigated circuit with ones shown on fig. 5-7). Justify your answer: use mathematical explanations in terms of reactance XC; consider limiting cases: f0Hz and f see what happens with XC and make a proper judgment.

Discussion:
1. According to this manual and the experimental your results what would be the output signal amplitude (Vout) if a high frequency signal was an input for low-pass RC filter? (HINT: consider a plot
for frequency response (fig. 5-5; 5-6), see the limiting cases).

2. Explain how did the RC circuit acted as a filter in both cases (1.2 and 2.2 part of the experiment). Did the two graphs (analysis (e)) indicate the filter effect and show the cutoff frequency? 3. If a DC signal is to be transmitted into the next part of the device and AC component is to be filtered out which filter: fig. 5-5 or fig. 5-6 should be used. And what can be said about Capacitance of Cf (if you want to make sure that as much of AC signal is filtered as possible). 4. Explain what is meant by phase angle. Which phase angle between current and capacitor voltage VC would be in a circuit with capacitor connected in series with the load Rl? 5. Which phase angle should two AC signals with the same amplitudes have to completely compensate each other if being added together? Can a DC signal have phase? 6. According to Ohms law can a loaded with certain resistance (say Rl) low pass RC filter like one on fig. 5-7(b) have a frequency response H(f) = 1 at certain frequency? Explain (include load Rl in your consideration and think in terms of series connection, apply Ohms law). 7. Name blocking (a.k.a. shunting) capacitor is widely used in electronics and means that this circuit element is either short circuiting AC signals or blocking the way for DC signals (allowing to pass only an AC component). Thinking of reactance XC how would you put a blocking capacitor: in parallel or in series with an AC input source? Explain by analyzing the limiting cases for XC=1/C (set and 0). 8. Why at higher frequencies almost no voltage in RC circuit is left on capacitor (consider Ohms law and see question #7 for hints)? 9. Explain why is not Vm = Vc + Vr? 10. How much the cutoff frequency would change (consider the ratio fcold/fcnew) if the capacitor Cfadd=5x10-4F would be added to Cf?

Table 5-1 Frequency Response of an RC-filter Input Frequency Input Voltage Output Voltage Frequency Response f (_____) Vin (____) Vout (____) H(f)= Vout /Vin

H( f ) 2

100000 35000 10000 5000 3000 2000 1600 1000 600 100 Cutoff frequency (from plot) fC = _____ (__) Cutoff frequency (theoretical) fC = _____ (__) % ERROR = _____ (__)
Table 5-2 Frequency Response of an RC-filter Input Frequency Input Voltage Output Voltage Frequency Response f (_____) Vin (____) Vout (____) H(f)= Vout /Vin

H( f ) 2

100000 35000 10000 5000 3000 2000 1600 1000 600 100 Cutoff frequency (from plot) fC = _____ (__) Cutoff frequency (theoretical) fC = _____ (__) % ERROR = _____ (__)

## Table 5-3. f (__) 6000 3000 1600 800 Table 5-4.

Frequency (___)

Vm (__)

Vr (__)

Vc (__)

Im=Vr/Rf

Y0

Ym

Reactance
theoretical

Impedance
%
Z
theoretical

XC

experimental

XC

Z
experimental

Difference

%
Difference

Table 5-5.
(___)
from Lissajous Figures

Theoretical

%
Difference