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IPES

V/I, I/V, V/F, F/V CONVERTERS


mod. MCM7A/EV

Volume 1/2
THEORY and EXERCISES

TEACHER/STUDENT handbook

COPYRIGHT BY ELETTRONICA VENETA S.P.A.

MCM7A$$101E0.doc

CONTENTS

SAFETY RULES

page 1

Lesson A20 DESCRIPTION of the MODULE

page 3

A20.1 Identifying the components


A20.2 Description of the module
Lesson A21 V/I and I/V CONVERTERS

A21.1
A21.2
A21.3
A21.4
A21.5
A21.6

page 5

Introduction
V/I converters
I/V converters
Characteristics of V/I Converters
Characteristics of I/V Converters
Exercises

Lesson A22: DESCRIPTION of V/I and I/V CONVERTERS

page 15

A22.1 Description of V/I Converter


A22.2 Calibrating the V/I Converter
A22.3 Description of I/V Converter
A22.4 Calibrating the I/V Converter
A22.5 Exercises
Lesson A23 F/V and V/F CONVERTERS

A23.1
A23.2
A23.3
A23.4
A23.5
A23.6

page 22

Introduction
V/F Converters
F/V Converters
Characteristics of V/F Converters
Characteristics of F/V Converters
Exercises

Lesson A24: DESCRIPTION of V/F and FV CONVERTERS

A24.1 Description of the V/F Converter


A24.2 Calibrating the V/F Converter
A24.3 Description of the F/V Converter
A24.4 Calibrating the F/V Converter
A24.5 Exercises
VOLUME 2/2: OPERATIONAL HANDBOOK
1. UNPACKING and INSPECTION
2. INSTALLATION
3. SETTING at WORK
4. ELECTRIC DIAGRAMS
5. MAINTENANCE
6. ANSWERS to the QUESTIONS

page 35

SAFETY RULES

SAFETY RULES

Keep this handbook at hand for any further help.


After the packaging has been removed, set all accessories in order so
that they are not lost. In particular, check that the module is integral and
shows no visible damage.
Before powering the module with the supply voltage of 12 V, make
sure that the power leads are connected correctly with the power supply.
This equipment must be employed only for the use it has been
conceived, i.e. as educational equipment, and it must be used under the
direct supervision of expert personnel. Any other use is illegitimate and
therefore dangerous. The manufacturer cannot be held responsible for
any damage due to illegitimate, wrong or unreasonable use.
This symbol indicates that this equipment will be disposed of separately
from the other wastes. At the end of its lifetime, this equipment will be
conveyed to the proper centres of separate collection of waste, or it will
be returned to the tradesman when a new equivalent equipment is
purchased.
A proper separate collection ensures that the eliminated apparatuses will
undergo the necessary treatment and recycling for preventing any
negative effect on the environment and on mens health

-1-

NECESSARY EQUIPMENT (Lessons where the only Module is used)

Testing module mod.MCM7A/EV


Power supply mod. PSLC/EV or PS1-PSU/EV
Module holder mod. BOX/EV (optional)
__________ _ __________

NECESSARY EQUIPMENT (Lessons where Module and Software CBT


are used)

Testing module mod.MCM7A/EV


Power supply mod. PSLC/EV or PS1-PSU/EV
Interfaces mod. SIS3-U/EV or mod.SIS3/EV or mod.SIS4-P/EV
with software CBT
Personal Computer with USB ports and O.S. Windows XP or
higher version
Module holder mod. BOX/EV (optional)
__________ _ __________

LESSONS

The lessons described in this handbook include some MULTIPLECHOICE questions (quizzes).
Several possible answers are suggested to each question, but only one is
correct.
__________ _ __________

-2-

Lesson A20: Description of the module

LESSON A20: DESCRIPTION of the MODULE

A20.1 IDENTIFYING the COMPONENTS


The educational system for the study of V/I, I/V,V/F, F/V Converters
(fig. A20.1) consists of the module mod. MCM7A:

Fig. A20.1 - Module mod. MCM7A

-3-

Lesson A20: Description of the module

A20.2 DESCRIPTION of the MODULE


The module MCM7A (fig. A20.2) includes the following sections:

REFERENCE GENERATOR: it outputs the regulated voltage


+VREF: +8 Vdc, starting from the voltage of +12 Vdc.
V/I CONVERTER: V/I conversion; the input voltage range is: 0 to 8
Vdc, and the output current range is: 4 to 20 mA
I/V CONVERTER: I/V conversion; the input current range is: 4 to
20 mA, and the output voltage range is: 0 to 8 Vdc
V/F CONVERTER: V/F conversion; the input voltage range is: 0 to
8 Vdc, and the output frequency range is: 0 to 8 kHz
F/V CONVERTER: F/V conversion; the input frequency range is: 0
to 8 kHz, and the output voltage range is: 0 to 8 Vdc
Necessary instruments:
- Multimeter
- Dual-trace oscilloscope

The module is powered via Power connector (fig A20.2), or through


the jacks of 12 Vdc, +12 Vdc, earth.
If necessary, the connector must be connected with the Individual
Control Unit SIS3-U/EV for the automatic fault insertion (refer to the
Operational Handbook, Volume 2/2).
The switches available in the module on the right side of the connector
are used for the manual fault insertion or to modify the parameters. The
normal position of these switches is OFF.

Fig. A20.2 Schematic diagram of the Module mod. MCM7A

-4-

Lesson A21 : V/I and I/V converters

LESSON A21: V/I and I/V CONVERTERS


Objectives

Introduction of V/I and I/V converters


V/I and I/V converters
Characteristics of V/I and I/V converters

INSTRUMENTS

Dual-trace oscilloscope
Digital multimeter

A21.1 Introduction
Some applications such as driving coils (electromagnets) and
transmitting signals on very long lines often require the use of a current
signal instead of a voltage.
When the current signals transmitted are received, these signals must
often be converted into voltage. These conversions are carried out by
devices called V/I converters and I/V converters.
V/I converters will convert a voltage into a current, whereas I/V
converters will convert a current into a voltage
A current range, usually normalized at 4 to 20 mA, will correspond to
the input voltage range.
Also the range of 0 to 20 mA is used, but in this case the condition of
broken wire cannot be differentiated from the condition I=0.
The output range of I/V converters is chosen according to the use;
usually it goes from 0 to 8 V, from 0 to 10 V, from -8 V to +8 V, from
-10 V to +10 V.
Aim of this lesson is to introduce the notions on the operation and main
characteristics of I/V and V/I converters.
The following lessons will analyze the other converters included in the
module, as well as their operation and characteristics, and how these
characteristics can affect the system behaviour.
A21.2 V/I converters
This section will explain the theoretical operating principles of
converters for an easier understanding of their operation.
The simplest V/I converters are those used with floating loads (not
earthed).
-5-

Lesson A21 : V/I and I/V converters

The following circuits represent the first examples of this type of


converters.

Fig. A21.2.1
The circuit shown in Fig. A21.2.1A is a simple operational amplifier
connected in inverting configuration.
Its input current is:

i1 =

ei
R1

because R1 is connected with the virtual earth of the adding junction.


The same current also crosses the feedback impedance ZL.
Current i1 does not depend on the value of ZL. It is important that both
the signal generator and the operational amplifier are able to supply the
load with the desired value of current.
The circuit shown in fig. A21.2.1B is characterized by a non-inverting
operation; consequently it has a high impedance at the driving source.
Current is always determined by the same equation:
i1 =

ei
R1

and i1 is also the load current. The current required by the signal source
is very faint because non-inverting amplifiers have a high impedance.
Fig. A21.2.2 shows another V/I converter for floating load.
Most current is supplied by the operational amplifier, in this converter
and only a small portion comes from the signal source.

-6-

Lesson A21 : V/I and I/V converters

Fig. A21.2.2

Analyzing the circuit will lead to the following equation for the load
current:
iL =

ei R 2
1 +

R1 R 3

Resistor R1 can have a rather high value to minimize the load of the
signal source.

The amplifier must be able to supply the load with all the current
besides outputting a voltage equal to:
eo max iL max (ZL + R3)
The loads with an earthed end require some circuits that can convert a
voltage into a current. The circuit with only one amplifier shown in Fig.
A21.2.3 works like a current source controlled by voltage ei.
The formula relating voltage to current is indicated here below:
iL =

ei
RL

with the hypothesis that:


R 3 RF
=
R 2 R1

-7-

Lesson A21 : V/I and I/V converters

Fig. A21.2.3

If these resistance ratios are equal, the circuit operates like a real current
source with very high internal impedance. If these ratios are not equal, a
reduction of the input impedance of current source must be considered.
Then fluctuations of the real load impedance will lead to fluctuations of
the output current.
The output voltage range of the operational amplifier of the circuit of
Fig. A21.2.3 must be sufficient to supply the maximum load voltage
plus the voltage drop across R3. Usually R1 and R2 are chosen so that
faint currents can flow, whereas the values of RF and R3 are low to
minimize voltage drops.
The circuit of Fig. A21.2.4 uses two inverting amplifiers to drive a
current in a load referred to earth.

Fig. A21.2.4

-8-

Lesson A21 : V/I and I/V converters

Current is determined by the following equation:


R 5 RF
R 4 R1
iL = ei
R 3 R 5 RF

R 3 + ZL1 +

R 2 R 4 R 2
if resistors are chosen so that:
1+

R 3 R 5 RF
=
R2 R4 R2

then:
iL =

ei R 5 RF

R 3 R 4 R1

In detail, when the following relation:


R1 = RF = R4 = R5

is verified, then:
iL =

ei
R3

Moreover:
R2 = RF R3
If R1 (resistor connected in series with input voltage ei) has a high
value, a very faint current will come from the signal source and
feedback elements will be crossed by very low current.
Then the output voltage is determined by the following formula
eomax = ILmax (ZL + R3)
Fig. A21.2.5 shows a modified configuration of the voltage-to-current
converter that uses two operational amplifiers. In detail, this circuit has
the additional characteristic of having a high input impedance.

-9-

Lesson A21 : V/I and I/V converters

Fig. A21.2.5

The equation of output current versus voltage is indicated here below:


R 5 RF R 5
+
ei

1 +
R 4 RL R 2

iL =
R 3 R 5 RF
R 3 + ZL 1 +

R2 R2 R4
If resistors are chosen so that the following formula:
1+

R 3 R 5 RF
=
R2 R4 R2

is verified and:
RF = R4 = R5

the result will be :


iL =

2e RF
R2 R4

and at last:
RL = RF R3

- 10 -

Lesson A21 : V/I and I/V converters

A21.3 I/V converters

Current-to-voltage converters can be assembled very simply with


operational amplifiers. An ideal current source is characterized by
infinite output impedance and by an output current not depending on
load.
The impedance to earth of the current-to-voltage converter shown in
Fig. A21.3.1 is almost equal to zero because the inverting input is
earthed.

Fig. A21.3.1

But the input current crosses feedback resistor RF producing an output


voltage:
eo = -iS RF
If the gain of amplifier A and the differential open-loop impedance Zid
are considered, the present input impedance Zin of current-to-voltage
converter can be determined by the following formula:
Zin =

Zid
RF

1+ A
Zid
1+
(1 + A )
RF

The lower measurement limit of input current is determined by the bias


current of the inverting input. Higher resolutions require the use of
FETs. The gain of the amplifier for direct offset and for noise voltage is
determined by the following formula:
RF + RS
= 1.0
RS
because RS >> RF
The errors due to the previous parameters are very small. But current
noise maybe a very important factor for its very high impedance.

- 11 -

Lesson A21 : V/I and I/V converters

As these measuring circuits are used for signals of very low frequency,
usually a capacitor CF is connected in parallel with resistor RF to
reduce the high-frequency current noise. The output impedance of the
converter is rather low.
A21.4 Characteristics of V/I Converters

When choosing or designing a voltage-to-current converter, consider the


following characteristics:

input voltage range: the maximum and minimum output current


will correspond to its limit values.

output current range, corresponding to input voltage range

maximum load impedance, that is the maximum value of


impedance that can be supplied by the converter (acting as current
generator).

voltage-current line: characteristic line relating input voltage to


output current

as regards the conversion characteristics, assess the total accuracy


and the linearity

range of operating temperature and possible coefficients of


thermal drift.

A21.5 Characteristics of I/V Converters

When choosing or designing a current-to-voltage converter, consider the


following characteristics:

input current range: the maximum and minimum output


voltage will correspond to its limit values.

output voltage range, corresponding to input current range

voltage-current line: characteristic line relating input current to


output voltage

as regards the conversion characteristics, assess the total


accuracy and the linearity

range of operating temperature and possible coefficients of


thermal drift.

- 12 -

Lesson A21 : V/I and I/V converters

A21.6 EXERCISES

Disconnect all the jumpers


MCM7A

Turn all the fault switches S to OFF

Q1

Which is the current range of normal operation for V/I and I/V
converters ?
1
+5 to -5 mA
2
4 to 20 mA
3
+15 to -15 mA
4
+100 to -100 mA

Q2

In V/I converters using a non-inverting operational amplifier most


output current is supplied
1
by the input signal
2
by the feedback signal
3
by the operational amplifier
4
by external circuits

Q3

Which is the characteristic of input impedance of V/I converters using


an operational amplifier in non-inverting configuration ?
1
low
2
variable
3
high
4
negative

Q4

Which is the main characteristic of a V/I converter with two operational


amplifiers ?
1
high output impedance to the load
2
high feedback current
3
high input impedance
4
low output current

Q5

Which is the characteristic of the output impedance of an I/V converter?


1
high
2
low
3
negative
4
variable

Use RV6 and select an input voltage of +4 V for the V/I converter.
- 13 -

Lesson A21 : V/I and I/V converters

Turn switch S9 to ON

MCM7A

MCM7A

Measure the output current between test point TP 5 and earth, with
a multimeter. Its value will be equal to approximately 12 mA

Q6

Now which is the value of the current measured between TP 5 and


earth?
1
4 mA
2
8 mA
3
15 mA
4
20 mA

Q7

Which are the reasons ?


1
the amplification of IC1A is 200
2
the voltage at the inverting input of operational amplifier
IC1A is of 0 V
3
the input voltage (TP 1) is equal to 0 Vdc
4
the voltage shift divider ensuring an output current of 4 mA
starting from an input of 0V (TP 2) is earthed.

Turn switch S9 to OFF

- 14 -

Lesson A22: Description of V/I and I/V Converters

LESSON A22: Description of V/I and I/V Converters


Objectives

Description of V/I and I/V converters


Characteristics of circuits
Calibration of circuits

INSTRUMENTS

Dual-trace oscilloscope
Digital multimeter

A22.1 Description of V/I converter

The circuit of the V/I converter included in this testing module is


shown here below:

Fig. A22.1.1

This circuit includes the voltage reference generator (+VREF: + 8.00


Vdc) represented by the voltage regulator Z1 (TL431C). The voltage
reference output by this circuit is also used by the current-to-voltage
converter.
The operation of this V/I circuit has been exhaustively explained in
the section A21.2 V/I Converters.
From a qualitative point of view the operation can be explained as
indicated here below:
- 15 -

Lesson A22: Description of V/I and I/V Converters

earthing jack 5 and considering the amplification of the two


integrated circuits IC1A and IC1B will lead to observe that the
current crossing the output is the result of the ratio between
the voltage across jack 4 and the resistance R9 .
If a resistor is connected between jack 5 and earth, the voltage
across jack 5 will rise (due to the drop across load-output
resistance). Load resistance must not exceed the value of 150 .
However this voltage is applied again to input via the resistors R5
and provokes the increase of the voltage across jack 4 so that the
current crossing the load (resistance) cannot vary its value with
respect to short-circuit condition.

Transistor T1 works as current amplifier, whereas diode D1 has a


protective function.

The input voltage range is: 0 to 8 Vdc.


The input is voltage-shifted for a value that can be read on jack 2, to
obtain a value of 4 mA corresponding to the lower value of the input
range.
The maximum value of load resistance is 150 . In fact, connecting a
resistor of this value with the output (between jack 5 and earth) will
lead to the situation where the voltage across jack 4 corresponding to
the maximum current (20 mA) will be determined by the following
formula:

20 mA x (249 + 150) = 8 V; that is the limit value not to quit


the linear condition.

If the circuit concerning IC1A is supposed as not connected with the


compensating network used to obtain the value of 4 mA with an input
voltage of 0 V (R3 and R5 disconnected from R6), amplifier IC1A
will amplify 1/2 (-R6/R4) so that a voltage of 4 V is available across
jack 3 when the input voltage is equal to 8 V. Trimmer RV1 enables
to shift the input so that the value of output current is equal to 4 mA
with an input voltage of 0 V.
A22.2 Calibrating the V/I Converter

The calibration for an input range of 0 to 8 Vdc consists of the


following operations:

Earth jacks 5 and 1.

Adjust RV1 until the output short circuit is crossed by a current of


4 mA.

Apply +8 Vdc to the input (jack 1) and adjust RV2 to obtain 20


mA in the output short circuit.

- 16 -

Lesson A22: Description of V/I and I/V Converters

A22.3 Description of I/V Converter

The electric diagram of the I/V converter included in the testing


module is shown here below:

Fig. A22.3.1.

The operation of this I/V circuit has been exhaustively explained in


the section A21.3 I/V Converters.
From a qualitative point of view the operation can be explained as
indicated here below:
The entering input current (jack 6) included in the range of 4 to 20 mA
will cross R10 producing a voltage proportional to the same current,
that is, V7=- I * R10, across jack 7.
The voltage across jack 7 is amplified and shifted by the operational
amplifier IC2B to obtain an output voltage range of 0 to 8 V.
Transistor T2 works as current amplifier, whereas diode D2 has a
protective function. The input resistance of current-to-voltage
converter is equal to zero (load = 0) because the inverting input of
operational amplifier IC2A is connected with a (virtual) earth.
The network R14, RV4 and R15, as well as RV3 enable to select the
proper voltage shift and the specific amplification to obtain the desired
output voltage range.

- 17 -

Lesson A22: Description of V/I and I/V Converters

A22.4 Calibrating an I/V Converter

This calibration consists of the following operations:

send a current of 4 mA to the input

adjust RV4 so that the voltage across jack 7 reaches the value of
-1.6 V

send a current of 20 mA to the input

adjust RV3 so that the voltage across jack 8 attains the value of
8 V,

A22.5 EXERCISES

Disconnect all the jumpers


MCM7A

Turn all the fault switches S to OFF

Q1

Which is the function of transistor T1 in a V/I converter ?


1
It will increase the output impedance
2
It short-circuits the output to earth when current is excessive
3
It limits the output current
4
Current amplifier

Q2

Which is the function of diode D1 in a V/I converter ?


1
protective function
2
feedback function
3
positive peak detector
4
current detector

Q3

Which is the maximum value of load resistance at the output of the V/I
converter ?
1
1 k
2
150
3
1 M
4
5
5
1

- 18 -

Lesson A22: Description of V/I and I/V Converters

Q4

Which is the function of the calibrating circuit including RV1 in a V/I


converter ?
1
adjusting the voltage reference +VREF
2
calibrating the conversion of 8 V to 20 mA
3
calibrating the conversion of 0 V to 4 mA
4
adjusting the voltage of +12 V

Q5

Which is the function of transistor T21 in an I/V converter ?


1
It will increase the output impedance
2
It short-circuits the output to earth when current is excessive
3
It limits the output current
4
Current amplifier

Q6

Which is the function of diode D2 in an I/V converter ?


1
protective function
2
feedback function
3
positive peak detector
4
current detector

Q7

Which is the function of the calibrating circuit including RV4 in an I/V


converter ?
1
adjusting the voltage reference +VREF
2
calibrating the conversion of 4 mA to 0 V
3
calibrating the conversion of 0 V to 4 mA
4
adjusting the voltage of +12 V

Use RV6 to select an input voltage of +4 V for the V/I converter.


Measure the output current between test point TP 5 and earth, with a
multimeter. Its value will be equal to approximately 12 mA.

Turn switch S3 to ON

MCM7A

Q8

Now, which is the value of the current measured between TP 5 and


earth ?
1
1 mA
2
4 mA
3
8 mA
4
15 mA
- 19 -

Lesson A22: Description of V/I and I/V Converters

Q9

Which are the reasons ?


1
the amplification of IC1A is too low
2
the voltage across the inverting input of operational amplifier
IC1A is equal to +5 V
3
the input voltage (TP 1) is of 0 Vdc
4
the output voltage of operational amplifier IC1A (TP 3) is
equal to 0 Vdc

MCM7A

Turn switch S3 to OFF

MCM7A

Turn switch S11 to ON

MCM7A

Q10

Now, which is the value of the current measured between TP 5 and


earth ?
1
5 mA
2
15 mA
3
25 mA
4
35 mA

Q11

Which are the reasons


1
the amplification of IC1A is zero
2
the voltage across the inverting input of operational amplifier
IC1B is equal to 0 V
3
the input voltage (TP 1) is equal to 0 Vdc
4
the output voltage IC1A (TP 3) is equal to 0 Vdc

Turn switch S11 to OFF

Use RV6 to select an input voltage of +4 V for the V/I converter..


Connect the output of V/I converter with the input of I/V
converter, via the jumper J1.

- 20 -

Lesson A22: Description of V/I and I/V Converters

Turn switch S4 to ON

MCM7A

Q12

Measure the output voltage of I/V converter across TP8. Its value
will not be 4 V, but a lower value (approximately 0.8 V).

Which are the reasons ?


1
the amplification of IC2B is zero
2
there is no supply voltage of -12 V for IC2B
3
there is no supply voltage of +12 V for IC2B
4
the amplification of IC2B has been reduced

MCM7A

Turn switch S4 to OFF

MCM7A

Turn switch S13 to ON

Q13

MCM7A

The output voltage of I/V converter across TP8 is not equal to 4


V, but it has a higher value (approximately 11 V)

Which are the reasons ?


1
the amplification of IC2B is zero
2
the voltage across the emitter of T2 is equal to 0 V
3
the voltage across the non-inverting input is equal to 5 Vdc
4
the inverting input of IC2B is zero.

Turn switch S13 to OFF

- 21 -

Lesson A23 : V/F and F/V converters

LESSON A23: V/F and F/V CONVERTERS


Objectives

Introduction of V/F and F/V converters


V/F and F/V converters
Characteristics of V/F and F/V converters

INSTRUMENTS

Dual-trace oscilloscope
Digital multimeter

A23.1 Introduction

The voltage-to-frequency (V/F) conversion is a simple and cheap


method for transforming analog signals into digital signals. Then this
operation can be considered as another form of analog-to-digital
conversion with its consequent use in a wide range of systems and in
data transmission applications.
Like a lot of other devices of A/D conversion, V/F converters had not
been used very frequently for their high cost until some time ago. But at
present some devices ensuring high performance at a low cost have led
to a wide range of new applications.
Frequency-to-voltage (F/V) converters carry out the opposite operation
of V/F converters: they transform a periodical waveform into an analog
output whose amplitude is proportional to the frequency of input signal.
The aim of this handbook consists in introducing the notions of the
operation and main characteristics of V/F and F/V converters.
These converters have been realized with some operational amplifiers
and monolithic components, to improve the understanding of the
function of each component or block.
In detail, the operating principles of V/F and F/V converters will be
explained with a special attention to those used in industry. Moreover
the voltage-to-frequency and frequency-to-voltage converters assembled
in the module will be examined.
Then some exercises will be proposed with the aim of verifying the
characteristics of converters and their influence on the industrial use.
A23.2 V/F converters

In voltage-to-frequency converters (VFC), the frequency of a certain


periodical signal is kept proportional to an analog control voltage. The
output can take any periodical waveform (square, triangular, sine wave
or pulse train). Pulse train and square waves are generally preferred
when the output is used to drive any counter.
- 22 -

Lesson A23 : V/F and F/V converters

Using these two waveforms in output will usually simplify the design,
especially if a very wide dynamic frequency band is required. The next
sections of this chapter will explain the operating principles of some
typical voltage-to-frequency converters
V/F converter with square-wave output

Fig. A23.2.1 will show the basic diagram of a device carrying out this
type of conversion.

Fig. A23.2.1

This circuit includes an integrator (operational amplifier A1) and a


comparator (operational amplifier A2). The output of A2 is carried to
the inverting input of the integrator, via resistor R.
Comparator A2 inverts the output when the voltage available across its
non-inverting input changes its sign (zero-crossing inversion). This will
occur if the output of A1 is characterized by a voltage whose absolute
value (referred to output voltage V) is equal to the ratio between R1 and
R2.
Varying the supply voltage will lead to vary the amplitude of voltage
Vo (the value of saturation voltage will vary) and consequently also the
time spent by the output of A1 (integration constant RC) in attaining the
value at which A2 can switch. This will also lead to a variation of
frequency of Vo proportional to the variation of the supply voltage.
Therefore this circuit will implement a V/F converter characterized by
considerable limitations. The main disadvantage is represented by a
reduced range of continuous variation (100 to 1, at the best).
Fig. A23.2.2 shows a circuit carrying out voltage-to-frequency
conversion with a multiplier. Varying e1 will lead to vary the time
(integration constant RC) spent by the output of A1 in balancing the
feedback signal proportional to e0 and provoking the switching of
comparator A2. The amplitude of output signal e0 does not affect this
- 23 -

Lesson A23 : V/F and F/V converters

time at all because also input signal e1 is multiplied by the same e0.
Then varying e1 will vary the frequency of output signal e0 linearly. The
operational amplifier A3 has a function of limit for the output signal.

Fig. A23.2.2
V/F converter with pulse-train output

Fig. A23.2.3 shows a circuit that converts an analog signal into a pulse
train.
The operational amplifiers included in this circuit must have good
saturation characteristics, high input impedance and high slew-rate so
that the resulting converter can ensure very good performance.
The operational amplifiers normally used are J-FETs because the use of
bipolar devices would limit the operating range.
Suppose that in the beginning transistor Q1 turns off and the adjusting
potentiometer is set to obtain an output signal with amplitude of -8 V,
thus the operation of this circuit can better be understood. The output of
A2 will be negative if e2 is more positive than -8 V.
As the collector of Q1 is at 0 V, a voltage of -11, -12 Vis applied to its
base by the output of A2. In these conditions Q1 is OFF, as supposed.
But, as input is positive, the output of integrator A1 will become more
and more negative (integration constant RC) until it falls below the
value of -8 V with a consequent switching of the output of A2 to
positive values. This implies that transistor Q1 starts turning on and
consequently output e0 will go to approximately 0 V. More exactly, this
output will take the value of -VCE (sat), that is -0.1 V.

- 24 -

Lesson A23 : V/F and F/V converters

Fig. A23.2.3

When turning on, transistor Q1 behaves as a generator that drains


current from the inverting input of integrator A1, thus provoking a rapid
integration in positive direction.
When the output of A1 crosses zero, comparator A2 switches its output
to the negative saturation value driviing Q1 again to OFF condition.
Then cycle is repeated.
Fig. A23.2.4 shows the waveform of the signals available in the circuit.
The linearity of this converter is rather good at low frequencies where
Tp is very small with respect to Ti, whereas it is low at high
frequencies.

Varying voltage e1 will lead to a variation of integration time Ti, in


detail, when e1 increases, Ti will be shortened.
This circuit is sensitive to load variations, consequently it needs a buffer
system between output and load, if load is lower than 100 k.

- 25 -

Lesson A23 : V/F and F/V converters

Fig. A23.2.4
V/F converter of high performance

A linear V/F converter, with very wide dynamic range, can be designed
with functional modules of high performance. It uses a high-speed
integrator and a reset system with amplified current.
These circuits are generally more expensive than those described before,
but they offer excellent performance.
The example of Fig. A23.2.5 shows the electric diagram of a V/F
converter of high performance.

Fig. A23.2.5

- 26 -

Lesson A23 : V/F and F/V converters

Integrator A1 is controlled by the current-break amplifier. When the


voltage across point 3 is high (approximately +4 V), the switch is OFF
and A1 integrates with speed determined by R1, C1 and ei. When the
voltage across point 3 is low (approximately +0.6 V), the integrator will
vary quickly driving its output to -10 V.
The output behaviour of amplifier A2 and of transistor Q1 looks like
that of a high-speed comparator.
The second transistor Q2 operates as output buffer and it is optional.
Fig. A23.2.6 shows some typical waveforms of the signals available in
the circuit.
Varying voltage e1 will lead to a variation of integration time Ti. In
detail, when e1 increases, Ti will be shortened.

Fig. A23.2.6

This circuit can operate up to 100 kHz; improving its design will lead to
obtain an operating range of 1000 to 1 with linearity of 1%.
Monolithic V/F converters

Monolithic V/F converters output a train of digital pulses whose


repetition rate is directly proportional to the amplitude of the analog
input voltage. Referring to Fig. A23.2.7 will enable to understand their
operation better.

- 27 -

Lesson A23 : V/F and F/V converters

Fig. A23.2.7.

The input operational amplifier is connected in configuration of


integrator. When a positive voltage is applied to input Vin, a constant
current will cross resistor R1, provoking the ramp slope of output VR
towards zero, according to the following equation:
dVR
Vi
=
R1 C2
dt
During the fall of VR the constant current generator is disabled by the
switch controlled by the one-shot device. When the ramp reaches a
value near zero (~ - 0.6 V), the comparator changes its own output state
leading to the connection of one-shot device. This last device will
close the switch, consequently enabling the current draining of constant
current generator. This will lead to the change of direction of ramp
slope and consequently VR starts rising (because current Vin/R is
always chosen so that it is lower than 1 mA).
The voltage variation of the ramp will be:
Vin
1mA
dVR
R
1
=
dt
C2
Connecting the one-shot device will force output fout to change its
logical state switching from low level to high level.

- 28 -

Lesson A23 : V/F and F/V converters

Before voltage VR could saturate the input amplifier, the one-shot


device is reset, with consequent stop of current draining by constantcurrent generator. The logical state of output signal fout comes back
again to low value. Then the cycle will start again.
Integration capacitor C2 will affect both rise and fall of the ramp,
consequently its tolerance and temperature coefficient have no influence
on the value of output frequency.
Capacitor C1 controls the connection time of one-shot device, therefore
it must be very precise because its tolerance and temperature coefficient
are added directly to the errors in transfer function. This is the reason
why ceramic capacitors are normally used.
The F/V and V/F circuit included in this module will apply this type
of technology.
A23.3 F/V converters

Frequency-to-voltage conversion is well-known not only as opposite


operation of that described in the previous section, but especially
because it ensures solution of problems of instruments (from revolution
counters for cars to radioactivity detection).
A very simple case is that where input frequency is represented by a
sequence of pulses of well defined shape and amplitude and especially
of constant area. In this case conversion is carried out by a simple lowpass filter like that shown in Fig. A23.3.1

Fig. A23.3.1

When choosing the time constant RC of this filter consider that if this
constant is too low, the ripple of output signal is increased, whereas if it
is too high, it reduces the response rate of the device considerably.
The simple situation considered above concerning a sequence of pulses
of constant shape and amplitude, can be obtained from a signal of any

- 29 -

Lesson A23 : V/F and F/V converters

type (sine wave, square wave, etc), also undergoing amplitude


modulation, if necessary, if a proper non linear processing is carried out.
What explained above can be obtained, for instance, with the use of the
diagram shown in Fig. A23.3.2, where a zero-crossing detector outputs
a pulse controlling a monostable shaper whose output signal is applied
to the low-pass filter mentioned before.

Fig. A23.3.2

A simpler solution commonly used in the field of industrial electronics


concerns the use of a diode pump whose basic diagram is shown in Fig.
A23.3.3.

Fig. A23.3.3

Frequency-to-voltage conversion can be carried out by the same


monolithic V/F converter described in the previous section, properly
connected. In detail, connecting the circuit of Fig. A23.2.7 as indicated
in Fig. A23.3.4 will lead to obtain a frequency-to-voltage converter.
Every time the voltage of the inverting input of comparator crosses zero
and becomes negative, the one-shot device controlling the switch that
enables the operation of constant current generator for a period set by
capacitor C1, is enabled.

- 30 -

Lesson A23 : V/F and F/V converters

Fig. A23.3.4

Increasing frequency will lead to a proportional increase of the quantity


of charges injected into the integration capacitor during the time when
the constant current generator is kept enabled. The voltage across the
integration capacitor is regulated when the current losses through R1
and R3 balance the current injected by the generator.
The result of these two effects is an average output voltage being
proportional to the input frequency. Therefore what explained above can
lead to state that the pulses of constant area are produced inside the
converter.
A23.4 Characteristics of V/F converters

When choosing or designing a voltage-to-frequency converter consider


the following characteristics:

type of output waveform; this may be a square wave or a pulse


train. The choice must be carried out according to the use of the
digital output signal

compatibility of logical output signals (TTL, CMOS, etc)

linearity, considered as percentage of full-scale value. It indicates


the maximum deviation from the ideal behaviour referred to the
full-scale value
- 31 -

Lesson A23 : V/F and F/V converters

frequency range: the wider the frequency band is, the better the
resolution for a certain counting period will be

impulse response: maximum time interval required by the output


frequency to respond to an input variation corresponding to the
whole range

full-scale calibration error, that is the percentage of full-scale


variation due to the variation of supply voltage and of temperature

over range capability, expressed in percentage of full-scale value;


usually linearity is not ensured for over-range frequencies

input voltage range: it is the maximum value of the analog


quantity that can be converted; generally a dual power supply will
enable conversions of both negative and positive voltages

parameters of input amplifier, such as input bias current, input


resistance and input offset voltage

power supply: single or dual

environmental characteristics: range of operating and storage


temperature

possibility of accepting a current input.

A23.5 Characteristics of F/Vconverters

This section will describe the main characteristics that a frequency-tovoltage converter must have, besides those environmental and of
measurement already explained for V/F converters; they are:

output ripple, that is the intensity of input voltage ripple at certain


input frequencies

threshold value, that is the value required by the input to know that
a new cycle has started

hysteresis: it supplies a degree of insensitivity to the noise


superimposed to an input waveform or to very slow variations

dynamic response; it is very important when the speed of rotation


of motors is checked.

- 32 -

Lesson A23 : V/F and F/V converters

A23.6 EXERCISES

Disconnect all the jumpers


MCM7A

Turn all the fault switches S to OFF

Q1

Which is the waveform of the output signal in a V/F converter ?


1
only a sine wave
2
continuous
3
only triangular
4
any periodical waveform

Q2

Which characteristics must characterize the operational


amplifiers used in a V/F converter with pulse-train output ?
1
low output impedance and low slew rate
2
high input impedance and high slew rate
3
low input impedance
4
low common-mode rejection ratio

Q3

Which is the highest frequency at which a V/F converter of


high performance can operate ?
1
100 MHz
2
100 kHz
3
500 kHz
4
1 GHz

Q4

How can the tolerance of integration capacitor C2 affect a


monolithic V/F converter ?
1
it affects the ramp rise
2
it affects the connection time of one-shot device
3
it has no influence
4
it affects the circuit output impedance

Q5

Which is the effect of a too low RC constant in a F/V


converter?
1
too low response rate
2
high output voltage ripple
3
impulse output voltage
4
sine-wave output voltage

- 33 -

Lesson A23 : V/F and F/V converters

Q6

Which circuit can be used when a standard pulse train is


available at the input of a F/V converter ?
1
filter - shunter bistable shaper
2
zero-crossing detector monostabile shaper - shunter
3
filter bistable shaper - filter
4
filter monostabile shaper zero-crossing detector

Q7

Which other circuit can be used to attain the same aim ?


1
filter - shunter
2
diode pump
3
full-wave rectifier
4
voltage multiplier - shunter

- 34 -

Lesson A24: Description of V/F and F/V Converters

LESSON A24: Description of V/F and F/V Converters


Objectives

Description of V/F and F/V converters


Characteristics of circuits
Calibration of circuits

INSTRUMENTS

Dual-trace oscilloscope
Digital multimeter

A24.1 Description of V/F converters

A V/F converter can be realized with an IC-LM331 (Monolithic V/F


converter). It carries out a Voltage-to-Frequency conversion that can
be considered as a particular Analog-to-Digital conversion.
The output consists of a pulse train with frequency proportional to the
voltage applied. This component is characterized by a high accuracy for
temperature variations and it outputs a type of conversion signal
suitable to be used in digital systems of low power consumption and in
management microcontrollers.
The output pulse train can easily be transferred via optoisolators so that
the earth references of signal can be insulated.
The IC uses a temperature-compensated reference circuit to supply a
high accuracy on the whole range of the operating temperature. It
includes a timer with a very low bias current for a very good response
up to 100 kHz. The output is able to drive up to 3 TTL lines and it is
protected from short circuit to Vdc.
Fig. A24.1.1 shows the diagram of the V/F converter included in the
module.

- 35 -

Lesson A24: Description of V/F and F/V Converters

Fig. A24.1.1

Operating principle

Fig. A24.1.2

Analyzing a simplified diagram of IC LM331 will make the


understanding of the operating cycle of the converter easier (Fig.
A24.1.2); the IC is connected externally with various capacitors and
resistors that complete its operation.
1.
2.

The voltage comparator (INPUT COMPARATOR) compares input


voltage V1 to be converted (INPUT VOLTAGE) at pin 7, to
voltage Vx at pin 6.
If input voltage V1 is higher than Vx, the timer (ONE SHOT
TIMER) will start counting. The timer turns the output transistor

- 36 -

Lesson A24: Description of V/F and F/V Converters

3.

4.
5.
6.

(FREQUENCY OUT) on and connects the SWITCHED


CURRENT SOURCE for a time period equal to:
t = 1.1 * Rt * Ct = 1.1 * 6.8 * 103 * 0.01 * 10-6 = 0.074 ms
During this period current i starts flowing from the SWITCHED
CURRENT SOURCE and provokes a fixed CHARGING increase
of capacitor CL, being equal to: Q = i * t. This current flow will
usually increase the voltage value Vx to a higher level than V1. At
the end of the charging period current i is cutoff and the timer is
reset.
Now no current i crosses pin 1 and consequently capacitor CL is
discharged gradually through RL until Vx decreases and reaches the
value of V1.
The comparator will start the timer and a new cycle restarts.
The current crossing CL results from: Iave = i * (1.1 * Rt *Ct) * f;
whereas the current coming out of CL will result from:
Vx Vin
=
RL RL

If Vin is double, frequency must be double to keep this balance. Also a


simple V/F converter can output a frequency being exactly proportional
to its own input voltage in a wide frequency band.

Fig. A24.1.3

Functional blocks

The block diagram shows a minimum voltage reference source (Band


Gap Reference) that supplies a stable reference of 1.9 Vdc in a range of
supply voltages going from 3.9 V to 40 V.
- 37 -

Lesson A24: Description of V/F and F/V Converters

Temperature coefficient undergoes a variation of 0.5% for changes of


temperature up to 100C.
The current pump forces the voltage available at pin 2 of IC, to 1.9 V
and consequently it ensures the flow of a current i = 1.90 / Rs .
When Rs = 14 k, this current will be: i = 135 A.
The precision current reflector will output a current equal to i for the
switched current source.
The current source will switch the current to pin 1 or to earth; that
depends on the state of the R-S flip-flop.
The timing function is carried out by an R-S flip-flop and by a timercomparator connected with an external circuit RtCt.
When the voltage at pin 7 (V1), detected by the comparator, is higher
than the voltage available at pin 6 (Vx), the comparator will set the R-S
flip-flop that enables the switched current source and turns the
transistor OUTPUT DRIVER on.
When the voltage at pin 5 rises to a value being equal to 2/3 of the
supply voltage Vdc, the timer- comparator will reset the R-S flip-flop.
This reference value is output by the divider R/2R between Vdc and
earth.
The RESET TRANSISTOR starts turning on and the switched current
source is disabled.
However, if the voltage at pin 7, detected by the input comparator, is
higher than that available at pin 6, when the voltage at pin 5 is crossing
the value of 2/3 Vdc, the flip-flop is not reset and the current at pin 1
goes on flowing, trying to rise the voltage of pin 6 (Vx) to a higher
value that that of the voltage available at pin 7 (V1).
This condition is realized normally at the starting of the cycle or when
an overvoltage is detected in the input signal to be converted. During
this particular situation of overload, the output frequency is set at a
value 0. As soon as the signal takes a normal amplitude, the output
frequency is reset.
When working, the transistor OUTPUT DRIVER will saturate pin 3
taking a resistance of approximately 50 , in ON state. In case of
overvoltage, output current is limited to a value lower than 50 mA.
The voltage available at pin 2 is adjusted at a value of 1.90 Vdc, for all
the values of current i ranging from 10 A to 500 A. It can also be
used as voltage reference for other components avoiding to absorb
current; that could lead to a reduction of accuracy for the converter.
Sizing the V/F circuit

Resistor R21 of 100 k on line V1 entering pin 7 will output a bias


current (usually of -80 nA) that eliminates the effects of bias current at
pin 6 (Vx).

- 38 -

Lesson A24: Description of V/F and F/V Converters

Connecting R27 (12 k) in series with RV7 (4.7 k, variable) at pin 2


will realize the gain control circuit; that enables to compensate the gain
tolerance of IC and of Rt (R25 = 6.8 k), RL (R24=100 k) and Ct (C5
= 10 nF).
The best results can be obtained when all the resistors have a low
temperature coefficient and they are constructed with metallic film and
capacitors are characterized by a low dielectric absorption.
Capacitor C3 of 1F is connected between input V1 and earth and it has
the function of filter of input signal.
Divider R21/R22 carries out a slight attenuation (0.98) of input signal.
Resistor R23 (47) connected in series with capacitor CL (C4 = 1F)
will provoke a hysteresis that improves the linearity of INPUT
COMPARATOR.
The formula relating output frequency to input voltage is indicated here
below:
Fout =

VIN RS
1

2,09V RL R C

Replacing the values RS = R27 + RV7 (variable value from 12 k to


16.7 k), RL = R24 = 100 k, Rt = R25 = 6.8 k, and Ct = C5 = 0.01
F, will lead to the following result :
Fout 1000 * VIN
Adjust RV7 so that the scale coefficient will be 1000.

Fig. A24.1.4

- 39 -

Lesson A24: Description of V/F and F/V Converters

A24.2 Calibrating the V/F converter

The calibration of a V/F converter for an input range of 0 to 8 Vdc is


developed as indicated here below:

Connect J4 so that a constant voltage is applied to input V IN of the


converter

Connect a multimeter with TP 11 to measure the input voltage

Connect a channel of the oscilloscope with output TP 13 of V/F


converter

Turning RV6, select an input voltage of +8.00 Vdc

Adjust RV7 to obtain a frequency of 8.00 kHz in TP 13

Select a different input voltage, e.g.: +4.00 Vdc, and check whether
the output frequency is 4.00 kHz.

A24.3 Description of the F/V converter

The same IC used to realize the V/F converter (LM331- Monolithic


V/F converter) is used for the Frequency-to-Voltage conversion.
Each frequency pulse of the input signal Fin is output by a C-R network
and the negative peak available at pin 6 forces the INPUT
COMPARATOR to enable the ONE SHOT TIMER. Like in the case of
V/F converter, the average current flowing from pin 1 is determined by
the following formula:
Iave = i * (1.1 * Rt *Ct) * f

Fig. A24.3.1

Analyze the standard circuit:

- 40 -

Lesson A24: Description of V/F and F/V Converters

Fig. A24.3.2

This current is filtered by resistor RL = R33 = 100 k, and by C8 = 1 F


The ripple voltage is lower than the peak value of 10 mV, but response
is slow, with time constant of 0.1 second and regulation of 0.7 second.
Connecting an operational amplifier A741 with function of buffer and
of 2-pole filter will ensure a higher accuracy.
Moreover the amplifier IC5 connected in non-inverting configuration
will amplify the voltage available in input (pin 3) approximately by 2.
A24.4 Calibrating the F/V Converter

The calibration of a F/V converter consists of the following operations:

Connect J4 so that a constant voltage is applied to input V IN of the


converter

Connect a channel of the oscilloscope with output TP 13 of F/V


converter

Turning RV6, select an input voltage of +8.00 Vdc

Adjust RV7 to obtain a stable frequency of 8.00 kHz in TP 13

Select a different input voltage, e.g.: +4.00 Vdc, and check whether
the output frequency is 4.00 kHz.

- 41 -

Lesson A24: Description of V/F and F/V Converters

A24.5 EXERCISES

Disconnect all the jumpers


MCM7A

Turn all the fault switches S to OFF

Q1

Which type of converter is used for the V/F and F/V converters of this
module ?
1
Converter with operational amplifiers
2
Monolithic V/F converter
3
Converter with discrete components
4
Microcontroller converter

Q2

When is the switched current source enabled in a V/F converter ?


1
when the input of IC3 is 0 V
2
when the output of IC3 is 0 Hz
3
when the voltage to be converted is higher than Vx at pin 6 of
IC3
4
when the voltage to be converted is higher than that available
at pin 2 of IC3

Q3

A stable voltage included in a wide range of supply voltage of the IC is


available at pin 2 of IC3. Which is its value ?
1 +12 V
2
-12 V
3
+5 V
4
+4.2 V
5
1.9 V

Connect J4 and apply an input voltage of +4 Vdc to the V/F


converter
Measure the output of converter in TP13
Frequency will be equal to 4.0 kHz.

Turn switch S15 to ON

MCM7A

Q4

Now, which is the value measured in TP13 ?


1
8 kHz
2
4 kHz
3
0 Hz
4
2 kHz

- 42 -

Lesson A24: Description of V/F and F/V Converters

Q5

Which are the reasons ?


1
there is no signal at the input of IC3
2
there is no voltage of 1.9 Vdc at pin 2 of IC3
3
R25 is not connected with pin 5 of IC3
4
C5 is short-circuited to earth
5
pins 1-6 of IC3 are earthed

Turn switch S15 to OFF

MCM7A

Turn switch S17 to ON

MCM7A

MCM7A

Q6

Which value measured at the output of the F/V converter, is available in


TP17 ?
1
+4 V
2
+8 V
3
+10 V
4
+11.4 V

Q7

Which are the reasons ?


1
the input line of IC4 is earthed
2
a voltage of +4 V is available at pin 2 of IC4
3
pin 5 of IC4 is earthed
4
a voltage of +5 V is available at pin 2 of IC4

Turn switch S17 to OFF

MCM7A

Connect J4 and J5 and apply an input voltage of +4 Vdc to the V/F


converter so that the frequency measured in TP14 is equal to 4.0
kHz

Keep an input voltage of +4 V in the VF converter.


The frequency measured in TP 14 is equal to 4.0 kHz, whereas a
voltage of +4 V can be measured in TP17

Turn switch S5 to ON

The output voltage of the F/V converter is reduced to 2.3 V


- 43 -

Lesson A24: Description of V/F and F/V Converters

Q8

MCM7A

Which are the reasons ?


1
there is no input signal in IC4 - pin 5
2
there is no input signal in IC5, pin 3
3
the amplification of IC5 is not correct
4
the output of IC5 is earthed

Turn switch S5 to OFF

- 44 -