Gas station without pumps

2015 May 7

Voltmeter impedance

Filed under: Circuits course — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 16:05
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In Ag/AgCl electrode lab went ok I wrote

I think that a lot of the weird data we saw in Tuesday’s lab came from using large shunt resistors, so that the voltmeter impedance became more important (smaller) than the shunt resistor.

I’m considering also putting in the book a derivation of how to compensate for the meter impedance (if it is known).  I think that I’ll move the electrode lab later next year, closer to the EKG lab, so that we can go more directly from the microphone lab and the loudspeaker lab into the audio amplifier lab, and so that the electrode characterization is more immediately motivated.

In Friday’s lecture, I talked briefly about the possibility that the problems we were seeing with model fitting were that we had neglected the voltmeter input impedance, but I did not work out the details, because I had to introduce them to op amps and negative-feedback amplifier configurations.

In today’s lab, students did not need much help (they were just playing with their op amp circuits to see what they could measure or change), so I decided to measure the input impedance of the Agilent 34401A voltmeters on bench 1. I made the simplifying assumption that the meters were basically a resistor (about 1MΩ) in parallel with a capacitor (about 100pF), because that is what the Agilent 34401A data sheet claims, and created the following circuit:

Setup for measuring impedance of lower voltmeter.

Setup for measuring impedance of lower voltmeter.

I measured the two voltages at frequencies from 3.3Hz to 2.2MHz (using the E6 scale for roughly equal spacing) . I figured that the voltmeters would have different input impedances, so I swapped the shunt resistor to the other meter and made the measurements with that setup also.

I then tried fitting the meter resistances and capacitances to the ratio of the voltages.  At low frequencies I expect to see 454 times the shunt voltage on the unshunted meter, but at high frequencies the voltages should be similar.  I fitted models of what the ratios should be and got the following results for the two meters on bench 1:

The models fit the data very well up to 2.2MHz, but there appears to be a resonance in one of the meters around 3.1MHz, which is a bit difficult to model. Since the meters are only specified to 300kHz, having the work up to 2.2MHz is not bad.

The models fit the data very well up to 2.2MHz, but there appears to be a resonance in one of the meters around 3.1MHz, which is a bit difficult to model. Since the meters are only specified to 300kHz, having the work up to 2.2MHz is not bad.

The meters don’t seem to be in spec for the capacitance input—there is an extra 25pF—285pF input capacitance.  One possibility is that  extra capacitance comes from the wires to the probes.  The two meters do have quite different probe sets, and switching the probes from one meter to the other causes the voltages to switch along with the probes—that is, the difference appears to be in the probes, not the meters.

I’ll probably have come up with a wiring scheme that doesn’t include the long wires that seem to be contributing capacitance if I really want to measure the meter input impedance—but even the lesson that wiring capacitance can be throwing their measurements way off could be important to the students.

6 Comments »

  1. Hello, sorry for the off-topic comment.
    I got a reference to your blog from a friend of mine as a reply on request to send me some leads to homeschoolers in Northern California.
    If I understood correctly, you are teaching a group of homeschoolers. We are looking to join a homeschooling group(s), with two kids, of 5 and 15 years old. Can you please share some information on how to find such groups (or parents who want to organise them), or any other information/leads on homeschoolers and homeschooling communities?
    Thanks, and best regards!
    Denis Kaznadzey
    dkaznadzey@yahoo.com

    Comment by Denis Kaznadzey — 2015 May 7 @ 16:18 | Reply

  2. […] quarter) nor transimpedance amplifiers (needed for next week’s lab). Instead I covered the voltmeter impedance measurements I made last week, explaining how I did the measurements, how I did the fitting, and what the […]

    Pingback by Blood pressure lab | Gas station without pumps — 2015 May 14 @ 08:05 | Reply

  3. […] Voltmeter impedance, I talked about measuring the input impedances of the bench AC voltmeters by using a pair of […]

    Pingback by Measuring voltmeter input impedance | Gas station without pumps — 2015 July 5 @ 21:30 | Reply

  4. […] measurements, sometimes at moderately high frequencies, so that is the main bottleneck. I started looking at the voltmeters I had already, and determined that the $5 DT-380B, which has only 200V and 600V AC scales was not really usable […]

    Pingback by Reworking electronics class for cheap equipment | Gas station without pumps — 2015 July 17 @ 23:09 | Reply

  5. […] Voltmeter impedance I presented a 2-voltmeter way of measuring AC voltmeter impedance, and in Measuring voltmeter […]

    Pingback by Measuring BitScope BS-10 input impedance | Gas station without pumps — 2015 July 20 @ 07:46 | Reply


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