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Transform the Passive Current-To-Voltage Converter Into an Active One

Transform the Passive Current-To-Voltage Converter Into an Active One



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Published by: ATL95148 on Feb 16, 2009
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Circuit Idea/Op-amp Inverting Current-to-Voltage Converter1
Circuit Idea/
amp InvertingCurrent-
 Voltage Converter 
<<< contents
- passive version
- attractive story 
- page stage
>>>How to Transform the Passive Current-to-Voltage Converter into an Active One
(Reinventing the Op-amp Inverting Current-to-Voltage Converter)
Circuit idea:
The op-amp compensates the internal losses caused by the resistor adding asmuch voltage to the input voltage source as it loses across the resistor.
The activeversion is just an improvedpassive one
We have already revealed the secret of themost popular simple converting circuit -passive current-to-voltage converter. Weknow that these kinds of circuits haveusually two versions - passive ("bad") andactive ("good"). When we were consideringthe opposite voltage-to-current converter,we ascertained that there was a closeinterrelation between the two versions - theactive
circuit was come from the passiveone; it was just an improved passive version. Furthermore, we figured out howthe passive version was transmuted into anactive one.Similarly, we may now suppose that thereis an active current-to-voltage converterand its passive
and active versions areinterrelated too. Then, let's look at thesetwo circuit implementations - the "bad"passive version (the top of Fig. 1) and the "good" active version (the bottom of Fig. 1). Wecan see again that the active version contains the passive one + an op-amp connected inaccordance with some (maybe the same?) powerful idea:
 Active I-to-V converter = passive I-to-V converter + op-amp + great idea ? 
 Again, we might ask ourselves, "How have the passive circuit transmuted into an activeone?", "What is the idea of this connection?" and "What does the op-amp do in this circuit?"We can answer these questions by following the evolution of the passive circuit
into anactive one.
Circuit Idea/Op-amp Inverting Current-to-Voltage Converter2
The internal resistor affects the current
Fig. 2. The internal resistor affects the current in the passivecurrent-to-voltage converter.
We have already known whythe simple current-to-voltageconverter
(Fig. 2) is animperfect circuit - because theoutput voltage drop V 
acrossthe resistor R affects the inputcurrent (here we suppose thatthe input current is created bya real source consisting of a voltage source V 
and aninternal resistance Ri).We can look at the voltage V 
from two contrary viewpoints.From the point of view of theinput voltage source, the voltage drop V 
istroublesome; so, the input source "would like" this voltage not to exist. Contrary, from thepoint of view of the load, V 
is a useful voltage drop as it serves as an output quantity; so,the load "would like" this voltage to exist and even it to be as much as possible high.Obviously, there is a contradiction here - the voltage drop V 
has to exist and, at the sametime, not to exist. How do we solve this contradiction? You can explore the operation of the passive circuit in a more attractive way, if you click 
button in the interactive flash movie
or if you go to
Stage 2
in theinteractive flash builder
Basic non-
electrical idea:
 Removing a disturbance by an"antidisturbance"
Rememberwhat we do in real life when we sol ve some problem but a disturbance
causedby ourselves
stands in our way. The classical remedy is to
remove the cause of thedisturbance
. Only, it is not always possible to do that; then, we useanother exotic solution -we
remove the disturbance by an equivalent "antidisturbance"
. For this purpose, we use anadditional power source (energy), which "helps" us (the main source) by compensating onlythe local losses caused by the
troublesome quantity (conversely, in the oppositeactive voltage-to-current converter, the additional power source compensates the lossescaused by the
quantity). This technique is associated with continuous wasting of additional energy but the result is zero (virtual ground
); so, we prefer to use it whenwe are rich and, at the same time, lazy enough:). An example: if we have broken ourwindow in winter, we turn on a heater that compensates the thermal losses; and v.v., insummer, we turn on an air-conditioner. More examples: if our car has come into collisionwith other car, the insurance company compensates the damages that we have caused tothe else's car, if we cause troubles to others, we apologize, if we have spent money from ouraccount, we begin depositing additional money into the account, etc. (see virtual groundpage
for more examples). In all these cases,
Circuit Idea/Op-amp Inverting Current-to-Voltage Converter3
we have prepared (just in case) "standby" resources to use them, if there is a need tocompensate eventual internal losses
Basic electrical idea:
 Removing voltage by an "antivoltage"
Building the electric circuit
Fig. 3. Active I-to-V converter = passive I-to-V converter + "helping" voltage source (go to Stage 3 in the interactive builder
to explorethe circuit).
Now, let us put this powerfulidea into practice. The voltagedrop V 
across the resistor R is harmful; so, following therecipe above, we have toremove it by an "antivoltage"-V 
. In other words, we haveto add so much voltage to theinput (excitation) voltagesource V 
, as much as it losesacross the resistor R 
 Active I-to-V converter =passive I-to-V converter +"helping" voltage source
The best way to understandwhat real electroniccomponents do is just to dotheir work. So, let us first build a "man-controlled" active circuit, in which a man (I mightdo this donkeywork:) produces the "anti-voltage" while you change the input voltage. Forthis purpose, I first place an additional supplementary battery B
in series to the resistor R (Fig. 3). Then, in order to compare the two voltages, I connect a zero indicator in point A,which shows the result of comparison V 
= V 
- V 
. See how simple it is:
 Add an adjustable battery in series with the resistor and make its voltage equal to thevoltage drop across the resistor!

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