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Passive Voltage to Current Converter

# Passive Voltage to Current Converter

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10/14/2011

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Circuit Idea/Passive Voltage-to-Current Converter1
Circuit Idea/

Passive Voltage-

to-Current Converter
<<< contents

- active version

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>>>Building a Passive Voltage-to-Current Converter Circuit idea:

Voltage applied across a resistor makes a proportional current flow throughthe resistor.
Problem:
How toconvert voltage intocurrent
Have you noted that, inlow-voltage electronics, theelectrical attributes voltageand current carry informationrather than energy? And, forsome reasons, we prefer voltage as a data carrier? As aresult, the most electroniccircuits have voltage inputsand outputs.Unfortunately:), there are alsocurrent-input andcurrent-output devices. Examples: an
ammeter

has only a current input, a current sourcehas only a current output, a
bipolar transistor

has a current input and a current output, a
tube

and an
FET transistor

have a voltage input and a current output, a transimpedanceamplifier

and a Norton amplifier have a current input and a voltage output, etc. In thesecases, we need devices converting the electric attributes carrying information from voltageto current and v.v.In this story, we begin revealing the secret of the famous (so much as Ohm's law)
voltage-to-current converter
, which changes the electrical data carrier from voltage tocurrent (Fig. 1). As usual, there are two versions of this circuit - passive ("bad") and active("good"); here, we begin with the "bad" passive version. Then, in another story dedicated tothe "good" active version, we will show that the two versions are not independent. Instead,there is a close interrelation between the two circuits: the active version came from thepassive one (the active version comprises the passive one, it is just an improved passive version). In this way, we will show the evolution of the famous circuit moving, step-by-step,from simple to complex.

Circuit Idea/Passive Voltage-to-Current Converter2
Basic non-

electrical idea:
Pressure causes flow
Have you ever asked yourself questions about causality in our world: "Which came first, theegg or the hen?" (troubling philosophers from the remote past to the present day:), "Whatcauses what - pressure causes flow or flow causes pressure?" etc. As it is hard for us toanswer this primary questions we might just assume that both the alternative answers arepossible.Well, let's first begin with the more popular assumption that
. Really,we may observe many situations in life, where a pressure-like quantity puts in motion aflow-like one through an impediment. Hereare some examples:
(imagine aconstant pressure pump moves air through a closed loop of pipes - you may carry out such afunny experiment by using an old-fashioned air cleaner, which sucks and blows air througha closed loop made from a corrugated hose),
water

(remember famous communicating vessels where the height difference between the two vessels causes water to flow),
thermal
(if we warm up a metal bar on the one side, heat begins flowing to the other side),
mechanical

(imagine that a motor drives a belt - energy is flowing along this "circuit"),
informational

(someone tells a story to somebody else - data flows through the phone line),
money

(the rich give money to the poor:), etc. If you need more examples, just look aroundand you will find a lot of
pressure-causes-flow

(more generally,
difference-causes-movement
) analogies. Let's finally generalize all these situations.If we apply a pressure to an impediment, a flow begins flowing. In this arrangement,
thepressure-like, flow-like and impediment-like attributes are interrelated
. Usually,
the output flow-like variable is proportional to the input pressure-like one
; so, we may say that
theimpediment converts the pressure like variable into a flow-like one
.
Basic electrical idea:
Voltage causes current
Building the circuit
Fig. 2. In the basic Ohm's voltage-supplied circuit, the resistor R actsas a simple voltage-to-current converter.
In electricity, we might ask ourselves the electrical version of the philosophical"egg or hen" question above,"What causes what in Ohm'slaw - voltage causes current orcurrent causes voltage?"
[1]
Again, as it is hard to answerthis primary question wemight assume that both thealternative answers arepossible.In this story, we will beginwith the more popularassumption that
voltagecauses current

in the most

Circuit Idea/Passive Voltage-to-Current Converter3elementary Ohm's circuit supplied by a voltage source (Fig. 2). As we know, if we apply a voltage V
IN

across a resistor R, a proportional current I
OUT

= V
IN
/R begins flowing throughthe circuit. We may say that this is a
voltage-causes-current

formulation of Ohm's law:
I = V/R
.In this voltage-supplied circuit, the resistor R determines the current flowing through it. Weusually say that the resistor converts the voltage V
IN

into a proportional current I
OUT

or itserves as a simple
voltage-to-current converter

- a linear circuit with transfer ratio k =I
OUT
/V
IN

[mA/V].
A bare resistor can convert a voltage into a current.
Exploring the circuit operation
We may present the circuit operation and Ohm's law in a more attractive manner than I = V/R, if we visualize the invisible electrical quantities by means of voltage bars and currentloops (Fig. 2). They are based on the famous
water tower

and
fish tank

hydraulic analogies.In this "geometrical" presentation, the height of the voltage bars is proportional to thecorresponding voltages (drops) and the thickness of the current loop is proportional to themagnitude of the current (see also an interactive animation

[2]
).Then, we may present the circuit operation (and Ohm's law) graphoanalytically - Fig. 3. Asthe voltage across and the current through the two 2-terminal components (the voltagesource and the resistor) are the same, we may superimpose their IV curves on a commoncoordinate system. The intersection of the two lines is the
operating point

A; it representsthe current magnitudes of the voltage V
A

and the current I
A
. When we vary the voltage V
IN
of the input voltage source, its IV curve moves horizontally (see also an interactiveanimation

[3]
). As a result, the working point A slides over the IV curve of the resistor R; itsslope represents the converter's ratio.
Fig. 3. Graphoanalytical presentation of the circuit operation
Finally, we may present thecircuit operation by anotherattractive graphicalinterpretation of Ohm's law -the voltage diagram (the voltage distribution along theresistive film inside a linearresistor) - Fig. 4. In thisgeometrical presentation,local bars with correspondingheight represent the local voltage drops (for simplicity,we may draw only theenvelope of the voltagediagram). We may intuitivelyderive the idea of voltagediagram from many examples of human routine: hydraulic
[4]
, pneumatic, mechanical,

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