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Nodal Analysis

# Nodal Analysis

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12/22/2012

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Notes for course EE1.1 Circuit Analysis 2006-07TOPIC 6 – NODAL ANALYSIS
OBJECTIVES
1)

To develop Nodal Analysis of Circuits without Voltage Sources2)

To develop Nodal Analysis by Inspection3)

To develop Nodal Analysis of Circuits with Voltage Sources
1

INTRODUCTION
The circuit analysis methods we have introduced so far rely on intuition; we need to recogniseseries circuits, parallel circuits and subcircuits that can be transformed in order to simplify thecircuit such that an unknown voltage or current can be determined.Nodal analysis is quite different in that it is a systematic method that can be applied in a systematicway to any circuit containing certain types of elements; it is the method employed by computer circuit analysis programs such as SPICE.
2

NODAL ANALYSIS OF CIRCUITS WITHOUT VOLTAGE SOURCES2.1

Nodes, Node Voltages and Element Voltages
Consider a circuit having a reasonable level of complexity:It is complicated enough that we need an algorithmic method of analysis.We will use it as motivation for our explanation of the nodal method.Though it has only resistors and current sources, the algorithm we develop for solving it will beapplicable to circuits with voltage sources as well.We have labelled all the elements of our circuit with numeric values. We have also labelled themwith literal values because we want to show how each element enters into the analysis.As you might expect from the name, nodal analysis concentrates on the circuit nodes.Remember that the nodes are the connected islands of conductor (including element leads) thatremain when we erase the bodies of all the circuit elements.The nodes of our example circuit are shown below:Identifying and counting the nodes is an important part of nodal analysis.

Topic 6 – Nodal Analysis
2There are N = 4 nodes in our circuit.We have labelled them 0 through 3 in the figure (rather than 1 through 4).The reference node is usually assigned the index 0 (this convention applies to SPICE).Now look at the following:We show the circuit nodes, but we have also added a voltmeter measuring the voltage at node 3relative to the voltage of the reference node 0.We call this node voltage v
3
; its positive reference (the plus sign) is assumed to be at node 3; itsnegative reference (the minus sign) is assumed to be at the reference node, node 0.We will not show these reference signs explicitly in the future, but will assume tacitly that each of the non-reference nodes carries a plus reference sign.We now show the complete set of node voltages relative to reference node 0:Note that we show the ground reference as a ground symbol on the circuit diagram indicating thatthe node to which it is connected is the reference for all other node voltages.To see why the node voltages are so important, consider the following circuit:We show the nodes and only two of the resistor elements.The resistor labelled R
c
is called a grounded element because one of its leads is connected to thereference node, or ground.The other resistor, R
b
, does not have this property. Both of its leads are connected to non-referencenodes; hence, it is called a floating element, or non-grounded element.Let us focus on the resistors R
b
and R
c
in more detail:

Topic 6 – Nodal Analysis
3The element voltage of the grounded resistor v
Rc
is the same as the node voltage v
2
at the non-reference node to which it is connected.The only other way we could define this element voltage would be to reverse its polarity – in whichcase it would be the negative of the non-reference node voltage, –v
2
.Consider now the floating resistor with element voltage v
Rb
:This element voltage is the difference of two node voltages: v
1
– v
2
.The only alternative would be to reverse the polarities defining the element voltage, in which casethe element voltage would be equal to v
2
– v
1
.From this discussion, we can draw the following important conclusion: each and every elementvoltage in the circuit is completely determined by the node voltages; in fact, each is either a nodevoltage, the negative of a node voltage, or the difference of two node voltages.Thus, if we are able to find the node voltages, we will then be able to compute all element voltages.
2.2

Setting-up nodal analysis
It should be clear that if there are N nodes in a circuit there will be N – 1 node voltages: ie those atthe N – 1 non-reference nodes with respect to the voltage at the reference node.We therefore need N – 1 independent equations in order to compute them.KVL only allows us to determine the element voltages from the node voltages.So we must turn to KCL for these equations. It seems logical to write one KCL equation at each of the N – 1 non-reference nodes.Consider an arbitrary node whose voltage is v
i
and to which are connected some resistors andcurrent sources:The resistors and current sources connected to node i are also connected to other nodes j, m, k and l.The reference direction for the resistor currents is in principle an arbitrary choice.However, choosing these references to be pointed away from node i, as shown, results in anequation that is in a systematic form, reducing the chance of making errors.We can express these resistor currents in terms of element voltages using Ohm's law and thenexpress the element voltages in terms of the node voltages.This allows us to write a KCL equation in the following form: