CQ Amateur Radio


An Inside Look at Op-Amps

Probably no single component in the electronics twiddlerand-fiddler’s arsenal has made life easier than the versatile operational amplifier or op-amp. Originally, the operational amplifier was called upon to do precisely that: Perform mathematical operations, specifically in analog computers. Its earliest incarnation used vacuum tube technology, but was functionally identical to our modern op-amp integrated circuits. The modern op-amp has gone far beyond its early mathematical computational role, however, and is a nearly universal component of any present-day analog circuitry. In the next few months, we will explore lots of fun things you can do with op-amps, including the original mathematical applications, an art form that is becoming very important once again.


When discussing any fundamental electronic principle or device, it’s best to study the component, with the understanding that physical reality is usually somewhat different. We first study capacitors as pure capacitors, even though we know there is always some stray inductance and resistance to deal with. We study inductors as pure inductors with the knowledge that real inductors have some stray capacitance and resistance. And we study resistors

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