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Proceedings of the Institute of Radio Engineers Volume 19, Number 4

April, 1931

DIRECT-READING FREQUENCY METER* BY F. GUARNASCHELLI AND F. VECCHIACCHI
Summary-The frequency meter described functions over the whole scale of acousticfrequenciesfrom20 to 10,000 cycles per second, and in addition constitutes a static equivalent of the vibrating reed apparatus used for precise comparisons of a capacity with a resistance and a time. A condenser is charged at a given voltage Eo across a triode in a half period and discharged across another triode in the successive half period; for this two grid circuits are controlled by opposite phases of the periodic voltage variations obtained from the two secondaries of a single transformer whose primary is supplied with the frequency to be measured. If the continuous voltage supply Eo is kept constant, the frequency may be read directly on the calibrated scale of a milliammeter. It is possible to attain an almost complete independence of the triode characteristics and of the form and value of the voltage of the applied oscillation, within very wide limits. Thefrequency meter may also servefor the measurement of very small capacities.

PRINCIPLE OF OPERATION T -HE principle of operation of this device may be most readily explained by reference to Fig. 1, which gives a schematic of the circuit in its simplest form. The circuit is so arranged that a condenser C may be charged to the potential Eo by making the plate-filament circuit of the triode T2 conductive; similarly, it may be discharged by making the plate-filament circuit of triode T1 conductive. The grid circuits of these two triodes have negative biasing potentials P1 and P2, of sufficient magnitude to reduce the plate current to zero when no other grid voltages are present, and provided the plate potential does not exceed Eo. A transformer having two independent secondary windings is so connected that a voltage impressed on its input terminals causes voltages of equal amplitude but of opposite phase to be set up in the grid circuits of the two triodes. With this circuit arrangement it is apparent that whenever the induced voltages are of such sign that the potential on the grid of the triode T2 is made less negative than the biasing potential P2 the platefilament path becomes conducting and the condenser charges. At such times the induced voltage on the shunt-connected triode T1 is made even more negative than the biasing potential, hence the plate-filament path remains nonconducting. When the signs of the secondary induced voltages are reversed, the plate-filament path of the shunt connected triode T1 becomes conducting, permitting the condenser to discharge.
* Decimal classification: R384. Original manuscript received by the Institute, May 21, 1930. Translation received by the Institute, July 15, 1930.

659

LIMITS OF OPERATION (a) Limits Imposed by the Transformer Due to the presence of transformers there are obviously definite limits to the frequency ranges above and below which the secondary . of the voltage impressed on the transformer and the current drawn from the plate battery. f. This choice has been made as a matter of convenience. 1 CONSTANTS OF THE DEVICE of the complete circuit is given in Fig. 1 is preceded by two stages of amplification. it follows that there is a definite relation between the frequency. the average current drawn from the plate battery will be I = CEof.000 cycles per second. is of suitable magnitude. Hence if there are f charges per second. C. both charge and discharge will be practically complete. 2. are sufficiently large. 0~~~~~~~~~~ Vf ^V t~ ~ ~P C ~ ~ ~ 152 Volt -Fi2.660 Guarnaschelli anLd Vecchiacchi: Frequbency Meter If the secondary induced voltages. Each charge of the condenser is of the magnitude Q = CEo. These in turn are preceded by an attenuator. the other for the frequency range between 200 and 10. V1 and V2. As C and Eo are both constant. two sets of transformers are used. By this arrangement it is possible to obtain an instrument having considerable sensitivity and sufficient control to permit operation over a wide range of voltage amplitudes. This current may be conveniently indicated by a milliammeter in series with the battery. In practice. one for the frequency range between 20 and 300 cycles per second. and if the capacity of the condenser. It will be A schematic noted that the elementary circuit of Fig. and it is obvious that other arrangements may be made readily if found more desirable. Fig.

05 microfarad for the frequency range between 20 and 300 cycles per second. which is related to that of voltage is also negligible. and for a capacity of 0. It should also be noted that incorrect indications may result if the two half cy- . such that the condenser is prevented from becoming fully charged. The effect of wave-form.003 microfarad for frequencies up to 10. consisting of the plate-filament path of the tubes and the condenser C. It will be understood that for a specified frequency there will be a limiting maximum value to the time constant of the circuit. may vary from one to several hundred volts without producing any appreciable variation in the indication.(utarnaschelli and Vecchiacchi: Frequency Meter 661 voltages will be insufficient to charge and discharge the condenser completely. In this case the amplitude of the voltage. the calibration of the device coincides closely with that given by the formula I = CEf. provided that any harmonics are of insufficient amplitude to cause more than two reversals in the sign of the grid potential during each cycle of the fundamental period. This fact is definitely evidenced by observed deviations of the instrument reading from values of frequency derived by other methods.000 cycles per second. C-4 ~ ~ ~ ®l ~ +-+ Fig. This condition is obtained by capacity of about 0. In cases where the frequency range is more definitely restricted. the frequency of which is to be measured. 2 (c) Effect of Voltage and of Wave-Form Within the limits noted above. it is possible to select a more suitable value of capacity. (b) Effect of Value of Capacity For a given frequency range there is a limiting maximum value to the capacity of the condenser C.

In order to make the apparatus independent within certain limits of the value of the plate potential Eo. 3 SPECIAL ADJUSTNIENT By the use of a circuit as shown schematically in Fig. It is predicted that the method can be extended to some tens of kilocycles. provided with suitable control and suitable interstage transformers. the calibration curve given by the formula f= IICEo should be checked by reference to frequencies of known . In the second case. the milliammeter may be replaced by ana ohmmeter. CALIBRATION Provided it is possible. For example. it is possible to compensate the reading of the milliammeter in such a way that high senasitivity is obtained for small frequency variations. it is readily possible with frequencies of the order of 50 cycles per second to adjust the device so that measurements may be made to 0. (d) Frequency Limitation of the Device Although models of this apparatus have not been built for ranges exceeding those mentioned above. In the first case.01 cycle per second. 3. the indications will be considerably above the true value. the range may be extended appreciably in either direction.662 Guarnaschelli and Vecchiacchi: Frequmency Meter cles are of markedly different duration. If this is done it is possible to operate the instrument on alternating current by using a suitable rectifier. Fig. the condenser may have insufficient time for completely charging or discharging. it is probable that.

the direct-reading frequency meter may be used for the measurement of small capacities. A useful application is in connection with the determination of the frequency of radio transmitting stations which may be done by determining the beat note between the frequency of the transmitter and the frequency of a monitoring piezo-electric oscillator. provided mowdulation is not complete. By using an audio frequency obtained by heterodyning two frequencies of considerably higher magnitude. The change in the heterodyne frequency resulting when the capacity of one of the high-frequency oscillators is altered by an amount equal to the unknown capacity is determined by the directreading frequency meter. In case it is desired to determine the values of a beat frequency. and hence facilitates the determination of frequency. From this measured change in frequency the magnitude of the change in capacity may be computed. . even if the wave is modulated or damped. This method has been successfully used in the measurement of interelectrode capacity of vacuum tubes.Guarnaschelli and Vecchiacchi: Frequency Meter 663 value. care must be taken to eliminate completely all higher frequencies as these may readily produce false indications. As distinguished from the customary bridge type of frequency meter and from the heterodyne frequency meter the meter here described is direct-reading. as for instance. capacities of the value of one-hundredth of a micromicrofarad or less. It should be pointed out that frequency measurements are possible with this device. In general practice it is advantageous to use either an electrically driven tuning fork or a piezo-electric oscillator with an auxiliary interpolating oscillator.

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