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Purpose: To make current and voltage measurements in several electrical circuits, and see if they agree with Kirchhoff's Rules. Introduction: Kirchhoff's Rules apply to electrical circuits—any combination of electrical components such as voltage sources, resistors, capacitors, inductors, with conducting paths (usually wires) between them. The rules are: Loop Rule: The algebraic sum of the changes in potential around any closed loop of a circuit is zero. Junction Rule: At any junction point in the circuit, the sum of the currents entering the junction equals the sum of the currents leaving the junction. To illustrate these rules, refer to Fig. 1, which is a schematic diagram of a circuit containing two batteries (labeled E for "emf") and four resistors. We can make out three loops: ABCFA, CDEFC, and an outer loop, ABCDEFA.
F ig . 1 . Illu s tra tio n o f K irc h h o ff's R u le s
Kirchhoff's loop rule says the algebraic sum of the potential changes around each of these three loops is zero. This means that if you start at any point on a loop and proceed either clockwise or counterclockwise around that loop, when you arrive back at your starting point, the sum of the changes in potential must equal zero. This requires that you record the proper sign (plus or minus) with each potential change in the summation. In this way, Kirchhoff's loop rule gives you an equation which can be checked experimentally or solved algebraically, either alone or with other simultaneous equations. In writing down this loop equation we use three auxiliary rules: The potential change along a continuous length of circuit wire is negligible. For example, in Fig. 1, the potential difference between the positive terminal of E1 and the left end of resistor R1 and that between E and F may be taken as zero and not included in the loop equation. The magnitude of the potential change that occurs as you "step across" a source of emf such as a battery is equal to its emf (voltage) and the sign is determined from its polarity. For example, if in the course of proceeding around the rightmost loop in Fig. 1 you step from D to E, you write down the potential change as -E2. If the value of E2 is known, say 6.0 V, then you could write –6.0 V. This would be one of the terms in the complete loop equation. The magnitude of the potential change that occurs when you traverse a resistor R equals the product IR, where I is the current through the resistor. The sign is determined from the direction of the current—in a resistor, current is always in the direction of the electric field, which is in the direction of decreasing potential. If the current is unknown, show an assumed direction on the
bear in mind that conventional current enters the high potential side of a resistor and leaves at the low potential side. the amount of electric charge located at any junction in a circuit is constant. below. If in going around the loop you go from the negative terminal of a source of e.I R. In considering the potential change across a resistor. but how do you know the direction of the currents through the resistors before you solve the problem? The answer is that in many cases you don't know. Symbolically. 1) In applying this rule. If its value comes out negative. From these two premises. the junction rule still applies because although the charge at a junction is usually changing. the opposite sign convention could also be used. (a) (b) Theory The principles known as Kirchhoff's rules.f. (When currents are changing. currents flowing into a branch point are taken as positive. symbolically .m. a constant. then the potential increases so that V = + E neglecting the internal resistance of the source of e. If in your solution I1 comes out positive. then it is in the direction you assumed. the first step in solving a problem using Kirchhoff's rules is to assume a direction for all the currents in the circuit. There are many ways of stating Kirchhoff's rules but this experiment uses the formalism described below. we may write Equation 1. Kirchhoff's junction rule states that the algebraic sum of the currents at any branch point or junction in a circuit is zero. in honor of the man who developed them. as the sum of n currents flowing into a junction: (Eq.) Charge is conserved (it cannot simply appear or disappear). while currents flowing out of the branch point are taken as negative.circuit diagram and represent the current by a symbol. but this would simply multiply the equation by (-1) and therefore would provide exactly the same information. (E) to the positive terminal. provide a means of obtaining enough independent equations to solve for the currents flowing in an electrical circuit. of you are going around the loop in a direction opposite to the direction of the current through a particular resistor then V = + I R. If you are going around a loop in the same direction as the current through a particular resistor then V = . it follows that if in any given time interval a certain amount of charge flows into a given bit of space (which contains the junction). 2) There V represents the potential change as we go across a particular circuit element. which means it can be taken as zero. The rule follows from two premises: In steady-state (dc) circuits such as we will be using today. the total charge which leaves a junction equals the total charge which enters the junction. Now apply . Again we may write Eq. as in ac circuits. 2. then an equal amount of charge must flow out of that space in that same time interval via one or more other wires.as the sum of the potential changes: (Eq.m.). Kirchhoff's second rule states that the algebraic sum of the potential changes around any complete loop in the network is zero. Kirchhoff's junction rule states that during any given time interval. through one or more pathways (wires).f. but it doesn't matter. it is in the opposite direction. such as I1. it remains so small relative to the currents in and out so as to be negligible.
as in Fig. VCD. (2) . (2) (3) Measure and record (directly on the circuit diagram) the voltages VAB. Test of loop rule. 2. Connect your voltmeter leads to measure the exact value (VAB = VB . VBC. Draw the circuit diagram in your report and label it. If the solution for a particular current comes out as a negative number. which stays cool enough to have a nearly constant resistance. As you go. (1) Build the circuit of Fig. + VFA = 0. Another test of the Loop Rule: In this section. Connect digital multimeters to make simultaneous measurements of voltages VAB. you will check whether the loop rule holds good for a range of different values of the power supply voltage ("input voltage"). 2.. Use the 22 Ω resistor as R1 and the 51 Ω resistor as R2. C R 1 B 5V D A R 2 F E Fig. which gets so hot with increasing current that its resistance increases by about a factor of ten. but now use the 22 Ω resistor for R1 and the lamp (#50) in place of R2. if your solution for a particular current comes out a positive number. 2. VCD. respectively. substitute them directly into the equation which expresses the loop rule: VAB + VBC + VCD + .0 V. Part II. including the letters A through F. and a miniature lamp. Simple test of the Loop Rule (1) Construct the series circuit of Fig. 2 again. However. Procedure Part I. VDE. Do the values you obtained satisfy the loop rule? To test this. you must be sure to retain the minus sign in solving your equations for the other currents. even if one of the resistances in the circuit changes as the input voltage changes. and VEF. and so forth around the circuit until you arrive back at point A. determine for each of these voltages whether you are stepping up or down in potential and indicate this in your data by a + or sign. The circuit will consist of a series combination of a resistor.VA) using a digital volt meter. it means that the actual current is opposite to the direction you assumed but that the magnitude you calculated is correct. Set the power supply voltage near 5.Kirchhoff's rules and obtain enough equations to solve for all the unknown currents. it means that the current is in the direction you assumed..
Use logger pro as an ammeters to measure the current supplied by the power supply. substitute them directly into the equation which expresses the junction rule: IAB = ICF + IDE. the current flowing through R1. Simple test of the Junction Rule (1) (2) Open Logger Pro and configure the system to act as three ammeters.5 V. 3. using the Add feature under source data for charts. B C D 5V R 1 R 2 (3) A F E Fig 3. and how the graph of (VCD + VEF)/VAB vs VAB relates to the loop rule. Draw the circuit diagram in your report and label it. Explain in a sentence or two why the curves of VCD/VAB vs VAB and VEF/VAB vs VAB appear as they do. Construct the parallel circuit of Fig. Test of Junction Rule. VEF. IAB. ICF.). Using the spread sheet. Be sure to label the curves in your graph (VCD.0 V in steps of about 0. with R1 = 22 Ω and R2 = 51 Ω again. to measure the current through a circuit element you must break the circuit to place a multimeter in series with it. (4) Part III. etc. save the data.(3) Vary the input voltage from 0. When you have finished. as in Fig. 3. Do the values you obtained satisfy the junction rule? To test this. including the letters A through F. Plot all three curves on one graph. plot VCD/VAB. record the three circuit voltages simultaneously and enter the data into a spreadsheet. For each input voltage. Remember. Record the results directly on the circuit diagram. VEF/VAB and (VCD + VEF)/VAB vs VAB. . and the current flowing through R2.5 V to 5. IDE.
R2 = 39 Ω. even if one of the resistances in the circuit changes as the input current changes. ICF. Use the spreadsheet plot ICF/IAB. (3) (4) Part VI. Plot all three curves on one graph. predict the current in each branch of the circuit. Explain why the curves of ICF/IAB vs IAB and IDE/IAB vs IAB appear as they do. Another test of the Junction Rule: In this section. record the current values and enter the data into a spreadsheet.Part V. 4 V 5 Power Supply R1 I1 I2 I3 R3 (2) R2 Dry Cell E batt Fig. Test of both Kirchhoff rules. using R1 = 22 Ω. Connect three logger pro ammeters so to make simultaneous measurements of the currents IAB. Take the nominal values of the resistors and the measured values of the two emfs as given and the currents as unknowns. Vary the input current over the attainable range in about ten steps. 4. Also measure them. Finally. explain how the graph of (ICF + IDE)/IAB vs IAB relates to the junction rule. Insert voltmeters to measure the emfs of the power supply and the dry cell battery. (1) (2) Build the circuit of Fig.4. For each input current. Insert ammeters into the circuit to let you measure I1. Do the internal resistances of the meters play an important role here? Also. and IDE. and R3 = 51 Ω. I2. A final test of both Rules (1) Build the circuit of Fig. compare your predicted and measured values. . using the 22 Ω resistor for R1 and the lamp in place of R2. you will check whether the junction rule holds good for a range of different values of the input current. 3 again. and I3. IDE/IAB and (ICF + IDE)/IAB vs IAB. Write down the equations for this circuit obtained from Kirchhoff's rules. From these equations.
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