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ENG1021 Electronic Principles
Learning Package 1
What is electricity?
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1 Introduction
Welcome to the Electronic Principles module of the course. The course is split up
into Learning Packages.
At the start of each Learning Package you will be presented with a Do you know
all this already? section which directs you to some questions on the subject that
appear within the Learning Package. If you are 100 % confident with the subject
then you may continue with the next Learning Package, but you should be sure
that you are able to solve all of the problems that I have selected before moving
on.
Within each Learning Package you will be given the basic concepts which will be
reinforced by problem solving. I will give detailed explanations to the solutions to
all of the problems in which I will highlight common pitfalls and suggest
alternative solutions and observations. You should always read the solutions and
suggestions. However, it is important that you attempt the problems before you
study the solutions. This is the only way that you will build up confidence in
tackling similar problems in electronics.
Often at the end of each Learning Package you will also be given information
about where to find opportunities for further reading.
This introduction package differs from the others in that there are no set
problems. You will familiarise yourself with the concepts of charge, current,
voltage and resistance. Do not struggle to understand (or remember) every
detail, most of the content will be expanded upon in later chapters, and you can
always go back and read them later (when they may make more sense).
2 What is electricity?
All substance is made of atoms, and all atoms are made of smaller particles
mainly protons, electrons and neutrons. Each proton has a positive charge, and
each electron has the equivalent but opposite negative charge (neutrons do not
have a charge). In an atom, the number of protons equals the number of
electrons, so that the atom is electronically neutral.
In many substances, the atoms can be persuaded to part with one or more
electrons temporarily by the application of energy. The free electrons can then
flow through the material. The flow of electrons is what is called current, and this
is the basis for all of electrical engineering and electronics. The amount of current
is measured in amperes or amps for short.
When an electrical current flows through a substance such as a metal wire, it
produces two effects heat and magnetism. It is these effects that are used to
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create all of the electrical and electronic devices that are used today. For
example, when heat is produced this can be exploited to make electric fires,
electric cookers, and if the heat is so intense that the wire glows, it can produce
electric light. The magnetism that is produced can be exploited to make electro
magnets or electric motors.
The energy that has to be provided to move the electrons is usually described as
the voltage and is measured in volts. Batteries have a voltage, and when a
conductor is placed between the terminals, the electrons flow through the
conductor. Similarly, the electric socket that you plug your electrical devices in to
has a voltage which in the UK is quoted in volts. There is a close relationship
between the voltage and the subsequent amount of current that flows, and this
will be discussed in more detail in the next Learning Package.
3 The circuit
When describing electricity, the term circuit is often used. You may have come
across the term opencircuit or shortcircuit before. A simple circuit is shown
below. It consists of a battery, which has a positive (+) and a negative ()
terminal. A wire is connected from the positive terminal to a component, which in
this case is a light bulb. The other terminal, the negative, is also connected to the
other side of the bulb. So now we have a complete circuit there are no breaks
anywhere.
Notice that Ive used standard symbols to represent a battery and a bulb, and Ive
followed the standard convention when showing wiring of using straight lines with
right angle bends. This kind of diagram is often referred to as a circuit diagram
or a schematic diagram.
So, within the battery is an electronic charge. This would have been created
during manufacture, and the way I think of it is that the battery has two
compartments. In the one, which would be labelled negative, is a compartment
that has millions of free electrons. In the other, labelled positive, there is a lack of
electrons. When the negative terminal is connected to the positive terminal,
electrons flow out of the negative compartment, through the wire, and into the
positive compartment. It will carry on doing this at a fairly constant rate until the
number of electrons in each compartment is equal, when the battery would be
described as flat.
The important point here is that the two terminals are joined together. If there
was a break in the wire anywhere, then the electrons would not be able to flow
and there would be no current. That would be an opencircuit. So for current to
flow there has to be a closedcircuit, which means no breaks. You can place
devices in that circuit, such as light bulbs, as long as the current can flow through
them. If you just have a wire between the two terminals and nothing else, that
would be described as a shortcircuit and is usually something that you are
advised not to do because it can create very high currents.
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Figure 1 A simple electronic circuit
Finally, before we leave circuits, you may have come across the terms AC or DC
circuits. A circuit which contains a battery is an example of a DC circuit. The
voltage that is supplied by the battery is constant, as is the current that is
produced. The term DC stands for direct current which means that the current
doesnt change. On the other hand a voltage could be supplied by a generator,
such as that found in the mains supply, which is not constant. Instead it
alternates between a positive and a negative value at a particular rate. In the
mains in the UK this change takes place 50 times a second. Therefore this type
of circuit would be described as AC, which stands for alternating current. We
will look at AC circuits in more detail in a later Learning Package. So for now, we
will just be dealing with DC circuits.
As an aside, it is quite common to come across phrases like DC current or DC
voltage which just means a constant current or constant voltage.
4 Understanding electricity  The water analogy
In early dealings with electricity and electronics, students are often confused
between the terms voltage, current, resistance and power. Power, current and
voltage are often considered (incorrectly) as meaning the same thing when they
refer to three completely different physical quantities. It is important for you to be
clear of theses distinctions in your own mind, before attempting to understand
electronic principles further.
Many of the definitions of these electrical quantities are not helpful in your
understanding process. Here are some examples:
One volt is the difference of potential between two points of an electrical
conductor when a current of 1 ampere flows between those points and dissipates
a power of 1 watt.
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Potential Difference (voltage) between two points in an electric field is the work
done per unit charge moved from point to point in the field.
To assist understanding, an analogy with water is often made in texts. You may
like to consider the charge mentioned above as water in a tank which is sitting on
a table. Energy (effort) was used lifting the water tank onto the table (or pumping
water from a lower level into the tank), and that energy would be released if the
tank were to be emptied. If the table had been higher, more energy would have
been required to lift the same quantity of water into it. If we were to connect a
pipe to the base of the tank and bring the pipe to the ground then we would have
water pressure at the end of the pipe due to the height of the water. The higher
the tank, the higher that pressure will be. The height of the tank (or pressure of
the water) in this case is analogous to the voltage.
In electricity, charge may move from a more negative (or lower) point (or
potential) to a more positive (or higher) point (or potential), in our water analogy
we have moved water from a lower point to a higher point (or potential).
We can continue to use this analogy to give a feel for electrical current. Electrical
current is the rate of flow of charge. Charge will only flow between two points if
there is a voltage or potential difference between the points. If we connect a
flexible pipe to the bottom of our water tank, and move the end of the hose
vertically to positions between the ground and the level of the water in the tank,
water will flow out of it, providing that there is a difference in height between the
end of the hose and the water level in the tank. The flow of water is analogous
with the flow of charge (or current), and there is no flow unless there is a
difference in height for the water or a voltage exists (potential) for the charge.
This brings us to an important property of voltage. Like height, it is a relative
measurement, and only meaningful if measured across or between two points.
Often one of these points is taken as being earth or ground which is always
regarded as having zero volts.
If the pipe is made narrower, then the rate at which water flows out of the pipe
will be less. A narrower pipe has more resistance and impedes flow rate of water
for a given tank height or pressure. Electrical resistance impedes flow rate of
electrons (current) for a given voltage.
So there is a potential for the energy to be released, but while the water sits in
the tank on the table it is insulated from the floor. Current is the movement or
flow of electrical charge. If charge remains static no current flows. Charge will
remain static unless there is a difference in potential or voltage.
4 Measuring voltage and current
In any electrical circuit the voltage or the current can be measured. Voltage is
measured with a voltmeter and, as mentioned in the previous section, has to be
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measured between two points. Current is measured with an ammeter where the
ammeter has to be placed in an electrical circuit so that the current can flow
through it.
5 Where next?
The next Learning Package is called Ohms law which explores to relationships
between voltage, current, resistance and power in more detail. However, before
leaving the topic of electricity, you may like to have a look at the online book that
has been supplied with this module. It is entitled Fundamentals of Electrical
Engineering and Electronics by Tony L Kuphaldt with help from other people.
Have a look at the first section entitled DC, within that all of the material that
comes under the heading of Basic Concepts of Electricity, such as:
Static electricity
Conductors, insulators and electron flow
Electric circuits
Voltage and current
Resistance
Voltage and current in a practical circuit
Conventional versus electron flow
These will help you to understand the concepts discussed in this Learning
Package.
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ENG1021 Electronic Principles
Learning Package 2
Ohms law and power
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Ohms law and power
1 Do you know all this already?
If you are in doubt about Ohms law and power, please attempt the self
assessment questions that appear later in this Learning Package. If you can
answer all of the questions correctly you may omit this Learning Package. If not,
please read on.
2 Introduction
This section links the electrical quantities current, voltage, resistance and power.
It also introduces multiple units, which are prefixes attached to units that are
intended to allow us to write very large or very small numbers more concisely.
3 Ohms law
In the previous Learning Package you were introduced to the concepts of voltage
and current and you were told that there was a relationship between these
quantities. This relationship is known as Ohms law, and states that the voltage
divided by the current is a constant (if the temperature remains constant). The
constant is given the name resistance, and the symbol R. Usually Ohms law is
expressed as:
V = I R (1)
where V is the voltage in volts, I is the current in amperes and R is the resistance
in ohms.
Example:
A battery has a voltage of 9 V. It is connected to a device which has a resistance
of 100 . What is the current in the circuit?
First, note the units. The voltage is 9 volts, which is written as 9 V. The
resistance is 100 ohms, which is written as 100 , where is the upper case
Greek character omega.
Rearranging Ohms law:
I = V/R = 9/100 = 0.09 A
The solution is 0.09 amperes, or 0.09 amps, which is written as 0.09 A.
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4 Power
You were also told in the previous Learning Package that when an electric
current flows, it generates heat. Heat is a form of energy, and the rate at which
heat is generated is the power, measured in watts. You may have come across
this when buying devices that use electrical heating devices such as fire or kettle
where the manufacturer would be described the device as having 2 kilowatt
power, for example.
The equation for electrical power is:
P = I V (2)
where P is the power in watts, I is the current in amperes and V is the voltage in
volts.
Example:
What is the power in the circuit described earlier, where the battery is 9 V and the
device has a resistance of 100 ?
We calculated the current as 0.09 A, so:
P = I V = 0.09 9 = 0.81 W.
The power generated is 0.81 watts, which is written as 0.81 W.
4.1 Other forms of the power equation
We can also calculate the power in a circuit using just the voltage and resistance,
or just the current and resistance by combining the power equation with Ohms
law.
P = I V
V = I R
So, substituting for V is the power equation, we get:
P = I (I R) = I
2
R (3)
Alternatively, substitute for I in the power equation:
P = (V/R) V = V
2
/R (4)
Example:
Using the same example again, we have V = 9 v, I = 0.09 A, and R = 100 .
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P = I
2
R = 0.09 x 0.09 x 100 = 0.81 W
P = (V/R) V = V
2
/R = 9 x 9 / 100 = 0.81 W
5 Resistors
Resistors are the most common components used in electrical and electronic
circuits. Essentially they are components with a fixed resistance value, although
usually that value is only approximate. For example, a resistor that states that it
has a value of 100 may actually have a value of 99 or 101 . The range of
values is usually referred to as the tolerance, and can be 20%, 10% 15% or
2%. If a resistor is stated as having a value of 100 and a tolerance of 20%,
then its value can be as little as 100 (20% of 100) = 100 (0.2 x 100) = 100 20
= 80 , or as high as 100 + (20% of 100) = 100 + (0.2 x 100) = 100 + 20 = 120 .
Resistors have their values written on them as four coloured bands. The colours
correspond to the values shown in the following table.
Colour 1
st
digit 2
nd
digit Multiplier Tolerance
Silver 10
2
=0.01 10%
Gold 10
1
=0.1 5%
Black 0 0 10
0
=1 20%
Brown 1 1 10
1
=10 1%
Red 2 2 10
2
=100 2%
Orange 3 3 10
3
=1000
Yellow 4 4 10
4
=10000
Green 5 5 10
5
=100000
Blue 6 6 10
6
=1000000
Violet 7 7 10
7
=10000000
Grey 8 8 10
8
=100000000
White 9 9 10
9
=1000000000
The first two bands form a number which is then multiplied by the value of the
third band as a power of 10. The fourth band gives the value of the tolerance.
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Note that if the fourth band is not present, then the tolerance is taken to be
20%.
For example, a resistor with coloured bands of Brown, Green, Red, Silver would
have a resistance of 15 x 10
2
or 1500 and a tolerance of 10%. 10 % of 1500 is
150, so the actual value of the resistor is in the range 1350 to 1650 .
Most components, like resistors, are available at various values. Instead of an
infinite choice, the values that are available are limited. Not only that, the range
of value available depends on the tolerance. There is a wider range of values for
lower tolerance resistors.
The following Table shows the range of values available for resistors of different
tolerance. The values that are used are known as the preferred values.
Tolerance Preferred Values
5% 10 11 12 13 15 16 18 20 22 24 27 30
10% 10 12 15 18 22 27
20% 10 15 22
Tolerance Preferred Values
5% 33 36 39 43 47 51 56 62 68 75 82 91
10% 33 39 47 56 68 82
20% 33 47 68
These preferred values are then multiplied by factors of 10. So you could have
15 , 150 , 1500 , 15000 etc. So, for example, it is possible to have a
resistor with a value of 6800 with a tolerance of 5, 10 or 20%, but you can only
have a resistor with a value of 6200 with a tolerance of 5%.
Another point to note is the standard symbol for the resistor. British and
European circuit diagrams use the following symbol for resistors (Figure 1).
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Figure 1 The British Standard resistor symbol
However, it is common to find the American standard symbol (which used to be
the British standard also). This is shown in Figure 2. Throughout this module the
two symbols for resistors will be used.
Figure 2 The American Standard resistor symbol
In some circuits you may want to use a variable resistor one where the value
can be changed. A device which is simply a variable resistor is called a rheostat.
It has two connections, and then either a slider or knob that you turn to vary the
resistance. A similar device is a potentiometer. This also has a slider or a knob
that turns, but it has three connections, as shown in Figure 3.
Figure 3 Rheostat and potentiometer
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6 Units
You need to understand the conventional way that multiple units are used. They
will be used extensively throughout this course without further explanation, so
you need to make sure that you understand them now.
In a previous table where the colour code of resistors was shown, a multiplier
was referred to which used powers of 10. So, for example, 10 was seen to be 10
to the power of 1, written as 10
1
. Similarly 100 was described as 10
2
or 10 to the
power of 2, and a thousand, 1000, was described as 10
3
, and so on. These are
ways of writing powers of 10 so that you dont have to write a string of zeroes
after every value. You may note that the power is the same as the number of
zeroes. Alternatively, the power is the same as the number of times you multiply
10 by itself. So 100 is 10 x 10 and 1000 is 10 x 10 x 10. The following table
shows the powers of 10.
Value power 10 multiplied by itself metric value symbol
1 10
0
10 10
1
10
100 10
2
10x10
1000 10
3
10x10x10 kilo k
10000 10
4
10x10x10x10
100000 10
5
10x10x10x10x10
1000000 10
6
10x10x10x10x10x10 mega M
1000,000,000 10
9
giga G
1000,000,000,000 10
12
tera T
You can see that 10
0
= 1. This is true for any number, X, so that X
0
= 1. Ive also
introduced the metric terms, kilo for a thousand, mega for a million, giga for a
thousand million and tera for a million million. The terms may be familiar from
kilogram, a thousand grams, megawatt, a million watts.
So, for example, a resistor with a value of 120,000 could also be described as
having a value of 120 kilo ohms or 120 k. Similarly, a resistor with a value of
1,200 could be said to have a value of 1.2 k.
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What about values that are less then 1? We can also use powers of 10, but now
the powers are negative. For example, 0.1 is equivalent to 1/10
th
which in powers
of 10 is written as 10
1
. Similarly, 0.01 is equivalent to 1/100
th
or 1/10
th
x 1/10
th
and is written as 10
2
. The following table completes the story.
Value power 10 multiplied by itself metric value symbol
1 10
0
0.1 10
1
1/10
0.01 10
2
1/10 x 1/10 centi c
0.001 10
3
1/10 x 1/10 x 1/10 milli m
0.0001 10
4
1/10 x 1/10 x 1/10 x 1/10
0.00001 10
5
0.000001 10
6
micro
0.000000001 10
9
nano n
0.000000000001 10
12
pico p
Some of these terms may be familiar from centimetre, a hundredth of a meter, or
millisecond, a thousandth of a second.
Note that the choice of multiple unit prefix is up to you and an answer is not
incorrect because you have not chosen the correct prefix. For example 470000
may be written as 470 k or 0.47 M. It may be difficult to decide which of the
latter two forms to use and either would be suitable.
In general, the values that you calculate or measure will be over a wide range, so
they might be thousands of millions or millionths. It is difficult to read numbers if
they are very long, especially if they have either lots of training or leading zeroes.
Therefore a standard called Scientific Notation is often used. In Scientific
Notation, all numbers are written as one digit, decimal point, the remaining digits
then multiplied by a power of ten. For example, 1.234567 x 10
6
would be how the
number 1,234,567 would be written in Scientific Notation. Similarly, 1.234567 x
10
6
would the way that 0.000001234567 would be written.
7 Additional reading
As in the previous Learning Package, you are encouraged to read some of the
sections from the online book Fundamentals of Electrical Engineering and
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Electronics. In this Learning Package the relevant section is headed Ohms
law, and the parts that you should read are:
How voltage, current and resistance relate
An analogy for Ohms law
Power in electric circuits
Calculating electric power
Resistors
The remaining parts of that section can be omitted as they are not relevant,
although we may return to some of them later.
In addition, you may want to read the section entitled Scientific Notation and
Metric Prefixes. The relevant parts are:
Scientific notation
Arithmetic with scientific notation
Metric notation
Metric prefix conversion
Again, the remainder of the parts can be ignored for now.
Finally, tucked away in another section is some information about resistor colour
codes in the section entitled Reference, and in a section called Experiments
and subsection called DC Circuits there are a couple of experiments called
Potentiometer as a voltage divider and Potentiometer as a rheostat which you
may find useful.
8 Self assessment exercises
Now attempt the following Problems. These problems will assess your
understanding of Ohms law, power, the electrical quantities and you should be
able to exercise your use in multiple units. The solutions are given below with full
explanations.
Problem 1 A 15 V dc source is connected across a 1 k resistance. (a) Draw a
schematic diagram. (b) Calculate the current I through the resistance. (c) How
much current flows through the voltage source? (d) If the voltage is doubled, how
much is the current I in the circuit?
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Problem 2 A current of 2 A flows through a 12 resistance connected across a
battery. (a) How much is the battery voltage? (b) How much power is dissipated
by the resistance? (c) How much power is supplied by the battery?
Problem 3 Calculate the resistance, R, in ohms, for each of the following
examples: (a) 1 mA drawn from a 12 V source; (b) 4 mA drawn from a 15 V
source; (c) 150 mW dissipated with 36 V applied; (d) 16.2 W dissipated with a
current of 30 mA.
Problem 4 How much will it cost to operate a 1500 W heater for 36 hours if the
cost of electricity is 7 cents/kWh?
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Solutions
Problem 1a
See Figure 4.
Figure 4 The circuit diagram
Problem 1b
We use Ohms law to find the current I
V = IR
Firstly we have to rearrange Ohms law by dividing both sides of the equation by
R:
V
I
R
= (5)
Substituting our values for V = 15 V dc and R = 1k = 1 10
3
we get
3
15
1 10 x
= 15 10
3
amperes = 15mA
Problem 1c
Since current in all parts of the circuit is the same then the same current must
also flow through the voltage source, that is, the current through the voltage
source is also 15mA.
Problem 1d
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If the voltage of the source is doubled, then multiplying both sides of Equation 5
by 2 gives:
2
2
V
I amperes
R
=
and shows that the current will also be doubled. The current I will therefore be
2 15 mA = 30 mA
An alternative solution is to double the voltage and recalculate I using Equation
5.
The old voltage was V = 15 volts so the doubled voltage is V = 30 volts.
Substituting into Equation 5 as before gives
3
30
1 10
= 30 10
3
amperes = 30 mA
Problem 2a
This first part of this question requires Ohms law again. We use the form:
V = IR
We are told that 2 amps of current flows in a circuit with a resistance of 12.
Substituting these values for I and R respectively into Ohms law gives:
V = 2 12 = 24 volts
Problem 2b
Now that we have found the voltage V we may calculate the power using
P = V I.
Substituting for I and V (I = 2 amps and V = 24 volts)
P = 24 2 = 48 watts
Problem 2c
The power dissipated in the resistor must have been supplied by the battery to
heat up the resistor; therefore the power supplied by the battery is also 48 watts.
Problem 3
Parts a) and b) of this problem use a rearrangement of Ohms law. We require an
equation for resistance R alone so we divide both sides of equation 1 by I to give:
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V IR
I I
=
Cancelling the Is and swapping left and right hand sides of the equation gives:
V
R
I
= (6)
Problem 3a
The current I is 1 mA = 110
3
amperes while the voltage V is 12 volts.
Substituting these values into Equation 6 gives:
3
3
12
12 10
1 10
R
= =
Using the k for kilo prefix the answer is:
Resistance R = 12 k.
Problem 3b
Similarly substituting into Equation 6 for I equal to 4 mA = 4 10
3
amperes and
the voltage V equal to 15 volts gives:
3 3
3
15 15
10 3.75 10
4 10 4
R
= = =
Using the k for kilo prefix the answer is:
Resistance R = 3.75 k .
Problem 3c
We can attempt the solution of this problem in two ways. I prefer the first way
because we only have to remember the two equations for voltage and power
(Equations 1 and 2).
First way (preferred)
We have values for the power P and the voltage V and require the resistance R.
Ohms law will give us a value for R, but we need I. I can be found from Equation
2, by dividing both sides of the equation by V and rearranging.
P
I
V
=
Substituting for P and V into the equation gives:
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3
3
150 10
4.1667 10
36
I amperes
= =
Substituting I and V into Equation 6 gives:
3
3
36
8.64 10 8.64
4.1667 10
R k
= = =
Second way
Using the Equation 4 directly:
2
V
R
P
=
and substituting for V = 36 volts and P = 150 mW = 150 10
3
gives:
2
3
3
36 1296
10
150 10 150
R
= =
R = 8.64 10
3
= 8.64 k
Problem 3d
Again we can attempt the solution of this problem in two ways and the first way
only requires knowledge of Equations 1 and 2.
First way (preferred)
Now we have values for the power P and the current I and require the resistance
R. Again we can use Ohms law to find R, but we need a value V now. V can be
found from Equation 2, by dividing both sides by I and rearranging.
P
V
I
=
Substituting for P and I into the equation gives:
3
3
16.2
0.54 10
30 10
V volts
= =
Substituting for I and V into Ohms law gives:
3
6
3
0.54 10
0.018 10 18
30 10
R k
= = =
Second way
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Using the Equation 3 directly:
2
P
R
I
=
and substituting for P = 16.2 watts and I = 30 mA gives:
6 6
3 2
16.2 16.2
10 0.018 10 18
(30 10 ) 900
R k
= = = =
Problem 4a
This exercise relates power and energy. Electrical energy is the power multiplied
by the time that the power is used for.
Energy = power time (7)
Hopefully this is instinctively true from this exercise. When we pay our electricity
bills we pay for energy used. It would seem reasonable that the longer the
electric heater is on (time) then the more energy we would use and the more we
would pay.
Before we can calculate the payment we must first determine how much energy
has been used. There are two common units for measuring energy, joules and
kilowatt hours. They are both in units of power multiplied by time. Joules are
watts multiplied by seconds and kilowatt hours (kWh) are kilowatts multiplied by
hours. We could calculate the energy used in either joules or kilowatt hours, but
since this exercise deals with power in kilowatts (1500W =1.5 kW) and time in
hours and the payment details are in terms of kilowatt hours then we will
calculate the energy for this question in kilowatt hours. The heaters power
consumption is 1500 W or 1.5 kW. It is used for 36 hours. Let us substitute these
values into the energy equation, Equation 7:
Energy = 1.5 36 = 54 kWh
Now that we know how much energy is used we calculate the payment by
multiplying the charge per kilowatt hour by amount of energy used (in kilowatt
hours) which is 7 cents/kWh. So the answer is:
Cost = 54 7 = 378 cents = 3.78 dollars
11 Further reading
At this point you may like to have a look at the relevant sections of the online
book Fundamentals of Electrical Engineering and Electronics.
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Under the section entitled DC, you may like to have a look at the part called
Basic Concepts of Electricity, which reinforces some of the theory given at the
beginning of this Learning Package. Following that you could have a look at all
the parts under the section heading Ohms Law.
12 Where next?
You are encouraged to study the Learning Package entitled Series and Parallel
circuits next.
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
23
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
Learning Package 3
Series and parallel circuits
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
24
Series and parallel circuits
1 Do you know all this already?
If in doubt, please attempt the selfassessment questions in this Learning
Package. If you can answer all of the questions correctly you may omit this
section. If not, please read on.
2 Introduction
This section introduces series and parallel circuits. The meaning of the terms
series and parallel are introduced. Then methods for calculating the total
resistance of series and parallel combinations of individual resistors are
explained. Polarity of voltages and currents are demonstrated. Methods of
adding voltages and currents are then shown. We will start with series circuits
and then highlight differences and similarities with parallel circuits.
3 Series circuits
3.1 Potential difference
In the circuits that weve seen so far there has only been one resistor. In a
circuits with one resistor, the whole of the voltage of the battery as applied across
the resistor. In other words, if we put a voltmeter across the resistor which was
connected to a 9V battery, it would give a reading of 9V. The voltage across the
resistor is called the voltage drop or the potential difference across the resistor
(often abbreviated to pd). If the voltage drop across the resistor is V, the current
through the resistor is I and the resistance itself is R, then Ohms law applies.
V = I x R (1)
As mentioned before, a voltage has to be measured between two points. It is
therefore convenient to think of one point as the reference point, and measure all
voltages relative to that reference point. In the case of a battery, the negative
terminal would most likely be chosen as the reference point. This means that the
positive terminal is 9 V higher than the negative terminal.
The voltage of the battery is often called the electromotive force and given the
symbol E, and is often shortened to the emf. Therefore the battery is supplying
an electromotive force which is pushing the electrons around the circuit. As the
electrons travel around the circuit they lose energy, so that the energy at one
side of the resistor will be higher than at the other, and this difference is what
weve called the potential difference.
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
25
So, the energy at the positive terminal is E volts. When we get to the end of the
resistor that is connected to the positive terminal the energy is still E (ignoring the
very small drop along the wire). Now pushing the electrons through the resistor
takes more effort, and uses up the energy, so that by the time we look at the
energy at the other end of the resistor it will have dropped by an amount V volts,
and this end of the resistor is connected to the negative terminal of the battery.
All of the energy that was available, namely E, has to be used up by the time you
get around the circuit. So if the energy lost in the resistor is V, we have to be able
to say that V = E. So we can say, that:
E = V = I x R (2)
So, in the case of a circuit with a single resistor, the voltage difference across
that resistor equals the electromotive force of the battery. Now lets look at
circuits with more resistors.
3.2 Series resistors and current in series circuit
A circuit in which two or more resistors are connected together in series means
that one end of resistor is connected to one end of another, as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1 Two resistors in series
We have already said in an earlier Learning Package that the current flows all
through the circuit, and in the circuit in Figure 1 this means that the same current
flows through both resistors. From the previous discussion we know that there is
a potential difference across R1, which I shall call V1, and a potential difference
across R2, which I shall call V2. In Figure 1 the polarity of the voltages has been
shown. We know that the battery has a positive and a negative terminal, and that
the electron current flows from the negative terminal, around the circuit to the
positive terminal. In other words the current flows from the negative to the
positive. Similarly, the potential difference across a resistor is shown as having a
positive side and a negative where the positive side will have a higher voltage
than the negative side, and the current will flow from the negative to the positive
again.
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
26
Also, we know that the electromotive force, E, of the battery must equal the total
potential difference around the circuit (this will be discussed in more detail in a
later Learning Package). So, we can say that:
E = V1 + V2 (3)
For example, if the two resistors are equal, the battery is 9 V, and we have a
voltmeter with the negative lead attached to the negative terminal of the battery,
then going around the circuit we would find that:
At the positive terminal of the battery we would measure 9 V;
At the lefthand (+) terminal of R1 we would measure 9 V;
At the righthand () terminal of R1 we would measure 4.5 V;
At the lefthand (+) terminal of R2 we would measure 4.5 V;
At the righthand () terminal of R2 we would measure 0 V;
In other words, with equal value resistors, the voltage difference across each
resistor would be equal to half the electromotive force of the battery.
Returning to a series circuit with two arbitrary resistors, we know that the
potential difference across each resistor when added together equal the emf of
the battery. Using Ohms law we can replace the potential difference across each
resistor by the current times the resistor value.
V1 = I1R1 (4)
V2 = I2R2 (5)
E = V1 + V2 = I1R1 + I2R2
However, we already know that the current through each part of the circuit must
be the same. So I1 = I2 which we will call I, and the equation becomes:
E = IR1 + IR2 = I(R1 + R2) = IR
eq
We can replace the two resistor values with one equivalent resistor, R
eq
. The
value of this equivalent resistor is:
R
eq
= R1 + R2 (6)
So the total resistance of the circuit is the sum of the individual resistors. This is
true for any number of series resistors. For any number of resistors this would be
written as:
RT = R1 + R2 + R3 + (7)
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
27
You should now appreciate what a series circuit is, and calculate the total
resistance (or equivalent resistance) of a series string of resistors. You have also
learnt why the current in all parts of a series circuit is the same. You should now
be able to attempt the following Problem. Do this now without reference to the
worked solutions if possible.
Problem 1 (Resistor in series)
A circuit has 20 V applied across a 10 resistance R
1
. How much is the current
in the circuit? How much resistance R
2
must be added in series with R
1
to reduce
the current by one half? Show the schematic diagram of the circuit with R
1
and
R
2
.
Solution
The first part of this question is a simple Ohms law exercise. The voltage V is 20
volts, the resistance R1 is 10 and we are asked to calculate the current I.
From the simple rearrangement of Ohms law which we used in the last Learning
Package:
20
2
10
V
I amperes
R
= = =
We are asked to add some resistance R2 to reduce the current by one half. One
half of the above current is 1 ampere, so we must firstly calculate what total (or
equivalent) resistance RT is required to cause a 1 ampere current to flow in a
circuit with a 20 volt voltage source. Rearranging Ohms law again:
20
20
1
T
V
R
I
= = =
We are not asked for the total resistance RT, we are asked for the additional
resistance R2. Therefore we must use the equation for resistors in series:
RT = R1 + R2 +
In this case we only have two resistors so the equation is simply:
RT = R1 + R2
Subtracting R1 from both sides of this equation gives:
RT R1 = R2
and then substituting in our values for RT , and R1 gives:
R2 = 20 10 = 10
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
28
You may have arrived at your value for RT using by noting that from Ohms law,
to half the current we must double the resistance (assuming that the voltage
stays the same). So
RT = 2 R1 = 20
Either way is correct.
The schematic diagram for the circuit is shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2
3.3 Power in series circuit
The power dissipated in any resistor is given by the power equation (which was
introduced in the previous Learning Package), but the total power in the series
circuit is the sum of the powers dissipated in the individual resistors. You should
now be able to attempt Problems 2 and 3. Do this now without reference to the
worked solutions if possible.
Problem 2 (potential difference and power)
Draw the schematic diagram of 20, 30 and 40 resistances in series. (a) How
much is the total resistance of the entire series string? (b) How much current
flows in each resistance, with a voltage of 18 V applied across the series string?
(c) Find the voltage drop across each resistance. (d) Find the power dissipated in
each resistance.
Solution
The schematic (or circuit) diagram is shown in Figure 3.
Problem 2a
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
29
Figure 3
The total resistance is given by the formula for resistors in series, Equation 7
above. In this problem we have three resistors which I will call R1, R2 and R3.
I have labelled the resistors so that I can identify the voltage (IR) drops later in
the solution. The total resistance is:
RT = R1 + R2 + R3 = 20 + 30 + 40 = 90
Problem 2b
We should know that the same current flows in all parts of a series circuit and
therefore the same current flows in each resistor in this circuit. We calculate the
series current using RT and Ohms law in the following form.
18
0.2
90
T
V
I amperes
R
= = =
Problem 2c
This part of the problem requires us to calculate the IR drops across the
resistors.
Let the voltage drop across R1 be V1, the voltage drop across R2 be V2 and the
voltage drop across R3 be V3. The IR (or voltage) drops are all given by Ohms
law. Therefore using our value for I and the three resistances we have:
V1 = I R1 = 0.2 20 = 4 volts
V2 = I R2 = 0.2 30 = 6 volts
V3 = I R3 = 0.2 40 = 8 volts
We can check our answers because we know that the total of the IR drops
should add up to the source voltage of 18 volts. Lets do that:
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
30
V1 + V2 + V3 = 4 + 6 + 8 = 18 volts
which is the source (or applied) voltage.
Problem 2d
The final part of this question asks us to calculate the power dissipated in each
resistor. We can do this using:
P = IV
P = I
2
R
or
2
V
P
R
=
I will obtain the solution using P = IV. Let the power dissipated in R1 be P1, the
power dissipated in R2 be P2 and the power dissipated in R3 be P3. Using our
values for I and the voltage drops across each resistor gives
P1 = I V1 = 0.2 4 = 0.8 watts
P2 = I V2 = 0.2 6 = 1.2 watts
P3 = I V3 = 0.2 8 = 1.6 watts
You may want to verify that the same solutions are found if the alternative
equations for power are used. Note that if we add up the individual powers,
PT = P1 + P2 + P3 = 0.8 + 1.2 + 1.6 = 3.6 watts
we get the same result as calculating the power dissipated in the circuit using the
applied voltage and the current,
P = I VT = 0.2 18 = 3.6 watts
Problem 3
Draw a schematic diagram showing two resistances R
1
and R
2
in series across a
100 V source. (a) If the IR voltage drop across R
1
is 60V, how much is the IR
voltage drop across R
2
? (b) Label the polarity of the voltage drops across R
1
and
R
2
. (c) If the current is 1A through R
1
, how much is the current through R
2
? (d)
How much is the resistance of R
1
and R
2
? How much is the total resistance
across the voltage source? (e) If the voltage source is disconnected, how much
is the voltage across R
1
and across R
2
?
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
31
Solution
The circuit diagram is shown in Figure 4.
Figure 4
Problem 3a
We do not need I to determine the IR drop across R2, because we know that the
sum of the IR drops is equal to the applied voltage. If V1 is the voltage drop
across R1 and V2 is the voltage drop across R2 the applied voltage
VT = V1 + V2. (30)
VT = 100 volts and V1 = 60 volts Therefore
V2 = VT V1 = 100 60 = 40 volts (31)
Problem 3b
When I (and you) produced the circuit diagram at the start of this question we
decided on the polarity of the voltage source. I decided that the top of the battery
is positive. This determines the polarity of the voltage drops. If we assume
electron current flow (current flows from negative to positive) then the current
flows anticlockwise around the circuit as shown by the arrow in Figure 5. For
current to flow in the anticlockwise direction, and remembering that the same
current flows in all parts of a series circuit, then the left of R1 must be positive
with respect to the right of R1 (which in turn will be negative). By a similar
argument, the left of R2 will be positive with respect to the right of R2. These
polarities are marked on Figure 5.
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
32
Figure 5
Problem 3c
They cannot catch us with this one, can they? The current flowing in all parts of a
series circuit is the same, and since R2 is in the same series circuit as R1 the
current must also be the same. That is the current through R2 is 1A.
Problem 3d
We know that the IR drop across R1 (V1) is 60 V and that the IR drop across R1
(V1) is 40 V Using Ohms law again:
IR1 = 40 V, since I = 1 A, R1 = 40
and
IR2 = 60 V, since I = 1 A, R2 = 60.
The total resistance across the voltage source
RT = R1 + R2 = 40 + 60 = 100 .
Problem 3e
If the voltage source is disconnected then no current can flow, since there is no
longer a potential difference across the resistors. Then I = 0 and the IR drops (or
voltage across) IR1 and IR2 must both be zero.
3.4 Series and opposing voltages, tips for analysis
Youve seen circuits with more than one resistor in series, so what happens if
there are more batteries in series? Put simply, if the batteries are facing the
same way, then the voltages are added up. By the same way I mean that the
positive terminal of the first battery is connected to the negative terminal of the
second and so on. In other words they are all trying to push the current around
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
33
the circuit in the same direction. If the batteries are connected such that some
are trying to push the current in the opposite direction, then their voltages are
subtracted.
Now please attempt the following Problem 4. Try the problem before looking at
the solution.
Problem 4 (Series adding/opposing voltages)
Figure 6 shows the circuit for keeping a 12.6 V car battery charged from a 14.8 V
dc generator. Calculate the current I and show the direction of electron flow for
current between point A and B.
Figure 6
Solution
The problem introduces a battery charger as a practical example of opposing
voltages. We will work through the problem and then consider the effect of
connecting the charger to the battery the wrong way round.
Consider the circuit associated with Problem 4 as shown in Figure 6. V1
represents voltage of the battery, while V2 represents the voltage of the charger.
These two voltage sources have their positive ends connected together; the
voltage therefore oppose. The overall voltage is therefore:
V2 V1 = 14.8 12.6 = 2.2 volts
We could redraw the circuit replacing both sources with a single 2.2 volt source.
We have to consider what polarity this replacement 2.2 volt source will have. This
is shown in Figure 7. The polarity will be the same as the battery charger voltage
V2 since V2 is the higher voltage. The current is then given by Ohms law:
2.2
3.367
0.6
V
I amperes
R
= = =
+


+
V
1
=12.6 V
V
2
=14.8
V
0.6
A
B
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
34
Figure 7 The opposing voltages are equivalent to a 2.2 volt source
Now consider what happens if we connect the battery charger the wrong way
round. Figure 8 shows the new circuit. The circuit looks almost identical to Figure
6, but notice that the polarity of the battery has changed. Voltage source V1 now
has its negative terminal connected to the positive terminal of voltage source V2.
This means that their voltages will add and the overall voltage will be:
V2 + V1 = 14.8 + 12.6 = 27.4 volts
Figure 8 Now the battery is connected the wrong way round
We could redraw the circuit as we did above, but this time replacing both voltage
sources with a single 27.4 volt source. This is shown in Figure 9. The polarities of
the original voltage sources would have individually caused an electron current to
flow in the same direction, that is, anticlockwise around the circuit. The polarity of
the replacement voltage source is therefore the same as both of the original
sources. The current is again given by Ohms law:
27.4
45.67
0.6
V
I amperes
R
= = =
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
35
Figure 9 The series aiding voltages are equivalent to a 27.4 volt source
This is a very high current and if no other protection was provided would certainly
melt the wires of typical battery chargers.
The example serves to show a practical application of series aiding and series
opposing voltages.
3.5 Open and short circuits in a series path
In many practical circuits it is possible to introduce a shortcircuit or an open
circuit. A short circuit has zero resistance, and can cause high currents to appear
in a circuit. It may be caused by component failure or by contamination. Open
circuits, on the other hand, have infinite resistance and prevent current from
flowing. This is usually caused by a connection breaking between a component
and the board that it is on. Now attempt Problem 5.
Problem 5
Three resistors of 100, 200 and 300 are in series across a 24 V source. (a) If
the 200 resistor shorts, how much voltage is across the 300 resistor? (b) If
the 300 resistor opens, how much voltage is across the 100 and 200
resistors?
Solution
The problem concerns a series circuit containing 3 resistors 100, 200 and
300. I have drawn the circuit in Figure 10.
Problem 5a
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
36
The first part of the problem asks us to find the voltage across the 300 resistor
if the 200 resistor goes short circuit. The situation is depicted in Figure 11. The
short circuit is considered to have no (zero) resistance, and all of the current
flows in the short circuit, with no current flowing in the 200 resistor. Effectively,
it is as if the 200 resistor has been removed from the circuit and replaced by a
piece of wire. The circuit therefore reduces to a 100 resistor and a 300
resistor in series. The total series resistance is therefore:
RT = 100 + 0 (the short circuit) + 300 = 400
Figure 10 The initial series circuit for Problem 5.
Figure 11 The circuit for Problem 5 if the 200 resistor goes short circuit
The current in the circuit is given by Ohms law
24
60
400
T
V
I mA
R
= = =
The voltage across the 300 mA resistor is also given by Ohms law
V300 resistor = IR = 60 10
3
300 = 18000 10
3
= 18 V
Problem 5b
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
37
This part of the Problem considers the situation if the 300 resistor breaks or
goes open circuit. The situation is depicted in Figure 12. The open circuit is
assumed to have infinite resistance. It is as if the 300 resistor has been
removed from the circuit and its connecting wires have been left unconnected.
No current can flow in the circuit and since the same current (zero) flows in all
parts of a series circuit, no current flows in the 100 and the 200 resistors.
Since no current flows in these resistors there is no voltage (IR) drop across the
resistors. That is the voltage across the 100 and the 200 resistors is zero in
both cases.
Figure 12 The circuit for Problem 5 if the 300 resistor goes open circuit.
Another way of seeing that the current is zero is by considering the open circuit
resistor to have a resistance of (infinity) and calculate the total resistance. We
have
RT = 100 + 200 + =
The current is then the supply voltage divided by infinity which equals zero.
24
0
T
V
I
R
= = =
4 Parallel circuits
4.1 Introduction to parallel circuits and branch currents
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
38
Figure 13
Figure 13 shows a simple parallel circuit where we have two resistors, this time
joined at both ends to each other. The branches of the circuit with the resistor in
are parallel to one another, hence the name.
In this instance we can see that the positive terminal of the battery is connected
to the lefthand side of both resistors, and that the negative terminal of the
battery is connected to the righthand side of both resistors. If we were to place a
voltmeter across either of the resistors it would measure the same value as the
electromotive force of the battery, since they are all effectively the same two
points. So, in this case the potential difference across each resistor must equal
the electromotive force:
E = V1 = V2
V1 = I1R1 and V2 = I2R2
So, E = I1R1 and E = I2R2
I1 = E/R1 and I2 = E/R2
This gives us the value of the current in each branch. Although we will discuss
this more formally later in the module, we can intuitively see that if the current
flowing out of the negative terminal of the battery reaches the point where the
two branches are connected, the current has to split so that some of it goes
around one branch and some around the other. If we think of the water analogy,
then it is clear that the amount of current going into each branch must add up to
the total current coming out of the battery, since the current hasnt got anywhere
else to go, and it doesnt accumulate in puddles at junctions. So,
I = I1 + I2 = E/R1 + E/R2 = E(1/R1 + 1/R2)
If we introduce an equivalent single resistor again, then we could say that:
E = IR
eq
I = E/R
eq
Then:
E/R
eq
= E(1/R1 + 1/R2)
1/R
eq
= 1/R1 + 1/R2 (8)
In a circuit with two resistors in parallel, the equivalent resistor is found using this
equation. Namely, that the reciprocal of the equivalent resistance equals the sum
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
39
of the reciprocals of the two resistances. This can be generalised for any parallel
circuit. For example, with many resistors in parallel, the equation would be:
1 2 3
1 1 1 1
..........
eq
R R R R
= + + + (9)
In the special case of a parallel circuit with two resistors in parallel, the equation
can be rearranged.
1/R
eq
= 1/R1 + 1/R2 = (R2 + R1)/R1R2
R
eq
= R1R2/(R1 + R2) (10)
You now know what a parallel circuit is. You will have seen that there are rules
which apply to parallel circuits which differ slightly to series circuits. Generally
they differ by the transposition of the terms current and voltage. For example
in a series circuit, the current flowing in all parts of the circuit is the same, while in
a parallel circuit the applied voltage is the same across all parallel branches.
Also, in a series circuit the applied voltage E is the sum of the individual voltage
drops, while in a parallel circuit the main current I is the sum of the individual
branch currents. Bear these differences and similarities in mind when trying to
remember the rules.
Now attempt Problem 6. Do this without reference to the worked solutions if
possible.
Problem 6 (Resistors in parallel)
A 6 R
1
and a 12 R
2
are connected in parallel across a 12 V battery. (a) Draw
the schematic diagram. (b) How much is the voltage across R
1
and R
2
? (c) How
much is the current in R
1
and R
2
? (d) How much is the mainline current? (e)
Calculate R
EQ
.
Solution
Problem 6a
The diagram is shown in Figure 14.
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
40
Figure 14
Problem 6b
Since all parts of the circuit are in parallel and we know that the voltage is the
same across all parallel branches, then the voltage across R1 and R2 is the same
as the battery voltage which is 12 V.
Problem 6c
Let us call the current through 6 resistor R1, I1 and the current through 12
resistor R2, I2. The current though R1
1
1
12
2
6
T
V
I amperes
R
= = =
and
2
2
12
1
12
T
V
I amperes
R
= = =
Problem 6d
The total or mainline current IT is the sum of the two branch currents.
IT = I1 + I2 = 2 + 1 = 3 amperes
Problem 6e
We can calculate the equivalent resistance by considering what single resistance
would cause the same mainline current of 3A to flow. This is given by Ohms law:
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
41
12
4
3
T
eq
T
V
R
I
= = =
A handy check to see if you have calculated a parallel resistance properly is that
the calculated resistance must always be less than the any of the values of the
resistors in the branches. In this case the calculated resistance is 4 and the
two parallel resistors are 6 and 12 . If our calculated value had been greater
than 6 we must have made a mistake in our calculations.
4.2 More parallel circuits and branch currents and power
You will remember the rather uncomfortable formulae for parallel resistors:
1 2 3
1 1 1 1
..........
eq
R R R R
= + + +
1 2
1 2
eq
R R
R
R R
=
+
if there are only two resistors
Dont forget that if the resistors all have the same value then the equivalent
resistance Req of the parallel combination is simply the value of the resistance
divided by the number of resistors in the parallel combination. For example, if
there are four resistors with the same value, R, in parallel, the equivalent
resistance is:
1 2 3 4
1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 4
4
eq
eq
R R R R R R R R R R
R
R
= + + + = + + + =
=
Now attempt Problem 7 and Problem 8.
Problem 7 (Resistors in parallel equation and power)
For the circuit in Problem 6, how much is the total power supplied by the battery?
Solution
We are asked to calculate the total power supplied by the battery in the above
problem. The total power is the sum of the power dissipated in each branch of
the parallel circuit. The current through the first branch I1 is 1 A. The supply
voltage is 12 V and this is the same across all parallel branches. Therefore the
power in the first branch is,
P1 = I1 V = 1 12 = 12 W
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
42
The current in the second branch I2 is 2 A. Again the same voltage 12 V exists
across this branch, therefore the current in the second branch
P2 = I2 V = 2 12 = 24 W
The total power
P = P1 + P2 = 12 + 24 = 36 W
We could have used the mainline current to give the total power supplied by the
battery. Since the battery supplies 3 A and its voltage is 12 V, then it must
supply:
P = I V = 3 12 = 36 W
of power.
The same result can be arrived at using the equivalent resistance Req and either:
2 2
12 144
36
4 4
eq
V
P W
R
= = = =
or
P = I
2
Req = I
2
4 = 3
2
4 = 9 4 = 36 W
All of the above solutions are correct and there is no single correct solution. Do
try different solutions so that you become practised in using them.
Problem 8
Find the R
EQ
of the following groups of branch resistances: (a) 10 and 25 ; (b)
five 10 k resistances; (c) two 500 resistances; (d) 100 , 200 and 300 ;
(e) two 5 k and two 2 k resistances; (f) four 40 k and two 20 k
resistances.
Solution
Problem 8a
Here we have two resistors, with unequal values. We can use Equation 10 with
R1 = 10 and R2 = 25 . The equivalent resistance:
10 25 250
7.14
10 25 35
eq
R
= = =
+
Problem 8b
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
43
Our luck is in as the resistor values are equal (10 k each), so we simply divide
the value of the resistances (10 k) by the number of resistances (5). The
equivalent resistance
10
2
5
eq
k
R k
= =
Problem 8c
Now we only have two resistances of the same value, so the equivalent
resistance of the group is half of the value of one resistance.
500
250
2
eq
R = =
Problem 8d
Here we have to use Equation 9.
Let the 100 resistor be R1, the 200 resistor be R2 and the 300 resistor be
R3. Substitute the values into Equation 9 to find the equivalent resistance:
1 1 1 1
100 200 300
eq
R
= + +
1
0.01 0.005 0.00333
eq
R
= + +
1
0.01833
eq
R
=
1
0.01833
eq
R =
Req = 54.56
Problem 8e
We could do this using Equation 9, but we can take advantage of the fact that we
have two sets of resistors of the same value. So we can calculate the equivalent
value for each set and then consider that we have a two resistor parallel group
containing the equivalent resistors.
Firstly take our two 5 k resistors and consider their parallel combination. They
have the same value, so the value of the parallel combination is 5k/2 = 2.5 k.
Similarly we can treat the next two 2 k resistors as a parallel combination to
give 2k/2= 1 k.
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Now take each parallel combination and use Equation 10 to give a final
equivalent resistance:
2.5 1
2.5 1
eq
k k
R
k k
=
+
2.5 1
3.5
eq
k k
R
k
=
2.5
714
3.5
eq
k
R = =
Problem 8f
Again we can take advantage of two groups of resistors of the same value.
Taking the first group, we have four 40 k resistors, this groups equivalent
resistance
1
40
10
4
eq
k
R k
= =
In the second group we have two 20 k resistors and so the equivalent
resistance of this group is
2
20
10
2
eq
k
R k
= =
Now we have a pair of equal value equivalent resistors (both 10 k), so the
overall equivalent resistance is:
10
5
2
eq
k
R k
= =
4.3 Short circuits and open circuits in parallel circuits
If the main line of a parallel circuit opens there is no current flow from that point.
However, if a branch opens there is no current flow in that branch, but other
branches are unaffected, although the total current will drop as the equivalent
resistance changes. A short circuit in any branch is an extreme fault condition
and will cause the whole circuit to draw excessive current.
Now attempt Problem 9.
Problem 9
In Figure 15, what is R
EQ
if R2: (a) opens; (b) shorts?
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Figure 15 The circuit diagram for Problem 9
Solution
Problem 9a
If R2 opens then we can consider it either as being removed from the circuit
(leaving only R1 and R3) or as a resistor with infinite resistance. This is shown in
Figure 16.
Figure 16 Circuit for Problem 9, but R2 is open circuit
If we consider it as being totally removed then we can use the simplified parallel
resistance formula:
1 3
1 3
60 20 1200
15
60 20 80
eq
R R
R
R R
= = = =
+ +
Alternatively we can consider the open circuit R2 as having a voltage of infinity.
The equivalent resistance of the three resistor parallel combination (REQ) is given
by
1 2 3
1 1 1 1
eq
R R R R
= + +
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
46
1 1 1 1
60 20
eq
R
= + +
Note that:
1
0 =
so the open circuit R2 has no effect in the equation
1 1 1
0
60 20
eq
R
= + +
1 60 20
60 20
eq
R
+
=
60 20
60 20
eq
R
=
+
This is the same equation as the equation above.
Therefore REQ = 15
I have considered the problem this second way, just to demonstrate that we can
consider the open circuit as an infinite resistance and arrive at the same result.
Normally I would assume that an open circuit resistor in a parallel circuit has
effectively been removed.
Problem 9b
Here we consider the case where R2 is short circuited. The equivalent circuit is
shown in Figure 17. We assume the short circuit has zero resistance. We can
consider this short circuit as a wire that bypasses the other parallel resistors so
that no current can flow in them. The short circuited R2 is equivalent to replacing
R2 with a zero ohm resistor. Remember that the addition of parallel resistance
can only lower the equivalent resistance REQ. The other parallel resistors cannot
lower zero ohms (resistors cannot have negative resistance), therefore the
equivalent resistance REQ must be zero.
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47
Figure 17 The circuit of Problem 18 if R2 is short circuited
Alternatively we can substitute the value zero into the three resistor parallel
equivalent equation to find REQ (the hard way). (REQ) is given by:
1 2 3
1 1 1 1
eq
R R R R
= + +
1 1 1 1
60 0 20
eq
R
= + +
Note that:
1
0
=
so the short circuit R2 is dominant in the equation:
1 1 1
60 20
eq
R
= + +
1
eq
R
=
1
eq
R =
Therefore REQ = 0
Again I have used the second method to show that the mathematics will produce
the same answer as the more intuitive approach above. In practice any parallel
circuit with a short circuit in any branch will have zero resistance, as the parallel
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
48
resistors cannot reduce the zero resistance of the short circuit any lower than
zero.
5 Potential and current dividers
Weve seen that in a circuit with two resistors in series, R1 and R2, the
electromotive force is divided between the resistors as V1 and V2 and that E =
V1 + V2. This is a commonly found circuit in electronics and is called a potential
divider. The input voltage is the voltage source, E, and the output voltage is the
potential difference across R2, namely V2. To find its value, first apply Ohms law
to find the current in the circuit.
E = I(R1 + R2)
I = E/(R1 + R2)
Next use Ohms law to find the value of the potential difference across R2,
namely V2:
V2 = IR2 = E/(R1 + R2) x R2 = ER2/(R1 + R2) (11)
We also saw earlier that when a circuit contains two resistors in parallel, the
equivalent resistance is found using:
1/R = 1/R1 + 1/R2
A quantity that isnt often used but is useful in parallel circuit is conductivity,
which is the reciprocal of resistance and has the symbol G. Taking the parallel
circuit and replacing resistances with conductances, the equation for the
equivalent conductance is:
G = G1 + G2 (12)
A circuit with two parallel branches is sometimes referred to as a current divider.
The current generated by the battery is divided down each parallel branch. The
value through R2 can be found as follows:
We saw earlier that the equivalent resistance is R = R1R2/(R1 + R2), so the
current from the battery is:
E = IR1R2/(R1 + R2)
I = E(R1 + R2)/R1R2 = E/R2 + E/R1
This divides into two branches. Since the potential difference across each
parallel branch is E, the current in each branch is:
I1 = E/R1
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49
I2 = E/R2
The total current being the sum of these two currents.
Thus I2 in terms of I is:
I2 = E/R2 = IR1R2/R2(R1 + R2) = IR1/(R1 + R2)
If we use conductances instead of resistances, the equation becomes:
I2 = IG2/(G1 + G2)
6 Further reading
At this point you may like to have a look at the relevant sections of the online
book Fundamentals of Electrical Engineering and Electronics.
Under the section entitled DC, you may like to have a look at the part called
Series and parallel circuits.
7 Where next?
You are encouraged to study the Learning Package entitled Kirchoffs laws
next.
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ENG1021 Electronic Principles
Learning Package 4
Kirchoffs laws
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51
Kirchoffs laws
1 Do you know all this already?
If in doubt, please attempt the self assessments questions in this Learning
Package. If you are not sure about any of the terminology, please read on.
2 Introduction
Although simple in concept, the application of Kirchoffs laws can be quite
confusing. The main source of the confusion is usually concerned with the
direction and polarity of currents and voltages. The situation is not helped by the
various methods of solution, which are easy to mix up. Although most books on
electronics described many different methods, here I only want you to learn how
to use one of the methods, namely branch currents.
3 Kirchoffs laws
In the previous Learning Package I said that the voltage drops around a circuit
must equal the electromotive force. I used this to derive the equation for the
equivalent resistance in a series circuit. Similarly, in deriving the equivalent
resistance of a parallel circuit I used the idea that current at a junction would
behave in such a way that the current flowing out of a junction must equal the
current flowing into a junction.
These two ideas were introduced by Kirchoff and are known as Kirchoffs laws.
Formally stated they are:
Kirchoffs voltage law  The algebraic sum of all voltages in a loop must equal
zero;
Kirchoffs current law The algebraic sum of all currents entering and exiting a
node must equal zero
Lets take the current law first, as I believe this is the simpler of the two.
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52
Figure 1
At a node, or a junction, where wires are joined together, the sum of the current
flowing into the node must equal the sum of he current leaving the node. If this
wasnt the case there would be a surplus which would form a pool of charge at
the node, and this doesnt happen. If Figure 1 we have two currents flowing into
the node, I1 and I2, and two currents flowing out, I3 and I4. The convention is
that current flowing into a node should have the opposite sign to current flowing
out of a node. It doesnt matter which, but I will assign current flowing in to a
node as positive and current flowing out as negative. Then:
I1 + I2 I3 I4 = 0
Or put another way:
I1 + I2 = I3 + I4
This equation is the mathematical equivalent to Kirchoffs current law. The sum of
all the currents entering and leaving a node is zero.
Now lets try Kirchoffs voltage law. First of all I need to explain what is meant by
a loop. When we were looking series circuits, there was only one loop, and that
was the complete circuit. Usually circuit are more complex, such as that shown in
Figure 2.
Figure 2
In Figure 2 we have a circuit with three resistors. Its not as simple as a series
circuit or a parallel circuit as there is a mixture of the two. There are a number of
ways that this circuit could be tackled to analyse what is going on. However, I just
want to use it to illustrate what is meant by a loop in Kirchoffs voltage law.
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If we start at the point marked A, we could go A B E F A and that would
be a loop. Lets call it Loop 1.
We could also go from A again and this time travel around a different loop: A
B C D E F A. Lets call this one Loop 2.
Finally, a third loop starts at B and goes B C D E B. Lets call this one
Loop 3.
So, there are a possible three different loops in this circuit. Kirchoffs voltage law
applies to each one.
In Figure 2 Ive already drawn in the polarity of the potential differences in the
circuit, and the currents in each branch. Although I am confident that Ive drawn
these correctly, it wouldnt matter if I was wrong. If it turned out that one of the
currents actually goes the other way, then when I do the analysis, that current will
come out negative. Similarly, if I calculate the potential difference and it comes
out negative, that would indicate that I had drawn the polarity of the potential
difference the wrong way round.
Now, lets apply Kirchoffs voltage law. When analysing a loop, you travel around
the loop and note down all the potential differences and electromotive forces.
Again, it doesnt matter if you travel clockwise or anticlockwise. Lets say we go
clockwise, and that we note the potential difference as positive if we travel from 
to +, and as negative if we travel from + to .
Let the potential difference across R1 be V1, across R2 be V2 and across R3 be
V3.
Loop1
Starting at A, travel clockwise to B. The potential difference across R3 goes from
+ to  so this would be recorded as negative, V3.
Next we go from B to E and travel through R1, where the potential difference
goes from + to , so we record a negative voltage again, V1.
Finally we go from E to F to A and pass through the battery, where the voltage
goes from  to + so we record the voltage as positive, E.
Kirchoffs voltage law states that the sum of the voltages around a loop is zero.
So:
V3 V1 + E = 0
Rearrange to get:
E = V1 + V3
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54
Loop 2
Starting form A and going clockwise to B we find the potential across R3 again,
which we record as V3.
From B to C to D we find R2 with a potential difference that goes from + to ,
so we record a negative potential difference, V2.
Finally we go from D to E to F to A and pass through the battery, where the
voltage goes from  to + so we record the voltage as positive, E.
Using Kirchoffs voltage law we get:
V3 V2 + E = 0
Rearranging we get:
E = V2 + V3
Loop 3
Starting from B and going clockwise to C then D we find R2 and record V2.
From D to E to B we find R1, and this time we find the potential difference going
from  to + so we record a positive potential difference, V1.
Using Kirchoffs voltage law we get:
V2 + V1 = 0
Rearranging gives:
V1 = V2
We end up with three equations. This last one should be no surprise as all it is
saying is that the voltage across two parallel branches are equal, which we know
already.
If we were analysing this circuit we would now go on to substitute using Ohms
law so that, for example, V1 = I1R1 and so on. Ill come back to this. Before that I
just want to see if I can help to explain Kirchoffs voltage law using an analogy.
In the previous example weve seen Kirchoffs voltage law applied, but it doesnt
quite explain why the voltages should sum to zero. I like to think of it using an
analogy, where potential difference is equivalent to a change in height. Think of
the battery as an elevator, and the resistors as steps. If I redraw the circuit of
Figure 2, you should be able to see what I mean.
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
55
Figure 3
In Figure 3, since E, F and D are joined together, they must be at the same
height (potential). The elevator (battery) takes you up from F to A. This
represents the highest point. Alternatively, you can get to A by going up the stairs
from E to B and then form B to A, or you could go up the stairs from D to C and
then C to B to A. Either way, you end up at the same height. So if you travel
around a loop, you climb to a particular height and then have to come back down
by the same amount to end up where you started. Thats why the sum total of the
height that youve travelled in going around a loop is zero. Even though you have
to climb up and down to get around the loop, if you end up where you started
then you cant have gained or lost any height.
3 The method of branch currents
If we return to the circuit that was used earlier, as seen in Figure 2, then in our
analysis of the loops we ended up with 3 equations, repeated here:
E = V1 + V3
E = V2 + V3
V1 = V2
We cant solve these because we dont know the values of the potential
differences. First, we can replace the potential differences by the current times
the resistance using Ohms law.
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56
E = I1R1 + I3R3 (1)
E = I2R2 + I3R3 (2)
I1R1 = I2R2
The next stage in the solution is to use Kirchoffs current law, which tells us that:
I3 = I1 + I2
So now we can get rid of I2 in Equation 2 for example by substituting:
I2 = I3 I1
E = (I3 I1)R2 + I3R3
E = I3R2 I1R2 + I3R3 = I3(R2 +R3) I1R2 (3)
We now have equation 1 and Equation 3 which both have two unknowns, namely
I1 and I3, and so these can be solved.
Rather than solve a theoretical circuit, lets put some numbers in. Let:
E = 10 V
R1 = 100
R2 = 200
R3 = 300
What are the values of the currents in the circuit?
Starting from the beginning again, we have (using E = 10 V):
10 = V1 + V3
10 = V2 + V3
V1 = V2
We cant solve this because we dont know the values of the potential
differences. Replace the potential differences by the current times the resistance
using Ohms law.
10 = I1x100 + I3x300 (4)
10 = I2x200 + I3x300
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57
I1x100 = I2x200
The next stage in the solution is to use Kirchoffs current law, which tells us that:
I3 = I1 + I2 (5)
So now we can get rid of I2 in Equation 2 for example by substituting:
I2 = I3 I1
10 = (I3 I1)x200 + I3x300
10 = I3x200 I1x200 + I3x300 = I3x(200 +300) I1x200
10 = I3x500 I1x200 (6)
Multiply Equation 4 by 2:
20 = I1x200 + I3x600 (7)
Add Equations 6 and 7
10 + 20 = I3x500 I1x200 + I1x200 + I3x600
30 = I3x1100
I3 = 30/1100 = 0.028 A = 28 mA
Substitute in Equation 6:
10 = 0.028x500 I1x200
10 = 14 I1x200
I1x200 = 14 10 = 4
I1 = 4/200 = 0.02 A = 20 mA
Finally, using Equation 5:
0.028 = 0.02 + I2
I2 = 0.028 0.02 = 0.08 A = 8 mA
We have analysed the circuit using the method of branch currents. The steps that
you need to take are:
Step 1 Identify the currents in each branch of the circuit. If in doubt guess the
direction;
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
58
Step 2 Label each potential difference with its polarity, using the concept that
electron current will flow from  to +.
Step 3 Apply Kirchoffs voltage law to at least two loops in the circuit, and derive
the equation for each loop
Step 4 Apply Kirchoffs current law to a node in the circuit to get the relationship
between currents;
Step 5 Manipulate the equations so that you end up with two equations with two
unknowns;
Step 6 Solve the equations.
4 Additional circuits
The circuit that weve just analysed had one battery in it. I now want to look at a
slightly more complex circuit which has an additional battery in one of the other
branches. This is shown in Figure 4.
Figure 4
Even before Ive put any values on the components Ive made a start. Ive put in
three branch currents, I1, I2 and I3. Ive guessed the direction of the current flow.
If they turn out to be wrong, my current values will be negative. Ive then put +
and  across all the potential differences in accordance with the rule that
electron current flows from  to +. Now to analyse the circuit.
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59
For no particular reason I am going to choose Loop 1 as A  B E F A, and
Loop 2 as A B C D E F A.
Loop 1
Starting from A and going clockwise, the first potential difference is across R2
and Im going from + to  so its V2. next theres the battery. Again Im going
from + to  so the potential difference is negative, and is recorded as E2.
Next is E to F to A, in which I pass through the other battery from  to + so the
potential difference is recorded as positive, E1, and then through R1 from + to 
so its negative, V1. Putting all this together I get:
V2 E2 + E1 V1 = 0 (8)
Loop 2
From A, going clockwise I eventually pass through R3 going from + to , so I
record V3. Then its back to F and through to A as in Loop 1. So I get:
V3 + E1 V1 = 0 (9)
Finally, using Kirchoffs current law I get at Node B:
I3 + I2 = I1 (10)
Using Ohms law I can substitute in Equations 8 and 9:
I2R2 E2 + E1 I1R1 = 0 (11)
I3R3 + E1 I1R1 = 0 (12)
Then get rid of I3 in Equation 12 using Equation 10:
(I1 I2)R3 + E1 I1R1 = 0
I1R3 + I2R3 + E1 I1R1 = 0
I2R3 + E1 I1(R1 + R3) = 0 (13)
Lets put some values in:
E1 = 10V, E2 = 5V
R1 = 100 , R2 = 200 , R3 = 300 .
Rewriting Equations 11:
I2x200 5 + 10 I1x100 = 0
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60
I1x100 + I2x200 = 5 (14)
Rewriting Equation 13:
I2x300 + 10 I1(100 + 300) = 0
I1x400 + I2x300 = 10 (15)
Multiply Equation 14 by 4:
I1x400 + I2x800 = 20 (16)
Add Equations 15 and 16:
I2x1100 = 10
I2 = 10/1100 = 0.009 A = 9 mA
Substitute in Equation 13:
I1x400 + 0.009x300 = 10
I1x400 + 2.7 = 10
I1x400 = 12.7
I1 = 12.7/400 = 0.03175 A = 31.75 mA
Finally, substitute in Equation 10:
I3 + 0.009 = 0.03175
I3 = 0.02275 A = 22.75 mA
The three branch currents have been successfully calculated. By luck they all
turn out positive, which means that I guessed correctly when I chose the direction
of the currents. Had I got any of the directions wrong, the current would have
turned out with a negative value.
Please now attempt the following Problems.
Problem 1
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Figure 5 Circuit for Problem 1
In Figure 5, use the method of branch currents to solve for I
1
, I
2
and I
3
. Assume
that V
1
= 30 volts and V
2
= 90 volts. Once the currents have been calculated,
determine the values of V
R1
, V
R2
and V
R3
.
Solution
This problem is an example of branch current analysis. Figure 5 shows the
currents I
1
, I
2
and I3 marked on it. Polarities are also marked on the resistors. I
have used the convention of electron current flow, which flows from the negative
terminal of the voltage sources to the positive terminal.
Note: Conventional current flow (from positive to negative) could have been used
and the end results would be the same, but I would advise you to stick to one
convention to avoid confusion.
Since we will use Kirchoffs law to solve the problem, we need to sum the
voltages around two loops. There are three possible loops  one which includes
both voltage sources and two which include a voltage source and R3. Any two
loops will do. Also the direction in which we sum the voltages (that is, go round
the loop) is optional. It is vital, however, to make sure that the polarities of the
voltages are correct. I think of voltages here as we normally do, that is the
voltage is increasing (going from negative to positive) as we go round the loop
then it is a positive voltage. If the voltage is decreasing (going from positive to
negative) as we go round the loop then it is a negative voltage.
So as we do not introduce too many negative voltages (and increase the risk of
mathematical error) we will choose loops and directions which allow us to add
voltages across the resistors in a positive sense if we can. This will leave the
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
62
voltages across the voltage sources as negative, but when if we take them to the
other side of the equals sign (transpose them) they will become positive.
If we choose to go around the loop which includes V1 and R3 in an anticlockwise
direction, starting at the negative end of R3, and using Kirchoffs voltage law we
get:
VR3 + VR1  V1 = 0
Transposing gives:
VR3 + VR1 = V1
By Ohms law:
I3R3 + I1R1 = V1
Substituting the available values gives:
I318 + I1120 = 30 (16)
Similarly if we choose to go around the loop which includes V2 and R3 in a
clockwise direction, starting at the negative end of R3, and using Kirchoffs
voltage law we get:
VR3 + VR2  V2 = 0
Transposing gives
VR3 + VR2 = V2
By Ohms law
I3R3 + I1R2 = V2
Substituting the available values gives:
I318 + I2180 = 90 (17)
Using Kirchoffs current law at the junction of R1, R2 and R3 gives (considering
currents into the branch point as positive and those leaving the branch point as
negative):
I3  I1  I2 = 0
Rearranging:
I3 = I1 + I2 (18)
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If we substitute the right hand side of Equation 63 into Equations 16 and 17 we
have:
(I1 + I2)18 + I1120 = 30
and
(I1 + I2)18 + I2180 = 90
Collecting I1 and I2 terms together:
138I1 + 18 I2 = 30 (19)
198I2 + 18 I1 = 90 (20)
To remove I2 divide Equation 19 by 18 and Equation 20 by 198 and subtract the
results:
1 2
138 18 30
18 18 18
I I + =
1 2
138 30
18 18
I I + =
1 2
198 18 90
198 198 198
I I + =
1 2
18 90
198 198
I I + =
Equation 19  Equation 20 gives:
1 1 2 2
138 18 30 90
18 198 18 198
I I I I + =
1
138 198 18 18 30 198 90 18
198 18 198 18
I
=
1
30 198 90 18
138 198 18 18
I
=
1
4320
27000
I =
1
0.16 I A =
To find I2 we substitute I1 into Equation 19 or 20 giving:
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
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138 0.16 + 18 I2 = 30
2
30 138 0.16
18
I
=
I2 = 0.44 A
I3 = I1 + I2
I3 = 0.16 + 0.44
I3 = 0.6 A
We can now determine the voltages across R1, R2 and R3 using Ohms law:
VR1 = I1R1
VR1 = 0.16 120
VR1 = 19.2 V
VR2 = I2R2
VR2 = 0.44 180
VR2 = 79.2 V
VR3 = I3R3
VR3 = 0.6 18
VR3 = 10.8 V
Problem 2
In Figure 6, use the method of branch currents to solve for I
1
, I
2
, I
3,
V
R1
, V
R2
, and
V
R3
.
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Figure 6 Circuit diagram for Problem 2
Solution
The circuit diagram for Problem 2 is shown in Figure 6, in which the branch
currents I1, I2 and I3 are shown. As before, Ive shown electron current which
flows out of the negative terminal of the batteries. In the case of I
3
Ive just had to
guess which direction the current is flowing. If Ive got the direction wrong then
when I find the value for I
3
it will be negative.
If we choose to go around the loop which includes V1 and R3 in an anticlockwise
direction, starting at the negative end of R3, and using Kirchoffs voltage law we
get:
VR3 VR1 + V1 = 0
Transposing gives:
VR1  VR3 = V1
By Ohms law:
I1R1  I3R3 = V1
Substituting the available values gives:
I115  I310 = 20
This can be simplified by dividing both sides of the equation by 5:
V
2
=40V
10
V
1
=20V
10
15
R
1
R
2
R
3

+
+
+
+
+

 

I
1
I
3
I
2
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I13  I32 = 4 (21)
Similarly if we choose to go around the loop which includes V2 and R3 in a
clockwise direction, starting at the negative end of R3, and using Kirchoffs
voltage law we get:
VR3 + VR2  V2 = 0
Transposing gives
VR3 + VR2 = V2
By Ohms law
I3R3 + I1R2 = V2
Substituting the available values gives:
I310 + I210 = 40
This can be simplified by dividing both sides of the equation by 10:
I3 + I2 = 4 (22)
Using Kirchoffs current law at the junction of R1, R2 and R3 gives (considering
currents into the branch point as positive and those leaving the branch point as
negative):
I3 + I1  I2 = 0
Rearranging:
I2 = I1 + I3 (23)
If we substitute the right hand side of Equation 23 into Equations 22 we have:
I3 + (I1 + I3) = 4
Collecting I1 and I3 terms together:
I1 + 2I3 = 4 (24)
To remove I
3
add Equation 24 to Equation 21:
4I1 = 8
I1 = 2 A
To find I3 we substitute I1 into Equation 24 giving:
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2 + 2I3 = 4
2I3 = 2
I3 = 1 A
Finally, to find I
2
we substitute I
1
and I
3
into Equation 23:
I2 = 2 + 1 = 3A
We can now determine the voltages across R1, R2 and R3 using Ohms law:
VR1 = I1R1
VR1 = 2 15 = 30 V
VR2 = I2R2
VR2 = 3 10 = 30 V
VR3 = I3R3
VR3 = 1 10 = 10 V
5 Further reading
For further information about Kirchoffs laws and the method of branch currents,
you may wish to have a look at the online Fundamentals of Electrical
Engineering and Electronics. The relevant sections are Divider circuits and
Kirchoffs laws all parts, and DC network analysis, just the first two parts on
What is network analysis? and Branch current method.
6 Where next?
You are encouraged to study the Learning Package entitled Alternating Voltage
and Current next.
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ENG1021 Electronic Principles
Learning Package 5
Alternating voltage and current
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Alternating voltage and current
1 Do you know all this already?
If in doubt, please attempt the self assessment questions in this Learning
Package. If you can answer all of the questions correctly you may omit this
section. If not, please read on.
2 Introduction
So far in the course we have considered direct voltages and currents (DC);
circuits in which the current flows in one direction only. In this section we look at
alternating currents (AC). The abbreviation AC stands for alternating current,
but it is often used to describe an alternating voltage, for example, an ac
voltage (an alternating current voltageeh?). This is also true of the abbreviation
DC which stands for direct current. We are usually dealing with voltages and
describe, for example, our mains electrical power as 230V ac (230 volts
alternating current). Having spent our studies (up to now) differentiating between
voltage and current, it is a pity that this confusing and incorrect use of the
language is so universally used that we will have to put up with it. So in the future
when we see the abbreviation AC we should understand that it refers to
alternating current and voltages.
AC allows us to transfer information, for example, speech, music and television.
Generally in electronics we are usually dealing with AC in one form or another.
However, Ohms law, the power equations and the rules for combining resistors
apply just as well to AC, we just have to take into account that the currents and
voltages are alternating (or varying). In this section you we learn how to deal with
the varying nature of alternating current, in particular you will learn various ways
of describing an AC waveform.
3 AC voltages and currents
3.1 AC, the sine wave and amplitude values
The term AC refers to an alternating current or voltage. The form that the current
and voltage take over time is sinusoidal, as shown in Figure 1. Figure 1 shows
the value of sin(x) against x in degrees. You will see that it has a maximum value
of 1, a minimum value of 1, and that one whole cycle runs every 360 degrees.
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1.5
1
0.5
0
0.5
1
1.5
0 200 400 600 800
degrees
Figure 1 Sin(x) versus x in degrees
This shape is found often in nature. In electronics it comes about as the result of
creating voltage using a generator or dynamo. In these devices a coil is rotated
within a magnetic field so that the voltage generated oscillates between a
maximum and a minimum value. The maximum value is called the amplitude.
The number of times per second that the waveform repeats is called the
frequency, f, and is usually measured in hertz (Hz). We generally write the
equation for the waveform as:
v = VSin(t) = VSin(2ft) (1)
We use lower case v to indicate the instantaneous value of voltage. The sine
function is a function of an angle. To use this function as a waveform over time,
the terms is used (Greek letter omega) to represent angular velocity, which is
measured in radians per second. Then when you multiply the angular velocity by
the time, you end up with an angle. Alternatively, instead of the angular velocity
you can use the frequency, f, where:
= 2f (2)
You may recall that 2 in radians is equivalent to 360 degrees.
Another value which is used is the period, T, which is the length of time for one
cycle to occur. It equals the reciprocal of the frequency, so we have:
T = 1/f (3)
A typical AC waveform is shown in Figure 2.
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300
200
100
0
100
200
300
0 0.02 0.04 0.06 0.08
time/s
V
/
v
o
l
t
s
Figure 2 AC voltage
This voltage has a peak voltage of 250 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. With a
frequency of 50 Hz, the period would be 1/50 = 0.02 seconds or 20 ms.
A single sinewave has two properties which are amplitude and frequency. If we
are comparing two sinewaves, then a third property is used which is called the
relative phase or just phase. Figure 3 shows two sinewaves of the same
frequency.
300
200
100
0
100
200
300
0 0.02 0.04 0.06 0.08
time/s
v
o
l
t
a
g
e
/
V
Figure 3:
The first waveform that weve seen already has the form:
v1 = 250sin(100t)
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The second waveform is:
v2 = 220sin(100t + 1)
The first waveform has an amplitude of 250 V, and the second an amplitude of
220 V. The relative phase is 1 radian. Its as if the second wave started before
the first wave.
3.2 Power in an AC circuit
We saw in an earlier Learning Package that the power in a DC circuit is equal to
the voltage times the current. It is very similar in AC circuits except that the
power is a bit less than the voltage times the current. To explain I need to
introduce some terms.
We have already seen that a sinewave has an amplitude which corresponds to
its peak value. Another value which might be quoted is the peaktopeak value.
This is the size of the gap between the maximum and minimum values. Since the
waveform is symmetrical, the minimum value is minus the amplitude. So if a
waveform has an amplitude of A, the peakto peak value is 2A.
In the waveform that we used earlier the peak value or amplitude was 250 V. The
peaktopeak value is therefore 500 V.
Now we said that when current flows it produces heat, which is measured as the
power. An AC circuit also produces heat, since the electrons are flowing in the
circuit, even if they are only oscillating back and forth inside the conductor. We
use the term RMS, which stands for rootmeansquared, in AC circuits to give an
equivalence to the power in a DC circuit.
If a battery has a voltage of 10 V and delivers a current of 2 amps, the power
would be 10 x 2 = 20 watts. An equivalent AC circuit could have a generator that
produced 10 V rms, and delivers 2 amps rms, and the result would also be a
power of 20 watts.
The rms value is found in a sinewave by squaring the sinewave, finding the
average value, and then taking the square root of the average. The relationship
between the rms voltage and the amplitude, V, in a sinewave is:
0.707
2
rms
V
V V = = (4)
Similarly, for current:
0.707
2
rms
I
I I = = (5)
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So, the power in an AC circuit would be:
0.5
2 2 2
rms rms
V I VI
Power V I VI = = = = (6)
In other words, the power is half the value of the amplitude of the voltage times
the amplitude of the current. The value 0.5 that multiplies VI is called the power
factor, and varies for different waveforms.
A similar but less useful value is the average value. Now a sinewave has an
average of zero, since it is symmetrical about the xaxis. However, we can find
the average of half a cycle. For sinewaves this turns out to be 0.637V.
The ratio of the rms value to the average value is called the form factor and
again is different for different waveform. For a sinewave the form factor is:
form factor = rms value/average value
= (V 0.707)/(V 0.637) = 0.707/0.637 = 1.1107 (7)
Please now attempt the following Problems.
Problem 1
Give the angle in degrees and radians for each of the following: one cycle, one
half cycle, one quarter cycle, three quarter cycles.
Solution
This question exercises your understanding of a waveforms phase in both
degrees and radians. The phase angles calculated in this exercise are so
common that we should eventually be able to quote them (in degrees and
radians) without thinking.
One cycle
One whole cycle of ac waveform is equivalent to the waveform produced by a
single loop ac generator travelling through one complete circle. (It is assumed
that the rate of rotation is constant.) One whole cycle in degrees is therefore
equal to the number of degrees in a circle or 360 degrees. There are 2 radians
in a circle and so one cycle of waveform is also equivalent to 2 radians.
Radians are used in ac calculations so it is worth becoming comfortable with
using them.
Half a cycle
The angle which represents one half cycle is simply 360 divided by 2 which
equals 180 (in degrees) or 2 divided by 2 which equals in radians.
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One quarter and three quarters of a cycle
Similarly we obtain one quarter of a cycle to be 360/4 = 90 degrees or 2/4
radians and three quarters of a cycle to be 3 x 360/4 = 270 degrees or 3 x 2/4 =
1.5 radians. Beware it is an easy mistake to think of /2 as half a cycle when in
fact it is a quarter of a cycle. This is also true of other fractions of .
Problem 2
A 5 resistor in a circuit connected to the ac power line has an rms current of
1.17 Amps. Calculate the power dissipated in the resistor.
Solution
This is a simple Ohms law/Power equation problem applied to ac circuit. The
current I is measured in amperes rms. Since we are using rms values we can
apply Ohms law and the power equation as we did for dc circuits. It is important
to realise that we cannot use Ohms law directly if our current and voltage values
are not rms values. We can either use the equation.
P = I
2
/R (8)
or calculate V using Ohms relationship and find the power using:
P = I V (9)
I will use the second method. The voltage (rms value) is:
Vrms = I R = 1.17 5 = 5.85 V rms
Now we use the power equation to obtain the power
P = I V = 1.17 5.85 = 6.845 watts
We could not have used the power equation if either the current or voltage (or
both) were not rms values.
Problem 3
Convert to RMS voltage the following peaktopeak values of sinewave ac signal
voltage: (a) 462.5 V; (b) 9.84 mV; (c) 35.19 mV.
Solution
We are asked to convert peak to peak values to rms. Note that these values are
peak to peak, not just peak. The rms value of a sinewave is 0.707 or
2
2
multiplied by the peak value. The peak value is half of the peaktopeak value.
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Problem 3a
Our first value to convert is 462.5 V p  p. This is equal to:
462.5/2 = 231.25 10
6
V peak
To find the rms value we need to multiply the peak value by
2
2
.
Vrms = 231.25 10
6
2
2
= 163.5 10
6
= 163 V rms
Problems 3b, 3c
These problems are solved in the same way. The value 9.84 mV p  p is equal to:
9.84/2 10
3
= 4.92 10
3
= 4.92 mV peak
To find the rms value we need to multiply the peak value by
2
2
.
Vrms = 4.92 10
3
2
2
= 3.97 10
3
= 3.97 mV rms
And finally, the value 35.19 mV p  p is equal to:
35.19/2 10
3
= 17.595 10
3
= 17.595 mV peak
To find the rms value we need to multiply the peak value by
2
2
.
Vrms = 17.595 10
3
2
2
= 12.44 10
3
= 12.44 mV rms
The important point to note here is while is acceptable to divide any vertically
symmetrical waveform by two to convert the peak to peak value to the peak
value, the conversion factor for converting from peak to rms (or average) is not
fixed and is specific to the waveform. Generally, the broader the waveform the
larger the conversion factor will be.
Problem 4
A sinewave ac voltage has an rms value of 19.2 V. (a) Find the peak value. (b)
What is the instantaneous value at 50
o
of the cycle?
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Solution
This problem involves calculating the instantaneous value of a sinusoidal voltage
given the phase, but first we must find the peak value. To find the peak value we
must multiply the rms value by 2 or 1.414. The peak value of the waveform:
Vpeak = 19.2 2 = 27.15 V peak
The peak value, by definition is the largest value that the sine wave reaches in it
cycle. It reaches its positive peak at 90 degrees (when the sine function equals 1)
and the negative peak at 270 degrees (when the sine function equals 1). At 50
degrees it must be less than the peak value. We need to look up what is the
value of the sine function when the phase angle is 50 degrees. Using my
calculator it is 0.766. The instantaneous voltage is the peak voltage multiplied by
the sine function at that instant.
Vinst = 27.15 0.766 = 20.80 V
Note that instantaneous voltages are not normally useful quantities. They tell us
nothing about the ac waveform unless we are given the phase angle also.
Problem 5
A sine wave of voltage has an average value of 38.22 V. Calculate the
waveforms: (a) rms value; (b) peak value; (c) peak to peak value.
Solution
In the last problem of this section we will have to deal with average voltages. It is
easier to measure an average voltage than an rms voltage, although some digital
voltmeters have special circuitry to do it. Voltmeters commonly measure average
voltages, but their scale reads the rms equivalent assuming that the waveform is
sinusoidal. To do this the average values are multiplied by the form factor for
the scale values. The form factor for a sinusoidal waveform
form factor = rms value/average value
= Vpeak 0.707/Vpeak 0.637 = 0.707/0.637 = 1.1107
Different shapes of waveforms will have different form factors. In the case of
measuring a nonsinusoidal waveform with such an instrument, the reading is
meaningless (because it does not even tell us the average value). In this problem
we are initially going to convert from average to rms given that the waveform is
sinusoidal. (If we did not know the waveforms shape we could not solve this
problem.)
Problem 5a
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The easiest way to convert average values to sinusoidal values is to multiply by
the form factor for the ac waveform, but we will do it the hard way first and then
show that the form factor method works.
We will firstly convert the average value to peak and then convert the peak value
to rms. We convert average values to peak values by dividing by 0.637 or 2/.
Vpeak = Vave/0.637 = 38.22/0.637 = 60.04 V peak
Now we will convert the peak value to rms
Vrms = Vpeak
2
2
= 60.04
2
2
= 42.45 V rms
Now the form factor method.
Vrms = Vaverage 1.1107 = 38.22 1.1107 = 42.45 V rms
Problem 5b
The peak value has already been found in Part (a).
Vpeak = 60.04 V peak
Problem 5c
The peaktopeak value is twice the peak value.
Vpp = 2 Vpeak = 2 60.04 = 120.08 V peak  to  peak
Problem 6
The 60 Hz power line voltage of 120 V is applied across a resistance of 20 . (a)
How much is the rms current in the circuit? (b) What is the frequency of the
current? (c) What is the phase angle between the current and the voltage? (d)
How much dc applied voltage would be necessary for the same heating effect in
the resistance?
Solution
This problem serves as revision from the last section with a reminder of the
meaning of rms values and as a gentle introduction to frequency and phase.
Problem 6a
The power line voltage is 120 V and since we are not told otherwise we should
assume that this is an rms value. The rms current is given by Ohms relationship
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I = V/R = 120/20 = 60 A rms
Problem 6b
The alternating current will vary in sympathy with the alternating voltage
according to Ohms relationship. The current will vary at the same frequency as
the powerline voltage which is stated as being 60 Hz
Problem 6c
As the voltage alternates from zero up through its positive peak, before
completing the rest of the cycle, the current starts from zero at exactly the same
time and reaches its positive and negative peaks at the same time as the
voltage. The current is then in phase with the voltage and the phase angle is
zero.
Problem 6d
This part of the question tests if you understand the meaning of rms. If you
remember the rms value is defined as that value of an ac waveform (not
necessarily sinusoidal) that will produce the same heating effect in a resistor as
the dc value.
The dc voltage that would produce that same heating effect in a resistance is
therefore the same as the rms voltage, that is 120 volts.
Problem 7
What is the frequency for the following ac variations? (a) 10 cycles in 1 s; (b) 1
cycle in 1/10 second; (c) 50 cycles in 1 s; (d) 50 cycles in s; (e) 50 cycles in 5
s.
Solution
Here we will find the frequency of an ac waveform by considering how many
cycles the waveform goes through in a given time and then calculate how many
cycles would have occurred in one second. This will give us our answer in cycles
per second (cps) or Hertz (Hz). The units cps have been replaced by the Hertz
as an international standard, but the term cycles per second or cps it still used,
probably because it is more descriptive.
Problem 7a
The first example is easy. We have 10 cycles occurring in one second. That is,
the frequency:
f = 10 cycles per second or 10Hz
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Problem 7b
Here we have 1 cycle every 1/10th of a second. We ask ourselves, How many
cycles in one second. I hope it is clear that 10 cycles will occur in one second.
This gives us the answer for the frequency as:
f = 10 Hz
Alternatively, since we have one cycle occurring in 1/10
th
second, we can say
that the waveform has a period T of 1/10
th
second and we can take the reciprocal
of T to find the frequency.
f = 1/T
= 1/(1/10) = 10 Hz
Problem 7c
This part is similar to Part (a). We have 50 cycles occurring in one second, so the
frequency is:
f = 50Hz
Problem 7d
We have 50 cycles occurring in second, so 100 cycles would occur in one
second, giving
f = 100 Hz
Alternatively, if there are 50 cycles in second, each cycle has a period of
second divided by 50, which is:
T = (1/2)/50 = 1/100
The frequency is:
f = 1/T = 1/(1/100) = 100 Hz
Problem 7e
If we have 50 cycles in 5 seconds then in one second 10 cycles will occur. The
frequency is:
f = 10Hz
You should also try to calculate the period of the waveform and take its reciprocal
to arrive at the frequency.
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Problem 8
Calculate the time delay for a phase angle of 45
o
at the frequency of (a) 500 Hz;
(b) 2 MHz.
Solution
A 45 degree phase angle will mean that one waveform starts 1/8
th
of a cycle
(45/360=1/8) after the other. The time delay will therefore be 1/8th of the
waveforms period later. Therefore in the following exercises, we must first
calculate the period and then divide the period by 8.
Problem 8a
The period of a waveform is the reciprocal of its frequency. In this case the
frequency is 500 Hz, the period is:
T = 1/f = 1/500 = 0.002 s
The time delay for 45 degree phase angle
td = 1/8 0.002 = 0.00025 = 0.25 ms
Problem 8b
As in Part (b) we find the period and divide by 8. The period is:
T = 1/f = 1/(2 10
6
)= 0.5 10
6
s
The time delay for 45 degree phase angle
td = 1/8 0.5 10
6
= 0.0625 10
6
= 62.5 ns
Problem 9
Calculate the period T of a radio wave whose wavelength is 2 m.
Solution
So far our problems have dealt with phase, frequency and period. We need to
exercise our understanding of the wavelength of a waveform. The wavelength of
an ac waveform is related to the frequency (and period) through the velocity of
the wave. In other words, if we know the wavelength and the velocity we can
calculate the frequency (and/or period) and vice versa. Different waves have
different velocities, but we are told that this is a radio wave and so it travels at the
velocity of light. I prefer to work in SI units, using metres rather than centimetres,
so the speed of light is 3 10
8
metres/second. In this problem we are given the
wavelength and asked to calculate the period. The wavelength is:
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= velocity/frequency (10)
We are going to find the frequency first and then find the period by taking the
reciprocal. Rearranging Equation 10 for the frequency
f = velocity/wavelength = (3 10
8
)/2 = 1.5 10
8
Hz = 150 MHz
This frequency has a period:
T = 1/f = 1/(1.5 10
8
) = 6.667 ns
3.4 Electromagnetic waves
Another type of wave that you may encounter in electronics is an electromagnetic
wave. Examples are radio waves, microwaves, visible light, infrared and gamma
radiation. These waves, rather than just being oscillations in a conductor, travel
through space, even through a vacuum. Since they are travelling they must have
a velocity, and this turns out to be a constant generally known as the speed of
light. These waves also have a frequency, and a wavelength. The relationship
between the frequency, velocity and wavelength is:
v = f (11)
where v is the speed of light, f is the frequency and (Greek letter lambda) is the
wavelength.
For example, a radio wave could have a frequency of 3 MHz. If the speed of light
is approximately 300,000,000 m/s, what is the wavelength of the wave?
= v/f = 300,000,000/3,000,000 = 100 m
3.4 Nonsinusoidal waveforms
Very briefly, sometimes in electronics waveforms other than sinewaves are
encountered. Probably the most common is the square wave which is found in
digital electronics. There is a whole wealth of theory about waveforms other than
sinewaves, usually coming under the heading of Fourier transforms. In essence,
what Fourier showed was that any repetitive waveform could be constructed from
sinewaves with varying amplitudes and frequencies which are multiples of the
fundamental frequency. In other words, a square which repeats every 50 ms has
a fundamental frequency of 1/50 ms = 20 Hz. We can create a square wave by
adding up sine waves with a frequency of 20 Hz, 40 Hz, 60 Hz, 80 Hz and so on.
These secondary waveforms with frequencies that are multiples of the
fundamental frequency are called harmonics.
In a square wave, the values switch from the maximum for half a period to the
minimum for the other half of the period. If the amplitude is V, then the peak
value is V, the peaktopeak value is 2V, the average value is V/2, and the rms
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value is V/2. Therefore, the power in a square wave is VI/4 giving the power
factor of 0.25, and the form factor is rms/average = 1 since the average and the
rms value are both the same.
3.5 Harmonics
Harmonics are at frequencies which are multiples of the fundamental frequency.
In music the term octave is used to mean the same note only an octave higher
or lower. In physical terms an octave is a doubling of a frequency. So if a note
has a frequency of 256 Hz, say, then an octave higher would be 512 Hz. Two
octaves higher would be 1024 Hz and so on.
The alternative to octaves are decades. If a frequency is increased by a decade
then the new higher frequency is 10 times the lower frequency. If note of
frequency 256 Hz is increased by a decade, its new frequency is 2560 Hz.
Now attempt the following Problems. They are problems that reinforce your
understanding of harmonics and multiples of frequencies.
Problem 10
List the first four harmonics of 7.5 MHz. Also, identify each harmonic as being
either an even or odd multiple of the fundamental frequency.
Solution
The harmonics are integer (whole number) multiples of the fundamental
frequency. In this case the fundamental frequency is 7.5 MHz.
The first harmonic is one times the fundamental frequency, that is, the first
harmonic is the fundamental which has a frequency of 7.5 KHz. It is odd,
because we have multiplied the fundamental by one and one is an odd number.
In general, we dont usually talk about the first harmonic, because it can be
confusing. (It becomes confusing because the first interesting harmonic,
interesting in the sense that it is in anyway different to the fundamental, is the
second harmonic)
The second harmonic is two times the fundamental frequency, that is 7.5 2 =
15 MHz. Two is an even number and so this is an even harmonic.
The third harmonic is three times the fundamental frequency or 22.5 MHz.
Three is an odd number and so this harmonic is odd.
The fourth harmonic is four times the fundamental frequency or 30 MHz. Four is
an even number and so this harmonic is even.
Problem 11
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List the frequency three decades above 100 Hz.
Solution
Decades are multiples of ten. Every time we multiply a frequency by ten we have
increased the frequency by one decade. Every time we divide a frequency by
ten, we have decreased the frequency by one decade. In this problem the
frequency of concern is 100Hz and we are asked to find the frequency three
decades above it.
The first decade will be 100 10 = 1000 Hz or 1 kHz.
To find the third decade above 100Hz, we multiply our frequency of concern by
10, three times, or by 1000. So three decades above 100 Hz is:
100 10 10 10 = 100000 = 100 kHz.
Another way of doing this is to multiply our frequency by 10
3
.
100 10
3
= 100 kHz.
In general, multiplying by the nth power of ten is equivalent to raising the
frequency by n decades, and dividing by the nth power of ten is equivalent to
decreasing the frequency by n decades.
Problem 12
Raising the frequency of 400 Hz by two octaves corresponds to what frequency?
Solution
Octaves are multiples of two. Every time we multiply a frequency by two we have
increased the frequency by one octave. Every time we divide a frequency by two,
we have decreased the frequency by one octave. In this problem we are asked to
find the frequency two octaves above 40 kHz. We can do this by multiplying 40
kHz by two, twice, this gives 40000 2 2 = 160 kHz. Alternatively, we can
multiply by 2
2
. So, 40000 2
2
= 160 KHz.
In general, multiplying by the nth power of 2 is equivalent to raising the frequency
by n octaves, and dividing by the nth power of two is equivalent to decreasing
the frequency by n decades.
Problem 13
What is the frequency three octaves below 40 kHz?
Solution
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Here we are asked for 3 octaves below 40 kHz. We can do this by dividing by
two, three times.
((40000/2)/2)/2 = (20000/2)/2 = 10000/2 = 5000 or 5 kHz
Or by dividing by 2
3
:
40000/2
3
= 40 000/8 = 5000 Hz or 5kHz
Note that dividing by 2
3
is equivalent to multiplying by 2
3
= 1/8, giving us another
method of solution.
4 Further reading
If you want to read more about the topics discussed in this Learning Package you
could have a look at the appropriate sections of the online book Fundamentals
of Electrical Engineering and Electronics. The relevant sections are Basic AC
theory, all parts except perhaps principles of radio which isnt particularly
relevant.
6 Where next?
The next suggested Learning Package in entitled Electromagnetism.
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ENG1021 Electronic Principles
Learning Package 6
Electromagnetism
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Electromagnetism
1 Do you know all this already?
If in doubt, please attempt the self assessment questions in this Learning
Package. If you can answer all of the questions correctly you may omit this
section. If not, please read on.
2 Electromagnetism
The relationship between magnetism and electricity is very important. Electric
motors, generators, computer hard disks, tape recorders, microphones and
loudspeakers are a small selection of devices that depend on the
electromagnetic relationship. In this section we will explore this relationship. We
will start with magnetism and then introduce laws which connect electricity and
magnetism. You will learn that any wire carrying a current will generate a
magnetic field and that a loop of wire in a changing magnetic field will have a
voltage induced in it.
2.1 Magnets
What is magnetism? I am sure that you are familiar with bar magnets. These are
usually pieces of iron which have a north and a south pole, as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1 Bar magnet
If another magnet is brought close to the first one, then you find that north poles
are attracted to south poles. Alternatively, similar poles, such as two north poles,
repel each other. Magnets can therefore produce a force. In Figure 1 I have
drawn in the lines of force. These lines run from the north poles to the south
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pole outside of the magnet, and from south to north inside the magnet. If another
magnet is brought near the first, a force will act on in the direction shown by the
lines of force.
In a real system, the lines of force can be found by either putting a sheet of paper
over a bar magnet and sprinkling iron filings on the paper. If the paper is tapped
gently a number of times, the iron filings will each become small bar magnets,
and align themselves along the lines of force. Alternatively, using a small
compass, the lines of force can be traced on the paper. Position the compass
anywhere on the paper and draw a small arrow in the in the direction the needle
of the compass is pointing. By repeating this over the paper you will get a set of
small arrows pointing in different directions. If these are then joined up by
extending the line of the arrows, you will find you trace out the lines of force.
The area around a magnet is therefore able to exert a force. We therefore call
this a magnetic field (think of a force field in science fiction). The strength of the
magnetic force increases with the number of lines. In Figure 1 there were a total
of 6 lines of force, so this magnetic field is said to have a magnetic flux equal to 6
maxwells. Magnetic flux is defined as the total number of magnetic lines, and is
given the Greek letter phi, , and is measured in maxwells, which is abbreviated
to Mx. So in Figure 1:
= 6 Mx
The magnetic field can be thought of as imaginary lines of force. It is important to
realise that these lines are imaginary and that a magnetic field exists at all points
around the magnet (not just on the lines). In other words, when I drew Figure 1 I
was drawing a representation of a bar magnet which has a flux of 6 Mx, so I drew
6 lines. These lines are imaginary, but represent the magnetic field and its
strength. It is something of a coincidence, that if you trace the lines of force using
either the iron filings method or the compass method that you get something that
looks the same. However, the difference is that the number of lines you would
get when tracing them would not correspond to the flux, but would still have
some of the same properties such as direction.
The units of maxwells have now been superseded by the unit called the weber,
which is abbreviated to Wb. One weber is equivalent to 100,000,000 lines of
force. Since this is quite a large unit, we often use the micro weber (Wb) which
is equivalent to 100 Mx or 100 lines of force.
The total number of lines doesnt really convey the idea that the magnetic force
varies according to the position relative to the magnet. Magnetic flux density
goes some way to address this. Magnetic flux density is the magnetic flux per
unit area or often described as the number of lines of force passing
perpendicularly through a unit area. In Figure 1 the lines are closer at the poles
and get more diffuse as you move further away from the magnet. Thus the flux
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density would be highest at the poles and get smaller as you move away from
the poles.
The magnetic flux density is given the symbol, B, and is measured in Gauss,
abbreviated to G, if you are using the units of maxwells. That is:
B = /A = maxwells/cm
2
= gauss (1)
Alternatively, B is measured in tesla, abbreviated to T, and in this case:
B = /A = weber/m
2
= tesla
This has hopefully explained what a magnetic field is and introduced the terms
flux and flux density. Flux is given the symbol and is the total number of the
imaginary lines of the magnetic field, while flux density is given the symbol B and
is the flux (or number of imaginary lines) in a given area. We will now exercise
our understanding of the new terms. Please attempt Problems 1, 2, 3.
Problem 1 (Magnetism)
A magnet produces 5000 field lines. Find in maxwells and webers.
Solution
We are told that the magnet produces 5000 field lines. This is a measurement of
the magnetic flux . One maxwell is one field line, therefore 5000 field lines is
5000 maxwells.
There are 10
8
maxwells in a weber, therefore this same flux measured in webers
is:
5000/10
8
webers or 10
5
webers.
To reinforce the idea that the magnetic field is continuous and that field lines are
imaginary consider the nanoweber, which is 10
9
webers. This is a practical unit
for the measurement for weak magnetic fields. If we consider this unit in
maxwells it is equal to
10
9
/10
8
= 10
1
maxwell
This unit then measures a tenth of a maxwell (or a tenth of a field line). If
magnetic lines of force were real then we could not have a tenth of one and the
smallest magnetic field that could exist would be one line or 1 maxwell.
Problem 2
If the area of the pole in Problem 1 is 5 cm
2
, calculate B in gauss units.
Solution
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This problem introduces the area of the pole of the magnet and we are asked to
calculate B (the flux density) in gauss units. Flux density is measured in flux per
unit area. The gauss unit measures how many maxwells pass through one
square centimetre. We are told that the total number of lines is 5000 and this flux
flows out of a 5cm
2
area. The number lines flowing through one centimetre is
therefore the flux density:
B = /Area = 5000/5 = 1000 gauss
Problem 3
Calculate B in tesla units for a 200 Wb flux through an area of 5 10
4
m
2
.
Solution
This problem is similar to the previous problem except that we are now working
with tesla units. Teslas are a measure of the number of webers (10
8
maxwells)
flowing through a one square metre area. We are told that 200 Wb flow through
5 10
4
m
2
. Given this information, we have to calculate how many webers will
flow through a one square metre area. The number lines flowing through one
square metre is therefore the flux density in teslas
B = /Area = (200 10
6
)/(5 10
4
) = 200/5 10
2
= 0.4 tesla
2.2 Electromagnets
The type of magnet that weve looked at so far is a permanent magnet, usually
made of iron. An alternative is an electromagnet. When electricity flows through a
conductor it produces a magnetic field, as shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2
In Figure 2, current refers to electron current. The current produces a magnetic
field which radiates from the wire. In Figures 2b and 2c the wire is in the centre of
the circle and the magnetic line of force is the outer circle. The direction of the
current in the wire is supposedly represented by a dart. If the wire flows into the
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page then you would see the flights at the back of the dart, whereas if the current
is coming out of the page you would see the point of the dart.
The direction of the magnetic field is described by the lefthand grip rule. If you
coiled your fingers of your left hand up, leaving the thumb sticking out, rather like
the hitchhiking gesture, then you thumb represents the direction of the current,
and your fingers represent the direction of the magnetic field.
Note: if, like me, you studied electronics some time ago, and are used to using
conventional current, which flows from the positive terminal to the negative, as
opposed to electron current as weve used in this module, then you would know
this rule as the righthand grip rule.
If we coil a wire up, as in Figure 3, the lines of force come together and the result
is just like a bar magnet, with a north pole and a south pole. This magnet exists
while current if flowing, but stops being a magnet when the current is switched
off.
Figure 3 Electromagnet
A coil, like that in Figure 3 is called a solenoid. It usually contains a core, with the
wire coiled around the core. Typically that core would be made of soft iron which
is easily magnetised and demagnetised. Within electrical circuits you may find an
electromagnet like this one in electric bells, and the big electromagnets used in
scrap yards. One device, known as a relay, uses an electromagnet to open or
close a circuit.
2.3 Magnetic units
Weve just seen that we can create a magnetic field using electricity, particularly
using coils of wire, but I havent said anything about the strength of the magnetic
field produced by such a device. What do you think would happen to the strength
of the magnetic field if:
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a) you increase the current;
b) increase the number of turns in the coil?
It turns out that both of these would increase the magnetic field strength or flux.
The value of the current and the number of turns is so important in
electromagnetism that its own term, namely the magnetomotive force or mmf.
The mmf is equal to the current, I, times the number of turns, N.
Mmf = Ix N (2)
Strictly speaking the mmf is measured in ampereturns, but since turns is a
unitless number, the units should be amperes. This would get confusing as you
wouldnt know if someone is referring to the current or the mmf, so we will use
the unit A.t for ampereturns.
Now if you imagine a coil with a fixed number of turns and a constant current
flowing through it, mmf would be constant. This mmf creates a magnetic field. If
you stretch the coil along its length, the number of coils is still the same and the
current is still the same, so the mmf is still the same, but the strength of the
magnetic field is weakened. To reflect this phenomenon, the field intensity H, is
defined as the mmf divided by the length of the coil.
H = mmf/L (3)
The units for H are ampereturns per unit length, A.t/m.
Finally, the current in the coils produces a magnetic field which has an intensity
H. This then creates a magnetic flux with a flux density, B. The relationship
between H and B depends on the material that the core of the electromagnet is
made from and is called the permeability and given the Greek character mu, .
B = H (4)
The permeability of air is 4 10
7
or 1.26 x 10
6
T/A.t/m and is given the special
symbol
o
. Most material are then quoted as having a relative permeability, r,
which is its permeability relative to air. To find the absolute permeability you have
to multiply the relative permeability by
o
.
There is one other term which is often used in electromagnetism, which is
reluctance. In comparison with electric circuits, the magnetic flux corresponds to
current. The flux is produced by ampereturns I N of magnetomotive force.
Therefore the mmf corresponds to voltage. Opposition to the production of flux in
a material is called the reluctance, comparable with resistance. The symbol for
reluctance is . Reluctance is inversely proportional to permeability. Iron has a
high permeability and low reluctance. Air or a vacuum has low permeability and
high reluctance.
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The three factors flux, ampereturns or mmf, and reluctance are related as
follows:
= mmf/ (5)
which is known as Ohms law for magnetic circuits.
Please attempt Problem 4.
Problem 4 (Magnetic units)
A battery is connected across a coil of 100 turns and a resistance of 20 , with
an iron core 0.2 m long. (a) How much battery voltage is needed for 200 A.t? (b)
Calculate H in the iron core in Ampereturns per meter. (c) Calculate B in teslas
in the iron core if its r is 300. (d) Calculate in webers at each pole with an area
of 8 10
4
m
2
. (e) How much is the reluctance of the iron core, in ampereturns
per weber?
Solution
This problem is very useful, because it mixes concepts you have learnt about
electrical voltage and current and resistance, with magnetic potential, magnetic
field intensity, magnetic flux, magnetic flux density, permeability and reluctance.
Problem 4a
The first part of the problem requires us to calculate the battery voltage having
been given the mmf of the coil as 200 ampere turns. We are given the resistance
of the coil as 20 which is the total resistance of the electrical circuit. Before we
can calculate the battery voltage we need to calculate the electrical current I.
Since:
mmf = NI
where N is the number of turns on the solenoid and is given as 100,
I = mmf/N = 200/100 = 2 A
We can now calculate the battery voltage using Ohms law. The battery voltage
is:
V = IR = 2 20 = 40 volts
Problem 4b
We now have to calculate the magnetic field intensity H. The magnetic field
intensity H is dependant on the mmf and the length of the coil L, which we are
given as 200 ampere turns and 0.2 metres respectively.
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H = mmf/L = 200/0.2 = 1000 A.t/m
Problem 4c
We are now required to calculate B, the magnetic flux density. You may have
noticed that the answer is required in teslas which are SI units and that all other
units (such as length) are also SI units. When we use SI units in the equation:
B = H
and we have a figure for the relative permeability r we must introduce the
permeability for air (or a vacuum) 0 = 4 10
7
to find the absolute permeability
. That is:
= r 0
We are given the relative permeability r of the iron core as 300 therefore the
absolute permeability is:
= r 0 = 300 4 10
7
= 3.77 10
4
T/A.t/m
Having found the absolute permeability, the flux density is found using Equation
13 above:
B = H = 3.77 10
4
1000 = 0.377 tesla
Problem 4d
The total flux at the pole ends is given by:
= B A
The area A is 8 10
4
, therefore the flux is:
= 0.377 8 10
4
= 3.02 10
4
webers
Problem 4e
Here we have to find the reluctance of the iron core. The reluctance of a
magnetic circuit is analogous to the resistance in an electrical circuit. In an
electrical circuit more current flows, for a given emf (voltage), as the resistance is
decreased (Ohms law). In the magnetic circuit there is more flux, for a given
mmf, as the reluctance is decreased. The equation for in terms of reluctance
and mmf shows this.
= mmf/
Rearranging and substituting our values for and mmf we arrive at a value for
the reluctance:
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= mmf/ = 200/(3.02 10
4
) = 66 10
4
A.t/W
2.4 ElectroMagnetic Induction
You have seen that current flowing in a conductor creates a magnetic field. Also,
that a forces act on magnets when they close top each other. So, we can
conclude that if a conductor is placed within a magnetic field and a current is
passed through it, then a force is applied to the conductor. This is basically how
motors work. Figure 4 illustrates this principle.
Figure 4 shows a conductor which has been placed within a magnetic field. The
magnetic field is produced by the horseshoe magnet, and the direction of the
magnetic field is from the North pole to the South pole. The conductor is
connected to a battery, which produces a current flowing from the negative
terminal to the positive terminal. The result would be that the conductor moves
upwards.
Figure 4 Motor effect
The direction that the conductor moves is described by Lenzs law. It is often
memorised using Flemings motor rule, or Flemings right hand rule. If you
arrange your left hand such that your thumb is sticking up, and your index finger
is pointing straight ahead, then if you move your middle finger so that its pointing
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to the side, you have it. The thumb, index finger and middle finger should all be
pointing in different directions. The thumb represents the motion, the index of first
finger represents the field, and the middle or second finger represents current.
Thumb motion
First finger field
Second finger current
In a similar way, if you move a conductor in a magnetic field then a current is
created. This is illustrated in Figure 5.
In this case you can memorise the directions using Flemings dynamo or left
hand rule. The fingers of the left hand are arranged as before, and have the
same meaning.
Therefore, moving a conductor in a magnetic field generates electricity. This is
the basis of a dynamo or a generator.
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Figure 5 Dynamo effect
In the dynamo effect, I said that a current was produced. In order for a current to
flow there must be a potential difference. Therefore, the dynamo or generator
could be said to be generating a voltage.
Figure 6
Figure 6 shows a solenoid again, where a coil is wrapped around a core. If that
core is a magnet, then either moving the core or moving the coil would generate
a voltage. The value of this voltage depends on three factors:
The magnetic flux a stronger the magnetic field would produce a higher
voltage;
The rate at which the core (or the coil) is moving the faster it moves the
more voltage is generated;
The number of coils or turns the more turns the higher the voltage.
These are summarised in Faradays law, which is:
v
ind
= N d/dt (21)
Where N is the number of turns, is the magnetic flux, and d/dt means the
rate of change of flux. This is interpreted as d is a small change in flux, and dt
is a small change in time, t.
For example, if a coil has 100 turns, and the flux changes from 2 Wb to 5 Wb in 2
seconds, the induced voltage would be:
v
ind
= N d/dt = 100 x (5 2)/2 = 150 volts
Similarly, if the flux changed from 5 Wb back to 2 Wb, the induced voltage would
be:
v
ind
= N d/dt = 100 x (2 5)/2 = 150 volts
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You now know the fundamental relationships between electricity and magnetism.
That is, you will know how to produce magnetism from electricity and how to
produce electricity from magnetism. The principles behind motors and generators
have been described. That is, a current carrying conductor in a magnetic field is
subject to a force, which will cause it to move (the motor effect) and a conductor
moving such that it cuts across a magnetic field will have a voltage generated
across it (the generator effect). Two more important laws have been introduced
(Faradays law and Lenzs law). Now attempt Problem 5.
Problem 5 (ElectroMagnetic Induction)
A magnetic flux of 800 Mx cuts across a coil of 1000 turns in 1 s. How much is
the voltage induced in the coil? (1 Mx = 10
8
Wb)
Solution
This problem involves the use of Faradays law. If you are not familiar with
mathematical differentiation, the d/dt expression may appear a little daunting. It
is described as the rate of change, where the d in d means a small change
in . When you see this notation, dont be tempted to cancel out the d on the
top and bottom of the equation. Just as stands for flux and t for time, so d
stands for a small change in flux and dt stands for a small change in time
The expression d/dt is simply the gradient or slope of a graph at any point. What
is wrong with using the term gradient then? We could, if the graph was a
straight line, but often the slope of a graph varies along its length so that it is not
straight but curved. You can imagine a real hill on a road; no matter how steep it
is, it will not be the same steepness at the bottom of the hill or at the top of the
hill as it is in the middle. A gradient sign near to the road may indicate the
gradient, but does not say at which point this applies. The d/dt allows us to see
the gradient at any point, not just an average gradient. This will become more
important later when we study AC. and transformers. In these problems the
graph will always be a straight line.
In this problem we have a magnetic flux of 800 maxwells cutting across a coil of
wire in 1 s. Firstly, let us find d/dt. We should assume that the coil cuts across
the field at a steady rate giving a straight line graph for the magnetic field
plotted against time t. The gradient is:
d/dt = The change flux/The change in time for that change in flux
= 800 10
8
Wb/1 10
6
seconds
= 8 Wb/s
We know the number of turns N is 1000, so we can substitute for N and d/dt to
determine the voltage.
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V = N d/dt
= 1000 8 = 8000 V or 8 kV
Now attempt Problems 6 and 7.
Problem 6
A circuit has a 20 V battery connected to a 100 coil of 400 turns with an iron
core 0.2 m long. Using SI magnetic units, calculate (a) I; (b) ampereturns of
mmf; (c) field intensity H; (d) flux density B in a core with r of 500; (e) total flux
at each pole with an area of 6 10
4
m
2
.
Solution
The first part of this problem relies on our knowledge of the relationships
between the current in the coil, the flux , the flux density B, the mmf and the
magnetic field intensity H.
Problem 6a
The current is given by Ohms law. We have a 100 coil connected to a 20 volt
battery, therefore:
I = V/R = 20/100 = 0.2 A
Problem 6b
We have 400 turns through which flows a current of 0.2A, therefore the mmf in
ampereturns is given by:
mmf = N I = 400 0.2 = 80 ampere  turns
Problem 6c
We need the length of the coil to calculate the field intensity H which is the mmf
per unit length. The length of the coil is given as 0.2 metres, therefore the field
intensity
H = mmf/length = 80/0.2 = 400 ampere.turns/metre
Problem 6d
We want to calculate the flux density B. We are given the relative permeability r
so, if we want to work in SI units, then we have to calculate the absolute
permeability:
= 0 r = 4 10
7
500 = 6.283 10
5
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We can then find the flux density B using
B = H = 6.283 10
5
400 = 0.251 tesla
Problem 6e
Having found the flux density B the amount of flux is dependant upon the area
of the coil. The area of the coil is 6 10
4
m
2
, therefore the flux
= B A = 0.251 6 10
4
= 1.508 10
4
Wb
Problem 7
For the coil in Problem 6: (a) If the iron core is removed, how much will the flux
be in the air core coil? (b) How much induced voltage would be produced by this
change in flux while the core is being moved out in 1 s? (c) How much is the
induced voltage after the core is removed?
Solution
The main reason that you were advised to attempt Problem 6 is that it revises the
previous work and sets you up for this rather interesting problem. It is interesting
because we are changing the flux by removal of the iron core of the coil. Note
that in previous examples and problems we have moved the coil, moved the
magnet or subject a coil (somehow) to a changing magnetic field, in order to
generate an emf in the coil. The question again exercises your understanding of
Faradays law.
Problem 7a
The first thing that we are asked to calculate, is the flux if the iron core is
removed. The flux will change, because the permeability has changed. The
permeability is now just 0 = 4 10
7
, the permeability of air. Although the field
intensity H has not changed, the flux density is now
B = H = 4 10
7
400 = 5.027 10
4
tesla
The flux in the area of the coil is then
= B A = 5.027 10
4
6 10
4
= 3.0162 10
7
Wb
Problem 7b
The next part of the question requires us to calculate d/dt. The change in flux is
equal to the value before the removal of the iron core minus the value of the flux
after the removal of the iron core which is:
1.508 10
4
 3.0162 10
7
= 1.505 10
4
Wb
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We are told that this change takes place in 1 second, therefore:
d/dt = 1.505 10
4
Wb/1 second = 1.505 10
4
Wb/s
The induced voltage is N times the change in flux, where N is the number of
turns which equals 400. So the induced voltage is:
V = 400 1.505 10
4
= 0.0602 V
Problem 7c
After the core is removed there is no more change so the induced voltage is 0 V.
2.5 Summary
Read the Review at the end of the Chapter. You have studied new concepts and
learnt some new terms. It is easy to confuse the terms:
magnetic flux ,
magnetic field intensity H,
magnetic flux density B, and
magnetic field which is a concept described in terms of the three other physical
quantities , H, B.
3 Further reading
If you would like to read some more about electromagnetism, the online book
Fundamentals of Electrical Engineering and Electronics has some relevant
sections. I suggest you look under DC where there is a subsection called
magnetism and electromagnetism. Look at all of the parts under this heading
except for the last part on mutual inductance.
4 Where next?
You are advised to study the learning package entitled Capacitance next.
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ENG1021 Electronic Principles
Learning Package 7
Capacitance
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102
Capacitance
1 Do you know all this already?
If in doubt, please attempt the self assessment questions in this Learning
Package. If you can answer all of the questions correctly you may omit this
section. If not, please read on.
2 Introduction
Nearly all electronic circuits contain capacitors. Capacitors have the ability to
store charge. Although they generally do not hold as much charge as a
rechargeable battery (and they store charge in a very different way), you may like
to think of them as small rechargeable batteries.
You will also learn about reactance. Capacitors have reactance in AC circuits.
Reactance has similarities with resistance, and is measured in ohms, but has
some surprising differences.
Finally this section introduces simple capacitive circuits, often called RC circuits
which consist of a capacitor in a series or parallel combination with a resistor.
You will learn how to combine resistive and reactance values (which cannot
simply be added together) to form an impedance value. To do this we have to
take into account the relative phase between the voltage and current in a
capacitive circuit which leads to the concept of phase angle.
3 Capacitance
3.1 Capacitance, dielectrics, and charge
A capacitor is a device that can store electrical charge. It consists of two plates,
and between the plates is a material called a dielectric. This dielectric material is
an insulator, the there is no way that electrons can flow through the capacitor.
Figure 1 shows a capacitor connected to a battery.
Figure 1
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When a battery is connected to a capacitor, as in Figure 1, a potential difference
is created across the capacitor, so that one plate (the one connected to the
positive terminal) has a higher potential that the other plate (connected to the
negative terminal of the battery). We know that continuous current cant flow
round the circuit because of the insulator. However, when the battery is first
connected, the potential difference created causes electrons to accumulate in the
plate connected to the negative terminal of the battery. In the other plate,
electrons are lost to the positive terminal of the battery. The end result is that
there is a difference in charge on either side of the capacitor, and that this
difference creates its own potential difference. The system settles when this
potential difference across the capacitor equals the potential difference created
by the battery.
Now if the battery is disconnected, the charge difference within the capacitor
remains. The capacitor has been fully charged. We can discharge the capacitor
by connecting a wire between the plates, so that the charge can flow from the
negatively charged side until both side have equal charge, Then the capacitor is
said to be fully discharged.
The amount of charge stored in a capacitor is given the symbol Q, and is
measured in coulombs, C. One coulomb corresponds to 6.25 x 10
18
electrons. If
a voltage, V, is applied to a capacitor, then the ratio of the charge produced to
the voltage applied is called the capacitance of the capacitor. Capacitance is also
given the symbol C, and is measured in farads, F.
C = Q/V (1)
Q = CV
The unit of a farad is very large, and so capacitance is often measured in
microfarads, F, which is 10
6
Farads or even picofarads, pF, which is 10
12
farads.
For example, a 2 F capacitor is connected to a 9 V battery. How much charge is
stored?
Q = CV = 2 x 10
6
x 9 = 18 x 10
6
C
When a battery is connected to a capacitor, we have said that the capacitor
becomes charged. In an ideal circuit, where there is no resistance, this would be
instantaneous. In reality, there is always some resistance in a circuit, either in the
wires, the battery or even in the capacitor itself. So, charging takes a finite time.
Exactly how much is a subject of a later Learning Package. However, if a
constant current can be applied, rather than a battery, then that constant current
will flow which will be continuously delivering charge to one plate of the capacitor,
which the other side loses charge. If the constant current has a value of I amps,
and is applied for a time t, then the charge introduced to the capacitor is:
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Q = I x t (2)
Now attempt Problems 1, 2 and 3.
Problem 1
How much charge in coulombs is in a 4 F capacitor charged to 100 V?
Solution
All of these problems require the use of equation for charge
Q = CV
Where C is the capacitance in Farads, V is the voltage across the capacitor, in
volts, and Q is the charge in coulombs. So to find the charge we simply substitute
the values for capacitance and voltage into the equation
Q = CV = 4 10
6
100 = 4 10
4
= 0.4 mC or 400 C
Problem 2
A 4 F capacitor has 400 C of charge. (a) How much voltage is across the
capacitor? (b) How much is the voltage across an 8 F capacitor with the same
400 C charge?
Solution
Again we use Equation 1 in a rearranged form for the voltage
V = Q/C
Problem 2a
The first part of the question asks for the voltage across a 4 F capacitor which is
holding 400 C of charge. Substituting these values into Equation 1 gives:
V = 400 10
6
/4 10
6
= 100 volts
Problem 2b
If the same charge is stored in a 8 F capacitor then the voltage
V = 400 10
6
/8 10
6
= 50 volts
Problem 3
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A 2F capacitor is charged by a constant 3 A charging current for 6 s. (a) How
much charge is stored in the capacitor? (b) How much is the voltage across the
capacitor?
Solution
Constant current charging of capacitors is implemented in many electronic
circuits, because the voltage rises linearly with time. Timing circuits and slope
generators use this principle.
Problem 3a
In this problem a 2 F capacitor is charged with a constant current of 3 A for 6
s. We are asked to find the charge in the capacitor. Although it is not stated, we
must assume that the capacitor is fully discharged. If it were not constant current
charging would add to any charge already in the capacitor. The charge is found
by substituting the values for the current and time into the equation:
Q = I t = 3 10
6
6 = 18 C
Problem 3b
The voltage across the capacitor is given by Equation 1:
V = Q/C = 18 10
6
/2 10
6
= 9 volts
3.2 Practical capacitors, energy stored and trouble shooting
3.2.1 Construction of capacitors
A practical capacitor is made up of plates and a dielectric. One example is the
paper capacitor in which layers of tin foil surround a layer of paper, and then
these layers are rolled up. The symbol used in electronics is shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2 Symbols used for a capacitor
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The symbol on the left is most common, but you can also often see the symbol in
the middle being used. This symbol represents an electrolytic capacitor which
can only be connected one way round. The curved side always represents the
negative connection. Finally the symbol on the right indicates a variable
capacitor.
Often the value of the capacitance is written on the capacitor, usually in either
microfarads or picofarads. In some cases they are colour coded using a similar
scheme as resistors. In either case, capacitors are only available in preferred
values, with the same range of values as resistors.
In general, the area of the plates influences the value of the capacitance, with
bigger plates creating bigger capacitance. Another factor is the size of the gap
between the plates. The smaller this gap, the bigger the capacitance. Finally, the
material used as the dielectric has a major influence. When we looked at
magnetism we found a quality called permeability, which influenced how much
magnetic flux is produced. Similarly, in capacitance we have permittivity, , the
Greek character epsilon. As with permeability, we usually quote a relative
permittivity of a material,
r
, which then has to be multiplied by the absolute
permittivity of air,
o
, which equals 8.854 x 10
12
F/m. The relative permittivity is
also given the symbol K
.
For example, air has a relative permittivity of 1, paper is 2 to 6, ceramic is 80 to
1200.
Given all of the above, we can now say that the capacitance is given by the
following equation, where A is the area of the plates and d is the size of the gap
between the plates.
C = K
x A/d x 8.85 x 10
12
F (3)
Now please attempt Problems 4, 5 and 6.
Problem 4
Calculate C for a mica capacitor, with K = 8, a thickness of 0.02 cm, plates of 6
cm
2
, and five sections in parallel. (Hint: 1 cm = 10
2
m and 1 cm
2
= 10
4
m
2
.)
Solution
The construction of the mica capacitor is such that it many single layer capacitors
in parallel. In this problem we have 5 layers which is equivalent to having 5 single
layer capacitors in parallel. So firstly we must calculate how much capacitance
there is in a single layer. The capacitance of a single layer capacitor is given by
the equation
C = K A/d 8.85 10
12
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where A is the area of the plates in metre
2
, d is the distance between the plates
in metres, K
r
. The figure 8.85 10
12
is the absolute permittivity of air or a vacuum, which is
given the symbol
0
. Given the above information I prefer to write Equation 3 as
C = A/d r0 (4)
The equation is more concise in this form and it reminds us that the capacitance
is proportional to the area of the plates and inversely proportional to the distance
between the plates. Substituting our values for A, d,
0
, and
r
into Equation 4 we
have:
C = 6 10
4
/(0.02 10
2
) 8 8.85 10
12
= 212.4 pf
This is the capacitance between a single plate. Capacitors in parallel add
together, therefore the capacitance across 5 sections will be:
5 212.4 = 1.062 nF
3.2.2 Energy stored
Charge stored in a capacitor has energy. The amount of energy is found using
the following equation:
E = CV
2
(5)
It is important to realise that capacitors store this charge even when
disconnected. This means that electrical equipment that contain capacitors can
often hold on to large amounts of charge even when the equipment is switched
off. For example, a television picture tube will can hold enough charge to
generate twenty five thousand volts even when disconnected form the wall. The
energy stored is small, but this voltage can still give an electric shock and cause
burns. Other capacitors within electronic equipment may also store hazardous
voltages when equipment is disconnected from the mains. Please bear this in
mind when handling equipment that is supposed to be dead (disconnected from
power).
Problem 5
Calculate the energy in joules stored in (a) a 500 pF capacitor charged to 10 kV;
(b) a 1 F capacitor charged to 5 kV; (c) a 40 F capacitor charged to 400 V.
Solution
Here we are asked to calculate the energy stored in capacitors. We use the
equation:
E =CV
2
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The solutions are found simply by substituting the vales of C and V into the
equation for energy.
Problem 5a
Here C = 500 pf and V = 10 kV. Substituting the values into the equation gives:
E = (500 10
12
)(10 10
3
)
2
= 250 10
12
10
8
= 2.5 10
2
joules
Problem 5b
Here C = 1 f and V = 5 kV. Substituting the values into the equation gives:
E = (1 10
6
)(5 10
3
)
2
= 1 10
6
25 10
6
= 12.5 joules
Problem 5c
Here C = 40 f and V = 400 V. Substituting the values into the equation
Gives:
E = (40 10
6
)(400)
2
= 20 10
6
16 10
4
= 320 10
2
= 3.2 joules
3.2.4 Series and parallel capacitors
When capacitors are connected in parallel it is equivalent to increasing the plate
area. Therefore the capacitance of two capacitors in parallel is the sum of the
individual capacitances.
C
eq
= C1 + C2 (6)
Connecting capacitors in series is equivalent to increasing the dielectric
thickness or the gap between the plates. Therefore the reciprocal of total
capacitance of two capacitors in series is the sum of the reciprocal of the
individual capacitances.
1/C
eq
= 1/C1 + 1/C2 (7)
Problem 6
Calculate C
T
for the seriesparallel combination of capacitors shown in Figures
3a and 3b.
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109
Figure 3a Figure 3b
Solution
This problem exercises our familiarity with parallel and series capacitor
combinations. Remember that the rules for parallel and series capacitor
combinations are the reverse of the rules for combinations of series and parallel
resistors.
Problem 6a
The problem can be though of as a parallel combination of two capacitors where
one of the capacitors is a series combination of two capacitors. Therefore we
work out the equivalent capacitance of the series capacitors first.
Let us call the series combination of C1 and C2, C12. Then using the equation
for capacitors in series:
1/C12 = 1/C1 + 1/C2
= 1/(0.02 10
6
) + 1/(0.04 10
6
)
= (50 + 25) 10
6
= 75 10
6
Taking reciprocals:
C12 = 0.0133 10
6
F
C
T
is the parallel combination of C
12
and C
3
and parallel capacitors add in value.
So:
CT = C3 + C12 = 0.047 10
6
+ 0.0133 10
6
= 0.06033 10
6
or 0.0633 F
C
T
C
T
C
1
=0.02F
C
2
=0.04F
C
3
=0.047F
C
1
=150pF
C
1
=100pF
C
1
=47pF
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Problem 6b
This part of the problem should be thought of as a series combination of two
capacitors, but one of those capacitors is a parallel combination of two
capacitors. Therefore we work out the value of the parallel combination C
1
and
C
2
first.
Let use call the equivalent capacitance of the parallel capacitors C
12
, then
C12 = C1 + C2 = 47 pF + 100 pF = 147 pF
C
12
is in series with C
3
, a 150 pF capacitor. The total capacitance is given by:
CT = C12 C3/(C12 + C3) = 147 150/(147 + 150) = 22050/297 = 74.2 pF
Note that in the later part of this problem I have used the formula for two series
capacitors and worked entirely in picofarads in order to show the alternative
methods.
3.2.3 Trouble shooting
Leaky and open capacitors can be detected with an ohmmeter. If this technique
works, all well and good, but often open and leaky capacitors are not that
obvious to an ohmmeter and since we must disconnect one end of the capacitor
from the circuit anyhow, it is usually more efficient to trouble shoot leaky and
open capacitors by replacement.
3.3 Capacitive reactance
So far weve looked at DC circuits. A capacitor is essentially a break in the circuit,
so a continuous current cannot flow. When a battery is connected there is an
initial current that builds up charge on the capacitor plates, but then reaches a
stable point where the potential difference are equal and no more current flows.
An analogy that is sometimes used is that of a hydraulic system, where a pump
represents the battery. A capacitor is represented by two chambers separated by
a rubber diaphragm, and all connected together with pipes. Initially the pipes and
the chambers are full of water. When the pump is switched on, it forces more
water into one of the chamber which pushes against the rubber diaphragm. The
diaphragm stretches which forces water out of the other chamber. This continues
until the pressure produced by the pump equals the pressure produced by the
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rubber diaphragm, at which point no more water can move. This is analogous to
the charge building up on one of the plates of the capacitor, and the lack of
negative charge on the other plate. Clearly, in this analogy, you cannot have a
continuous flow of water because the circuit is blocked by the diaphragm.
Now lets think of an AC circuit. In this scenario the pump keeps changing
direction. Initially it will pump water in one direction, gradually increasing the
pressure. Then the pressure eases of and the pump reverses direction and
repeats the cycle. Now, although there is still a diaphragm, the water all through
the circuit can move back and forth under pressure from the pump. Similarly, in a
capacitor the charge can move back and forth in the circuit under the emf of the
AC voltage generator.
If we have a sinusoidal voltage applied, then the current will also be sinusoidal,
with the same frequency. The amplitude of the voltage sinewave divided by the
amplitude of the current sinewave is similar to resistance, and is called
reactance, measured in ohms. Reactance is given the symbol X, and as this is
capacitive reactance it is referred to as Xc. It obeys Ohms law as follows:
V = I Xc (8)
The main difference between reactance and resistance is that reactance is
dependent on frequency. In the case of capacitive reactance, when the
frequency is zero (DC) then the reactance is infinite, i.e. no current flows. At
higher frequencies the reactance gets less. This is summarised in the following
equation for the reactance of a capacitor:
Xc = 1/2fC (9)
In an AC circuit, if two capacitors are connected in series, the total reactance is
the sum of the individual reactances. We see this by starting with the equation
we found earlier for the total capacitance of two series capacitors.
1/Ceq = 1/C1 + 1/C2
Xeq = 1/2fCeq = 1/2f C1 + 1/2f C2 = Xc1 + Xc2
Similarly, the reciprocal of the total reactance of two capacitors in parallel is
found as the sum of the reciprocal of the individual reactances.
1/Xeq = 1/Xc1 + 1/Xc2 (10)
Please attempt Problems 7 and 8.
Problem 7
Give the values of C needed for 2000 of XC at the following four frequencies
1 MHz, 0.5 MHz, 0.2 MHz and 0.1 MHz.
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Solution
We are asked to find the value of a capacitance which has a reactance of 2000
at four frequencies 1 MHz, 0.5 MHz, 0.2 MHz and 0.1 MHz. We take the equation
for capacitive reactance:
XC = 1/2fC
and rearrange it to give:
C = 1/2fXC
The four solutions to this question are obtained by substitution into the
rearranged equation.
When frequency we are told that X
C
= 2000 . Therefore:
C = 1/21 10
6
2000 = 1/12566.37061436 10
6
= 79.6 pF
At f = 0.5 MHz:
C = 1/20.5 10
6
2000 = 1/6283 10
6
= 159 pF
At f = 0.2 MHz:
C = 1/20.2 10
6
2000 = 1/2513.274122872 10
6
= 399 pF
At f = 0.1 MHz:
C = 1/20.1 10
6
2000 = 1/1256.637061436 10
6
= 796 pF
Problem 8
Four capacitive reactances of 100, 200, 300 and 400 each are connected in
series across a 40 V rms source. (a) Draw the schematic diagram. (b) How much
is the total X
CT
? (c) Calculate I. (d) Calculate the voltages across each
capacitance. (e) If the frequency of the applied voltage is 1600 kHz, calculate the
required value of each capacitance.
Solution
This problem introduces series combinations of capacitors and the calculation of
their reactance.
Problem 8a
The circuit diagram is shown in Figure 4.
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Figure 4 Circuit diagram for Problem 8a
Problem 8b
The equivalent (or total) reactance of a series combination of reactances is found
using the same rules as for series resistors. Note, that this is not true for finding
the equivalent capacitance for a series combination of capacitors.
We have four reactances of 100, 200, 300 and 400 in series, the total
reactance is:
XT = X1 + X2 + X3 + X4 = 100 + 200 + 300 + 400 = 1000
Problem 8c
The current is given by Ohms law:
I = V/XT = 40/1000 = 40 mA rms
Problem 8d
To find the voltage across each capacitor we use Ohms law and the fact that the
same current I flows in all parts of a series circuit. Therefore, the voltage across
the first capacitor (X
C1
= 100 ) is:
VC1 = 40 10
3
100 = 4 volts
The voltage across the next capacitor (XC2 = 200 )
VC2 = 40 10
3
200 = 8 volts
The voltage across the next capacitor (XC3 = 300 ) is
VC3 = 40 10
3
300 = 12 volts
The voltage across the last capacitor (XC4 = 200 ) is
40
V
100 200 300 400
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114
VC4 = 40 10
3
400 = 16 volts
We can check our results because for purely capacitive reactance the individual
voltage drops should add up to the supply voltage. So,
4 + 8 + 12 + 16 = 40 volts = the supply voltage of 40 volts
Problem 8e
If the frequency of the AC source is 1600 kHz = 1.6 MHz we use the rearranged
equation for reactance Equation 25 substituting for reactance in each case. For
the first capacitor (XC1 = 100 ). The capacitance is:
C
1
= 1/(21.6 10
6
100) = 0.995 10
9
= 0.995 nF
For the next capacitor (XC2 = 200 ) the capacitance is:
C
2
= 1/(21.6 10
6
200) = 0.497 10
9
= 0.497 nF
For the next capacitor (XC3 = 300 ) the capacitance is:
C
3
= 1/(21.6 10
6
300) = 0.332 10
9
= 0.332 nF
For the last capacitor (XC4 = 400 ) the capacitance is:
C
4
= 1/(21.6 10
6
400) = 0.249 10
9
= 0.249 nF
3.4 Relative phase
Unlike in a resistor, the alternating current in a capacitor is not in phase with the
alternating voltage across it. In other words the alternating voltage across a
capacitor rises at falls at different times from the alternating current through the
capacitor. The phase angle between the voltage and current in a capacitor is 90
and is the same as the difference between a cosine wave and a sine wave. The
current rises before the voltage and the current is said to lead the voltage, as
shown in Figure 5.
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115
300
200
100
0
100
200
300
0 0.02 0.04 0.06 0.08
time/s
v
o
l
t
a
g
e
/
V
c
u
r
r
e
n
t
/
I
Figure 5 Voltage and current in a capacitor (current is dashed)
The rate of voltage change with time operator is introduced and related to the
current
dv
i C
dt
= (11)
Here we see the notation for differentiation again, where dv means a small
change in voltage, and dt means a small change in time. So, dv/dt represents the
rate at which the voltage is changing with time.
Please attempt Problem 9.
Problem 9
A capacitor has a discharge current i
c
of 15 mA when the voltage across its
plates decreases at the rate of 150 V/s. Calculate C.
Solution
This problem exercises your understanding of rates of voltage change and the
capacitor charge/discharge cycle.
We are told that a capacitor is subject to a discharge current of 15 mA and that
the rate of change of voltage is 150 V/s.
Let us rearrange Equation 11:
I
C
dV
dt
=
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116
and substitute our values into it to find C:
3 3 9
10
6 6
15 10 1 10 10
10 100
150 10
10
10 10
C pF
= = = = =
Note that I have used minus signs in front of the current and the decreasing
voltage, because the current is a discharge current and the voltage is
decreasing. Although the minus signs cancel out, it is good practice to include
them, because in larger problems they become important.
3.4 Capacitive (RC) circuits
We will now have a look at circuits containing a resistor and a capacitor in either
series or in parallel. Figure 6 shows both cases, and the associated phasor
triangle.
Figure 6 a) series circuit; b) parallel circuit
In Figure 6a), a resistor is in series with a capacitor. We know from earlier
discussions that in a series circuit the current is the same through each
component, so the current flowing through the capacitor must be the same as the
current flowing through the resistor, I. We also know that the current through the
capacitor leads the voltage across the capacitor by 90 degrees.
If the reactance of the capacitor is Xc, then by Ohms law the voltage across the
capacitor is Vc = IXc. Similarly, the voltage across the resistor is Vr = IR. We can
represent these two voltages using a phasor triangle, where the horizontal arrow
shows the voltage across the resistor which is in phase with the current through
the resistor. The vertical arrow shows the voltage across the capacitor which is
90 degrees behind the current through the capacitor.
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117
You think of a phasor diagram as a rotating arrow, pivoted at the centre of a
circle, then when it is pointing to the right, that is 0 degrees. Now rotate it
anticlockwise. When its point upwards, that is +90 degrees. Keep going until it is
pointing to the right, and thats +180 degrees. Keep going until it is pointing
downwards and that corresponds to +270 degrees.
Alternatively, if you rotate clockwise, then from zero degrees, rotate until the
arrow is pointing downwards and this corresponds to 90 degrees. Figure 7
illustrates this.
Figure 7 Phasor diagrams
In Figure 7, a phasor is shown pointing to the left. The other phasor is shown
relative to this first one, either as a clockwise (negative) rotation or an
anticlockwise (positive) rotation.
When we add two phasors we have to take into account not only their magnitude
but also their direction. For example, if I asked you to start at your house, walk
east for 3 miles, then north for 4 miles. How far have you walked? Thats easy,
you just add the miles, 3 plus 4 equals 7 miles. If I asked you how far would be
as the crow flies from your house, then you have to take the direction into
account.
Figure 8Vector distance
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118
The distance from your house is shown as the diagonal line from the home to the
journeys end. This distance, d, is calculated using Pythagorass theorem.
2 2 2
3 4 25
25 5
d
d
= + =
= =
So the distance is 5 miles.
In our phasor triangle, the resistive voltage is at 0 degrees, and the capacitive
voltage is at 90 degrees. We can either say that the current leads the voltage in
a capacitor by 90 degrees, or that the voltage lags behind the current by 90
degrees. It amounts to the same thing.
Now we know that the supply voltage should equal the sum of the resistive
voltage and the capacitive voltage. But because they are out of phase, when
represented in a phasor diagram they point in different directions. We there fore
have to use Pythagorass theorem to find the sum. This is shown as the
hypotenuse of the triangle. The sum is therefore:
2 2
2 2
2 2 2 2
2 2 2
2 2
( ) ( )
( )
r c
c
c
c
c
E V V
E IR IX
E I R I X
E I R X
E I R X
E IZ
= +
= +
= +
= +
= +
=
(12)
In the last line, the term Z is the total impedance of the circuit. Impedance is the
combination of resistance and reactance, and is also measured in ohms. You
can see that to find the value of Z you have to take the square root of the
resistance squared plus the reactance squared.
The other value that we can calculate is the relative phase, , between the
voltage and the current. In Figure 6a) this is shown as the angle between the
supply voltage, E, and the resistive voltage Vr. This is because Vr is in phase
with the current, therefore the angle between these two voltages is the same as
the angle between the voltage and the current.
From trigonometry we can see that:
c c
IX X
Tan
IR R
= = (13)
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119
So the phase is the ratio of the reactance and the resistance. Since the
capacitive reactance is pointing downwards, it is negative. You have to bear this
in mind when calculating the phase.
Using the values in the circuit of Figure 6, the reactance is:
Xc = 1/2fC = 1/2x 3.142 x 40 x 100 x 10
6
= 39.79 40 .
This means that the total impedance is:
2 2 2 2
100 40
10000 1600 11600 107.7
c
Z R X
Z
= + = +
= + = =
The phase is:
40
0.4
100
21.8
c
o
X
Tan
R
= = =
=
Now for parallel circuits. As we know from previous Learning Packages the
voltage across each parallel branch is the same. So in the parallel circuit of
Figure 6b) the voltage across the resistor and the capacitor is equal to E. The
current in the resistive branch is therefore Ir = E/R and is in phase with the
voltage. The current in the capacitive branch is Ic = E/Xc and is 90 degrees
ahead of the voltage. If the resistive current is drawn horizontally, then the
capacitive current leads by 90 degrees, as in the phasor triangle of Figure 6b).
The total current must equal the sum of the two individual branch currents. As
they are phasor values with direction as well as size, we use the triangle again
and Pythagorass theorem. This gives the total current as:
1 1
1 1 1
r c
c
c
c
E E
I I I
R X
I E
R X
I
E R X Z
= + = +
 
= +

\
 
= + =

\
So this is the same as any parallel circuit, where the reciprocal of the total
impedance equals the sum of the reciprocal of the resistance and the reciprocal
of the reactance.
Similarly, from the phasor triangle of Figure 6b) it can be seen that:
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120
c
r c
c c
I E E
Tan
I X R
E R R
Tan
X E X
= =
= =
Using the values in Figure 6, we can find the impedance and relative phase.
1 1 1 1 1 140
100 40 4000
4000
28.57
140
c
Z R X
Z
= + = + =
= =
100
2.5
40
68.2
c
o
R
Tan
X
= = =
=
You should now have a good idea about the phase relationship between the
current and voltage in a capacitive circuit and be able to construct a phasor
triangle (often called a phasor diagram).
Please attempt Problem 10, 11, and 12.
Problem 10
This problem exercises your understanding of impedance and phase
relationships in a series capacitive circuit.
Problem 10a
A 40 R in series with a 30 X
c
across a 100 V sinewave AC source. (a) Draw
the schematic diagram. (b) Calculate Z
T
. (c) Calculate I. (d) Calculate the voltage
across R and C. (e) What is the phase angle of the circuit?
Solution
The schematic diagram is shown in Figure 9.
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121
Figure 9 Diagram for Problem 10a
Problem 10b
To calculate Z
T
it is useful (but not essential) to draw a phasor diagram. The
voltages across the resistor and the capacitor must add up to the source voltage
(at any given time), but because these voltages are out of phase we must add
the voltage across the capacitor phasor (V
C
= IX
C
) to the voltage across the
resistor phasor (V
R
= IR). Doing this forms the phasor triangle shown in Figure
10. Consider the phasor triangle, the length of the hypotenuse is equal to the
source voltage (100 volts), which is equal to the current I multiplied by the total
impedance Z
T
. By Pythagoras theorem:
Figure 10 Phasor diagram for Problem 10
2 2
100 ( ) ( )
T C
IZ IX IR = = +
The Is cancel giving:
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122
2 2
( ) ( )
T C
Z X R = +
Problem 10c
The current I may be found from Ohms law by using the previously obtained
value for the total impedance Z
T
and the knowledge that the source voltage is
100V.
I = V/ZT = 100/50 = 2 amperes
Problem 10d
The individual voltages across R and C are, again, given by Ohms law. The
voltage across the capacitor is:
VC = IXC = 2 30 = 60 volts
The voltage across the resistor
VR = I 40 = 80 volts
Note that the algebraic addition of the voltages across the resistor and the
capacitor is greater than the supply voltage. This is because the two voltages are
out of phase. If we looked at the voltages at any instant in time, one voltage will
be rising when the other is at its peak. If you were to add these instantaneous
voltages they would add up to the supply voltage at that instant.
Problem 10e
The phase angle is the angle between the generator voltage and the series
current or equivalently the generator voltage and current. Although this phasor
diagram does not show the current, we know that the current and voltage in a
resistor are always in phase. The phase angle in this circuit is the angle
between the generator voltage and the voltage across the resistor. From the
phasor diagram shown in Figure 10:
tan = IXC/IR = XC/R = 3/4 = 0.75
= 36.86
o
Problem 11
A 40 R and a 30 X
c
are in parallel across a 100 V sinewave AC source. (a)
Draw the schematic diagram. (b) Calculate each branch current. (c) How much is
I
T
? (d) Calculate Z
EQ
. (e) What is the phase angle of the circuit? (f) Compare the
phase angle of the voltage across R and X
c
.
Solution
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123
This problem is similar to Problem 10, but we are dealing with a parallel circuit.
Problem 11a
The circuit diagram is shown in Figure 11.
Figure 11 Circuit diagram for Problem 11a
Problem 11b
Since the supply voltage appears across capacitor C and resistor R the current
flowing though each of them are the branch currents and are given by Ohms
law.
The current through the resistor is:
IR = V/R = 100/40 = 2.5 amperes
The current through the resistor is:
IC = V/XC = 100/30 = 3.33 A
Problem 11c
The total current I
T
is found by adding the branch currents, but because the
currents are out of phase we must add their phasors. A phasor diagram would be
helpful now, as in Figure 12:
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124
Figure 12 Phasor diagram for Problem 11c
From the diagram we can see that I
T
is the phasor addition of I
T
R and IR, again
using Pythagoras theorem:
2 2 2 2
( ) ( ) 2.5 3.33 4.14
T R C
I I I amperes = + = + =
Problem 11d
The equivalent impedance ZEQ is given by Ohms law:
ZEQ = V/I = 100/4.14 = 24.15
Problem 11e
The phase angle can be found from the phasor diagram. It is marked as current
on Figure 12. The phase angle is the angle between the voltage and current as
seen by the voltage supply. The phase of the voltage is the same as the phase
of the current through the resistor vector IR, since the resistor is directly
connected across the voltage supply. The phase of the current is in the direction
of vector I
T
, since this is the current we calculated as the total current supplied to
the circuit. On Figure 12 the angle between these two vectors is marked as .
tan = IC/IR = 3.33/2.5 = 1.332
= 53.1
o
If you are wondering if this angle should be positive or negative, it depends only
on whether you take the current or the voltage as a reference. The voltage will
always lag the current in an RC circuit and so the phase angle of the voltage with
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
125
respect to the current will be negative. Alternatively, we can say that the current
leads the voltage in an RC circuit and so the phase angle of the current with
respect to the voltage will be positive. Verify this to yourself using the phasor
diagram and try turning the phasor diagram around to that the current is the
reference phasor and checking that the phase of the voltage (which is the same
as the current through the resistor IR) now lags the current. Remember that
positive angles are in the anticlockwise direction, while negative angles are the
clockwise direction.
Problem 11f
The phase of the voltage is the same in all parts of the parallel circuit, so the
phase angle across the resistor is equal to the phase angle across the capacitor.
Problem 12
Draw a schematic diagram of a capacitor in series with a 20 k resistance across
a 10 V ac source. What size C is needed for equal voltages across R and X
c
at
frequencies of 100 Hz and 100 kHz?
Solution
The circuit diagram for the first part of this problem is given in Figure 13. We are
then asked what value of capacitor will result in equal voltages existing across
the resistor and the capacitor. This is a series circuit so the same current I flows
in all parts of the circuit. The voltage across the resistor (by Ohms law) is:
VR = IR
The voltage across the capacitor is:
VC = IXC
Figure 13 Circuit diagram for Problem 12
We are told that:
VC = VR
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
126
So:
IR = IXC
we can cancel the Is, so that the voltages across the resistor and the capacitor
are equal when:
R = XC
XC = 1/2fC = R
We can rearrange this equation to get a value for C.
C = 1/2fR
We are asked to find the value of C for two different values of frequency f, so lets
substitute our values of R = 20 k and f = 100 Hz into our equation for C first.
C = 1/2fR = 1/2 100 20 103 = 0.08 F
Now for R = 20 k and f = 100 kHz
C = 1/2fR = 1/2 100 10
3
20 10
3
= 80 pF
4 Further reading
For further reading you may want to look at Fundamentals of Electrical
Engineering and Electronics. The relevant sections are DC and the subsection
called Capacitors, where all parts could be read. Also, under the section AC,
subsection Reactance and impedance capacitive there is relevant
information. Have a look at all the parts, but be warned. This book starts using
both complex notation (or j notation) and polar notation rather than using a
phasor diagram.
Where next?
The next suggested learning package in entitled Inductance and Transformers.
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
127
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
Learning Package 8
Inductance and Transformers
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
128
Inductance
1 Do you know all this already?
If in doubt, please attempt the self assessment questions in this Learning
Package. If you can answer all of the questions correctly you may omit this
section. If not, please read on. If you can answer all of the questions correctly
you may omit this section. If not, please read on.
2 Introduction
In this Learning Package you will learn about inductors and the property
inductance. In particular we will see how inductors produce an electromagnetic
field and that two inductors can interact to produce mutual inductance. This
property of mutual inductance is put to use in transformers where AC voltages
can be steppedup or steppeddown to other voltages.
3 What is inductance?
When a magnetic flux cuts across a conductor a voltage is induced, as you saw
in Learning Package 6. The voltage is induced if the conductor is moving or if the
magnetic field is moving or changing. In an AC circuit, a conductor produces a
magnetic flux which alternates in direction as the current alternates, and also
changes size in proportion to the size of the current. This changing flux induces a
voltage. So, it must be remembered that it is the change in current that is
inducing a voltage. A current that is large but doesnt change would not induce a
voltage.
The frequency of the alternating current also affects the size of the induced
voltage, as a higher frequency means that the current is changing ore quickly.
Figure 1 shows a simple AC circuit with a magnetic coil.
Figure 1 Circuit with magnetic coil
The inductance, L, is defined as:
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
129
/
v
L
di dt
= (1)
In this equation, L is the inductance, measured in Henries, v is the voltage that is
induced in the coil and di/dt is the rate of change of current in amperes per
second. Rearranging we get:
di
v L
dt
= (2)
In AC circuits the current is continuously changing. However, a voltage can be
induced by any change in current, as the following problem indicates.
Now attempt Problem 1.
Problem 1
Calculate the values of v
L
across a 5 mH inductance for the following current
variations. (a) zero to 3 A in 2 s; (b) zero to 50 mA in 5 s; (c) 100 to 150 mA in 5
s; (d) 150 to 100 mA in 5 s.
Solution
Problem 1a
We are asked for the voltage across a 5 mH inductor subject to different current
variations. For all parts of this problem we will use the Equation 2.
Returning to our problem, we need to calculate the change of current with
respect to time, dI/dt.
In this part we have a current which changes form 0 to 3 A in 2 seconds.
Therefore:
Change in current 3  0 = 3A
Change in time = 2 seconds.
dI/dt = 3/2 = 1.5 As
1
The voltage
vL = LdI/dt = 5 10
3
1.5 = 7.5 mV
Problem 1b
In this part we have a current which changes form 0 to 50 mA in 5 s seconds.
Therefore:
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
130
Change in current 50  0 mA = 50 mA
Change in time = 5 s seconds.
dI/dt = (50 10
3
)/(5 10
6
) = 10
4
As
1
The voltage is:
vL = LdI/dt = 5 10
3
10
4
= 50 V
Problem 1c
In this part we have a current which changes from 100 to 150 mA in 5 s.
Therefore:
Change in current 150  100 = 50 mA
Change in time = 5 s seconds.
dI/dt = (50 10
3
)/(5 10
6
) = 10
4
As
1
This is the same value for dI/dt as in part (b), even though the current is higher,
because it is the change in current that is important and not the absolute value.
The voltage is:
vL = LdI/dt = 5 10
3
10
4
= 50 V
Problem 1d
In this part we have a current which changes form 150 to 100 mA in 5 s
Therefore:
Change in current 100  150 = 50 mA. The minus sign signifies the decrease in
current.
Change in time = 5 s seconds.
dI/dt = (50 10
3
)/(5 10
6
) = 10
4
As
1
The voltage is:
vL = LdI/dt = 5 10
3
10
4
= 50 V
3.1 Inductance in coils
The value of the inductance of a coil depends on a number of factors. These
include:
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
131
The number of turns, N;
The area enclosed by the coil, A;
The permeability of the core,
r
;
The length of the coil, l.
The inductance can be calculated as:
2
6
1.26 10 H
r
N A
L
l
= (3)
Now try Problem 2.
Problem 2
Calculate the inductance L for the following long coils: (a) air core, 20 turns, area
3.14 cm
2
, length 25 cm; (b) same coil as (a) with a ferrite core having r of 5000;
(c) air core, 200 turns, area 3.14 cm
2
, length 25 cm; (d) air core, 20 turns, area
3.14 cm
2
, length 50 cm; (e) air core, 20 turns, diameter 4 cm, length 50 cm, (Note
1 cm = 10
2
m, and 1 cm
2
= 10
4
m
2
.)
Solution
Here we are asked to calculate the inductance for coils of wire of differing
dimensions and cores. The problem illustrates the impact of changing each of the
values in Equation 3.
Problem 2a
This inductor has an air core. This tells us that the relative permeability r = 1. All
the other values are given for substitution into Equation 3, but remember that the
equation requires that area A is in square metres and that length l is in metres.
We are given:
The number of turns N = 20
The area of the coil A = 3.14 cm
2
= 3.14 10
4
m
2
The length of the coil l = 25 cm = 25 10
2
m
Substituting these values into Equation 3 with r = 1:
L = r(N
2
A)/l 1.26 10
6
= 1 (20
2
3.14 10
4
)/(25 10
2
) 1.26 10
6
= 6.33 10
7
= 0.663 H
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
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Problem 2b
This inductor has a ferrite iron core. We are told that that the relative permeability
of the ferrite core r = 5000. We are given:
The number of turns N = 20
The area of the coil A = 3.14 cm
2
= 3.14 10
4
m
2
The length of the coil l = 25 cm = 25 10
2
m
The same values are used as in Part (a). Substituting these values into Equation
3 with r = 5000:
L = r(N
2
A)/l 1.26 10
6
= 5000 (20
2
3.14 10
4
)/(25 10
2
) 1.26 10
6
= 3.165 10
3
= 3.165 mH
Problem 2c
This inductor has an air core so r = 1. The other values given are:
The number of turns N = 200
The area of the coil A = 3.14 cm
2
= 3.14 10
4
m
2
The length of the coil l = 25 cm = 25 10
2
m
Substituting these values into Equation 3.with r = 1:
L = r(N
2
A)/l 1.26 10
6
= 1 (200
2
3.14 10
4
)/(25 10
2
) 1.26 10
6
= 6.33 10
5
= 66.3 H
Problem 2d
This inductor has an air core so r = 1. The other values given are:
The number of turns N = 20
The area of the coil A = 3.14 cm
2
= 3.14 10
4
m
2
The length of the coil l = 50 cm = 50 10
2
m
Substituting these values into Equation with r = 1:
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
133
L = r(N
2
A)/l 1.26 10
6
= 1 (20
2
3.14 10
4
)/(50 10
2
) 1.26 10
6
= 3.165 10
7
= 0.3165 H
Problem 2e
This inductor has an air core so r = 1. The other values given are:
The number of turns N = 20
We are not given the area, but we are given the diameter d = 4 cm, therefore the
radius of the coil r = 2 cm and assuming that the coil is circular, the area of the
coil A = .r
2
= 3.14 2
2
cm
2
= 12.57 10
4
m
2
The length of the coil l = 50 cm = 50 10
2
m
Substituting these values into Equation with r = 1:
L = r(N
2
A)/l 1.26 10
6
= 1 (20
2
12.57 10
4
)/(50 10
2
) 1.26 10
6
= 1.267 10
6
= 1.267 H
4 Mutual inductance
When the current in an inductor changes it creates a magnetic flux which may cut
across another inductor and so induce a voltage in it. The voltage induced in the
second inductor also produces a current which in turn produces a magnetic flux
which will also cut across the first inductor and so produce a voltage in that one.
This process is called mutual induction, and the effect has to be included in any
calculations. The fraction of flux produced by one coil, L
1
, that cuts across
another coil, L
2
, is called the coupling and given the letter k. The value of the
coupling is defined as:
k = flux linkage between L
1
and L
2
/flux produced by L
1
This overall effect is known as mutual inductance, L
m
. The additional inductance
is measured as:
1 2 m
L k L L = (4)
When two inductors are in series in a circuit, their inductances are added, just
like resistances. However, if there is any coupling and therefore any mutual
inductance, this has to be included.
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
134
There is a complication. If there is no coupling, the inductances are simply
added. However, the two inductors or coils could be wound in opposite
directions. This means that for a current flowing through the coils in one direction,
the magnetic flux produced in one coil may be in the opposite direction to the
magnetic flux in the other. If the magnetic field is in the same direction the coils
are said to be seriesaiding. If they produce magnetic fluxes in opposite
directions then they are called seriesopposing. The total inductance of a pair of
series coils would be:
L
T
= L
1
+ L
2
+ L
m
for series aiding (5a)
L
T
= L
1
+ L
2
L
m
for series opposing (5b)
Finally, inductors in parallel also follow the same pattern as resistors. For two
inductors in parallel (without mutual inductance) the total inductance is:
1/L
T
= 1/L
1
+ 1/L
2
(6)
Please now attempt Problems 3 and 4
Problem 3
For a 100 H inductance L
1
and a 200 H inductance L
2
, calculate: (a) the total
inductance L
T
of L
1
and L
2
in series without mutual coupling; (b) the combined
inductance of L
1
and L
2
in parallel without mutual inductance; (c) the L
T
of L
1
and
L
2
series aiding, and series opposing, with 10 H mutual inductance; (d) the
value of the coefficient of coupling k.
Solution
This is an exercise in combining inductances, with and without mutual
inductance. The equations for combinations of inductors, without considering
mutual inductance, are the same as for resistors.
Problem 3a
The total inductance for inductors in series (in the absence of mutual inductance)
is then:
LT = L1 + L2
Substituting the values given:
LT = 100 + 200 H = 300 H
Problem 3b
Inductors in parallel combine in a similar way to resistors in parallel (without
mutual inductance). So the total inductance of the given inductors in parallel is:
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
135
1/LT = 1/L1 + 1/L2
Or
LT = L1 L2/(L1 + L2)
= 100 200/(100 + 200) = 20000/300 = 200/3 = 66.7 H
Notice that the equations for series and parallel inductors are swapped around
forms of the equations for series and parallel capacitors.
Problem 3c
If mutual coupling exists between inductors then Equation 5 is used. For series
aiding:
LT = L1 + L2 + 2LM
and for series opposing:
LT = L1 + L2  2LM
Substituting the given values for both cases gives:
LT = 100 + 200 + 2 10 = 320 H
for series aiding and:
LT = 100 + 200  2 10 = 280 H
for series opposing.
Problem 3d
The mutual coupling k is a measure of the amount of flux in one inductor links
another (the coupled) inductor. It can be found in this case by using the Equation
4 for mutual inductance.
1 2 m
L k L L =
Rearranging this equation for k and substituting our values into the equation
gives:
1 2
10 10
0.07
100 200 20000
m
L
k
L L
= = = =
5 Transformers
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
136
Transformers are a practical application of mutual inductance. As shown in
Figure 2 there is a primary circuit which has a coil and a secondary circuit which
has a coil. When the primary coil is connected to an AC voltage source, the
transformer produces an AC voltage in the secondary circuit which causes a
current to flow through the load resistor.
Figure 2 A transformer
The size of the voltage in the secondary circuit depends on the number of turns
in the secondary coil, Ns, relative to the number of turns in the primary coil, Np.
The turns ratio is the number of turns in the primary coil divided by the number of
turns in the secondary coil.
Turns ratio = Np/Ns (7)
For example, if there are 500 turns in the primary coil and 50 turns in the
secondary, the turns ratio is 500/50 = 10, so the transformer could be described
as a 10:1 transformer.
It is usually assumed in transformers that the coupling between the primary and
secondary coils is perfect, so has a value of 1. This means that the voltage
induced in the secondary coil is created by the same magnetic field that
produces the induced voltage in the primary coil. The difference between the
secondary and primary voltages, therefore, is in proportion to the number of turns
in the coils. This means that:
Vp/Vs = Np/Ns (8)
The power in the primary circuit is VpIp, and in the secondary circuit is VsIs. If
the transformer is 100% efficient, all of that power is transferred, so that:
VpIp = VsIs (9)
This means that Vp/Vs = Is/Ip
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
137
But earlier we showed that Vp/Vs = Np/Ns, which means that:
Is/Ip = Np/Ns = turns ratio. (10)
If the transformer isnt 100% efficient, the not all of the power is transmitted. In
this case the efficiency would be defined as:
% Efficiency = Ps/Pp x 100 (11)
The load resistor in the secondary has a value RL. When looking into the circuit
from the primary end, the resistance (or more accurately impedance in the
general case) appears at a different value, known is the reflected impedance.
Figure 3 shows this, where Zp is the reflected impedance and Zs is the
secondary impedance such as the load resistor.
Figure 3 Reflected impedance
By manipulating the equations that we have already it is found that the reflected
impedance is:
Zp = (Np/Ns)
2
x Zs (12)
One of the ways that reflected impedance can be used is for impedance
matching. In any circuit the power delivered to the load is maximised if the
impedance of the load is equal to the impedance of the source. For example,
Figure 4 shows a voltage source which delivers a voltage but has its own internal
resistance r of 200 . This could be an amplifier connected to a speaker, for
example. The load resistor that it is delivering power to has a resistance of 8 ,
which means that if you connected the load directly to the source, it would
receive 1.85 W of power, as I shall show.
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
138
Figure 4 Impedance matching circuit
To match the impedance we want to choose a turns ratio such that Zp = 200.
We start with the equation for the reflected impedance:
Zp = (Np/Ns)
2
x Zs (13)
Since it the turns ratio we require we can rearrange the equation:
(Np/Ns)
2
= Zp/Zs = 200/8 = 25
Np/Ns = 5
So a turns ratio of 5:1 would give the required value for the reflected impedance.
With this value, the power delivered to the primary coil would be:
Vp = Vr/(r+Zp) = 100x200/(200+200)= 20000/400 = 50 V
So half the supply voltage gets to the primary coil. The power at the primary coil
would be:
Pp = Vp
2
/R = 50
2
/200 = 2500/200 = 12.5 watts.
Assuming 100% efficiency for the transformer, the power reaching the load would
be 12.5 watts a big improvement on 1.85 watts.
Alternatively we could show that the secondary voltage is:
Vp/Vs = Np/Ns = 5
Vs = Vp/5 = 10 V
Is/Ip = Np/Ns = 5
Is = 5Ip
Ip = V/(r + Zp ) = 100/(200+200) = 100/400 = 0.25 Amps
So Is = 5 x 0.25 = 1.25 Amps.
Power across RL = Vs x Is = 10 x 1.25 = 12.5 watts.
Problem 4
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
139
A power transformer with a 1:8 turns ratio has 50Hz 120 V across the primary.
(a) What is the frequency of the secondary voltage? (b) How much is the
secondary voltage? (c) With a load resistance of 10,000 across the secondary,
how much is the secondary current? (d) How much is the primary current?
Assume 100% efficiency. (Note: The ratio of N
p
to N
s
is 1:8.)
Solution
This problem involves a power transformer and gives us a feel for the current and
voltage relationships in the primary and secondary of transformers.
Problem 4a
This part of the problem is trivial. The alternating voltage across the primary
produces a current in the primary windings of the transformer of the same
frequency. Since the alternating current in the primary of the transformer
produces an alternating flux (which alternates at the same rate as the primarys
current), the voltage induced in the secondary winding (by the coupled
alternating flux) must also alternate at the same rate. So, the frequency of the
secondary voltage is the same as the primary voltage, that is, 50 Hz.
Problem 4b
The ratio between the primary and secondary voltages is equal to the turns ratio
(assuming that the transformer is 100 % efficient. We are asked for the value of
the secondary voltage. We are told that the turns ratio is 1:8. Therefore the
voltage ratio must be 1:8. That is:
VP/VS = 1/8
Rearranging and substituting in the values gives:
VS = VP/1/8 = VP 8 = 120 8 = 960 volts
Problem 4c
A load resistance of 10,000 is connected across the secondary winding of the
transformer. Since we have just calculated the secondary voltage, the secondary
current is given by Ohms law:
IS = VS/R = 960/10,000 = 96 mA
Problem 4d
The primary current may be found by using the inverse relationship between the
primary and secondary current and the turns ratio:
IS/IP = turns ratio = 1/8
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
140
Alternatively, it may be found by calculating the power dissipated in the
secondary and the knowledge that if the transformer is 100 percent efficient that
the same power will be dissipated in the primary. We will do it the second way.
Power in primary = PP = IPVP
Power in Secondary = PS = ISVS
That is:
IPVP = ISVS
Rearranging and substituting in our values gives the primary current
IP = ISVS/VS = 96 960/120 = 768 mA
Problem 5
(a) A transformer delivers 400 W out with 500 W in. Calculate the efficiency in
percent.
(b) A transformer with an 80 percent efficiency delivers 400 W total secondary
power. Calculate the primary power.
Solution
Real transformers are not 100% efficient.
Problem 5a
Efficiency, generally, relates how much power we can get out of a device
compared to how much power we put in. In the case of this transformer example
we are told that if we put 500 watts in to it we can only get 400 watts out of it,
therefore its efficiency is:
power in/power out 100% = 400/500 100% = 80%
Problem 5b
We know from part (a) that an 80% efficient transformer that delivers 400 watts
takes 500 watts, but lets do it the hard way using the equation for efficiency.
Efficiency = power in/power out 100%
We rearrange the equation to leave power out (the secondary power) on the
righthand side of the equation and substitute our values in:
power out = 100 power in/Efficiency = 100 400/80 = 500 W
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
141
Problem 6
An amplifier can be modelled as an AC voltage source of V
G
= 100 V, and an
internal resistance r
i
of 500 . If the secondary load resistance is R
L
= 4 what
turns ratio N
p
/N
s
will provide the maximum transfer of power from the amplifier to
R
L
?
Solution
This is a problem in the use of impedance matching. As stated in Grob the
maximum power transfer between a voltage generator and a resistive load
occurs when the source resistance is equal to the load resistance.
We are given a voltage generator with a 500 resistance and a 4 load. We
can solve the matching problem by either, making the load look like 500  to the
generator or making the generator look like 4 to the load. We will do it the first
way, but you are encouraged to try the second way and convince yourself that
you arrive at the same result.
So we want the load to look like 500 , by Ohms law this means that we want
the relationship between the primary voltage and the primary current in the
matching transformer.
VP/IP = RP = 500
We know that the turns ratio:
NP/NS = VP/VS
So rearranging for VP gives:
VP = NP VS /NS
For current the turns ratio:
NP/NS = IS/IP
and rearranging for IP gives:
IP = NS IS/NP
Now if we substitute these expressions for VP and IP we get:
VP/IP = (N
P
/N
S
)V
S
/(N
S
/N
P
)I
S
= (NP/NS)
2
VS/IS = RP = 500
The secondary voltages and currents are also given by Ohms law:
VS/IS = RS = 4
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
142
Therefore:
500 = (NP/NS)
2
4
The turns ratio is:
NP/NS = 500/4 = 125 = 11.18 : 1
6 Stored energy and practical problems
The energy that is stored in a coil is stored in the magnetic field. The amount
can be calculated using the following equation:
Energy = LI
2
(14)
For example, a 10 H inductor with a 3 A current stores x 10 x 3
2
= 45 Joules.
Now attempt Problem 7.
Problem 7
Calculate the energy in joules stored in the magnetic field of a 60 mH inductor
with a current of 90 mA.
Solution
Remember the equation for the energy stored in a inductor is:
E = LI
2
The solution to this problem is a simple matter of substitution of the given values
into the equation.
E = LI
2
= 60 10
3
90 10
3
= 2.7 mJ
A word of caution. The energy in an inductor is released by removal of the
current through it as (by Lenzs law) a back emf (voltage) is produced to oppose
the change in current. So if an inductor is connected across a small battery and
then disconnected, the change in current with respect to time, dI/dt, is very large
and the voltage produced as the energy is released will be very high. Motor
vehicle ignition systems and switched mode power supplies work on this
principle; generating tens of thousands of volts from low voltage batteries.
7 Further reading
For further reading you may want to look at Fundamentals of Electrical
Engineering and Electronics. The relevant sections are DC and the subsection
called Inductors, where all parts could be read.
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
143
8 Where next?
You are advised to study the learning package Inductors and Reactance next.
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
144
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
Learning Package 9
Inductance and Reactance
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
145
Inductance
1 Do you know all this already?
If in doubt, please attempt the self assessment questions in this Learning
Package. If you can answer all of the questions correctly you may omit this
section. If not, please read on. If you can answer all of the questions correctly
you may omit this section. If not, please read on.
2 Introduction
Inductors, like capacitors, have reactance and produce phase shifts between
current and voltage in AC circuits. We also use phasor diagrams to add currents
and voltages in RL circuits. However, in many senses inductors can be
considered as opposites to capacitors  their phase shift is opposite to that of a
capacitor and their reactance increases with frequency rather than decreases.
You will see that the voltage and current properties for capacitors swap places
in inductors. We can therefore use what we have learnt about capacitors to assist
in our understanding of inductors and find a quick route through inductors and
inductive properties.
3 Inductive reactance
Just as with capacitors, all inductors have reactance, X
L
, in an AC circuits. The
reactance is measured in ohms, and is frequency dependent. The equation for
reactance is:
X
L
= 2fL (1)
For example, an inductor with an inductance of 2.65 H at a frequency of 60 Hz
has a reactance of:
X
L
= 2fL = 2 x 3.142 x 60 x 2.65 = 1000 ohms
Similarly, if we know the value of the reactance in ohms and the frequency we
can find the inductance.
L = X
L
/2fL (2)
Reactance is dealt with in the same way as resistance when it comes to series
and parallel circuits. In series reactances are added, whereas in parallel it the
reciprocal of reactance gets added.
Series: X
L
= X
L1
+ X
L2
+ X
L3
etc (3)
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
146
Parallel: 1/X
L
= 1/X
L1
+ 1/X
L2
+ 1/X
L3
etc (4)
Finally, one of the main differences between reactance and resistance is that the
voltage and current are not in phase. In the case of inductive reactance the
voltage leads the current, as shown in Figure 1.
300
200
100
0
100
200
300
0 0.02 0.04 0.06 0.08
time/s
v
o
l
t
a
g
e
/
V
c
u
r
r
e
n
t
/
I
Figure 1 Voltage and current in a capacitor (voltage is dashed)
This means that in a purely inductive reactance the voltage and current are both
sine waves, but the current lags behind the voltage by 90 degrees or /2 radians.
They can be written as:
v = Vsin(2ft) (5)
i = Isin(2ft  /2) (6)
In these equations v and i are the instantaneous values of voltage and current,
and V and I are the amplitudes.
This is the correct form of these equations as the term 2ft is a measure of the
angular frequency times time, so it is saying that with a frequency of f, 2 radians
are swept out every 1/f seconds. When we talk about relative phase, we usually
use degrees. We know that 2 radians are equivalent to 360 degrees, and that
90 degrees would be /2 radians. So when the phase is 90 degrees, we should
show it as /2 radians, so that both terms in the sin function are in radians.
However, it is very common to find the phase in degrees, and the equations look
like:
v = Vsin(2ft) (7)
i = Isin(2ft 90) (8)
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Now attempt Problems 1, 2 and 3.
Problem 1
Calculate the XL of a 0.5 H inductance at 100, 200 and 1000 Hz.
Solution
This problem involves the substitution of the inductor and frequency values into
the equation for inductive reactance:
XL = 2fL
The problem asks for the reactance of a 0.5 H inductor at three different
frequencies.
When f = 100 Hz
XL = 2 100 0.5 = 100 = 314
When f = 200 Hz
XL = 2 200 0.5 = 200 = 628
When f = 100 Hz
XL = 2 100 0.5 = 1000 = 3140 = 3.14 k
In Problems 2 and 3 we consider inductors in parallel and series. These
problems are very similar to their capacitive equivalents, but we will attempt them
to ensure that we understand that similar rules apply to inductors as they do to
resistors and capacitors.
Problem 2
A 1000 X
L1
and a 4000 X
L2
are in series across 10 V 60 Hz source. Draw the
schematic diagram and calculate the following: (a) total X
L
; (b) current in X
L1
and
X
L2
; (c) voltage across X
L1
and across X
L2
; (d) L
1
and L
2
.
Solution
Problem 2a
The circuit diagram is shown in Figure 2.
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Figure 2 The circuit diagram for Problem 2
The total reactance is:
XT = XL1 + XL2
Substituting the given values:
XT = 1000 + 4000 = 5000
Problem 2b
The current through XL1 and XL2 is the same since they are in series. By Ohms
law the current is:
I = VT/XT = 10/5000 = 2 mA
Problem 2c
The current through the two inductors produces a voltage drop across the
inductors. The voltage across XL1 is:
V1 = IXL1 = 2 10
3
1000 = 2 V
The voltage across XL2 is:
V2 = IXL2 = 2 10
3
4000 = 8 V
Problem 2d
The inductance is found by rearranging
XL = 2fL
to give:
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L = XL/2f
and substituting our values into it.
For L1:
L1 = 1000/(2 60) = 2.65H
For L2:
L1 = 4000/(2 60) = 10.61H
Problem 3
The same 1000 X
L1
and 4000 X
L2
are in parallel across the 10 V 60 Hz
source. Draw the schematic diagram and calculate the following: (a) branch
currents in X
L1
and X
L2
; (b) total current in the generator; (c) voltage across X
L1
and X
L2
; (d) inductance of L
1
and L
2
.
Solution
Figure 3 The circuit diagram for Problem 3
The circuit diagram is shown in Figure 3. The supply voltage of 10 V appears
across both inductors since it is a parallel circuit. The branch currents are given
by Ohms law:
IL1 = V/XL1 = 10/1000 = 10mA
And:
IL2 = V/XL2 = 10/4000 = 2.5mA
The total current in the generator is the sum of these currents:
IT = I1 + I2 = 10 + 2.5 = 12.5 mA
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The voltage across both inductors is the same and is equal to the supply voltage
of 10V. The inductance of L1 and L2 as calculated in Problem 2 is 2.65 H and
10.61 H respectively.
4 Inductive circuits
You have seen most of these concepts before in the RC circuit module.
We will now have a look at circuits containing a resistor and an inductor in either
series or in parallel. Figure 4 shows both cases, and the associated phasor
triangle.
In Figure 4a), a resistor is in series with an inductor. We know from earlier
discussions that in a series circuit the current is the same through each
component, so the current flowing through the inductor must be the same as the
current flowing through the resistor, I. We also know that the current through the
inductor lags the voltage across the inductor by 90 degrees.
Figure 4 a) series circuit; b) parallel circuit
If the reactance of the inductor is X
L
, then by Ohms law the voltage across the
inductor is V
L
= I X
L
. Similarly, the voltage across the resistor is Vr = IR. We can
represent these two voltages using a phasor triangle, where the horizontal arrow
shows the voltage across the resistor which is in phase with the current through
the resistor. The vertical arrow shows the voltage across the inductor which is 90
degrees ahead of the current through the inductor.
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In this phasor triangle, the resistive voltage is at 0 degrees, and the inductive
voltage is at +90 degrees. We can either say that the current lags the voltage in
an inductor by 90 degrees, or that the voltage leads the current by 90 degrees. It
amounts to the same thing.
Now we know that the supply voltage should equal the sum of the resistive
voltage and the inductive voltage. But because they are out of phase, when
represented in a phasor diagram they point in different directions. We therefore
have to use Pythagorass theorem to find the sum. This is shown as the
hypotenuse of the triangle. The sum is therefore:
2 2
2 2
2 2 2 2
2 2 2
2 2
( ) ( )
( )
r L
L
L
L
L
E V V
E IR IX
E I R I X
E I R X
E I R X
E IZ
= +
= +
= +
= +
= +
=
In the last line, the term Z is the total impedance of the circuit. Impedance is the
combination of resistance and reactance, and is also measured in ohms. You
can see that to find the value of Z you have to take the square root of the
resistance squared plus the reactance squared.
The other value that we can calculate is the relative phase, , between the
voltage and the current. In Figure 4a) this is shown as the angle between the
supply voltage, E, and the resistive voltage Vr. This is because Vr is in phase
with the current, therefore the angle between these two voltages is the same as
the angle between the voltage and the current.
From trigonometry we can see that:
L L
IX X
Tan
IR R
= = (9)
So the phase is the ratio of the reactance and the resistance. Since the inductive
reactance is pointing upwards, it is positive. You have to bear this in mind when
calculating the phase.
Using the values in the circuit of Figure 4, the reactance is:
X
L
= 2fL = 2x 3.142 x 40 x 100 x 10
3
= 25.13 25 .
This means that the total impedance is:
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2 2 2 2
100 25
10000 625 1625 40.3
L
Z R X
Z
= + = +
= + = =
The phase is:
25
0.25
100
14
L
o
X
Tan
R
= = =
=
Now for parallel circuits. As we know from previous Learning Packages the
voltage across each parallel branch is the same. So in the parallel circuit of
Figure 4b) the voltage across the resistor and the inductor is equal to E. The
current in the resistive branch is therefore Ir = E/R and is in phase with the
voltage. The current in the inductive branch is I
L
= E/X
L
and is 90 degrees behind
the voltage. If the resistive current is drawn horizontally, then the capacitive
current lags by 90 degrees, as in the phasor triangle of Figure 4b).
The total current must equal the sum of the two individual branch currents. As
they are phasor values with direction as well as size, we use the triangle again
and Pythagorass theorem. This gives the total current as:
1 1
1 1 1
r L
L
L
L
E E
I I I
R X
I E
R X
I
E R X Z
= + = +
 
= +

\
 
= + =

\
So this is the same as any parallel circuit, where the reciprocal of the total
impedance equals the sum of the reciprocal of the resistance and the reciprocal
of the reactance.
Similarly, from the phasor triangle of Figure 4b) it can be seen that:
L
r L
L L
I E E
Tan
I X R
E R R
Tan
X E X
= =
= =
(10)
Using the values in Figure 4, we can find the impedance and relative phase.
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1 1 1 1 1 125
100 25 2500
2500
20
125
L
Z R X
Z
= + = + =
= =
100
4
25
76
L
o
R
Tan
X
= = =
=
You should now have a good idea about the phase relationship between the
current and voltage in a capacitive circuit and be able to construct a phasor
triangle (often called a phasor diagram).
As far as phase angle and phasor diagrams are concerned, remember that the
current and voltage relationships are swapped around so that a sine wave
current in an inductor lags the voltage by 90
o
, while a sine wave voltage in an
inductor lags the current by 90
o
. The simple mnemonic civil may help you
remember this:
Figure 5 CIVIL
One new idea that I want to introduce in this Learning Package is the concept of
Q or quality of an inductor. We only have Q for inductors because it is difficult
to make a good inductor, that is, without some significant resistance. We do not
have an equivalent problem with capacitors. The Q of a coil is defined as:
Q = X
L
/r
i
= 2fL/r
i
(11)
In this equation L is the inductance of the coil and r
i
is the resistance of the coil.
For example, a coil with a reactance of 500 ohm has an internal resistance of 5
ohms. Its quality is then:
Q = 500/5 = 100
Now attempt the Problems 4, 5 and 6.
Problem 4
Draw the schematic diagram of a circuit with X
L
and R in series across a 100 V
source. Calculate Z
T
, I, IR, IX
L
, and for these values: (a) 100 R, 1 X
L
; (v) 1
R, 100 X
L
; (c) 50 R, 50 X
L
.
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Solution
Whenever there is a need to examine different phase angles, it is worthwhile
drawing a phasor diagram. It will help you to deal with the concept of vector
addition (adding of phasors of different angles) more easily. The phasor diagram
for inductors is very similar to the phasor diagram for capacitors, except that the
voltage leads the current for inductors. The phasor diagram is shown in Figure 7.
The circuit diagram is shown in Figure 6.
Problem 4a
The problem is to find ZT. From the phasor diagram:
(IZT )
2
= (IR)
2
+ (IXL)
2
Figure 6 The circuit diagram for Problem 4
We can cancel the current term I to leave:
ZT
2
= R
2
+ XL
2
Substituting our values of R = 100 and XL = 1 gives:
ZT
2
= R
2
+ XL
2
= 100
2
+ 1
2
= 10001
Taking the square roots:
ZT = 10001 = 100.004
Note that this is very close to 100 . The current is given by:
I = V/ZT = 100/100.004 1 A
IR = 1 100 = 100 volts
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IXL = 1 1 = 1 volt
Figure 7 The phasor diagram for Problem 4
The phase angle is given by:
tan
1
= IXL/IR = 1/100, = 0.057
o
0
o
This low value of phase angle tells us that the impedance ZT is nearly purely
resistive.
Problem 4b
The problem is to find ZT. From the same phasor diagram
(IZT )
2
= (IR)
2
+ (IXL)
2
We can cancel the current term I to leave
ZT
2
= R
2
+ XL
2
Substituting our values of R = 1 and XL = 100 gives:
ZT
2
= R
2
+ XL
2
= 1
2
+ 100
2
= 10001
Taking the square roots:
ZT = 10001 = 100.004
Note that this is very close to 100 . The current is given by:
I = V/ZT = 100/100.004 1 A
IXL = 1 100 = 100 volt
IR = 1 1 = 1 volts
The phase angle is given by
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156
tan
1
= IXL/IR = 100/1, = 89.4
o
90
o
This high value of phase angle tells us that the impedance ZT is nearly purely
inductive.
Problem 4c
The problem is to find ZT. From the same phasor diagram:
(IZT )
2
= (IR)
2
+ (IXL)
2
We can cancel the current term I to leave:
ZT
2
= R
2
+ XL
2
Substituting our values of R = 50 and XL = 50 in gives:
ZT
2
= R
2
+ XL
2
= 50
2
+ 50
2
= 5000
Taking the square roots:
ZT = 5000 = 70.7
The current is given by:
I = V/ZT = 100/70.7 = 1.414 A
IR = 1.414 35.36 = 1 volts
IXL = 1.414 50 = 35.36 volts
The phase angle is given by
tan
1
= IXL/IR = 50/50, = 90
o
Problem 5
A 200 R is in series with L across a 141 V 60 Hz generator V
T
. The V
R
is 100V.
Find L. (Hint: V
L
2
= V
T
2
V
R
2
.)
Solution
Again, I would suggest that the first step in solving this problem is to draw a
circuit diagram and phasor diagram. Then we can see the relationships between
the voltages and currents in the circuit. They are shown in Figure 1
To find L we must first find XL, the phasor diagram is helpful here. We know that
the VR phasor and the VL phasor must add up (by vector addition) to the total
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
157
voltage or supply voltage phasor VT. If we find VL, we can find the current I from
the voltage in the resistor, then we can find XL by Ohms law.
Examination of the phasor diagram shows that VT is the vector addition of VL and
VR. That is
VT
2
= VL
2
+ VR
2
Figure 8 The circuit and phasor diagrams for Problem 5
Rearranging for VL and taking square roots gives:
2 2
R T L
V V V =
Substituting in our values gives:
VL = 1002  1412 = 10000  19881 = 9881 = 99.4 volts
The same current, I, flows in all part of the series circuit. The current in the
inductor is then equal to the current flowing in the resistor.
I = VR/R
Substituting our values in gives
I = 100/200 = 0.5
By Ohms law XL = V
l
/I so we substitute in our values for I and VL to give:
XL = 99.4/0.5 = 199
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158
Now XL = 2fL. Rearranging for L and substituting in our values gives:
L = XL/2f = 199/(2 3.14 60) = 199/376.8 = 0.528 H
Problem 6
A 350 H L has a Q of 35 at 1.5 MHz. calculate the internal resistance R
i
of the
coil.
Solution
This problem introduces Q, the quality of the coil (or inductor). The more
resistance the coil has, the less it behaves as a pure inductor, and the lower its Q
will be.
Q = XL/Ri
Note that since XL is dependant on frequency (for any given L) that Q must also
be dependant on frequency. In other words we cannot determine or state a value
of Q without knowing or stating the frequency. We are given a value for the
frequency in this problem. Rearranging the equation for Ri:
Ri = XL/Q
XL = 2fL, so we can substitute this expression for XL in the equation for Ri and
then enter our values to gives:
Ri = 2fL/Q = 2 3.14 1.5 10
6
350 10
6
/35 = 30 3.14 = 94.2
7 Further reading
For further reading you may want to look at Fundamentals of Electrical
Engineering and Electronics. The relevant sections are AC, subsection
Reactance and impedance inductive there is relevant information. Have a
look at all the parts, but be warned. This book uses both complex notation (or j
notation) and polar notation rather than using a phasor diagram.
8 Where next?
You are advised to study the learning package Time constants and LCR circuits
next.
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159
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
Learning Package 10
Time constants and LCR circuits
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
160
Time constants and LCR circuits
1 Do you know all this already?
If in doubt, please attempt the self assessment questions in this Learning
Package. If you can answer all of the questions correctly you may omit this
section. If not, please read on. If you can answer all of the questions correctly
you may omit this section. If not, please read on.
2 Introduction
The first section of this Learning Package takes a closer look at the time
dependant behaviour of capacitors and inductors, in particular the time taken for
the voltage to rise and fall in a capacitor (current in an inductor) and the shape of
the rise and fall curves.
The second section introduces the combinations of inductors, capacitors, and
resistors together in series and parallel AC circuits. Two very significant points
are made here:
Capacitive and inductive reactance cancel out.
The real power consumed in any reactive circuit differs from the apparent
power, which is the current drawn from the power source multiplied by the
voltage of the power source.
3 Study Guide
3.1 Time constants
So far weve considered circuits to be either DC with a fixed voltage supply like a
battery, or AC with a sinusoidal voltage supply as you get from a generator. What
we havent discussed are the effects that are seen when a voltage is switched in
and out of a circuit. When this happens we get what are known as transient
effects.
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161
Figure 1 Transient response when the switch is closed
For example, in the circuit shown in Figure 1, when the switch is open, no current
flows, so there is no voltage across the coil. When the switch closes, suddenly
there is a voltage across the resistor and the coil. The current starts to increase
as the coil sets up a magnetic field. Initially the coil produces a back emf which
is a voltage that opposes the voltage that is producing the magnetic field, and
hence the current is small. As the field collapses, the back emf falls and the
current increases until it reaches a steady value. In this final steady state, all of
the voltage is dropped across the resistor and the coil is effectively a short circuit.
The graph in Figure 1 shows the value of the current. At this point I only want you
to look at the shape of the curve and not worry too much about the values. The
important points are that it rises sharply at the beginning, and flattens off towards
the end. In this example I have given it a steady state value of the current, I, as 1
amp. Also, it reaches a value of 0.63 amps after 0.5 seconds.
In general, this sort of curve reaches a value that is 63% of the final value after
one time constant. For a circuit with a resistor and an inductor, the time constant,
T, is equal to:
T = L/R (1)
Generally, it is assumed that the current reaches its steady state value after 5
time constants.
In the diagram of Figure 1, if the battery is 10V, the resistance is 10 ohms and
the inductance is 5 H, the time constant is:
T = L/R = 5/10 = 0.5 seconds.
The steady state current is V/R = 10/10 = 1 amp.
For the same circuit as in Figure 1, Figure 2 shows the current when the switch is
opened. It is assumed that the circuit is in the steady state before the switch is
opened.
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0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
1
1.2
0 1 2 3 4
Figure 2 Current as switch opens
Initially the current is at 1 amp. When the switch opens the current drops to zero.
In this instance the current drops by 63% in one time constant. So, starting at 1
amp, after one time constant the current has dropped to 1 0.63 = 0.37 amps.
Figure 3 shows a capacitive circuit, or an RC circuit, with a switch. This time the
voltage is shown as the switch is closed.
Figure 3 RC circuit
This time the voltage across the capacitor increases to a steady state value over
a period of time. In the steady state the voltage across the capacitor equals the
battery voltage and no current flows. Again, the voltage rises to 63% of its steady
state value in one time constant. However, the time constant this time is:
T = CR (2)
As before, when the switch is opened again, the voltage will fall just as in Figure
2.
Please attempt Problems 1, 2 and 3.
Problem 1
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163
Calculate the time constants of the following inductive circuits: (a) L is 20 H and
R is 400 ; (b) L is 20 H and R is 400 ; (c) L is 50 mH and R is 50 ; (d) L is
40 H and R is 2 .
Solution
Here is a set of simple time constant calculations for inductor, to check that you
can use remember the formula and to give you some idea of what sorts of values
of L and R components, give you certain time constants. The equation to use is:
T = L/R
Using this equation the time constants are:
Problem 1a
L = 20 H, R = 400
T = L/R = 20/400 = 0.05 s
Problem 1b
L = 20 H, R = 400
T = L/R = 20 10
6
/400 = 0.05 s
Problem 1c
L = 50 mH, R = 50
t =L/R = 50 10
3
/50 = 1 ms
Problem 1d
L = 40 H, R = 2
T = L/R = 40 10
6
/2 = 20 s
Problem 2
Calculate the time constants of the following capacitive circuits: (a) C is 0.001 F
and R is 1 M; (b) C is 1 F and R is 1000 ; (c) C is 0.05 F and R is 250 k;
(d) C is 100 pF and R is 10 k.
Solution
This problem is similar to Problem 1, but for capacitors. The equation to use is
T = CR
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164
Using this equation the time constants are calculated as follows.
Problem 2a
C = 0.001 F, R = 1 M
The M and the cancel out when multiplied together therefore:
T = CR = 0.001 1 = 0.001 s
Problem 2b
C = 1 F, R = 1000
T = CR = 1 10
6
1000 = 0.001 s
Problem 2c
C = 0.05 F, R = 250 k
T = CR = 0.05 10
6
250 10
3
= 0.0125 s
Problem 2d
C = 100 pF, R = 10 k
T = CR = 100 10
12
10 103 = 1 s
Problem 3
A 100 V source is in series with a 2 M R and a 2 F C. (a) How much time is
required for v
c
to be 63 V? (b) How much is v
c
after 20 s?
Solution
This problem allows us to determine charging times and voltages without the use
of extensive calculation.
Problem 3a
63 V is 63% of 100 V and we have learnt that an RC circuit charges to 63% of
the supply voltage in the time of one time constant. So we calculate the time
constant (C = 2 F, R = 2 M ) and this is our answer.
T = CR = 2 2 = 4 s
(The M and the cancel out when multiplied together.)
Problem 3b
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165
The rule of thumb for RC and L/R time constants is that they reach their final
voltage (or current for inductors) after 5 times their time constants time. 20 s is 5
times the time constant of 4 s and so the voltage after 20 s is the final voltage
(supply voltage), that is 100 V.
3.2 Calculation of charging voltages, effect on square waves
If we want to know the value of the rising or falling voltages or currents in circuits
then we have to use the equation that defines the way that they change. For a
rising value (current in L/R circuits, voltage in CR circuits) the equation is:
v = V
s
(1e
t/CR
) or (3a)
i = I
s
(1e
t/L/R
) (3b)
In these equations V
s
and I
s
are the steady state values, and v and I are the
instantaneous values. The e term is the exponential, which has a value of
2.718. On a calculator it may appear as e or else you use the inverse of the
natural logarithm which is usually shown as ln. The natural logarithm is the
logarithm to the base of e.
Figure 4 Calculator showing the value if e
In Figure 4 I put in the value 1, then selected inverse and clicked on ln. The
display shows the value of e
1
= 2.718.
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For example, if the value of the inductor is L = 5 H and the resistor is 10 ohms,
and the steady state voltage is 10 volts, then:
T = L/R = 0.5 seconds
i = I
s
(1e
t/L/R
) = 10/10 (1  e
t/0.5
) = 1  e
t/0.5
After 0.1 seconds, the current would be:
i = I
s
(1e
t/L/R
) = 1  e
t/0.5
= 1 e
0.1/0.5
= 1 e
0.2
= 1 0.82 = 0.18 amps
Similarly, the equations for the change when the switch is open, so the value
decreases to zero, is:
v = V
s
(e
t/CR
) or (4a)
i = I
s
(e
t/L/R
) (4b)
For example, if the voltage in a RC circuit is 10 V, the resistance is 5 k and the
capacitance is 100 F, what is the value of the voltage after 0.1 seconds when
the switch is opened?
T = CR = 5 x 1000 x 100 x 10
6
= 0.5 s
v = V
s
(e
t/CR
) = 10(e
t/0.5
) = 10(e
0.1/0.5
) = 10(e
0.2
) = 10 x 0.82 = 8.2 V
Figure 5 Square wave input to an RC circuit
Figure 5 shows a square wave as an input to an RC circuit. You can imagine this
as a switch being quickly and repeatedly opened and then closed. In this
V
i
R = 10 k
C = 0.01 F
+10 V
25 ms
0 V
30 ms
V
i
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167
instance the switch is closed for 25 ms so that a voltage of 10 V is applied, and
then opened for 5 ms so that the voltage drops to zero again.
With the values given, the time constant is T = 10 x 10
3
x 0.01 x 10
6
= 0.1 ms, so
the time constant is short or small compared to the times of the waveform. This
means that the output voltage will rise to 10 V in around 0.5 ms and later will fall
in around 0.5 ms. The output voltage therefore looks like the lower waveform in
Figure 5. Even in this waveform Ive exaggerated the time it takes for the voltage
to rise and fall so that you can see these effects.
Now attempt Problems 4, 5 and 6.
Problem 4
An RC circuit consists of a 0.01 F capacitor in series with 10 k resistor. The
circuit is supplied with a 15 V battery and a switch. What will the value of the
voltage across the capacitor be 150 s after the switch has been closed,
assuming that the capacitor is completely discharged before at the start
Solution
The time constant T is:
T = CR = 10 x 10
3
x 0.01 x 10
6
= 10
4
s or 0.1 ms or 100 s.
After 150 s, the voltage will be:
v = V
s
(1e
t/CR
) = 15 x (1  e
150/100
) = 15 x (1  e
1.5
) = 15 x 0.223 = 3.345 V
Problem 5
A 0.05 F C is charged to 264 V through a 40 k resistor. How much is the time
for v
c
to charge to 132 V?
Solution
In this problem we are asked for voltages after charge times which are not either
equal to the time constant or five times the time constant, so we need to use the
charge and discharge equations (or the time constant graph) to arrive at our
answer. The equation for the voltage after t seconds of charge is:
v
C
= V (1  e
t/RC
)
Where V is the maximum voltage to which the capacitor is charged, which in this
case is 264 V , e is the base of natural logarithms and is equal to 2.718.
Substitute the values we are into the equation:
132 = 264(1  e
t/40 10
3
0.05 10
6
)
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Divide both sides of the equation by 264 and then subtract 1 from both sides:
0.5 = e
t/40 10
3
0.05 10
6
Multiply both sides by 1:
0.5 = e
t/40 10
3
0.05 10
6
If we take natural logarithms (ln on our calculator) of both sides of the above
equation, noting that since e is the base of natural logarithms ln(e
x
) = x, we have:
ln(0.5) = t/(40 10
3
0.05 10
6
)
ln(0.5) =  0.693. Therefore:
0.693 = t/(40 10
3
0.05 10
6
)
Rearranging:
t = 0.693 40 10
3
0.05 10
6
= 0.001386 s = 1.386 ms
Problem 6
In Figure 6, draw the waveform you would expect to measure across the 0.01 F
capacitor. Indicate the capacitor voltage V
c
at the beginning and end of each 25
ms pulse interval. Draw the V
c
waveform in the proper time relationship with
respect to V
in
. (C is initially uncharged.)
Figure 6 Circuit for Problem 6
Solution
Before we can progress we need to calculate the time constant. The values of R
and C 10 k and 0.1 F, and so the time constant T = RC is 1 ms. This means
V
i
R = 10 k
C = 0.1 F
+10 V
25 ms
0 V
35 ms
V
i
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
169
that the voltage will rise to 10 V in 5 ms, which is shorter than the 25 ms of the
wide part of the square wave, and then fall in 5 ms which exactly equals the short
part of the square wave. The resulting waveform is shown below.
Figure 7 Resulting waveform across the capacitor in Figure 6
3.3 LCR circuits
Weve already seen AC circuits with resistances and capacitors (RC circuits) and
AC circuits with inductors and resistors (LR circuits). In this section we will look at
circuits with all three components in the so called LCR circuits.
When an inductor and a capacitor are in series, the same current flows through
them, but the voltage across the inductor leads the current by 90 degrees,
whereas the voltage across the capacitor lags the current by 90 degrees. The
consequence of this is that the voltage across the inductor is 180 degrees ahead
of the voltage across the capacitor, and 180 degrees is equivalent to a change in
sign. Thus the total voltage across the inductor and the capacitor is:
V
tot
= V
L
 V
c
= IX
L
IX
c
= I(X
L
X
c
) = IX
eq
This means that the equivalent reactance to an inductor and a capacitor in series
is:
X
eq
= X
L
X
c
(5)
Similarly, the reactance of an inductor in parallel with a capacitor is:
X
eq
= X
L
. X
c
/( X
L
X
c
) (6)
So for pure reactance, the inductive and capacitive inductance are combined
using Equations 5 and 6. When resistance is introduced we have a combination
of resistance and reactance, which combine to give a total impedance. If we call
the reactance X, which may be inductive, capacitive or both, then a series
combination of resistance and reactance would result in an impedance, Z, where
the magnitude is:
2 2
Z R X = + (7)
And the phase is:
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
170
1
tan
z
X
R
= (8)
For example, a circuit which contains a resistance of 40 ohms, an inductor with a
reactance of 60 ohms and a capacitor with a reactance of 90 ohms would
produce a total reactance of 60 90 = 30 ohms. The impedance would be:
2 2 2 2
40 ( 30) 1600 900 2500 500 Z R X ohms = + = + = + = =
And the phase is:
1 1 1
30
tan tan tan ( 0.75) 37
40
z
X
R
= = = =
o
In all of these circuits, Ohms law still applies. So, for example, having found the
total impedance of a circuit, if we know the value of the voltage source, then we
can calculate the current using:
V = IZ (9)
If, in the example above, the voltage source had been 100 V AC, then the current
would be:
I = V/Z = 100/500 = 0.2 A
We know that the impedance is capacitive (because of the minus sign) which
means that the voltage lags behind the current by 37 degrees. This means that
the current leads the voltage by 37 degrees. So if we take the supply voltage as
the zero phase reference point, then the current leads this by 37 degrees. So the
phase of the current is:
= +37 degrees
Now attempt Problem 7.
Problem 7
For the circuit shown in Figure 8, calculate Z
T
, I,
Z
and .
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Figure 8 Circuit for Problem 7
Solution
The first part of the problem asked for the total impedance ZT. We need to break
the circuit into equivalent reactances and resistances. I would start this problem
by finding the equivalent reactance of the parallel combination of components in
the branches. That is the XC2 XC3 combination and the XL1 XL2 combination. I will
call the equivalent combination of XC2 XC3 Xcpar, and the equivalent combination of
XL1 XL2 Xlpar
Xcpar = 500 400/(500 + 400) = 200000/900 = 222.2
Xlpar = 300 200/(300 + 200) = 60000/500 = 120
Xlpar is an inductive reactance and will cancel out 120 of the capacitive
reactance in the same branch, that is, XC1. The total reactance in the left hand
branch (which we can call Xleft is 120  400 = 280 .
Similarly Xcpar is cancelled out by 100 of XL3 giving the total reactance of the
right hand branch Xright to be 100  222.2 = 122.2 .
Now we need to calculate the parallel impedance of the left and right hand side
branches together, luckily they are both capacitive and can be treated as two
capacitive reactances in parallel. I will call the equivalent reactance XCT, then:
XCT = 280 122.2/(280  122.2) = 34216/402.2 = 85.07
This equivalent capacitor is connected to the voltage source by two resistors in
series, so in order to find the total impedance ZT we need to add the values of
these resistances to give a total resistance RT.
RT = R1 + R2 = 47 + 68 = 115
R
1
=47 R
2
=68
X
c1
=400
X
c3
=400
X
c2
=500
X
L3
=100
X
L2
=200
X
L1
=300
V
T
=100V
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
172
Then find the total impedance from
2 2
CT T T
X R Z + = . So, substituting our values
into the equation we get:
= = + = + = 143 20462 07 . 85 115
2 2 2 2
CT T T
X R Z
The current I is now easily found by using Ohms law with the total impedance,
ZT.
I = Vs/ZT = 100/143 = 0.699 A
Using Ohms law as follows:
V = IZ
Just as we can think of Ohms law as saying that we have to multiply the value I
by the value Z to give the value of V , we can also think of Ohms law as saying
that we have twist the current I through the angle Z to give the angle of V. That
is Z is the angle of the voltage phasor V with respect to the current phasor, I.
Since the circuit phase angle is defined as being the reverse of this, that is, the
angle of the current phasor I with respect to the voltage phasor V, Z = .
Figure 9 Phasor diagram showing voltage with respect to current
We can now proceed to find Z by asking, What is the angle of the voltage
applied to impedance ZT with respect to the current in flowing into impedance ZT
?. The phasor diagram is shown in Figure 9. The current in the resistors is in the
same phase as the voltage drop IR across the resistors and this is the current
which flows into ZT since the equivalent circuit breaks down into a series circuit.
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
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The voltage across ZT is VT The angle Z is given by tan
1
IXCT/IRT. The Is cancel
and we get:
tan
1
XCT/RT = 85.07/115 = 36.5 degrees
Similarly we find the circuit phase by asking What is the angle of the current
flowing in impedance ZT with respect to the voltage applied to impedance ZT?.
This can be seen by rotating the phasor diagram as shown in Figure 10.
Figure 10 Rotated phasor diagram showing current with respect to the voltage.
As we move from the voltage phasor towards the current phasor (or the IR
phasor since the voltage in the resistance in phase with the current through it) we
move in an anticlockwise or positive direction. The angle can be found as above
to be:
tan
1
XCT/RT = 85.07/115 = 36.5 degrees
3.3.1 Real Power
In an AC circuit with reactance there is a relative phase angle between the
voltage and the current. This means that the product of VI does not represent the
real power in the circuit since V and I represent the RMS values of the voltage
and current which may at any one time be in a different part of the sine wave. In
fact the value of VI is termed the apparent power. The real power can be
calculated using the following equation as it only contains one variable, the
current:
P = I
2
R (10)
Alternatively, if we want to use voltage and current we have to take the phase
into account, and can write the real power as:
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
174
P = VICos (11)
The cosine term in the equation is often referred to as the power factor. The
real power is the apparent power multiplied by the power factor. In series circuits
the power factor is:
PF = Cos = R/Z (12)
In parallel circuits the power factor is:
PF = cos = I
R
/I
T
(13)
Where I
T
is the total current and I
R
is the current flowing through the resistive part
of the circuit.
Now try Problem 8.
Problem 8
In Figure 11, calculate I
L
, I
C
, I
R
, I
T
, Z
EQ
,
I
, real power, apparent power, and
power factor.
Figure 11
Solution
This is another problem involving phasors, but this time power factor is
introduced.
The individual branch currents are all simply given by Ohms law, since they are
all connected across the 12 volt source.
IL = VT/XL = 12/200 = 60 mA
IC = VT/XC = 12/100 = 120 mA
IR = VT/R = 12/150 = 80 mA
The total reactive current (current due to capacitors and inductors) is:
R=150
X
c
=100
X
L
=200
V
T
=12Vac
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
175
IC  IL = 120  60 = 60 mA
The capacitive and inductive currents are in opposite phase and therefore
subtract from one other. The capacitive current is greater therefore the resultant
reactive current is capacitive and will lead the applied voltage VT by 90
0
.
Figure 12 The phasor diagram
The resistive current is 80 mA which is in phase with the applied voltage VT. We
can draw a phasor diagram, see Figure 12. From the diagram:
mA I I I I
L C R T
100 10000 60 80 ) (
2 2 2 2
= = + = + =
The equivalent impedance of the circuit is given by Ohms law:
ZT = VT/IT = 12/(100 10
3
) = 120
The phase angle between the current in the resistor (or the applied voltage) and
the total current IT is given by:
I = tan
1
60/80 = tan
1
0.75 = 36.87
o
The angle is positive because we move anticlockwise as we move from the
resistive current phasor to the total current phasor.
The real power in the circuit is the power dissipated in the resistor:
P = I
2
R = (80 10
3
)
2
.150 = 0.96W
The apparent power VI
V I = VT IT = 12(100 10
3
) = 1.2 VAR
The power factor is:
Realpower/apparentpower = 0.96/1.2 = 0.8
We could have arrived at this figure by taking cos I (cos 36.87 = 0.8). This will
work for reactive circuits. However, there are other electronic circuits in which the
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
176
apparent power is not equal to the real power times the cosine of the phase,
because phase angle is meaningless. The power factor in these cases is still
realpower/apparentpower. Therefore, if you always think of power factor as
realpower/apparentpower you will not be caught out.
4 Further reading
For further reading you may want to look at Fundamentals of Electrical
Engineering and Electronics. The relevant sections are DC and the subsection
called RC and L/R time constants, where all parts could be read. Also, under
the section AC, subsection Reactance and impedance R, L and C there is
relevant information. Have a look at all the parts, but again be warned. This book
uses both complex notation (or j notation) and polar notation rather than using a
phasor diagram.
5 Where next?
You are advised to study the learning package entitled Resonance next.
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
177
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
Learning Package 11
Resonance
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
178
Resonance
1 Do you know all this already?
If in doubt, please attempt the self assessment questions in this Learning
Package. If you can answer all of the questions correctly you may omit this
section. If not, please read on.
2 Introduction
This section introduces electrical resonance and shows that when inductors and
capacitors have the same reactance value, resonance occurs in both series and
parallel circuits.
2.1 Series and parallel resonance
In a circuit with capacitors and inductors we have already seen that the
reactances are subtracted, as they are 180 degrees out of phase. Since both
capacitive and inductive reactance are functions of frequency, it is sometimes
possible to find a frequency at which the capacitive and inductive reactance have
the same value and therefore cancel out. This phenomenon is called resonance,
and a circuit resonates when the reactance is zero. Assuming there is some
resistance in the circuit, at resonance the total impedance would equal the total
resistance only.
A circuit in which there is a resistor, capacitor and inductor in series would have a
resistance R, and a reactance which is XL Xc. We know that the reactances
are:
2
1
2
L
c
X fL
X
fC
=
=
If these are equal and opposite in sign then:
0
1
2
2
L c
L
r
r
X X
X X
f L
f C
=
=
=
Rearranging this equation we can find the value of f.
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
179
2
2
1
4
1
2
r
r
f
LC
f
LC
=
=
(1)
This is the resonant frequency. The impedance at this frequency is just equal to
the resistance, so the current is a maximum value, and is in phase with the
supply voltage.
If we were measuring the voltage across the resistance, then at other
frequencies it would be some fraction of the supply voltage. At resonance, it
equals the supply voltage, so is the maximum possible value.
In an ideal parallel circuit, an inductance would be in parallel with a capacitor. At
resonance, the reactances are equal and opposite in sign. This means that the
total reactance is:
1 1 1 1 1 1 1
0
1
0
L c L L L L
X X X X X X X
X
= + = + = =
= =
At resonance, the total reactance is infinite, like an open circuit. So no current
flows, and the voltage just equals the supply.
In reality every inductor has a small internal resistance, so the impedance would
be some very large value.
Please now attempt Problems 1, 2 and 3.
Problem 1
Calculate f
r
for a series LC circuit with L = 5 H and C = 202.64 pF.
Solution
We are asked to calculate the resonant frequency f
r
of a series LC circuit when L
= 5 H and C = 202.64 pF. We use the equation:
LC
f
r
2
1
=
Simply substituting our values for L and C gives
12 6
10 64 . 202 10 5 2
1
=
r
f
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
180
15
10 0132 . 1 2
1
= 1/(2 3.18 10
8
)
= 5 MHz
Problem 2
Calculate fr for a parallel LC circuit with L = 25.8 H and C = 500 pF.
Solution
Here we have L = 25.48 H and C = 500 pF. This is a parallel circuit, but the
above equation still applies. We simply substitute in our values for L and C.
12 6
10 500 10 48 . 25 2
1
=
r
f
14
10 274 . 1 2
1
= 1/(2 1.129 10
7
)
= 1.41 MHz
Although we used Equation 1 directly to solve this problem, it is important to
remember that resonance only occurs when XC = XL. This is true of both series
and parallel circuits.
Problem 3
In Figure 1, calculate the following values at fr: XL, XC, ZT, I, V
I
, V
C
and
Z
.
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
181
Figure 1
Solution
This problem highlights the features of series resonance.
In order to calculate XL and XC at the resonant frequency we must find the
resonant frequency fr first.
LC
f
r
2
1
=
Substitute our values for L and C into it.
12 6
10 67 . 50 10 20 2
1
=
r
f
15
10 0134 . 1 2
1
= 1/(2 3.18 10
8
)
= 5 MHz
We find XL by using XL = 2fL and substitution of our values:
XL = 2 5 10
6
20 10
6
= 628
At resonance XC will have the same magnitude as X
L
, but with the opposite sign.
Lets prove that to ourselves. XC = 1/2fC:
XC = 1/(2 5 10
6
50.57 10
12
) = 628
At resonance the reactive components cancel out, and so ZT = rS = 12.56 .
Rs =12.56
C=50.67 pF
(40400 pF)
V
T
=1mV
L=20H
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
182
Notice the use of rS rather than RS to signify that this resistance is the AC
resistance. At high frequencies current flows only near to the surface of a
conductor (this is called the skin effect). This means that the whole conductor is
not used to carry the current and the AC resistance rS is higher than the dc
resistance R
S
where the whole conductor carries the current.
The current I = V
T
/R
T
= 1 10
3
/12.56 = 79.6 10
6
= 79.6 A
The voltage across the inductor is:
VL = IXL = 79.6 10
6
628 = 50 000V = 50 mV
The voltage across the capacitor will be equal and opposite. Let us prove it. The
voltage across the capacitor
VC = IXC = 79.6 10
6
628 = 50 000V = 50 mV
The impedance phase angle is the angle between the resistive component of the
impedance and the total impedance, that is Z = tan
1
X
T
/R. In a resonant circuit
the inductive and capacitive reactances have cancelled out. Therefore, XT = 0,
X
T
/R = 0 and Z = tan
1
0 = 0
2.2 Q of resonant circuits, tuning, damping and bandwidth
In a resonant circuit we define the quality or figure of merit of the circuit as the
Q magnification factor. It is a measure of the sharpness of the resonance i.e. if
we measure the voltage across a resistor at the resonance frequency f
r
, how
quickly does that voltage fall away as the frequency is increased or decreased. Q
is defined as follows:
Q = X
L
/r
s
(2)
Remember that at resonance, X
L
= X
c
, so that absolute value of either the
inductive or capacitive reactance can be used.
For example, if the inductive reactance at resonance is 1500 ohms, and the AC
resistance is 10 ohms, then the Q magnification factor is 1500/10 = 150.
Although we have defined resonance as a single frequency, fr, at which the
reactances of the capacitive and inductive parts of the circuit are equal, it is usual
to talk of a band of frequencies centred on the resonance frequency as producing
resonance. At frequencies close to the resonant frequency, the circuit still
produces a relatively high voltage response. We define the band of frequencies
as the bandwidth, and it is centred on the resonance frequency. We define the
edge frequency f1 as the frequency below the resonance frequency at which the
response is 70.7% of the maximum response, and an edge frequency f2 above
the resonance frequency at which the response is 70.7% of the maximum. This is
shown in Figure 2. This shows the current for a series resonance circuit with a
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
183
capacitor of 1 F, an inductor of 1 H, a resistance of 10 ohms, and a supply
voltage of 10 V.
I
0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
1
1.2
0 100 200 300 400
0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
1
1.2
154 156 158 160 162 164 166
Figure 2 (a) Resonance peak in current; (b) detail of the resonance peak
The symbol we use to denote the bandwidth is f = f2 f1. The triangle is the
Greek character capital delta and usually means the difference between. In this
case it means the difference between the edge frequencies f2 and f1.
The bandwidth is found to be:
r
f
f
Q
= (3)
The resonant frequency is 159 Hz. At resonance the current is 1 amp. The Q
magnification factor is 100, and the bandwidth is 1.59 Hz. This means that at 0.5
x 1.59 = 0.795 Hz either side of 159 Hz the value of the current has dropped to
0.707 amps, as shown in the detail of Figure 2(b).
So f1 = 159 0.795= 158.205 Hz and f2 = 159.795 Hz.
Now attempt Problems 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9.
Problem 4
In Figure 1 again, calculate Q, f, and the edge frequencies f
1
and f
2
.
Solution
The Q of the circuit is given by :
Q = XL/rS
Substituting in our values for XL (from Problem 3 above) and rS gives:
Q = 628/12.56 = 50
To find the bandwidth we use:
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
184
f = fr/Q = 5 10
6
/50
= 100 kHz
The edge frequencies are situated either side of the resonance frequency;
spaced by the bandwidth f. That is f1 = fr  f and f2 = fr + f.
f1 = 5 10
6
 10
5
= 4.95 MHz
f2 = 5 10
6
+ 10
5
= 5.05 MHz
The following problems examine a tank (parallel) resonant circuit and consider
bandwidth, Q, and damping.
Problem 5
Figure 3 Circuit for problems 5 to 7
Calculate f
r
in Figure 3.
Solution
The resonance frequency is given by substitution into the equation:
LC
f
r
2
1
=
L = 100 H and C = 162.11 pF so:
12 6
10 11 . 162 10 100 2
1
=
r
f
= 1/(2 1.27 10
7
) = 1.25 MHz
Problem 6
In Figure 3, calculate the following at fr: X
L
, X
C
and Q.
rs =7.85
C=162.11 pF
(1001000 pF)
V
A
=1Vpp
L=100H
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
185
Solution
Now we know f
r
we can calculate X
L
using
XL = 2fL = 2 1.25 10
6
100 10
6
= 785.4
Similarly we calculate X
C
using:
XC = 1/2fC = 1/(2 1.25 10
6
162.11 10
12
) = 785.4
We could have stated that XC = XL at resonance, but doing it the long way checks
that we have not made any mistakes.
Q is given by the equation:
Q = XL/rS = 785.4/7.85 = 100
Problem 7
In Figure 3, calculate f, f
i
and f
2
.
Solution
We have a resonance frequency of 1.25 MHz and a Q of 100. As before
(Problem 3):
f = fr/Q = 1.25 10
6
/100 = 12.5kHz
The edge frequencies are given by f1 = fr  f and f2 = fr + f.
f1 = 1.25 10
6
12.5 10
3
= 1.243750 MHz
f2 = 1.25 10
6
+ 12.5 10
3
= 1.256250 MHz
Problem 8
In Figure 4, what value of series resistance R
S
must be added to double the
bandwidth f when C = 56.29 pF?
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
186
Figure 4 Circuit for Problem 8
Solution
Since Q determines the bandwidth:
f = fr/Q
To double the bandwidth we must halve Q.
Q/2 = XL/2rS
The equation shows that a series resistance of 2r
S
will halve Q and hence double
the bandwidth. Therefore we must add another r
S
= 18.85 to double the
bandwidth. Note that we did not have to consider the resonant frequency or the
value of C in this calculation. Doubling the series resistance in any series
resonant circuit will double the bandwidth.
3 Further reading
For further reading you may want to look at Fundamentals of Electrical
Engineering and Electronics. The relevant sections are AC and the subsection
called Resonance, where all parts could be read. Have a look at all the parts,
but again be warned. This book uses both complex notation (or j notation) and
polar notation rather than using a phasor diagram.
4 Where next?
You are advised to study the last learning package entitled Filters next.
rs =18.85
C=56.29 pF
(30300 pF)
V
T
=50V
L=50H
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
187
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
Learning Package 12
Filters
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
188
Filters
1 Do you know all this already?
If in doubt, please attempt the self assessment questions in this Learning
Package. If you can answer all of the questions correctly you may omit this
section. If not, please read on.
2 Introduction
This section introduces the idea that signals can contain components at different
frequencies, and that filter circuits can remove some of these components.
2.1 Filtering AC and DC signals
As we saw in the previous Learning Package, the reactance of a circuit varies
with frequency. This means that at some frequencies the voltage or current in the
circuit is larger than at other frequencies. This property can be used to filter out
certain frequencies or bands of frequencies.
Most signals in electronics will consist of a range of frequencies. For example, an
audio signal will contain signals in the range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz. Radio uses
frequencies in bands such as VHF (very high frequency) is in the range 30 300
MHz. In order to let these frequencies through and get rid of any signals at other
frequencies you use electronic filter circuits. The most common are:
Low pass filter this allows signals with frequencies from 0 up to some cutoff
frequency through, and blocks any signals with frequencies higher than this;
High pass filter this allows all signals with frequencies above the cutoff
frequency through and blocks signals with low frequencies;
Bandpass filter this allows signals through with frequencies that lie between a
lower and an upper cutoff frequency, and blocks all other signals;
Bandstop filter this blocks signals with frequencies between a lower and an
upper cutoff frequency and allows all other signals through. This is sometimes
referred to as a notch filter.
Many signals found in electronics will consist of a DC voltage, or a bias, in
addition to an AC signal. Very often we want to remove the DC component, and
to do this we either use a transformer or a coupling capacitor as a highpass
filter. Figure 1 shows an input voltage which is a combination of a DC voltage of
E2 plus an AC voltage with an amplitude of E1. The coupling capacitor block the
ENG1021 Electronic Principles
189
DC voltage from getting through, so that the output voltage is just the AC
component.
Figure 1 RC coupling circuit
We know that the reactance of the capacitor is Xc, and therefore the output
voltage is:
2 2
i
o
c
v R
v
R X
=
+
(1)
When the frequency is zero, the reactance of the capacitor is 1/0 = infinity, which
is an open circuit. So, from the point of view of a signal with a frequency of zero,
which is how we might describe a DC signal, the capacitor is an open circuit and
no voltage gets through.
If we write the reactance as 1/2fC then the equation becomes:
2 2
2
2
(2 ) 1
1
2
i i
o
v R v fRC
v
fRC
R
fC
= =
+
(
+
(
This circuit has a cutoff frequency, fc, which equals 1/2RC.
fc = 1/2RC (2)
At this frequency the equation becomes:
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2
2
(1) 1
i i
o
v v
v = =
+
This is the halfpower point or 3 dB point that has been mentioned before,
where the output has fallen to 70.7% of its maximum value.
If we use an RC coupled circuit to block a DC component, we would usually
choose the values of R and C such that the cutoff frequency is 1/10
th
of the
frequency of the AC component. This achieves the goal of having the reactance
equal to 1/10
th
of the resistance at the frequency of the AC component. For
example, if the AC component is 100 Hz, then the cutoff frequency would be
chosen as 10 Hz. Assuming that a 1 uF capacitor is used, the resistor value
should be:
fc = 1/2RC
R = 1/2fcC = 1/(2 x 3.142 x 10 x 0.000001) = 15.915 k = 16 k (approx)
Please now attempt Problem 1.
Problem 1
Calculate the minimum coupling capacitance C
c
in series with a 10 k R if the
frequency of the applied voltage ranges from (a) 100 Hz to 10 kHz; (b) 15 kHz to
300 kHz.
Solution
Generally, for coupling capacitors, we require that the reactance X
C
of the
coupling capacitor is less than a tenth of the value of the resistance at the
frequencies that we want to allow through. In this problem we are given ranges of
frequencies. The capacitor will have its highest reactance at the lower of these
frequencies, therefore if we ensure that the reactance of the capacitor is less
than a tenth of the resistance at the lower frequency of the range, then the
capacitor must have a reactance which is less than a tenth of the input resistance
for any of the higher frequencies.
Problem 1a
Lets take the first range 100 Hz to 10 KHz we need to find the minimum coupling
capacitance. So we make sure that at 100 Hz the reactance of the capacitor C
c
is
less than or equal to a tenth of the input resistance of 10 k.
XC = 1/2fCc = 10 k/10 = 1 k
Rearranging:
1/2f Cc 10
3
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Dividing both sides by 10
3
and substituting for f gives:
1/(2 100 10
3
) = 1.59 F Cc
So providing that
Cc 1.59 F
it will be a suitable coupling capacitor for this frequency range.
Problem 1b
Similarly we take the lower end of the frequency range 15 kHz to 300 kHz and
make sure that at 15 kHz that the reactance of the capacitor C
c
is less than or
equal to a tenth of the input resistance of 10 k.
XC = 1/2fCc = 10 k/10 = 1 k
Rearranging:
1/2f Cc 10
3
Dividing both sides by 10
3
and substituting for f gives:
1/(2 15 10
3
10
3
) = 10.6 nF Cc
So providing that
Cc 10.6 nF
it will be a suitable coupling capacitor for this frequency range.
2.2 Filter circuits
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Figure 2 (a) RC lowpass (b) RL lowpass (c) RL highpass (d) RC highpass
The RC coupling is an example of a high pass filter. These sections describe
how you can design filter circuits by choosing appropriate values for resistors and
capacitors and inductors.
Figure 2 shows the simplest examples of lowpass and highpass filters made out
of resistors, inductors and capacitors. In each case the circuit represents a
potential divider, where the output voltage is divided between a resistance and a
reactance. For all of these circuits the cutoff frequency is given by either:
fc = 1/2RC (3)
or
fc = R/2L (4)
We can make more sophisticated filters with more components and in particular
with the inclusion of amplifiers. However, that goes beyond the scope of this
module.
In order to build a bandpass or a bandstop filter, you effectively combine a low
pass and a highpass filter. Figure 3 shows an example of an RC bandpass filter
which is effectively a highpass filter followed by a lowpass filter.
Figure 3 An RC bandpass filter
A bandpass filter allows signals through which have frequencies that lie between
the low cutoff frequency and the high cutoff frequency. It is fairly clear from this
circuit that the low cutoff frequency is 1/2R1C1 an d the high cutoff frequency
is 1/2R2C2.
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Figure 4 An RC notch filter
An RC bandstop filter could be constructed the same way. However, an
alternative is the notch filter shown in Figure 4. It still only uses a combination of
resistors and capacitors, but it is a bit more complicated that simply taking a low
pass filter followed by a high pass filter.
For this circuit the rather than the cutoff frequency, the notch frequency is
defined, which is the frequency which you want to remove. This frequency is
defined as:
f
N
= 1/4RC (5)
Now attempt Problems 2 and 3.
Problem 2
Figure 5(a) Circuit for problem 2(a); (b) Circuit for problem 2(b)
Figure 5(c) Circuit for problem 2(c); (d) Circuit for problem 2(d)
Calculate the cutoff frequency, fc, for the filter in:
(a) The RC lowpass filter in Figure 5(a);
(b) the RL lowpass filter in Figure 5(b);
R =2.2k
C=0.022 F
R =1.5k
L=100
R =1k
L=30 mH
R =1.8k
C=0.047 F
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(c) the RC highpass filter in Figure 5(c);
(d) the RL highpass filter in Figure 5(d).
Solution
Problem 2a
The cutoff frequency is found using the formula:
1
2
c
f
RC
=
Substituting the value for R and C:
3 6
1 1
2 2 2.2 10 0.022 10
3.3
c
c
f
RC
f kHz
= =
=
Problem 2b
The cutoff frequency is found using the formula:
2
c
R
f
L
=
Substituting the value for R and L:
3
3
1 10
2 2 30 10
5.3
c
c
R
f
L
f kHz
= =
=
Problem 2c
The cutoff frequency is found using the formula:
1
2
c
f
RC
=
Substituting the value for R and C:
3 6
1 1
2 2 1.8 10 0.047 10
1.9
c
c
f
RC
f kHz
= =
=
Problem 2d
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The cutoff frequency is found using the formula:
2
c
R
f
L
=
Substituting the value for R and L:
3
3
1.5 10
2 2 100 10
2.4
c
c
R
f
L
f kHz
= =
=
Problem 3
In Figure 6, calculate the notch frequency f
N
if R = 18k and C
= 0.001 F.
Figure 6 Circuit for Problem 3
Solution
The notch frequency, f
N
, is given by the formula:
1
4
N
f
RC
=
Substituting fro R
1
and C
1
gives:
V
in
R
2C
2R
C
C
2R
R
L
V
out
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3 6
1 1
4 4 18 10 0.001 10
4.4
N
N
f
RC
f kHz
= =
=
2.3 Filter circuit gain
We often define the gain of a filter circuit as the value of the output voltage
divided by the value of the input voltage. For all the filters that weve looked at so
far, that gain will always be less than 1, because the circuits are effectively
voltage dividers.
In more complex filters may find amplifiers included. These are called active
filters as they contian active components suchg as transisters of operational
amplifiers which have their own power supply, and are therefore active. In tese
circuits the output voltage can be greater than the input voltage.
The gain of the filter is usually stated in decibels. To explain this, we have to
define the unit of powwer ratio, the bel. Essentially, if you measure the power of
the output, and divide by the poweer of the input, then take logarithms to the
base 10, you get the power ratio in bels.
N = log(Pout/Pin) in bels
It was found tha the bel is actually very large, so it is divided into tenths of a bel,
called decibels. So 1 bel = 10 decibels. To state th egain in decibels you multiply
the logarithm by 10. The decibel is abbreviated to dB.
N = 10log(Pout/Pin) in decibels or dBs (6)
Finally, in electronic circuits the power is defined in a number of ways, but one
way is as:
P = V
2
/R
Therefore the power is proportional to the square of the voltage. It is therefore
convenient to substitute the voltage into the equation to get:
N = 10log(V
2
out/V
2
in) dB
However, one of the properties of logarithms is that log (x
2
) = 2log(x). So the
equation becomes:
N = 20log(Vout/Vin) dB (7)
Problem 4
The input power to an amplifier is 1 watt. Calculate the gain in decibels for the
values of the output power shown in the following table:
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Input Power Output Power Gain in dB
1 W 2 W
1 W 10 W
1 W 20 W
1 W 100 W
1 W 1 kW
1 W 2 kW
Table 1: Table for Problem 4
Solution
The gain in dB is given by the following equation:
10log
out
dB
in
P
N
P
=
If the input power is 1 W and the output power is 2 W, the gain is:
2
10log 3.01
1
dB
N dB = =
Similarly, when the input power is 1 W and the output power is 10 W, the gain is:
10
10log 10
1
dB
N dB = =
The complete table looks like this:
Input Power Output Power Gain in dB
1 W 2 W 3
1 W 10 W 10
1 W 20 W 13
1 W 100 W 20
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1 W 1 kW 30
1 W 2 kW 33
Table 2: Solution for Problem 4
3 Further reading
For further reading you may want to look at Fundamentals of Electrical
Engineering and Electronics. The relevant sections are AC and the subsection
called Filters, where all parts could be read. In addition, in the section called
Semiconductors, in the subsection called Amplifiers and Active Devices. I
dont want you to read most of this section as it goes beyond this module.
However, there is a section called Decibels which is worth a read.
4 Where next?
Thats the end of the module. Make sure youve handed in all of the assignments
and then have a wellearned rest!