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EE233: Circuit Theory

Step Response of RC Circuits

1. Objectives
Measure the internal resistance of a signal source
Measure the output waveform of simple RC circuits excited by step
Calculate and measure various timing parameters of switching waveforms
(time constant, delay time, rise time, and fall time) common in computer
Compare theoretical calculations and experimental data, and explain any
2. Equipment used
Fluke Arbitrary Waveform Generator

DM9241D Multimeter

Gwinstek GDS 2064 Oscilloscope

In this Lab, we analyze three circuits as the following:
Figure 1 shows a simple circuit of an arbitrary waveform generator driving a
resistive load. This circuit is used to illustrate and measure the internal
resistance of an arbitrary waveform generator.

Figure 2 shows
the first-
order RC
circuit or the
simple RC

Figure 3 shows two sections of the first-order RC circuit connected in series to
illustrate a simple technique to model computer bus systems (PCI bus, SCSI
bus, etc.).

4. Analysis, calculation and results
1. Section 7.2 (Figure 1)
Firstly, we build the circuit in Figure 1 using a 50 resistor as load. Set the
function generator to provide a square wave with amplitude 400 mV, DC
offset 0V, and frequency 100 Hz.
The amplitude from waveform generator is 400 mV, but the value we get from
the oscilloscope is 200 mV.
=>Thus, the values are not the same since there exists a resistorRs in the
circuit and it somewhat decreases the value of Vout.
Then we vary the square wave amplitudes from 400 mV to 1 V, using 100 mV
step size. This is a screenshot of the case when amplitude is 500 mV.

As we can see, the value of Vout (200mV) is not equal 500 mV for the reason
that we mentioned above.
Vin Vout
400 mV 200 mV
500 mV 248 mV
600 mV 300 mV
700 mV 349 mV
800 mV 399 mV
900 mV 452 mV
1000 mV 500 mV
After dealing with the 50 resistor, we change to 27k resistor to see if there
are any differences.
Explain: In the case R1= 27 k ohm, value of Vout=Vin (just 1% difference).
This is because the value of R1 is extremely larger than the value of internal
resistor in the generator. When using the formula in the prelab 1, when R1
>>Rs, we can see that Rs is approximately zero. Therefore, the value of Vout =
Vin and the value of Vout cannot be affected by the value of the internal
resistor of the generator.

This screenshot shows the value of Vout when changing to 27k.

Vin Vout
400 mV 400 mV
500 mV 495 mV
600 mV 594 mV
700 mV 699 mV
800 mV 798 mV
900 mV 899 mV
1000 mV 998 mV
2. Section 7.3 (Figure 2)
In this case, we build the circuit in Figure 2 using R = 10 K and C = 0.01 F.
The arbitrary waveform generator provides a square wave input as follows:
a. Frequency = 300 HZ
b. Set the Amplitude from 0 V to 5.0 V.
We measure the period T of the input signal, the time value of the 10%-point
of Vout, the time value of the 90%-point of Vout, and the time value of the
50%-point of Vout.
Max of Vout=4.95V Min of Vout=0V
Case 1: V=2V

10%-point of Vout 50%-point of Vout
Time value=10us Time value=69us

90%-point of Vout
Time value=236us

We move on the case of Vin=2.5V

10%-point of Vout 50%-point of Vout
Time value=10us Time value=68us

90%-point of Vout
Time value=236us

The last case is V=5V.

10%-point of Vout 50%-point of Vout
Time value=10us Time value=68us

90%-point of Vout
Time value=226us

The table of time vsVout.
% of Vout 2V(1.94V) 2.5V(2.4V) 5V(4.84V)
10% 10us 10us 10us
50% 69us 68us 68us
90% 236us 236us 226us

Then, we use the measurement capability of the scope to measure the rise
time of Vout, the fall time of Vout, and the two delay times tPHL and tPLH
between the input and output signals.
We use this graph to measure the above values.

Case 1: V=2V

Fall time=216usRise time=218us

tPHL=64.8us tPLH=69us

Case 2 : V=2.5V

Fall time=216us Rise time=216us

tPHL=66us tPLH=68us

Case 3: V=5V

Fall time=218us Rise time=218us

tPHL=67us tPLH=68us

Table of those times:

2V 2.5V 5V
Rise time 218us 216us 218us
Fall time 216us 216us 218us
tPLH 69us 68us 66us
tPHL 64.8us 66us 67us

We finally reach the end of figure 2 experiment. This table shows the results
after we measure the voltage and time values at 10 points on the Vout
waveform during one interval when Voutrises or falls with time.

0us 0V
14.4us 680mV
31.2us 1.36V
53us 2V
59us 2.16V
75us 2.52V
87us 2.8V
118us 3.32V
148us 3.72V
173us 3.96V

3. Section 7.4 (Figure 3)
In this experiment, we build the circuit in Figure 3, using 2 identical resistors
R = 10 K and 2 identical capacitors C = 0.01 F.

The orange line is the square wave with amplitude 5V.
The blue line is the values of Vout.

tPLH=190us tPHL=200us

We use the cursor-a function of the oscilloscope to measure values of tPLH
and tPHL.

190us 200us

5. Answer the questions
Manufacturing test time and test cost considerations
Q: Given the circuit in Figure 2, ten data points per waveform were collected
in section 7.3 item 7. Should you collect more or fewer than 10 points
to extract a good estimate of the rise or fall time of the circuit (as
defined above)?
Actually, it is necessary to collect as much values as possible to get more
accurate results. However, this will take time and money to handle a
bunch of measurements like that. Therefore, instead of taking lots of
measurements, we should have the best preparation such as tools in
good condition and suitable environment. This will lead to better and
more accurate results.

Q: What is the minimum number of data points do you need to collect
to get a good estimate? Compare your minimum number of points with
other teams answers. Do they collect more or fewer points? Are their
results better than yours?
The requirement is 10 points, so we only measure 10 times. Other teams
do the same with us and our results are not quite different from each

Extracting internal resistance of an arbitrary waveform

50 500
50 : 500 250
50 50
27 : 500 499.08
27000 50
s S
out S
R V mV
R V mV
R k V mV

These values are approximately the same with the recorded data in the
lab, there are some small differences but it will not affect.

out S
S out

R1 = 50 RS R1 = 27 RS
400mV 200mV 50 400mV 0
500mV 248mV 50 495mV 52.9
600mV 300mV 50 594 mV 89.1
700 mV 349mV 49.7 699 mV 0
800 mV 399 mV 50 798 mV 33.5
900 mV 452 mV 49.4 899 mV 0
1000 mV 500 mV 49.6 998 mV 0


When R1 = 50, the value of Vout is half of Vin .
When R1 = 27k, the value of Vout is close to Vin.

Explain: there are differences between the values of Vout in computing and
measuring. Because the condition in prelab section is ideal.However, in
reality, conductors have small resistance, generators has an identified internal
resistance, and the values of resistors are not exactly equal to the value which
we want to have (resistors values are only approximately equal). Therefore,
there are some differences between computing values and measuring values.

Step response of first-order RC circuits

( ) = 5 5 when 5
t t
out S
V t A Ae e V V

Compute Measure
Max of Vout 5V 4.95V
Min of Vout 0V 0V

Reason: due to the effect of the resistance of conductors, internal resistors of
generator. Therefore, measuring values cannot accurately be equal to the
computing values.

2) The case V=5V

10 0.01 R k C F

Time Compute Measure Error by
neglecting RS
t10% 10.55s 10s 5.2%
T50% 71s 68s 4.4%
T90% 233.26s 226s 3%

Reason: due to the effect of the resistance of conductors, internal resistors of
generator. Therefore, measuring values cannot accurately be equal to the
computing values.

10 0.01 R k C F

Time Compute Measure
trise 219s 218s
tfall 219s 218s
tPHL 69s 67s
tPLH 69s 68s

Reason: due to the effect of the resistance of conductors, internal resistors of
generator. Therefore, measuring values cannot accurately be equal to the
computing values.

Step response of cascaded RC sections
Q: From the measurements in section 7.4 item 3, are the delay times for the
cascaded circuit in Figure 3 (of 2 identical RC sections) twice as large as the
delay times for the simple RC circuit? Do the delay times scale with the
number of sections? Explain.
From prelab, the formular of time delay in simple RC circuit is:

In figure 4, when Vs=0, we have:
C//(C+R) => t=(C+C)R=2CR

However, the time delay that we measured in reality is three times larger than
delay time in section 7.3 (for example 190us vs 67us) due to some mistakes in
measurement and quality of resistors and conductors.

Q: Estimate the number of cascaded RC sections so that the propagation
delay time is about T/2 (T is the period of the input square wave). Explain
how you arrive at this estimate. How would you verify that this is a
good estimate (i.e. within 10% of the correct number of sections)? This
estimate basically is related to the longest bus line that can be driven by the
signal before there is a timing error in the system.
From the above answer, we have:

Then we choose f=300Hz

According to those values of R and C, we can have a delay time=T/2. If
the values of C and R are approximately equal to the above calculation,
the error is within 10%.