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ELC106.

2 Activity 1: Second-Order Circuits

Post-laboratory Report; Submitted: 11 September 2015

Richmond Sim

Electronics, Computer, and Communications Engineering

Ateneo de Manila University
Philippines
richmond.sim@obf.ateneo.edu

Electronics, Computer, and Communications Engineering

Ateneo de Manila University
Philippines
john.mandap@obf.ateneo.edu

AbstractSecond order circuits are circuits that have at least two

storage elements that can no longer be simplified. These circuits can
be described by second order differential equations. Engineering
mathematics skills are required in order to solve for these equations.
In this laboratory experiment, the students simulated a given second
order circuit using a simulation software. The students solved for the
response function of the circuit. They have concluded that if there is
a constant forced response acting on the circuit, the current behaves
like a decaying exponential sinusoid.
Index TermsInductors, Capacitors, Second Order Circuits

I. INTRODUCTION
This laboratory is being done to familiarize the students with
second order circuits. Second order circuits are circuits that
have at least two storage elements namely inductors and
capacitors that cannot be further simplified such that the storage
elements will seemingly become just one. These circuits, when
analyzed, should have a second order differential equation.
Circuits that have more than three storage elements that cannot
be simplified will have a differential equation with order equal
to the number of storage elements.
Since second order circuits should have two independent
storage elements, the circuits can either have inductors, two
capacitors, a conductor and an inductor in series, or a conductor
and an inductor in parallel. It must be important that these
storage elements cannot be simplified. One of the most
common second order circuits are the RLC circuits. These
circuits are circuits that contain a resistors, an inductor and a
capacitor connected either in series or in parallel.
A property of this circuit is its ability to resonate at a
particular frequency. This is particularly important in different
electronic devices such as signal receivers which heavily relies
in receiving different frequencies of different signals. Also, this
concept is important because generally, a lot of electronic
devices use many different storage elements that are second
order or higher circuits.
II. THEORETICAL BACKGROUND
Second order differential equations have a basic form of
2

+ 1
+ () = ()
2

In order to solve for the differential equation, we need two

initial conditions: (0) and (0) that can be solved by first
solving the transient response. In solving the transient response,
we make the forced response equal to zero first. By the principle
of superposition, we will be needing to solve for the forced
response separately. To do this, we transform the differential
equation into its s-equation by changing the dn/dtn to sn. Then,
use the quadratic formula to solve for the roots.
If there are two roots, the characteristic equation is
1 1 + 2 2
(eq 1)
thus gives an over-damped curve when graphed.
If there is only one root, the characteristic equation is
1 1 + 2 1
(eq 2)
thus gives a critically-damped curve when graphed.
If there are no real roots, the characteristic equation is
[1 cos() + 2 sin()]
(eq 3)
thus gives an under-damped curve when graphed.
In solving for the forced response, we let the unknown
variable be into the form of a characteristic equation depending
on the forcing factor. So for instance, when the forced response
is a constant, we let the unknown variable be a constant k;
exponential, we let the unknown variable be an exponential and
so on.
The total response therefore is the sum of the transient and
the forced response. Then we solve for the value of the
remaining unknown constants via the initial conditions.
III. METHODOLOGY
A. Materials
The following are the materials needed for the experiment:
(a) Circuit Simulator (LTSpiceIV)
(b) Scientific Calculator
B. Procedure
Using the virtual oscilloscope (LTSpiceIV), we observed the
behavior of the voltage across the 250mF capacitor on the
circuit illustrated in Figure 1 provided that V S and R take

different values with first having V S = -9V, R=5; VS = -10V,

R=1; and VS = -10V, R=6.

From the
graph:
Forced
Response
Function
-5V

Theoretical
Forced
Response
Function

VS

-9V

()
= 1 3
+ 2 3 5

-10V

()
= [1 cos(2)
+ 2 sin(2)]
2

-2V

,
= 2

-10V

()
= 1 2
+ 2 5 6

-6V

,
= 6

We made sure that the LT Spice settings was set to transient

with starting external DC supply at 0V and stop time at around
20s. We then solved for the forced response and the natural
response.

Theoretical
Response
Function

, =
5V

Figure 5. Redrawn Circuit

IV. RESULTS
The following are the sketch of transient voltage across
C=250mF.
Figure 2. Vs = -9V and R = 5.

Using KVL on the left loop, we have

+ 4( + ) + ( ) + = 0
Using KVL on the right loop, we have
+ 4( + ) + = 0
+ 4 + 4 + = 0
4 = 4

(1)

Table 1. Response Function

= (2)
4
Substituting (2) to (1),
4
4

+ 4 (
+ ) + (
)+
4
4

=0
4
+ 4 + 4 + (
)
4
4
(
)
4
+
=0

4
(
)
4
4
+ (
)+
=0
4

1 1
+

=0
4
4
4 2
4
2

4 +

=0

+ ( + )
+ ( + ) =

We use this second order differential equation to solve for

the total response when VS=-9V and R=5.

+6
+ 9 = 45
2

By the principle of superposition, we let the forced response

be equal to zero.
2

+6
+ 9 = 0
2

Finding the s-equation,

2 + 6 + 9 = 0
1 = 3; 2 = 0
It has one real root therefore the characteristic equation is eq.
2 which is critically-damped.
1 3 + 2 3 = ,
We can now solve for the forced response function. We let
the value of be a constant k.

+
+ =

9 = 45
, = = 5
We solve for the total response. By the principle of
superposition,
() = +

1 2 + 2 5 = ,
2

+7
+ 10 = 60
2

, = = 6
Adding the natural and forced response,
() = +
V. DISCUSSION
We select the transient analysis for the provided circuit as
this kind of analysis determines the behavior of the circuit under
signals that are not behaving well and provides us with the
charging and discharging times of any of the storage elements
which in this case are the capacitor and the inductor.
As we see on the graphs of Figure 2, 3, and 4, the natural
response function that we have on the voltage of the capacitor is
an exponential function which is actually expected because the
capacitor charges up to Vc (voltage across capacitor) and
discharges. This is called the natural response because this is the
response of the inductor and the capacitor when it does not
experience external forces.

+
+ =

Finding the s-equation,

2 + 2 + 5 = 0
1 = 1 + 2; 2 = 1 2
It has no real roots therefore the characteristic equation is eq.
3 which is under-damped.
[1 cos(2) + 2 sin(2)] =
2

+2
+ 5 = 10
2

, = = 2
Adding the natural and forced response,
() = [ () + ()]

As time passes, the capacitor slowly turns into a DC Steady

State which is why the sinusoid becomes a straight line later on.
This steady state is the forced response because this is the
response when both the inductor and capacitor experience
external force.

+
+ =

Finding the s-equation

2 + 7 + 10 = 0
1 = 2; 2 = 5
It has two real roots therefore the characteristic equation is
eq. 1 which is ocer-damped.

In this laboratory experiment, we were able to familiarize

with the behavior of second-order circuits by looking at the
behavior of the capacitors voltage via transient analysis. This
way, we saw that the behavior acts like an exponential sinusoid
due to the charging and discharging of the capacitor and the slow
shift to DC steady state. This observation is important to note for
constructing circuits because it shows us its stability.

It is also good to notice that the changing of VS and R affects

the behavior of the graph. The system goes to steady state faster
when the resistance is smaller. This is seen in Figure 3 vis--vis
Figure 4. Comparing Figure 2 vis--vis Figure 4, we also notice
that the VS affects the voltage of the capacitor in such that the
voltage across the capacitor increases as the (magnitude of) VS
increases.
VI. CONCLUSION