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A Switching Transistor D-C to A-C

Converter Having an Output Frequency
Proportional to the D-C Input Voltage
G. H. ROYER

ASSOCIATE MEMBER AlEE

T

H E combination of transistors and
transformers constructed of square
hysteresis loop material has produced
much useful circuitry outside of the realm
of magnetic amplifiers per see In this
paper a highly efficient and extremely
precise converter for transforming direct
to alternating current, yielding a squarewave output whose frequency is proportional to the d-e input voltage, will be described. From among the many uses of
this converter, the following applications
will be discussed: 1. a transducer for telemetering systems, and 2. an integrator
which has found application as an analogue to digital converter.

Transistor Switches
The use of junction transistors as controlled switches has been described previously,1,2 but a few of the main points
will be reviewed here. Fig. 1 (A) shows
the collector characteristics of a PNP
transistor in the common emitter connection, as illustrated in Fig. l(B). For
the load line shown, two operating points
are of interest: cutoff, point F, where the
transistor sustains almost the entire supply voltage E with very little leakage current and conduction, point 5, where a
large enough base drive is applied to
sa turate the transistor and reduce the
voltage drop Vee to its lowest possible
value. Cutoff occurs when the base voltage is slightly positive giving a small
positive current in the base. Typical
values of cutoff current for small 200megawatt 2N74 fused junction transistors
are from 5 to 50 microamperes at a supply
vol tage of 45 volts and a base voltage of
+0.5 to 5 volts. In the conducting state
voltage drops of 0.1 to 0.5 volt are obtained with 50 to 150 milliamperes' load
current; however, the amount of base
Paper 55-73, recommended by the AlEE Magnetic
Amplifiers Committee and approved by the AlEE
Committee on Technical Operations for presentation at the AlEE Winter General Meeting, New
York, N. Y., January 31-February 4,1955. Manuscript submitted October 25, 1954; made available
for printing December 6, 1954.
G. H. ROYER is with the Westinghouse Electric
Corporation, Pittsburgh, Pa,

322

current required to saturate the transistor
depend s great1y on the gain of the transistor and the amount of load current.
The effective transistor impedance can be
changed from over a megohm at cutoff to
a few ohms at saturation by control of the
base voltage and current; this can be
compared to the operation of a relay
where the emitter-collector circuit is
analogous to the contacts and the baseemitter circuit is analogous to the energizing coil. For the purpose of this paper,
the above information can be summarized
by two simple rules. The PNP transistor
switch will conduct if the base is negative
with respect to either emitter or collector
and will block if the base is positive with
respect to both emitter and collector.

Basic Circuit of Converter
Two junction transistors used as controlled switches and a transformer with a
square hysteresis loop core material form
the basic circuit of the voltage-to-frequency converter illustrated in Fig. 2.
.A. typical ¢-i curve for such a transformer
constructed of Hipernik V is also illustrated in Fig. 3. The two transistors alternately conduct and switch the input
voltage Vi n across windings 2 and 3,
causing the flux in the core to be cycled
between positive and negative saturation.

Windings 1 and 4 act as control windings
for the switches, and the output, a square
wave, appears on winding 5. To follow
this operation in detail, as~ume that
transistor A is conducting, which places
the input voltage Vin across winding 2,
positive at the top and negative at the
bottom. Voltages with corresponding
polarities will be induced in all of the
other windings. This induced voltage in
winding 1 makes the base of A negative
with respect to its emitter, and A conducts
with very little voltage drop between the
emi tter and collector. The vol tage induced in winding 4 is positive at the top
and thus holds transistor B cutoff, since
its base is positive with respect to both
the emitter and collector. Transistor A
continues to conduct until the flux reaches
the saturation value +cf>m.
Upon saturation, several effects occur
simultaneously; the current rises sharply
to a value determined by the base drive
of the transistor, the induced voltage in
the transformer windings disappears, and
the voltage across the transistor rises.
The loss of the base drive causes transistor
A to open the circuit to winding 2 and
causes the flux to fall back slightly to the
retentivity value which induces a small
vol tage of the opposite polarity in the
windings. This places a negative voltage
on the base of the transistor B which begins to conduct, causing the flux to decrease still further, and the cycle is
rapidly reversed until transistor B is
conducting heavily and transistor A is
open. The input voltage is now connected across winding 3, positive at the
bottom and negative at the top. The
flux decreases linearly until the core saturates in the opposite direction and a
similar reversal takes place to complete
the cycle.
The output voltage is a square wave
where the duration of each half-cycle is

E

en

~

~ -25...------P~--+---+----;

>

w

C) -20H----+---+-~--------4

....«-J

(B)

o
> -15........

---+---+----j1+--~~_+_---r----r--___,r_-__r--_._1

a::
~

Fig. 1. (A) Collector characteristics of PNP
transistor.
(B)
Common emitter
connection showing load circuit

~ -t0N---+---+----I1+----I+-~:-t-t----+--=-=--t----r---r-1
-J
-J

o
o

(A)
-511-----+---J----I4----++-----+f--~~-+-I~~---_+_I

-20

-40

-80

-100

COLLECTOR CURRENT

Royer-Switching Transistor D-C to A-C Converter

E

(rno)

R
JULY

1955

Strictly speaking.~ dt Integrating this relation over one halfcycle Therefore f=~ 4N2cPm From this expression it is evident that. for this slight change of concept. 2 <left). the over-all circuit operation is identical with that already described. the minimum voltage at the transistor bases should be about 1 volt. VbA • A typical value for the drop across the conducting transistor A might be 1/2 volt so that the value of VbB . the constant of proportionality will vary correspondingly with temperature. the greater the turns ratio NIlN 2 . improper or no switching would occur at low currents. As the transistors are used as switches or on-off devices. therefore. with a magnitude of perhaps 1 volt. so that the bias circuit effectively acts as a constant-current source of magnitude Ebiasl R b ia s .g. the base of B is cutoff and the entire bias current must be flowing through A as was originally postulated. initially. the upper limit on the input voltage is set by the collector voltage that can be applied to the nonconducting transistor. excessive heating or burn-out of the transistor could occur at high currents and. a current bias may be used in the base circuit. If a 20-to-1 operating range is desired. The frequency of these square waves can be related to the parameters of the core and the input voltage.07 per cent per degree centigrade and. To maintain a more satisfactory base drive over a wide range of input voltages. for a given transformer. . with the base positive with respect to the emitter and. The low limit of Vi n is set by the fact that. and this factor is no longer a limitation on the upper value of supply voltage Vino Rather. the bias drive can thus be held relatively constant if desired. if the range were extended at the low end. the function of the voltages induced in the switching windings is not primarily for producing a current in the base circuit but rather for furnishing a cutoff bias for one or the other of the transistors.. It is also assumed that.5. e. hence. Bias Cireui t 1955 J f ~ I ~ - To insure good switching operation. the input voltage V in is applied directly across a winding of N 2 turns dcP V'ill =N. VbA ..to-fre- quency converter + 5 5 --+ OUTPUT T OUTPUT Fig. in this example. the lower the volt- Royer-Switching Transistor D-C to A -C Converter 323 . By using this bias circuit with a sufficiently high bias battery. The voltage applied to the base of transistor B Fig. In addition. in order for transistor B to be completely cut off. The values of the voltage drop V bA and the voltage induced in winding 1 have practically no effect on the magnitude of the bias current I b ia s since it was assumed that E b ia s was large. Since the induced voltage in the transformer adds to the input supply voltage. I b ia s = (E b ia s + VI. the voltage V bB must be at least 1/10th volt and. the rated collector breakdown voltages must be at least twice the input voltage. 4 (right). A then conducts and connects the source Vin to winding 2 which thereby induces voltages of the polarities shown in 1 and 4 and.5=1. Bias circuit added to increase voltage range of the basic converter determined by the time necessary for the flux in the core to change from -cf>m to +¢m. the output frequency is proportional to the d-e input voltage. Thus. would be V bB=1+1-0. Consequently. is equal to the sum of the voltages induced in windings 1 and 4 minus the base voltage of A. To explain the operation of this circuit. The switching current in the bases would vary over a much greater than 20-to-1 range because of the nonlinear characteristic of the emitter-base diode. the applied voltage must not cause thermal runaway of the nonconducting transistor at elevated temperatures. the voltage inJULY duced would be 20 volts at the upper end of the range.Fig. thus. as shown in Fig. If N 2 designates the number of turns on each one of the two main windings 2 and 3 and the voltage drop across the transistors and winding resistance is assumed to be negligible. 4. But. and their conduction resistance is only a few ohms. in this example. 3.B bA ) I R b ia s • Thus. E b ia s is assumed to be much greater than the voltages induced in windings 1 or 4. Such a characteristic is well suited for telemetering applications where the output frequency transmitted between a measuring point and a metering station is an indication of a voltage measurand at the originating point. all of this bias current is flowing through the base of transistor A.. Basic cir- cuit of voltage. The saturation flux of Hipernik V changes about 0. in this circuit. the sum of the voltage induced in windings 1 and 4 must be at least l/lOth volt higher than the forward drop of transistor A. their characteristics do not rnaterially affect the proportionality. Typical cP-i curve for square hysteresis loop core material VbB .

the . the operation takes place along a minor hysteresis loop. A NEW SELF-EXCITED SQUARE-WAVE TRANSISTOR POWER OSCILLATOR. 324 The interest of the Laboratories in this circuit is its use in low-voltage to high-voltage d-e transformation for the operation of various . N. R. 1955 p. REFERENCE 1. the proportionalitywouldchange byonly±0. Such converters may therefore tend to replace rotating electric machines supplying small amounts of 400-cycle-persecond power in various military applications. vol. Buffalo.. 5. It was found that grounded base as well as grounded emitter could be used.transistors are available. It was emphasized that junction transistors used as switches make useful circuit components which will operate over widely varying ambient conditions. References 1. Fort Monmouth. the base current referred to winding 2 may be greater than the maximum saturation current.2 per cent of full-range frequency. While the converter may be loaded to deliver as much as 1 watt of output power. giving a constant output magnitude over the operating range instead of one which varied with the frequency. 2. O. The output square wave can be transmitted directly. A. Milnes (Carnegie Institute of Technology.2-per-cent accuracy. age limitation on Vin • If NIlN 2 is made too large. Royer is of considerable interest as a supply source for the operation of magnetic-amplifier equipment. Voltage wave forms using the converter as an integrator . Taylor and the writer. As the switching voltage becomes too low to saturate the transistors properly.2 per cent. it behaves as a linear inductance in parallel with its distributed capacity. Taylor. FUTURE ApPLICATION OF CONTROL MACHINE TOOLS. they will operate over a wide ambient temperature range. Apr.07 per cent per degree centigrade and that this would vary the constant of proportionality in f = K Vi n • If the core were enclosed in a constant temperature box held to a variation of ± 2. Two precautions must therefore be observed if this device is to be used for instrumentation purposes: The input voltage must not change sign and. The output voltage follows the same wave shape as the input. Louis TO Bright. This temperature limit should not be difficult to obtain in a small. except that each output pulse has the same volt-second area and every other pulse is the mirror image of the input. Proceedings. I. twice the number of turns times ¢m determines the volt-second area of the input which is required for 'each output pulse. 74. Little or no effect on the operation is noted when transistors are replaced or are interchanged. and to +75 degrees centigrade with selected transistors. and the reliability is likely to be good when highpower conservatively rated . TRANSISTORS R. Uchrin. • Discussion George C. Under these conditions. AlEE Transactions. it should not fall below the critical value at which the mode of oscillation changes. JUNCTION TRANSISTORS USED AS SWITCHBS.1 INPUT TO INTEGRATOR OUTPUT OF INTEGRATOR Fig. Pittsburgh.60 to +40 degrees centigrade. the voltage-to-frequency linearity is sacrificed so that an output buffer stage may be necessary to maintain the 0. Conclusions In this paper a simple and reliable circuit has been illustrated to convert direct to alternating current. 5. The device then changes its mode of oscillation and operates as a quasi-linear oscillator whose frequency increases as the input voltage decreases. Royer-Switching Transistor D-C to A-C Converter JULY 1955 . 1954. The efficiency is high. New York. A further advantage of a buffer stage would be that it could act as a clipper. Applications output polarity each time the volt-second area under the input curve from the time of the previous reversal reaches the value necessary to move the core flux from one saturation point to the other. inexpensive oven. the source impedance is suitably low. J. A count of the number of output pulses during a fixed time period would give the integral of the applied voltage over that time. Uchrin (Signal Corps Engineering Laboratories. pt. by the proper choice of cores. and number of turns on windings 2 and 3.5 degrees centigrade. circuit shown has been operated from . 1955. pp.): A circuit similar to the one described in the paper was devised in January 1954 by W. Institute of Radio Engineers. New York. Y. Input voltages of as low as 100 millivolts and up to 40 volts have been applied and.): The switching transistor oscillator described by Dr. George C. 18th Annual Machine Tool Electrification Forum.99. Mar. If a unidirectional input voltage wave form. This output can be transmitted over any desired link to an indicating station giving a representation of the voltage measured Vi n • It was stated that the saturation flux of Hipemik V changes about 0. the unit will reverse the d4J= 2N4Jm Thus. 111-21. converters have operated at frequencies from one half-cycle per second up to 12 kilocycles. is applied to the input terminals. they can no longer supply the magnetization current for the transformer. For a constant core temperature. Wilfred O. and there will be nothing left over to magnetize the core so that this lower limit cannot be extended indefinitely. Several of its applications-precision telemetering and integrating-have been described. N.Louis Bright. 43. converters of this configuration have been operated over a 20-to-1 range with a frequency output proportional to the input voltage to within a deviation of only 0. Since the transistors are operating as switching devices. vol. G. if elimination of the higher harmonics is desired. This is then an analogue-to-digital converter in that the digital output (number of pulses) is the representation of the analogue input (integral of the applied unidirectional voltage). Pa. Rewriting Vin = N(d¢/dt) and integrating over a complete . Thus instead of acting as a saturating core. Proceedings.types of communications equipment. shown in Fig. furthermore.half-cycle of flux change Vindt=N f cPm cPm The circuit described in the previous section is accurate enough to warrant application of the device as a telemetering transmitter. Some laboratory models of this converter have operated over an input voltage range of 100 to 1." The basic circuit and mode of operation are the same. Power converters have been built which were capable of delivering approximately 60 watts output from a 24-volt d-e source. or filtered. I twas also found that almost any type of core material could be used and still obtain good wave form. Jan..

The prospect of obtaining 2-phase and 3-phase systems from 1955 G. and torque relays. but in practice the oscillators have sufficient slip to ensure that this condition is unstable and presents no difficulty. the pulse width of VI V2 exceeds the saturation pulse width of L I and a residual pulse appears across R I . gyros.... If the phase lag exceeds 90 degrees the correction is provided by the phase-locking circuit L2. however.400 cycles per second. R 2 acting on oscillator 2. 7. which happens to be a frequency for which appreciable experience has been gained in \ magneticamplifier design and in the operation of associated apparatus such as motors. The characteristic of transistor A is such that it will have a very low voltage drop as the current increases up the value Ix determined by the transistor current gain. Mr. Uchrin's application was in the field of d-e power supply circuitry where a lowvoltage direct current is converted to a square-wave alternating current transformed to a high-voltage level and rectified. Milnes' application because when such steel is used the frequency shifts considerably with a change in load. Royer and may be operated from the same d-e source although for clarity in the diagram two separate batteries are shown. If the voltage-time rating of reactor L I is made half of that of L 2 (with the total absorption of L I and L 2 adjusted to match the main core). consider the operation of a circuit similar to that shown in Fig. less than 90 degrees ( V2 lagging on VI). Two switching-transistor oscillators of the same frequency can be interlinked so as to provide outputs which differ in phase by 90 degrees in a prescribed sequence. The necessary saturation flux swings or voltage-time ratings of reactors L I and L z are solely related to the rating of the main cores and so the phase-locking action is not disturbed by change in the input voltage to the system. This voltage switches off transistor lA and so causes reversal of oscillator 1 earlier than normal and therefore increases the phase difference towards. R 1 circuit is energized by the sum of the oscillator voltages and the L 2 . A rather similar circuit has been devised in which corrective action is applied to both transistors of the two oscillators and is now under examination. The transistor oscillators 1 and 2 are of the general type considered by Dr. Arrangement of switching-transistor oscillators IA 2. the sum and difference wave forms have pulses of the same mean voltage-time area. One possible arrangement is shown in Fig.Fig. In suchan application it is desirable to maintain the output frequency constant under varying loading conditions. Prof. To illustrate the reason for this behavior. This uses no more components than the circuit illustrated although more windings are required. and that the regulation of the transformer be good in order to maintain good voltage regulation. This is true up to at least 2. R z circuit by the difference of the voltages. 6. however. I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I ) I I I I I I Fig. Theoretically the possibility exists of no correcting action being obtained if the phase displacement of two oscillators is exactly 180 degrees different from that required. 2B If magnetic-amplifier equipments are supplied from independent transistor oscillators it is probable that design frequencies will increase since performance for a given weight is thereby improved. A typical normal </>-i :~Jl5z =======--=--=--=--=--=s>:» I z I I I i I I I ! I I X :::J . Normal </>-i curve for transformer steel I I lz iy ix MAGNETIZING CURRENT i ---+ Royer-Switching Transistor D-C to A-C Converter 325 . If the output voltages have a phase difference of exactly 90 degrees. Beyond this current the transistor voltage drop increases sharply for little further increase in current.g. In such an application the only requirements are that the output voltage wave form be square to reduce the filtering required. the phase lag obtained is 120 degrees.J LL 1 I I W 0:: o I U + JULY the oscillators increases their attractiveness as supply sources. H.discussion relates to the use of the device to supply a-c power to a magnetic amplifier or other a-c load. it would not be satisfactory in Prof. The use of ordinary transformer steel as suggested by Mr. However. Milnes' . The capacitors across transistors I B and 2B are not concerned with phase locking but may be desirable in the basic circuits to suppress abnormal high-frequency oscillations when the circuits are first energized. Uchrin has the obvious advantage that it is less expensive than square-loop material. thus eliminating the necessity of operating at a frequency fixed by the available line power. 2 combining transistors and ordinary transformer steel. e.. the required 90-degree value. yielding a good high-voltage d-e source requiring very little filtering because the rectified square wave has practically no ripple. 6. Royer: Many different types of applications may be made of the basic d-e to a-c converter described in this paper. The phaselocking circuits are those containing the saturable reactors L 1 and L z and the rectifier bridges which apply voltages to the resistors R 1 and R 2 • I t will be seen that the L 1 . The reactors L 1 and L z are designed so that the full nonsaturating flux changes occur in them for this condition and so no appreciable voltages appear across R 1 and R I • If the phase difference between VI and V2 is. In this way with three oscillators it is possible to produce a 3-phase supply system. For a fixed input voltage Vin the base drive voltage to transistor A will be Vin(NI / N 2 ) .

and the current in the transistor is reduced from Ix toward zero in the same manner as described in the paper. A further increase in load current will result in a still lower magnetizing component (Iz.and by metallic rectifiers controlled with adjustable transformers. KUSKO is with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. G. in particular.curve for transformer steel is shown in Fig. 1954. Moreover. KUSKO MEMBER AlEE A LT H OUGH considerable work has been done on the operation of adjustable-speed d-e motors with armature power supplied by thyratrons. an analytical and experimental study was made of the steady-state operation of a d-e motor with armature power supplied through metallic rectifiers and controlled by saturable reactors or magnetic amplifiers. R~ instantaneous armature terminal voltage V m = peak value of the line voltage XI. Any output load current will be reflected back into winding 2 and. the induced base voltage falls. and to an article by Bright. It is believed that the increased availability of transistors with large power handling capacity will see further applications of such devices. Minneapolis. Y. The Magnetic-Amplifier Control of D-C Motors A. Nelson-Magnetic-Amplifier Control of D-C Motors JULY 1955 . Here the voltage drop across the transistors increases rapidly. Nit = load-winding turns on magneticamplifier cores I and II R A = armature-circuit resistance RR = forward resistance of each rectifier branch R r.. 14 If = average motor field current leNc = saturable-reactor control-winding ampere-turns per core.1955. the flux increases linearly until it reaches cPx corresponding to the point at which the magnetizing current is equal to Ix. The circuitry offered by Prof. and J. Uchrirr's referenced article. George H. C. to show what characteristics can be anticipated from control by saturable magnetic devices. it. 326 J. Electrical Manufacturing. The use of core materials with a flat top makes the total flux swing 2</Jm much more nearly constant over a wide range of loading conditions. Pitman. Regarding Mr. recommended by the AlEE Magnetic Amplifiers Committee and approved by the AlEE Committee on Technical Operations for presentation at the AlEE Winter General Meeting. cPz).. the speed-torque characteristics of the motor and the design parameters of the auxiliary apparatus are relatively straightforward to predict. X 2 . 1. Milwaukee. 1954. Minn. Nelson as a thesis in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Master of Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 1 REFERENCE 1. a full-wave metallic rectifier for supplying the armature power. or where it is desired to maintain a direct proportionality between the output frequency and the input voltage. a-c motors. New York. the speed-torque characteristics of the motor were determined for the various control methods and. NELSON is with the Minneapolis-Honeywell Regulator Company. Milnes should provide a useful addition to the a-c power supply discussed in this paper. January 3I-February 4. iI. Manuscript submitted October 7. and Royer in December 1954. New York. The sharp wave form is determined by the sharp current limitation and voltage increase of the transistor at the current Ix. adequate speed regulation and control can be obtained by the use of magnetic amplifiers with simple feedback circuits. or other loads directly. made available for printing December 3. G. X 3t X 4 = branches of the bridge rectifier a = firing angle at which core I saturates al = angle at which core I begins to absorb voltage a2 = angle at which rectifier X a begins to conduct a3 = angle at which the load-winding current i r becomes zero ep=flux reset on the magnetic-amplifier cores wL-A = tmpe d ance angle of the • 0= tan . Thus only the difference between the reflected load current and the transistor maximum current Ix will be available to magnetize the core. For this reason. RABLE-CORE CIRCUITS. where the armature power for a d-e motor is being Paper 55-60.v" there is little information available on the use of magnetic amplifiers for this purpose.. Mass. Pittman. 1954. average KT=torque constant of the motor. the effectiveness of simple feedback connections and the use of external armature-circuit inductance was ascertained in improving the speed regulation. F. The work described in this paper was initiated on a consulting basis for the Hevi Duty Electric Company. Royer. and was completed by Mr. Dec. As the input voltage is applied to winding 2. Y. N. N. D-c motor with armature power supplied by a full-wave rectifier Kusko. and switching will occur at some lower value of current and flux (1 11 . average I LNL = saturable-reactor load-winding ampere-turns per core.1 RA armature circuit VA = Analysis The system to be considered consists of a d-e motor with constant field current. This is particularly true where the motor speed must be adjusted remotely or by the resultant of two or more control signals.. will be a part of this total transistor current Ix. his attention is directed to a 1954 AlEE Summer General Meeting conference paper with the same title and substance as the present paper. A. It is evident from the frequency governing expressionf= V in/(4N</Jm) that this decrease in the flux swing will cause the output frequency to increase. Jr. and to indicate how the Fig. 7. ill = instantaneous currents as defined in Fig. the voltage across the transformer falls. With respect to this system the purpose of this section is to review briefly the effect of armature-circuit inductance on the continuity of the armature current. Nomenclature a=Eg/Vm=ratio of armature generated voltage to peak line voltage Eg=average armature generated voltage i A = instantaneous armature current i L = instantaneous line current i a . and a saturable magnetic device for controlling the armature voltage. is necessary to use square hysteresis loop core material. NELSON NONMEMBER AlEE supplied by metallic rectifiers. torque per unit armature current K N = speed constant of the motor. cPy). This study has shown that. TRANSISTORS AS ON-OFF SWITCHES IN SATULouis Bright. Cambridge. Hence in applications where a constant output frequency is required. Rn = resistance sum of one magneticamplifier load winding and one rectifier branch T=internal torque of the motor v l = instantaneous line voltage 2-phase circuit shown indicates a direction of approach toward multiple-phase converters which could supply a-c power to drive magnetic amplifiers. More specifically. Wis.. generated volts per unit speed LA = armature-circuit inductance N I .