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Experiment 0: Basic Measurements

Alexies Mier C. Nuestro#1, Mary Kathleen C. Ocon#2

Electrical and Electronics Engineering Institute
University of the Philippines Diliman
Quezon City, Philippines

Abstract This experiment aims to apprise the students with

the functions of the multimeter to further understand its usage
and essentiality. The pros and cons of analog and digital
multimeter are also determined by using it to measure the
different basic electrical measurements and analyzing the results
that may vary. The students are also taught to use the power
supply, protoboard and analog multimeter first to measure
voltages, currents and resistances in a simple circuit. They then
explained the divergence between the experimental values and
the theoretical values after rechecking their computations and

To measure voltage (ac/dc), current (ac/dc) and resistance,
two types of instruments, analog and digital multimeters, are
harnessed. Multimeters may also have other functions, such as
diode and continuity tests. The measurements of these
fundamental quantities are based on: i) voltage sensing where
the instruments are mostly electronic in nature, using
amplifiers and semiconductor devices, such as a digital
multimeter and ii) current sensing where the instruments are
mostly of the electromagnetic meter movement type, such as
an analog multimeter [1].
DArsonval meter movement is the main part of an analog
multimeter. It is also known as the permanent-magnet
moving- coil (PMMC) movement. This common type of
movement is used for dc measurements. However, analog
multimeters have advantages over digital for some purposes.
Analog movements are particularly good at displaying varying
voltages, such as audio signals. Also, when aligning
transmitters, the fact that youve reached a peak when making
an adjustment is often more important than the actual value of
the voltage (or current). An analog movement is way better at
displaying such trends. Some of the better digital instruments
have a bar graph function that combines the best features of
both meters in one, but some users still prefer to keep the
analog meter handy [2].
But in spite of it being practical and useful, errors may
sometimes still occur in multimeters. These are caused by the
technical problems occurring on the device and inaccuracies of
the readings. Thus, the main goal of this experiment is to practice
the basic electrical measurements in order to master the skill in
measuring voltages, currents and resistance in a given circuit. We
can start by comparing the data of this experiment to the values
obtained computationally and from there - we can use theories to
further support the interpretation.


The experiment is divided into five parts. Each part
examines the different functions of the multimeter, wherein
the students also have to compute the theoretical values using
Ohms Law in order to get the percent error and therefore may
be able to explain the inaccuracies of the multimeter. Analog
multimeter (AMM) was used in this experiment. Therefore,
the findings and interpretations of this experiment are limited
to the analog multimeter extent only.

A. Measuring Resistances using Ohmmeter

Zeroing the meter scale of an ohmmeter is done by shorting
the two metal leads by touching the two probes together and
using the adjustment knob to calibrate the meter in exactly 0
ohms. This is the proper procedure done to measure the
resistances every time the resistance range is changed.
The range to be used in measuring any particular unknown
resistance depends on the approximate value of the unknown
resistance. For instance, the ohmmeter is calibrated in
divisions from 0 to 1000 ohms, the least sensitive resistance
range is at the x1 range. This is because the resistance is too
great to allow sufficient battery current to flow to deflect the
pointer away from infinity (infinity is a quantity larger than
you can
and As
the the
range the
The resistors are then measured by AMM and recorded
after the fitted resistance ranges had been calibrated to zero.
The said recordings are shown in Table I together with the
color code of the given resistors

Color Code (indicate 4band colors)

based on Color
Code ()

based on
AMM ()



910 000

900 000



47 000

59 000





The values shown in Table I were up to two significant

figures only because the needle and the markings of the
analog display are assessed with limitation. Because of the
said continence, assuming the third digit would be merely
B. Measuring Voltage using Voltmeter
In this part of the experiment, the voltage is measured using
a power supply and AMM. First, the function switch on the
front of the AMM was set to DC voltage (V DC) and to prevent
from having any damage, the range is switch on the highest
After properly setting the meter with the proper polarity, the
two AMM leads were allowed to touch the output jacks of the
power supply where the output voltage is turned all the way
up. The most accurate scale was selected and shown in Table
II where the maximum and minimum output voltages of the
two power supplies were recorded.

Minimum Voltage
(in V)

Maximum Voltage
(in V)





Since the power supply and the voltmeter are not

ideal, the ideal voltages (minimum and maximum) cannot be
attained. The voltmeter is still definite even if it has a high
internal resistance. Hence, there will always be a current that
will flow through the meter which will yield a potential
difference between its terminals. Given that there are limits to
the voltmeters range, the ideal maximum reading is
C. Determining Resistance Using Voltage and Current
In this part of the experiment, the students set up a circuit
in a protoboard consisting of two resistors, R 1 and R2, in series
with a 10-V power supply where R1 = 1k and R2 = 5.1k.
The function switch of the AMM was then set to V DC and was
set to an appropriate scale. The power supply was turned on and
the voltage across the resistor R2 was measured, as shown in
Fig. 1.

The multimeter was connected in series to the resistors

because it has zero resistance, hence no voltage across the
meter. The current that is passing through the resistor is also
the same current that will pass through the ammeter - reading
the current.
Contrarily, connecting the ammeter parallel with the
resistor will allow all the current to pass through the meter and
none on the resistor. This will make the purpose of the
experiment irrelevant to what the students wanted to prove.
Also, the ammeter would most likely be damaged if all the
current will pass through it, given that the meter has a near
zero internal resistance.
Once both the voltage and the current have been measured,
the power dissipated by the resistor R 2 can now be calculated
using the formula, P = VI. The calculated value is as shown

D. Computing Resistance and Error

In this part, the determined resistance value by direct
measurement using ohmmeter and by reading the color code will
then be computed using Ohms law. After replacing R2 with each
resistor used in Part A one at a time, together with the measured
values of the voltage and current obtained in Part C, the actual
resistance will be computed using Ohms Law.
The measured and computed values are then recorded and shown
in Table III.

Figure 1. Representation in measuring the voltage across resistor R2 in the

given circuit

The analog voltmeter was connected parallel to the resistor

to be measured because if not, it would introduce a high
resistance into the circuit that will eventually affect the whole
set up. By connecting it in parallel, the voltmeter acts as an
open circuit which enables it to measure the voltage of the
resistor without disturbing the circuit. The current would also
be reduced to a very small value and most of the voltage drop
would occur across the voltmeter.
After the voltage across R2 was measured, the function
controls on the AMM was set to read DC amperes measuring the
current of the circuit. With the right scale, the analog multimeter
was then reconnected to the circuit as shown in Fig. 2 where the
current through R2 was recorded


Using Part C/D



Ohms Law ()


9.9 V

0.000015 A

660 000



0.00015 A

60 000



0.006 A

666. 67

To compute for the percentage error, the resistance value

measured by the ohmmeter was assumed as the actual value and
the color code as the true value of the resistor R2. The solutions
are shown below.

Figure 2. Representation in measuring the current through resistor R2 in

the given circuit

The computed percentage error can be accredited to the

inaccuracy of reading the analog display of the multimeter.

According to Hassen [3], No measurement can be made

with perfect accuracy, but it is important to find out what the

accuracy actually is and how different errors have entered into

the measurement. He also added that a study of errors is a
first step in finding ways to reduce them. He explained that
the errors may come from different sources such as human
errors (misreading of instruments, incorrect adjustment,
improper application of instruments and computational
mistakes), shortcomings of the instruments (defective or worn
parts, and effects of the environment on the equipment or the
user) and those due to causes that cannot be directly proved
because of random variations in the parameter or in the
system of measurement.
Furthermore, it was also observed and calculated in all the
resistors that the interval between the true value and the actual
value measured by the ohmmeter does not match, not even
near the tolerance value of the resistor. This can be caused by
the resistor being worn out, or due to some factory errors.

The calculations showed that the power dissipated by the resistors

PR1 + PR2 = 0.66W, is almost equal to the power delivered by the source P =
VI = (10V)(0.067A) = 0.67W, giving a net power equal to zero.

The percent error calculations were repeated with the computed

resistance in Part D as the actual value. All error calculations are shown
in Table IV.

The calculations above showed that, the percentage error

between the true and actual values from Ohms Law is
significantly large, specifically for Rb and Rc. Disparity of
measuring the voltage and the current of the resistors may be
the cause of this kind of error. As said earlier, the multimeter
used is not ideal and would moreover cause inconsistencies to
the recorded data.

based in
Color Code
(in ohms)

based on
AMM (in


based on
Ohm's Law
(in ohms)



910 000

900 000


660 000



47 000

59 000


60 000








E. Power Ratings
In calculating the power ratings, the circuits shown in Part C were
followed. But this time the values of R 1 = 100 and R2 = 50. The
voltage, current and power dissipated by each resistor were computed as
shown below.

In replacing R1 with 1k, just like in the previous

observation, the power dissipated by both resistors PR1 + PR2 =
0.095W is the same as the power delivered by the source P =
VI = (10V)(0.0095A) = 0.095W giving a net power also
equal to zero.
This means that the measured voltages and currents of the
two resistors are correct. The only difference between the two
circuits was that the 1k ohm resistance of the R1 resistor used
in the second case is significantly larger than the one used
before which is just equal to 100 ohms. Hence, the current
passing through the circuit containing the 1k ohm resistor is
much smaller thus resulted to a smaller power compared to the
circuit containing the 100 ohm resistor.
In this experiment, the students learned the methods of
measuring the voltage, current and the resistance of circuit
components using the analog multimeter. Following the
procedures, the values were obtained and compared; the
percentage errors were computed. The results showed varying
degrees of error, getting as high as 27.66%. Errors like these
can be avoided by taking care in reading and recording the
measurement data. Good practice requires making more than
one reading of the same quantity, preferably by a different
observer. Never place complete dependence on one reading
but take at least three separate readings, preferably under
conditions in which instruments are switched on and off.

1. Notes on Multimeter. [Online]. Available:

2. P. Parker. A Guide to Radio Test Equipment. [Online]. Available:
3. S. Hassen. Measurement & Error. [Online]. Available: