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SIGNALS AND ELECTRONIC SYSTEMS DESIGN

BSc Computer and Electronic Systems Engineering


Engineering and Build Environment

3 OP-AMP INSTRUMENTATION AMPLIFIER: A design study


By Thais Yuriko Midorikawa
S1442989

A COURSEWORK
Submitted to
Glasgow Caledonian University

GLASGOW
2014

CONTENTS

ABSTRACT ..................................................................................................................... ii
1. INTRODUCTION ......................................................................................................... 1
2. DESIGN PROBLEM .................................................................................................... 3
2.1 SIMULATION ....................................................................................................... 3
2.1.1 Transient Analysis ..................................................................................... 4
2.1.2 Common-mode Rejection and Common-mode Rejection Ratio ............ 4
2.1.3 Resistor Matching ...................................................................................... 5
2.2 PHYSICAL IMPLEMENTATION ........................................................................... 6
2.3 PHYSICAL IMPLEMENTATION ........................................................................... 8
2.3.1 Evaluating the Design................................................................................ 8
3. DISCUSSION AND OBSERVATIONS ...................................................................... 10
4. CONCLUDING REMARKS ....................................................................................... 11
APPENDICES
A. DEMONSTRATION OF 3 OP-AMP INAS GAIN................................................. 12
B. LM324AD DATASHEET...................................................................................... 14
REFERENCES .............................................................................................................. 15
BIBLIOGRAPHY ........................................................................................................... 15

ABSTRACT

This report aims to describe the implementation of a 3 Op-Amp instrumentation


amplifier with its results analysis. For that, the first chapter consists into a brief
explanation about an instrumentation amplifiers operation in view to introduce the
reader to its main concepts (for both ideal and real cases) and circuit theory for a better
understanding. Thus, the next session addresses to its simulation (in software Multisim
NI 12.0) and correspondent wave-forms, followed by its printed circuit board design in
EAGLE 6.5.0 software. Moreover, describes its physical construction and measures,
with their respective analysis for each case.
Furthermore, the third session covers a discussion about the results obtained in
previous session, providing explanations for the discrepancies between the expected
values and obtained values. Also, shows some applications of this studied device in
industry and why it differs from others amplifiers in practice. Finally, the last chapter
uses previous sessions analysis to conclude and, succinctly, to discuss about this study
its results, which proved to be acceptable enough considering all external uncertainness
from instruments and components, approximation errors and non-ideal conditions of
implementation.

ii

1.

INTRODUCTION
An amplifier is an electronic device which has the function of increase the input

signal by a factor previously determined. There are two main types of amplifiers, the
single-input amplifier and the differential amplifier. The first one, as its own name says,
has only one input, therefore its output is the simple product between input signal and
amplifiers gain. Consequently, if an input signal has noise attached for any reason, the
device will amplify its noise as well, which in many applications is unwanted.
On the other hand, the differential amplifier has two inputs to avoid noise
amplification. Thereby, the device amplify only the difference between the two inputs,
reason why its called differential. Since noise tends to be common (or with a slightly
difference) among the input, considering the input wires relatively close and noise
caused by an external factor, it will be subtracted by itself inside the amplifier, resulting
only the desired signal to be multiplied by devices gain.

Figure 1. Differential amplifier and single-ended amplifier, respectively.

Furthermore, differential amplifiers can be subdivided in operational amplifiers


(Op-Amp) and instrumentation amplifiers (INA). Their main difference is Op-Amps
external feedback loop, whereas INAs has it internally, as consequence, an INA has
less circuits variability than an Op-Amp [1]. Substantially, an Op-Amp is a circuit
composed by an amplifier associated with one or more resistors to manipulate a signal
with basic operations, such as sum, derivation, integration, division, subtraction and so
forth. However, when dealing with small signals in the presence of noise, an INA has
better application due to its capability of eliminate (or, at least, drastically reduce) the
common-mode signal, which is also increased with the signal in an Op-Amp.
Although an instrumentation amplifier may be composed by only one differential
amplifier (which can also be an operational amplifier) with a few resistors, this report
aims to study an INA constructed by three amplifiers, once it guarantees the absence of
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a common-mode voltage in the output. Thus, as illustrated in figure 2 below, a 3 OpAmp INA has seven resistors in which amplifiers gain is mainly determined by

Figure 2. 3 Op-amp schematic.

The ideal circuits gain is given by:


= 1+

2.

(1)

Where,
=

(2)

Therewithal, although in the ideal case an amplifier has infinite impedance in


the input, which blocks the common-mode voltage, in practice those components must
to be reconsidered once they distort the output voltage and even a slightly variation of
any other resistor can change completely the value of common-mode rejection (CMR).
Mathematically, the common-mode signal is represented in output voltage general
expression as:
=

Wherein the variable

(3)

indicates the amplifiers gain. From [2], inadequate ac

CMR causes a large, time-varying error that often changes greatly with frequency and,
therefore, is difficult to remove at the IAs output. Also, another important specification
is the common-mode rejection ratio (CMRR), usually given in decibels (dBs), that
expresses the quality of a differential amplifier, since it is the ratio between the wanted
signals gain relative with the unwanted gain (common-mode gain):
= 20. log

(4)
2

In view of this, this report is based in a study of a particular 3 Op-Amp INA,


addressing its circuit, properties (CMR, differential and common-mode gain), physic
implementation with its due output voltages measures in compared with simulated
values for the same circuit, using the software Multisim NI 12.0.

2.

DESIGN PROBLEM
This section will cover the circuit to be studied with its simulation process

followed by a concise explanation of its construction, showing its voltage measures and
their respective mathematical analysis.
2.1

SIMULATION
In order to determine amplifiers gain (both differential and common-mode) and

circuits behaviour when submitted by different conditions, it was used the software
Multisim previously mentioned. Therefore, the circuit (illustrated in Fig. 2) simulation,
voltage values and its respective wave forms could be obtained so that it is possible to
analyse it properly.

Figure 3. Circuit with its components values.

Before running the simulation, the total gain can be determined from the
resistance values substituted in equation 1 (see Appendix A for a further
demonstration):

= 1+

2.10
2

10
= 11
10

(5)

Also, given the input voltage, the output voltage will be:
= 11.

= 11. 0,1.

(0,1.

(6)

) = 2,2.

2.1.1 Transient Analysis


Aiming to observe the effect of the common-mode voltage over a 3 Op-Amp
INA and knowing that a simulation is based in ideal conditions, it is necessary to
increase the value of

to 5

instead of 1

. Thereby, to obtain the wave-forms

it was simulated in transient analysis as indicated in the following figure:

Figure 4. Wave-form of both input and output with a frequency of 10

Calculating the differential gain with peak voltages stated from the transient
analysis:
=

2,1768
196,8918. 10

= 11,0558

(7)

Although the differential gain was expected to be 11 (as stated in equation 5), it
had an error of 0,51% due to the common-mode gain.
2.1.2 Common-mode Rejection and Common-mode Rejection Ratio
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To determine this parameter, set the differential voltage to zero, thus simulation
will show the circuits behaviour over a single input signal, which is the common-mode
voltage.

Figure 5. Common-mode voltage and output wave-forms.

From equation 3 and since the differential voltage was zeroed, resulting in an
output voltage completely determined by the common-mode signal,

can be

calculated as follows:
=

1,9643. 10
5

= 0,3929. 10

(8)

It is also possible to determine the common-mode rejection ratio by equation 4.


= 20. log

11,0558
0,3929. 10

= 88,9862

(9)

Which is an value within the interval provided in the amplifiers datasheet (see
Appendix B) and indicates a good performance of this circuit [3].
2.1.3 Resistor Matching
To demonstrate how much a resistor value affects the CMRR,

is increased

by 0,1 and the CMRR is recalculated as described above:

Figure 6. Common-mode voltage and outputs wave-forms with a different value of

22,8932. 10
5

= 4,5786. 10

(10)

= 67,6571

(11)

Thus, the CMRR:


= 20. log

11,0558
4,5786. 10

Which is 35,21% of the previous value of CMRR.


2.2

PRINTED CIRCUIT BOARD DESIGN


Using the software Easily Applicable Graphical Layout Editor version 6.5.0

(EAGLE), it is possible to design a printed circuit board for this circuit placing the correct
components (according to their sizes, which are displayed when selecting them in the
programs library) in the schematics worksheet of the program.

Figure 7. Schematic of a 3 Op-Amp INA made in EAGLE software.

After connecting all the components and checking the schematic with the
Electrical Rule Check (ERC) tool, as illustrated in figure 7 above, the circuit can be
exported to the board. Once exported, the components have to be rearranged in such a
way that their connections (routes) can be drawn in the board without improperly shortcircuits between components. The final model of this PCB is shown in figure 8 below.

Figure 8. Components with its routes to be printed in a circuit board.

2.3

PHYSICAL IMPLEMENTATION
In practice, the circuit is susceptible to a number of factors which might change

its expected behaviour, before applying any voltage on it, the circuit must to be exposed
to a continuity test and an equivalent resistance measure. The continuity test is useful to
find any undesirable short-circuit and open-circuit (that may damage the integrated
circuit of the Op-Amp if not repaired) or a defective component. Also, the equivalent
resistance can be obtained by circuit analysis without the IC:

Figure 9. Equivalent circuit without voltage sources and the amplifier.

Since this circuit is not being connected by any voltage and the absence of a
component matches as an open-circuit, it can be affirmed that the resistors are
connected in series. Therefore, the equivalent resistance should be approximately their
sum associated with respective tolerances, which is equal to 5% for each of them,
causing the effect of the propagation of error:
=

= (62 1,229)

(12)

When measured with a multimeter, the circuit board showed an equivalent


resistance equals to 61,7 between ground and output, which consists in an
acceptable value within the error tolerance of the resistance.
2.3.1 Evaluating the design
After these verifications, the circuit is turned on and, to obtain an average of the
gains and to a better comprehension of an Op-Amp operation, three different output
voltages measures was made and detailed as follows:
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Firstly, the input


starting with 2

in

corresponding

was connected to the ground and was applied a voltage


increasing by 0,25

factor till it reaches +2 , the

for each input is shown in Table 1.

Table 1. Output voltages when is applied a voltage in the inversing input.

(
(
(
(

) ,
) 13,743
)
,
) 2,781

13,750

13,760

13,734

11,011

8,206

5,528

2,732

5,505

8,297

11,052

13,782

14,279

,
14,275

,
0,011

14,270

By output values shown above, it is perceptible that for extremes values of


input, the differential gain (ratio between output voltage and input voltage) does not
correspond to what it was expected. However, it is a devices limitations consequence,
since the maximum output voltage is determined by its voltage supply, which is 15 .
Therefore, to calculate its gain, only outputs measured from an input less than 1,25 , in
module, were considered, resulting in a total of 11 relevant measures, thus:
=

Analogously, the input

= 11,028

(13)

was short-circuited to ground and the same

procedure was done in view to comprehend the inversing and non-inversing input
effects over the gain:
Table 2. Output voltages when the non-inversing input is fed.

(
(
(
(

) ,
) 14,326
)
,
) 2,812

14,328
,

14,332
,

5,564

8,262

,
13,810
,

,
10,990
,

11,016

13,708

,
8,244
,
13,705

5,493

2,828

,
13,703

,
13,704

,
0,003
-

Disregarding the output values corresponding to inputs module interval from


1,50 to 2,00 , the differential gain is:
=

= 11,070

(14)

It is possible to notice that the first output voltage acquisition had a negative
gain, whilst the second acquisition had it positive. Therefore, it depends on in which
input is being applied a voltage, so that if the inversing input is grounded while the noninversing input is fed, then the output is expected to be positive.

For the case that the circuit is composed by three Op-Amps (indicated in figure
2 as

1 ,

and

1 ), the

acts as its inversing input, causing

opposite signal value which, in turn, will have a voltage drop due to
signal acts as the inversing input of
opposite value of the signal

to have an
. Hence, this

and, finally, the systems output will have the

multiplied by its gain.

In other words, in terms of arithmetic signs, if is applied a positive voltage in


, then

should be negative, while if is applied a positive voltage in

should be positive as well.


To determine the common-mode gain, both inversing and non-inversing inputs
(

and

) should be connected together and be varied from 10

to +10 ,

thus their respective outputs are shown in table 3:


Table 3. Output voltages when both inputs are short-circuited.
,
,
,
,
,
,
,
,
,
,
,
( )
(
) 23,16 20,11 17,05 13,99 10,94 7,89 4,83 1,79 1,24 4,28 7,30
,
,
,
,
,
,
,
,
,
,

( )
(
) 10,34 13,33 16,31 19,26 22,20 25,12 28,03 30,93 33,84 36,73

As stated before, the gain is calculated dividing the output voltage by its
corresponding input voltage, therefore:
=

=
,

= 3,042. 10

(15)

Since it is not an ideal differential amplifier, the output shows a small value
(though not negligible) instead of zero due to the common-mode voltage amplified by a
common-mode gain. It is noteworthy that the output is given in a factor of thousandths
of a volt, leading the gain to be low as well.

3.

DISCUSSION AND OBSERVATIONS


So far there were covered some characteristics of an instrumentation amplifier

as well its practical results. In spite of the fact it has a very small loss due to commonmode voltage, there is another relevant factor to be considered before its use: according
to [4], most instrumentation amplifiers are simply not fast enough to faithfully track fast
common-mode signals. However, a simple solution to this problem is to add a highpass filter before the instrumentation amplifier [4].
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In practice, its high common-mode rejection ratio is indispensable in many


sectors of industry and medical instrumentation that requires an elevated precision, as
applications involving weak signals with a considerable presence of noise [5].

4.

CONCLUDING REMARKS
For the correct performance of this circuit, was necessary a theoretical

knowledge obtained from previous lectures, as well as laboratories sessions to learn


how to use the software mentioned before (Multisim and EAGLE). Also, it is possible to
affirm that the initial objectives, which is to verify the instrumentation amplifier properties
in a physical implementation, were reached after the design evaluation.
As seen in previous sessions, even though this circuit was not totally made
under ideal conditions, some equipment might not be properly calibrated and the
measures values were approximated, this circuit showed satisfactory results in general,
with a low error rate and a predicted behaviour.

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APPENDIX A: DEMONSTRATION OF 3 OP-AMP INAS GAIN


The main concepts to calculate a 3 Op-Amp INAs gain from an ideal amplifier
are its infinite input impedance and zero output impedance. Also, since it is an ideal
circuit, the common-mode voltage is not considered and both voltages sources can be
considered as a unique source, thus:

Figure A.1. Ideal schematic of studied circuit.

Knowing that by its infinite input impedance the amplifier has a virtual shortcircuit in its input and, consequently, there is no current flowing through (which, for this
circuit, means that it has only one current), from Kirchhoffs Current Law:

Isolating

and

( . 1)

from equation . 1:

( . 2)

+ .

( . 3)

Applying a voltage divider in


=

:
.
+

( . 4)
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By Kirchhoffs Node Law:

Replacing
= 2 :
.
+

, knowing that

.
+

( . 5)

= 10 and also

( . 6)

Substituting . 2 and . 3 in . 6:

10
(
2

10
(
2

( . 8)

= 11.

( . 9)

) =

+ 10(

) ( . 7)

Since

Hence:

Finally:

= 11

( . 10)

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APPENDIX B: LM324AD DATASHEET

This is part of a datasheet with relevant information about the instrumentation


amplifier LM324A (provided by Texas Instrument).

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REFERENCES
[1] TRETTER, K. (2013) Whats The Difference Between Operational Amplifiers And
Instrumentation Amplifiers? Available: http://electronicdesign.com/print/power/what-s-differencebetween-operational-amplifiers-and-instrumentation-amplifiers Last accessed: 5th Nov 2014.
[2] KITCHIN, C.; COUNTS, L. (2006). A Designer's Guide to Instrumentation Amplifiers. Available:
http://www.analog.com/static/importedfiles/design_handbooks/5812756674312778737Complete_In_Amp.pdf Last accessed: 10th Nov 2014.
[3] LAMPEN, S. (2012). CMRR: What is it and how do you get a good number? Available:
http://www.belden.co.uk/blog/broadcastav/CMRR-What-is-it-and-how-do-you-get-a-goodnumber_020540.cfm Last accessed: 10th Nov 2014.
[4] DUFF, M. (2007). Five basic mistakes to avoid when using instrumentation amplifiers. Available:
http://www.planetanalog.com/document.asp?doc_id=527518 Last accessed: 14th Nov 2014.
[5] KUGELSTADT, T. (2005). Getting the most out of your
instrumentation amplifier design. Available: http://www.ti.com/lit/an/slyt226/slyt226.pdf Last accessed:
17th Nov 2014.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
BOYLESTAD, R., NASHELSKY, L. Electronic Devices and Circuit Theory (10th edition), Prentice Hall,
2009.
STOREY, Neil. Electronics: A Systems Approach (4th edition), Prentice Hall, 2009.

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