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CORNELL-DUBILIER ELECTRIC CORPORATION

Afflllald with Federal Pacific E le c trl c Company


SOU T H PL A INFIEL D NEW JERSEY

VOLUME 25 - NO. 1 JANUARY - FEBRUARY 1960


POSTMASTER: If undeliverable for any
reason, notify stating rea son, on form Se c. 34 .66 P. l. & R.
3547 postage for which is g uaranteed. U. S. POSTAGE
PA I D
f R ANI( EA ME S So. Pla inflold, N. J.
Pe rmit No. 1
5 RICHA RD S O N AV[,
A TTLE B ORO ,M A SS o
1960-
marks the beg inning of a second half
century of service of our compan y to the electronics and
electrical industry. We are proud and grateful to our
many friends throughout the wor ld for their loyalty and
support over the past 50 years. For the fu ture we pledge
our determination to continue to mer it the favor of ou r
old fr iends and to make many new friends and readers
for our publication ' 't h e ca pa c i to r '' . May this
year of 1960 be one of renewed hea lth, happiness and
prospe rity for you and your loved ones.
Sincerely,
CORNELL-DUBILIER ELECTRIC CORPORATION.

INDEX TO ARTICLES
appearing in the

1959 ISSUES
al ~e e-Z' eapaatM
Transisto r N etwo rk Pa ram ete rs ..............................Ja n.-Fe b.
Modern Substitution Boxes ...................................... M a r.-A pri I
Servici ng T ransistor Audi o Ampl ifie rs .................. M ay-Jun e
Su rvey of So lid-State D evices .................................. Jul y-A ug.
Stabilizing T ra ns istor C ircui ts ................................ Sept.-Oct.
Transistori zed fregu ency Standa rd .......................... Nov.- Dec.

Copyright, 1960. Comell-Dubllior Eloctnc Corporation.


POTENTIOMETER OPERATING DATA
A number of simple three-terminal It is impossib le fo r a short articl e
devices are ava ilable to the electronic to cover all ex tant three-terminal de-
circuit desig ner. The~e devices are im- vices, or a ll of the tt:chnicn l aspects
portant in circui t development and test- of even a few of them. The pur pose
ing, and a re inval uable fo r perfo rming of tb is article is to point out the im-
such functio ns as voltage d ivision, portant operating characteri stics of
impedance matching, analog compu- one of the most versatile of all such
tation, stage isolation, filtrati on, and devices, the potentiometer, and to
frequency selection. In addition, one cl ea r away some of the popul ar mi s-
th ree-terminal dev ice, the transistor, conceptions held by technicians con-
provides amplification and can oscil- cern ing its o peratio n. W e feel that
late. Three-terminal devices are em- the proper perspective wi ll promo te
ployed singly and in co mbination. greater utility and mo re accurate op-
So me difference of opinion exists eration of systems into whi ch the tech-
regarding th e desig nation three-ter- nician frequ ently inco rporates the po-
minal. W e appl y this term to those tentiometer.
d evices which have three physical
terminal s; o ne input, o ne output, and 0-C Potentiometer
one commo n. Some engineers insist
that a ll input-ou tput devices are four- The potentiometer is one: of th e
terminal, and they mny be in nature. simp lest of three-terminal devices. Its
However, it is easy to point out the common a pplications are voltage di-
difference. For exa mp le, a conven- vi sion. ga in control, sig nal attenua-
tional transfo rmer unquestionably is tion, analog computation, circuit bal-
four-terminal, while an ~u to tran sform ancing, and vo ltage comparison . Prac-
cr is three-terminal in configuration. ti.:a l potent iometers arc widely used

r--- )
I
I 1
I
I
I R,

c~
I

E,
I
I
~--}' I
LOAD

GENERATOR II
I
I
I
R, --
3
I
EI z
I
[~
'f

Fig. I. Practical Circuit of Potonliometer.

JANUARY - FEBRUARY, 1960 Page 3


1n both conti nu ocsly-vari:ib le a nd step A second mi sconceptio n is that l he
types. In f:tct , the re u se is so com- outpu t resistance (impedance) , R.., of
mon tha t many fa lse assumptio ns arc the po tenti o meter is equal simp ly to
mnde regard ing the ir operation and the resistance incl uded between P o ints
applicatio n. 2 and 3 at any setting; that is, is equ a l
to R,. This coul d be tru e o nl y if R.
Figure I sho ws the basic circ uit in were very high w it h respect to R,.
which the potentio meter is used. Oper- which is a l most nevcr the potcnti-
ation of t he potentiometer must a lways omcter-gcnera to r relatio nsh ip. Other-
be con sidered with resp ect to its to tal wise, the re~ista n ce looking b:1ck in to
resistance (R,) , the re<istance be tween the complete c ircuit mu st b e the par-
its to p and wiper (R:) , resistance (R.) al le l combinatio n o f R, and the sum
b etween wiper and bottom, generator of R, and R., and this is less than R,.
(source) res istance (R. ) , and load re- Thus, the ou tput res ista nce is:
s i ~ tan ce ( R1.) . It is common to sup-
p ose thnt the potentiometer di vi des R, (R, + R. )
th e input vol tage (E ,) by the ratio o( ( 2) R.. = - -- - -
R, to R, at any of its settings; that R, + (R, + R. )
is, tha t E, = E, ( R./ R,). But this rnn Th is assumes tha t R1. is ve ry h igh and
be true only when R, is very high with acco rdi ng ly does not lo:id R, a ppreci-
respect to R,, a nd Ri, is very h igh with
abli.
respect to R, ( say, 100: 1 in each case).
Other wise, R1. in parallel with R, will It is important to no te tha t the
reduce the resistance between Po ints hig h est va lue of R. is reachcd when
2 a nd 3 to less than the value indi- the se tting (Point 2 ) is such tha t R. =
ca ted by the potentio me te r setting. y,. R1 When the wiper is at the top
The imput voltage (E,) at Po int l is of th e potentio me te r (Poi nt I ) , R.
reduced by the fac to r R,/ (R. + R1 ) . fa lls approx im., te ly to the va l ue of
R. , when R , is much highe r tha n R .
The erro r in th e latter instance may be
e liminated , of course, by actua lly And whe n the wiper is at the b o tto m
measuring E, with a vo ltmeter. The (Po int 3) , Ro fa ll s to zero. Thus, if
volta ge d i vision is: R, is a 10.000-ohm poten tiomete r
w inding connected to a signa l g ene r-
ator havi ng 50 ohms o utput res ista nce
R. R1. (R, ) an d the loa d resist:ince (R1.) is
R,+--- very hig h (e.g., a vtvm, osci lloscope,
R, + R1. or g r id input of a voltage a mpl ifier
(I) E, = E, x stage) , the ci rcuit output resistance,
R., has the fo l lowing v;tlues (from
R.+ R,+ - - - Equatio n 2) : zer o at Point 3, 25 12
R,+ R1. !1 a t Point 2 (the midpoint of the
potentiometer range) , and 49.75 n
at Po int I . Applying Equati o n ( I ) to
R, R1. the same example, we find, however.
t hat the output vo ltage (E:) at th e
R, +
f- R1.
mi dpoi nt of the poten tiomete r ran gi:
(where R,= R,=5000 !1) stil l is
R, R1.
approximatdy V2 E, when R 1. is a,.
1 R, + - - -
n, +R1. sumed 1 megohm. (T o bt- cxact. E: =
0.498 E,.)

Page 4 THE C-D CAPACITOR


INPUT R,{ R, { >-.----.

OUTPUT

R1 = 100 Rg R2 = 100 R1 = 10,000 R9


R3 = 100 R2 = 10,000 R1

Fig. 2. Cascaded Potentiometers.

A third miscomcption is tha t th e tu 5,000 n and to 8333 n when the


input resist.rnce (impedance) , R1, of wipe r is at the midpo int.
the potentiome ter is the tota l p oten- The foregoing discussion :10d ex-
ti ome ter winding resista nce, R,. This amples show in simple quantitati ve
could be true only if lh we re extreme- terms th e importance of se lecting R,
ly high so as to impose virtuall y no high with r espect to R., and RL high
load upon the potenti ome ter . Other- with respect to R1. When potenti-
wise, the resistance looking intu the ometers are cascaded, as in Figure 2,
potenti ome ter mu st be the sum of R: and the ir setting s are to be read from
in series with the par all e l combina- resistance-calibrated dia ls, each suc-
tion of R, a nd RL which wi ll make R1 cess ive potenti ometer will introdu ce
less than R,. Thus, the input resistance minimum loading erro r on the pre-
1s: ceding one when its total resistance,
R, R,. R,, is much higher than that of its
( 3) R1 = R: + - - - predecessor. In the 3-pote nti ometcr
R,+ R1. arrangement shown, R, is at least 100-
Agai n u sing lhe ex:un pl e of the R., R: = lOOR, = 10,000Rc, a nd R,
I0,000-ohm po tentiometer with a ! - = JOOR:= 10,000R,. In practical sys-
megohm load, we can drdcrmine by tems where the resistance soon would
mea ns of Equation (3) that the input become unwi eldy, d-c amp lifiers may
rcsista nr.:e, R1, is 9901 fl when the be introduced between pote nti o me ters
wipe r is a t the top (Point l) of th e fo r isolatio n.
poten tio me te r, and is 9975 n w!:en
the wipe r is a t the mid point {Po int 2) A-C Potentiometer
wh er e R: = R, = 5000 n. If R1. is Simp le potentiomete r circuits may
reduced to l 0,000 ohms, the value of be employed in a-c circuits without
R1 when the wipe r is at Po int l drops modifica tion and may be treated as

JANUARY - FEBRUARY, 1960 Page 5


INPUT

( A)

Fi9. 3. A-C Pote ntiomctors.

r esista nces when the potentiometers operation where R must be 0.2 meg-
have negligible reacti ve components. o hm, C may be chosen 0. 1 fd. In thi s
Hig h-resistance, wirewound u n i ts of instance. the phase shift will be less
ten h ave app reciable inductance, how- than I degn:e and the attenuati o n bet-
ever, a nd the resu lting impedance at ter tha n 0.999.
th e opera ting frequency acco rdingly Capaci ti ve potentiometers arc ad-
mu st be taken into acco unt. va ntageous in so me systems, especia lly
In simpl e a-c circui ts, the potenti- a l radio frequencies. T he vo ltage di-
ometer often is connected in ser ies vision is proportio na I to the ra tio of
with a bl ocki ng capacitor, as in Fig- the rcactances in th e seri es st ring .
ure 3 (A) for purposes of d-c iso la- Figure 3 (6) shows one arrangement
ti on. Whe n this is done, Capacitance in which the imput capal itur C, (cor-
C must be chosen such that its reatt- responding to Resistor R, in the re-
ance at the opera ting frequency is very
sistive potentiometer, Figur<: I) is
low with respect to Resistance R. This
ha> a twofold adva ntage. The voltage fixed, and the o utput c.1p.1citor C:
drop aLru>s the capaci to r is minimized . (correopunding to Resistor R, ) is vari -
.is al~o the phase shift introduced by able. The fixed react1nce of C, limit>
RC combination. Thu s, for 1000-cycle the max imum value of th e ou tput

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voltage. Furthermore, the input im- generator. That is, the capacitance
pedance of the potentiometer varies looking in from the input termi nals
as the setting of C, is changed . is constant, whi le the output capaci t-
ance is variab le.
Figure 3(C) shows a continuously-
variable capacitive potentiometer which Capacitance-type a-c potentiometers
does not have the maximum-limiting introdu ce a problem when they are
disadvantage of the unit illus trated by connected to inductive generators or
Figure 3(B). In this circu it. a 2-ga ng loads, s ince they form tuned circuits
variabl e ca paci tor, C.-C,, is so con- with these devices. Before selecting
structed that C. is at maximum capacit- the capacitive eleme nts for such po-
ance whe n C1 is at minimum, and vice tentiometers, t11e possibility of trou-
versa. A constant value of input im- b lesome resonance at the operating
pedance therefore is presented to the frequency or its important harmonics

. r D-C SOURCE

+ +
D-C +
Adjustable SOURCE
D-C D-G o-c
Control v OUTPUT OUTPUT
Voltage

+
(A) TUBE-TYPE Equivalent Circuit

D-C SOURCE
+
Re
+ +
D-G +
SOURCE
D-C
OUTPUT j r% oJTFG
~UT

( 8) TRANSISTOR-TYPE Equivalent Circuit

Fiq. 4. Act.ivo Potentiometers.

J ANUARY - FEBRUARY, 1960 Page 7


alt0rdingly must be investiga ted. Un- Jn Figu re 4(B), the d-c voltage
lik e their d-c counterpart, a-c poten- wh ich is to b divided by the potcn
tiometers require >hid<ling when they tiomc:ter supplies the coll ector po
arc U>t:d at frequ1::n cie> higher than t<ential of the transistor, Q, through
audio. At most radio frcquenc ics, the the extern:\! coll ector resi ~ tor, R . The
shi elding must be ex te nsive and stray latter is ir. series with the internal
capacita nces within the potentiometer collec tor-emitt..:r resistance, re, as
must be e limina ted or minimized . shown by the equival ent ci rcuit. An
adjustable d-c current applied to the
Active P01emiomc1er base-emitter circuit of tlie transistor,
By utilizing the vari.1ble output re- with the base of the NPN transistor
,i,rnm:e of an active cle ment (tube or positive, v:iries re from a high value
transistor), an electrica lly-controlled (corresponding to cutoff, when the
potentiometer having high control sen con trol curre:1t is zt:ro) to a low va lue
si1ivity may be obtained. Figure 4 (dete rmined by the collector cu rrent
shows circuits of active po tentiometers flow which, in turn, is a function of
of the two types. the source voltage and Re). Jf the
In Figu re 4 (A) , the d-c voltage externa l load resistance is very high
which is to be d ivided by the po with respc:ct to Re, the junction of R.
tentiomder suppl ies the p late poten- and re rises approx imately to the
tial of the triode tube, V, through the source voltage whe n lhe transistor is
ex te rnal pbte res istor, R,.. Th e latter cut off. When the tr:rnsistor is ton-
is in sc:ric:s with the internal plate du cting, thi s junction voltage drops
t.1thode resistance:. r,., of the tube, as to a much lower va lue. \'(lith a high-
shown by the cqu iv:dc:nl c ircuit. An beta transistor, the control current
:1dj ustab le d-c voltage app li ed be- wi ll be on ly a few microamperes, and
tween gr id a nd cathode, with the a small change in this cu rre nt w ill
grid negative, varies r 11 from a high produl'e a large shift in the resistance
value (corrc:sponding to grid cutoff re.
vol tage) to a low value (d etermined The active potentiometer suffe rs
by the: plate current flow which, in from its in ability to be reduced to
turn, is a func tion of the source vo lt- zero output resistance. The reason fo r
age and R1.). If the cx t<:rn:d load re this is that neither the tube nor the
sisrance is very high with respect to r1,, transisto r ca n safe!}' carry currents
the junction of R,, a nd r 11 ri ses approx high enough to attain this state. How-
imatcl) to the source: volt11gc, when e ver, rt:si stanccs as lo w as a few
the tube is cu t off . When the tube is tenths of an o hm may be reached with
conduc ting, this juncti o n voltage some transistors. With in its limita -
drops to a much lower va lu e. \'(lhcn tions, th e active potentiometer is ad-
V is a high-transconduc tance tube, a van tageous in automatic systems in
small change in grid control voltage which a small contro l vo ltage or
produce> a largc shift in resistance r 1 rnrrent is utili zed to contro l or stabil -
By "''versi ng the contrnl-voltage pol ize operations of various sorts. Typi
arit)'. u that the grid is posit ive, ca l app lications are voltage regula-
l.1rge values of plate current (i,,) will tors. current regu lators, automatir
Row, and the junction will fa ll to a o utput atten uators. a utomati c a nd
s ti ll lo we r vo ltage, as 3 resu lt of the manua l speed controls, tempera ture
drop, i,.R.,, across the 1extcrn:d p late controls. light d im mers, and servo-
resistor, R, .. mechanisms.

Page 8 THE C-D CAPACITOR