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ESE206 - Electrical Circuits and Systems II Laboratory

Transformer Lab
1. Objectives:

1.1 Comparison of the ideal transformer versus the physical transformer

1.2 Measure some of the circuit parameters of a physical transformer to determine how they affect
transformer performance.
1.3 Investigate the ideal transformer and calculate the power delivered and absorbed.

2. Introduction

By now we should all be familiar with the wall power transformers used to power PC peripherals,
calculators, radios, and other electronic devices. These transformers convert the 110V 60Hz line
voltage to low voltage DC using a diode bridge rectifier. In addition to power supplies, transformers find
use in circuits as power line isolators, impedance matchers, pulse transformers, voltage amplifiers, and
as speaker drivers in radio circuits.

A transformer is a specific form of a coupled circuit in which the coupling mechanism is the mutual
inductances between two coils. The common magnetic flux path is provided by an iron core. A
transformer can be represented as shown in Figure 1a. A physical implementation is given in Figure

Figure 1 (a) An iron core transformer showing Figure 1 (b) Construction of an iron core
magnetic paths. transformer. For clarity the coils are
shown separated, Physically, one coil is
usually wound around the second coil to
maximize the magnetic coupling

N1, N2 are the number of turns at the primary and secondary windings; φ1 is the flux produced by I1
and φ2 is the flux produced by I2. In Figure 1a, it is seen by using the right-hand rule method that with
the currents as shown the magnetic flux produced by the coils is additive; if the secondary current
direction is reversed, the flux would be subtractive.

When coil 1 is supplied with an alternating current, the magnetic field is coupled into coil 2 which
induces a voltage V2 across the coil. The resultant current in coil 2 creates its own magnetic field
which, in turn, is coupled to coil 1. This mutual coupling results in a term called mutual
inductance, M. The mutual inductance M is related to the self inductances through the coupling
factor k (k ≤ 1):

M=k L1 / L 2

where L1 and L2 are the self-inductances of coils 1 and 2, respectively. The symbol for mutually
coupled coils is shown in Figure 2. For sinusoidal steady-state the relationship between the voltage and
currents (phasors) is given below:

V1 = jωL1 I 1 ± jωMI 2
V2 = ± jωMI 1 + jωL2 I 2

Figure 2: Schematic symbol for mutually coupled


The dots shown in the drawing will indicate the sign of M. By convention, if both currents are leaving the
dots or entering the dots, the sign of M is positive (i.e. the fluxes are additive). A consequence of a
subtractive M is a 180 deg phase reversal between the input and output voltages measured from a
reference point.

An equivalent circuit model of a lossless transformer is shown in Figure 3 (T-model). The equivalent
inductances are La, Lb and Lm and have the following expressions. Notice the sign reversal for M in the
expressions for La and Lb.

La = L1 m M
Lb = L2 m M (2)
Lm = ± M

Figure 3: Equivalent circuit of a lossless linear transformer.

3. Ideal iron core transformer

In the ideal transformer the core flux φ links both coils (i.e. the leakage flux is zero) so that the coupling
coefficient k=1. We also assume that the winding resistance is zero and the hysteresis and eddy
current losses in the iron core are zero. The symbol for the ideal transformer is shown in Figure 4. The
relations that describe the ideal transformer are given below. Z1 is the impedance seen at the primary
when the load impedance is ZL (impedance reflection in the primary).

V2 N 2
= =n
V1 N 1
I2 N 1
=− 1 =−
I1 N2 n

Z1 = Z L / n 2
Figure 4 Symbol for the ideal transformer' ZL is
the load impedance.

4. The Non-ideal iron core transformer

The transformer to be used in this lab session is pictured in Figure 5 a. It is normally used in the audio
frequency band (200 Hz to 5 kHz). Either coil can be energized. If the 11.5x coil is energized, we have
a 11.5:1 step-down transformer; if the 1x coil is used as the primary (energized coil) we have a step-up
transformer. By convention, the energized coil is considered to be the primary, the load side the
While any well-designed transformer is highly efficient, practical transformers do have losses,
magnetic leakage, and winding capacitance that will have an effect on the behavior of the transformer.
In well-designed transformers these losses are low, but they do exist.

Figure 5: (a) Audio transformer used in the lab (P side is the
(a) x11.5 coil); (b) schematic representation of the audio
transformer with center taps. For the lab, we won't use the
center taps.


While properly designed transformers are assumed to be essentially ideal over the frequency range for
which they were designed, it would be interesting to note the parameters of a physical transformer and
their high frequency effect on transformer performance. Figure 6 shows the equivalent circuit that takes
into account the non-idealities of an iron core transformer. We have added the effects of the
resistances of the windings, Ra and Rb. The losses in the core is represented by the resistor Rm. The
capacitors Ca and Cb represent the winding capacitances that are very small so that their impedance
can usually be neglected in the mid-frequency range of operation. Since the circuit contains both
capacitive and inductive components (RLC circuit) a condition for resonance exists at high frequency.
In this lab you will measure and investigate the effects of these physical parameters on transformer

Figure 6 Equivalent circuit for a non-ideal iron core transformer

Ra = primary winding resistance Rb = secondary winding resistance

La = primary leakage inductance Lb = secondary leakage inductance
Ca = primary winding capacitance Cb = secondary windig capacitance
Rm represents core losses (hysteresis and eddy current losses) n =N2/N1
Lm = mutual inductance

The mutual inductance Lm is much greater than La, the leakage inductance. Since the impedance
seen at the primary terminals Z1 = ZL/n2 (ZL is the load impedance in the secondary circuit) we can
simplify the circuit by reflecting the secondary impedance to the primary side as shown in Figure 7a.
The circuit can be simplified a shown in Figure 7b. The approximation is valid since the current in Lm
and Rm is very small as compare to I1. We have also neglected the effect of the capacitances.



Figure 7 (a) Equivalent circuit for the non-ideal transformer in which Lb and Rb have been reflected
into the primary; (b) Approximate transformer equivalent circuit where Lw = La + Lb/n2, Rw = Ra +
Rb/n2. The capacitance has been ignored which is a valid assumption at low and mid-frequencies.

5. Pre-lab Assignment
5.1 Consider the following circuit with an ideal transformer.

Figure 8 Circuit schematic with ideal transformer

a. The currents in the primary and secondary loops (I1 and I2).
b. The voltages V1 and V2 over the primary and secondary terminals.
c. Power supplied by the source and power dissipated by the 1KOhm resistance and the 8.2
Ohm load resistance. Compare the total power supplied to the total power dissipated.
d. The value of the impedance Z1 seen at the input of the primary coil.

5.2 Equivalent Circuit of the linear transformer.

Prove that the values of La, Lb and Lm in the equivalent circuit of Figure 3 are equal to:

La = L1 m M
Lb = L2 m M
Lm = ± M
Hint: You can prove this relationship by comparing the expressions (1) of the mutual
inductances with those of the equivalent circuit: find the expressions of V1 and V2 as a
function of I1 and I2 for the circuit of Figure 3. These expressions should be the same as
those if Figure 2.

6. Experimental Procedure

A. Parts and instruments:

• Audio transformer (11.5:1): Mouser Electronics, No. 42TM013
• 1x scope probe
• Function generator
• Oscilloscope
• Power supply
• Multimeter
• Components: 8.2 Ohm, 1KOhm resistors, and a 68nF capacitor.

B. Experiments:

B1. Measurement of the transformer parameters with the Philips PM6303 RLC Meter
To measure the parameters of a real (non-ideal) transformer you will use the Philips RLC
meter. This meter provides a 1 kHz, 2 Vrms test voltage and displays the dominant reactive
component and associated resistive values (serial and parallel resistances, Rs and Rp,
respectively) of the device under test.
You will be using the transformer as a step-down transformer with a 11.5:1 ratio. Use the x11.5
coil as the primary. The parameters Lw, Rw, Lm and Rm (see Figure 7b) can be determined
from short-circuit test and open-circuit tests:
a. Short the x1 secondary coil. This will reflect as a short across the x11.5 primary coil
so that the RLC meter will measure the leakage reactance Lw and winding resistance
Rw. Obtain the values corresponding to the series connections (see Figure 7b).
Record these values.
b. Open circuit the secondary coil. Since the value of Lm and Rm are much larger
than those of Lw and Rw, respectively, you can ignore Lw and Rw, compared to Lm
and Rm. Measure the values of the inductance and resistor seen at the primary coil.
Obtain the values corresponding to the parallel circuit. Write down the values.
Compare the values of Lw and Rw to those measured here and verify that Lm and Rm
are much larger than Lw and Rw.

B2. Measurements of current and voltages in the transformer circuit

The goal of this experiment is to experimentally verify the operation of the transformer.

a. Build the circuit of Figure 9 (same as the one in the pre-lab). Use as 8.2 Ω load resistance RL
(this is similar to the load of a speaker). For source resistance Rs use a 1 KΩ resistor. Adjust
the output of the function generator for a sinusoid of 5 Vrms and 1kHz (check on the
oscilloscope). Measure the actual values of the resistors.

Figure 9: Circuit with a 11.5:1 audio transformer and a load of 8.2 Ω.

b. Measure the voltage V1 and V2 (in V rms) over the primary and secondary coils using the
oscilloscope. Calculate the turn ratio n (V2/V1) and 1/n. Observe the phase of V2 in reference
to V1. Place the dots on the transformer of Figure 9. Compare the measured values of V1 and
V2 with those calculated in the pre-lab.
c. Measure the voltage over the 1 KOhm resistor and calculate the corresponding current I1 in
the primary coil. You can use the multimeter for this measurement (remember that the
multimeter gives rms values). Find also the current I2 in the secondary loop. Calculate the
current ratio and compare it to the voltage ratio. Also compare the measured current values
with those calculated in the pre-lab. [Note: when you use the amp meter to measure the
current I2, use the Fluke Multimeter and use the current range of 200mA].
d. Based on the measurement of V1 and I1 what is the resistance seen at the input of the
primary coil? How does it compare to the one calculated in the pre-lab?
e. Use the measured values of current and voltage to calculate the power delivered by the
function generator and the power absorbed by the two resistors. Compare the generated and
dissipated power. Explain the difference (hint: the transformer is not ideal).

Note: for the calculations you can use RMS or amplitude values. Be consistent in your calculations.

B3. Transformer frequency response

The audio transformer should have a constant voltage ratio over it specified frequency range. The
manufacturer gives a frequency response of 300-3.4kHz with a variation of ±3dB (note: dB
corresponds to 20xLog10A). As discussed earlier, at very high frequencies the effect of the capacitors
will be seen as a resonance that will cause the ratio n=V2/V1 to increase considerably above the
nominal value n (=1/11.5). The goal of this experiment is to measure the frequency response over a
large frequency range and verify that the response is within the specification of the manufacturer. You
will also measure the response at very high frequencies and measure the resonant frequency. This will
allow you to find the parasitic capacitance.

B3.1 Frequency response of the step-down (x11.5 coil as primary) transformer

a. Connect a function generator to the x11.5 coil and leave the secondary open. Set the
generator frequency to 1 kHz sine waveform and adjust the output of the function generator
to 10 Vp-p. Use a 1:1 scope probe to measure the secondary voltage (don’t not use the white
scope probes (they cannot be switched to the 1x setting). The x10 probe contains circuits
causing multiple resonances to appear.

b. Starting at f = 100 Hz increase the frequency to 5 MHz (on a log scale) to obtain a
frequency response curve of |V2/V1|. Also measure the phase of V2 in reference to
V1. You will notice that at high frequencies (MHz range) the output voltage starts to
increase quickly. This is a result of the resonance due to the inductance Lw and the
capacitance. Increase the number of measurements around this resonant
frequency fo so that you can plot the frequency response accurately around this
peak. Plot 20Log|V2/V1| (in dB) vs frequency.

c. As mentioned, at high frequencies the capacitances of the windings cannot be

ignored and will determine the value of the resonant frequency. The equivalent
model of the transformer can now be written as shown in Figure 10.

Figure 10 Simplified equivalent model of the transformer at high frequencies

The expression of the radial resonant frequency can be written as follows:

fo ≈ (5)
2π Lw C r

Cr includes the primary and reflected secondary capacitance: Cr = Ca + n2Cb. Use

this expression to find the value of Cr. Assume that Ca << n2Cb, and calculate the
value of the capacitance Cb of the secondary coil. Does the input capacitance of
the oscilloscope contribute a significant amount to Cb? (You can read the input
capacitance on the oscilloscope or on the probe, in case you use a probe).

NOTE: It is possible that you will observe multiple resonant frequencies if you go high
enough in frequency. Use the first peak for fo to calculate the capacitance.

B3.2. Transformer resonance with capacitive loads

Now you will add a capacitor of 68nF over the secondary terminals and measure the frequency
response of |V2/V1|, similarly as you did in the previous section. Since you add a larger capacitor than
the parasitic winding capacitances, you can expect that the resonant frequency will be smaller.

a. Select the x11.5 winding as the primary side of the transformer and set V1 = 10 V p-p at a
frequency of 1 kHz.

b. Load the secondary with the 68 nF capacitor. Vary the frequency from 100 Hz to about
5MHz and record V1 and V2. Increase the number of measurements around the
resonant frequency.

c. Plot the frequency response of 20Log|V2/V1| (in dB) vs. frequency (log scale) This plot
can be drawn on the same graph as the previous one. Compare the location of the
resonant frequency.


1. Engineering Circuit Analysis, D. Irwin, J. Wiley&Sons, 7th ed. 2002.

2. The Analysis and Design of Linear Circuits Thomas & Rosa, Prentice Hall 1994
3. Electronics Engineer's Reference Book Edited by F.F. Mazda 5th ed. 1983
4. Electronic Designers Handbook, Landee, et al, McGraw-Hill 1957

Written by G. Hunka. Updated and revised by J. Van der Spiegel, January 25 2005.