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PHYS 131 - Introductory Physics

Experiment 3 – Resistance, Current and Voltage


1. Investigate the relationship between the current

flowing through a device and the applied voltage
across the device

2. Learn how to use a DC power supply and digital


3. Demonstrate proficiency in drawing a graph, drawing

the best straight line among data points, and
determining the slope of that line

4. Demonstrate proficiency in calculating a percent


Apparatus Required

 One “15 Ohm” Resistor (with the brown, green and

black colored bands)
 One “47 Ohm” Resistor (with the yellow, purple
and black colored bands)
 DC Power Supply
 2 Digital Multimeters
 5 Banana plug leads and 2 alligator clip leads
 A computer for plotting data

General Instructions for Use of the Digital Multimeter as

an Ohmmeter.

1. Set the multimeter to the 200  (Ohm) setting.

2. Connect the banana leads to the  and COM terminals.

3. Connect ends of the banana leads to the two wire leads

of the resistor you wish to measure.
General Instructions for Use of the Digital Multimeter as
an Ammeter

1. Set the multimeter on the ammeter mode at 200 mA DC

setting. (See instructor to verify your setup!)

2. Plug the banana leads to the A/mA and COM terminals.

Watch and make sure the current doesn’t exceed 200 mA.

3. The multimeter must be set in series with the resistor

in the circuit. If it is in parallel you will blow a
fuse and will pay the costs of a new fuse ($1.00)

4. When the digital multimeter displays a "1," this means

that a higher range is needed.

5. Adjust the range of the multimeter so that three

digits are displayed for the largest reading. Then
use the same range of the multimeter for all of the
current measurements for that device. You may need a
different range for a different device, but use the
same range for each current reading for that device.


I. Yellow, purple and black resistor

1. Begin by measuring the resistance of the yellow,

purple, and black resistor using the multimeter in
Ohmmeter mode. This is your measured value of
resistance, which is different, most likely, than
the manufacturer’s reported value.
2. Draw a circuit diagram for a DC power supply and your
particular resistor in series.
3. Draw a new diagram indicating how you would add a
multimeter in ammeter mode to measure current in the
circuit #2.
4. Draw a new diagram indicating how you would add
another multimeter in voltmeter mode to measure
voltage across the DC power supply in the circuit
5. Put the DC power supply, two digital multimeters, and
one of the yellow, purple and black resistors in a
series circuit (just as you drew in #4, above). Be
sure that positive current flowing out of the red
terminal of the power supply will flow from the red
to the black terminals inside the multimeter. Use
the second multimeter in voltmeter mode in parallel
with the power supply to set and measure the
6. Remember (from the previous lab) that, before turning
on the power supply, you should turn the voltage
adjust to zero (counterclockwise) and the current
adjust to maximum (clockwise).
7. Change the voltage of your power supply from 0.5 V to
5.0 V in steps of 0.5 V (10 measurements). Record
the values of the current in Amps for each value.
Record these voltages and the resulting currents in
a neat table. Be sure to indicate the units used in
each column of your data. Notice that if you use the
A/mA setting, the screen will give you mA. In such
a case, divide each number by 1000 to get Amps.

II. Brown, green and black resistor

Repeat this experiment (steps 1-6, above) with the

brown, green and black resistor.

III. Analysis of Data

In this experiment you will plot the graphs on a

spreadsheet in Excel. Choose scales for each axis so
that the data points are spread over most of the area
occupied by the graph.

1. Plot a graph of current versus voltage for each

of the two resistors. On each graph be sure to:
a. Graph the dependent variable (on the y-axis)
versus the independent variable (on the x-axis)
b. Include a title at the top
c. Label each axis
d. Indicate the units for each axis
e. Choose an appropriate scale for each axis
f. Fit a line using a spreadsheet utility to
your data.

2. Calculate the resistance of the resistor from the

slope of the current versus voltage graph for the
resistor. In doing this:
a. Plot the best straight line among the data
b. Generate a linear fit equation to data line.
c. Calculate the resistance from the slope.
Show algebraically why the slope gives the
resistance indicated.

3. Calculate the percent difference between the

value of the resistance obtained from the graph
and the value of the resistance obtained from the
multimeter. Use the multimeter value as a
reference, and indicate by what percent
difference the graph value deviates from it.
Notice that a negative percent difference
indicates that the value obtained from the graph
is smaller than the value obtained from the