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In virtually every profession, devices exist which convert physical quantities into electrical signals. One familiar example of this is the microphone, which converts sound waves into a voltage that changes with time. In many cases, these quantities are changing very fast, so fast that the electronic signals they produce cannot be measured with the digital multimeters that we have used thus far in this course. The oscilloscope (or scope) allows us to view signals that are changing many times per second, and to see events that occur in a split second. In this lab we will use the oscilloscope to make some practical measurements of RC circuits. First you must become acquainted with the oscilloscope and at the end of this period, you should: 1. Understand how to connect the signal generator and oscilloscope to a circuit using a circuit diagram. 2. Know what is meant by a BNC connector. 3. Know what is meant by an alligator clip. 4. Be able to use the oscilloscope to (a) measure the period of a signal using a calibrated time base by understanding the 1X-10X switch. (b) measure the voltage amplitude of a signal.

Figure 1: Oscilloscope Screen. Oscilloscope: 1. Your oscilloscope consists of a BNC-2120 data acquisition board and a computer. 2. On the desktop you should have a screen that looks like the above picture. 3. The Acquire On button should be showing. Click the arrow in the top left corner to start the program. It should look black, but the “timeout” button will be lighted (green) until a signal is attached to the BNC-2120. Function Generator: 1. Locate the “on/oﬀ” button and turn the power on. The power indicator lamp should light up indicating the power is on.

MAIN) to AI 7 Channel on the BNC-2120 to get a sine wave on your oscilloscope.2 2. Keep the “AMPLITUDE” dial in the middle range. or “DC OFFSET” knobs.2 increments) divisions or boxes on the screen and multiplying by the SEC/DIV setting. 3. Adjust the “FREQUENCY” knob to until the sine wave looks similar to the sine wave below.3 ms for 1 period of that sine wave. “INVERT”.Figure 2: Function Generator. 2. . 5. Readings can be achieved by counting the major and minor (by . 4.0 kHz) and the FUNCTION at the sine wave. Set the “RANGE” at 1K (now adjusting the frequency knob gives values of .3 X 1 ms/div = 8. (NOTE: The “Acquire” button should now be green) Figure 3: Oscilloscope Trace. So the reading in the illustration above is 8. Horizontal system controls of the oscilloscope 1. Set the “SEC/DIV” knob at 1 ms/div. Use the BNC-BNC and hook up the function generator (from Output. “DUTY”. DO NOT depress or turn the “VOLTS OUT”. “SWEEP”.

At this point you should have a sine wave on your screen. voltages change so fast they cannot be measured with a simple voltmeter). . therefore you just divide your reading by 10. if you do not have a nice signal consult your instructor. We called RC the time constant for the circuit. t1/2 1 =− 2 RC (3) (4) Procedure: Figure 4: Experimental Circuit. To answer this question we simply take the equation from the discharge curve V = Vo e− RC t (1) and substitute Vo /2 for V and substitute t1/2 for t. Set the “HORIZONTAL MAG. You can use the “HORIZONTAL POSITION” knob to adjust your signal horizontally. (keep this button on 1X to ﬁnd the signal) 3. we were interested in answering the question. Considering that the values for the resistor and capacitor in this laboratory makes the time constant much shorter. we obtain ln Solving for t1/2 t1/2 = RC ln(2) 1 Note that − ln( 2 ) = ln(2) and the argument is similar for the charging curve and yields the same result. If the “MAG” switch is set at 10X then the entire screen (10 boxes total) represents the number at which the sec/div dial is set.” switch at 1X. Take some time now to adjust diﬀerent knobs on both the function generator and the oscilloscope to see how your waveform changes. Set the “VOLTS/DIV” knob at 5 V/div. (i.e. In the experiment on the analysis of slow RC circuits. then solve for t1/2 . Vo /2 = Vo e− RC t (2) Canceling the Vo s and taking the natural log of both sides. What will the voltage across the capacitor be when t = RC?.2. Theory Now you are ready to use the oscilloscope to analyze a circuit similar to the circuit used in the previous experiment. At this setting each box on the screen represents the number at which the sec/div dial is set. then it turns out to be more useful to ask “How much time has elapsed when V=Vo/2?”. REMEMBER to return to the previous settings when youre ready to continue. Lets call this time t1/2 . Vertical system controls of the oscilloscope 1.

Press “Acquire On” button to return to the real time signal. Set up the above circuit (ﬁgure 4 with single capacitor and resistor provided).” switch on the program to stretch out the signal as much as possible. 2. depress the “Acquire On’ button to “Acquire Oﬀ” to freeze the signal. Now build a circuit with two capacitors in series and measure t1/2 for this circuit. The simplest way to do this is to adjust the position of the trace so that it is 2 symmetric vertically and so that the switch of the function generator occurs at one of the vertical lines. Then adjust the amplitude on the function generator and the vertical position on the oscilloscope until the signal is symmetric vertically about the center of the screen and almost ﬁlls the screen in the vertical direction. Calculate and record the theoretical value for the time constant in each case using the values marked on the capacitors and resistor. Record t1/2 and its uncertainty from the scope screen and calculate the experimental time constant (RC) from equation # 4. Note that the scope trace is equivalent to graphing voltage versus time for the voltage across the capacitor. 6. Then we simply count divisions from the maximum to the point where the trace crosses the horizontal centerline. 4. 3. You should now have a charging (or discharging) curve on the scope. If your signal becomes too unstable. This will reduce the uncertainty in your measurement. Set the function generator to square wave. Record this value and calculate the experimental time constant (RC) for this circuit. Figure 5: Voltage vs Time for RC Circuit. 7. Use the “Horizontal Timebase Dial” and the 10X “HORIZONTAL MAG. Find the time constant for the circuit you have constructed. 5. To ﬁnd the time constant for the circuit we must ﬁnd the time it takes to discharge from the maximum value to 1 of the maximum value. Record this value and again calculate the experimental time constant (RC). .1. Add an identical capacitor in parallel with the ﬁrst and measure t1/2 for this new circuit. Adjust the frequency until your screen looks like ﬁgure 5 (make sure the peaks ﬂatten). NOTE: Now you cannot adjust the signal position on the screen.

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