# RC Circuits. 1. Designing a time delay circuit. Introduction. In this lab you will explore RC circuits. Introduction

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1 Name Date Time to Complete h m Partner Course/ Section / Grade RC Circuits Introduction In this lab you will explore RC circuits. 1. Designing a time delay circuit Introduction You will begin your exploration of RC circuits in the context of an actual circuit design problem. In designing a circuit to meet certain specifications you will learn the important features of RC circuits. Mission Your mission is to build part of the circuitry for a home alarm system. When the front door of the house is opened from the outside, possibly due to a burglar, the alarm circuitry is triggered, but the actual audible alarm does not sound immediately. Instead, there is a built-in 10 second delay, allowing the owner of the home to enter the house and deactivate the alarm by entering a code on a control panel just inside the doorway. You will be building the circuit that creates a 10 ± 1 second delay. A block diagram of the circuit is shown below. You build this part. The instructor has this part of the circuit. Alarm V set Comparator Figure 1 V set is a fixed voltage, it will be 4 V in our case, that is applied to one input of something called a comparator. is a voltage that changes with time, and is applied to the other input of the comparator. The comparator, surprise-surprise, is a chip that compares V set and. If is greater than V set the comparator s output is such that the alarm sounds. If is less than V set the comparator s output is such that the alarm is silent. 1

2 Voltage Divider The basic idea is to keep less than V set for a full 10 seconds after the door opens, at which time becomes greater than V set and sounds the alarm. You have two circuits to design. Circuit 1: V set for your circuit will be 4 V. You have to design a circuit that will apply 4 V to the V set input of the comparator. At first blush this might seem easy, just connect the power supply to the V set input and set the supply to 4 V. That would work, but it is not allowed. (I make the rules.) The only voltage available to you is 10 V. In other words, you may power your circuit with the dc supply at your table, but the supply must be set at 10 V. You need a way to apply a fraction of the full supply voltage, 2/5 of 10 V or 4 V, to the V set input. This is a very common situation. In electronic devices that require dc voltages, the power supply typically provides only one or a few fixed voltage levels. There may be many parts of the circuitry that require voltage levels other than those few supplied. In your case, how do you get 4 V from the only available voltage level, 10 V? This can be accomplished with two resistors in a combination called a voltage divider. As shown below, it is nothing more that two resistors in series. (We will call the negative, low potential, terminal of the power supply, circuit ground. When we refer to the voltage at some point in the circuit, like 4 V at the output, what is really meant is the potential difference between that point and circuit ground.) X R 1 10 V Y 4 V to V set input R 2 Z Figure 2 Circuit ground Start designing (on paper, don t build yet). Figure out two resistor values that will put 4 V at the output. Show your work below. In other words, justify your choices with calculations. 2

5 state, = 0 V. When the door is opened, the capacitor begins to charge. As before, 10 V is the only supply voltage available, so the battery is labeled 10 V. X R 10 V Y (t) door C Z Figure 4 Circuit ground Charging curve You should recognize that (t), the potential at point Y with respect to circuit ground, is just the voltage across the capacitor. It charges according to the classic RC circuit t RC charging curve, V sense( t) = Vmax ( 1 e ). The shape of this function is shown on the graph below. (V) t (s) 5

6 RC Design Add the following details to the graph: A. Carefully add a scale to the vertical axis. Use a ruler to create a uniform set of tick marks, with values labeled. (This is not arbitrary, there is only one correct scale.) B. There is one point on the horizontal time axis that corresponds to 10 seconds of elapsed time since the door was opened at t = 0 s. Mark the 10 s point on the time axis. (This is not arbitrary either. There is only one correct answer.) C. Now that two points (0 s and 10 s) are marked on the horizontal axis, carefully complete the time scale along the entire horizontal axis by using a rule to create a uniform set of tick marks with labels. D. Draw a vertical line segment from the 10 s mark on the time axis until it intersects the charging curve. Then draw a horizontal line segment from that intersection point to the vertical axis. Highlight the voltage on the vertical scale at the point of intersection. (There is only one correct answer. Make sure it is right.) Great! Now you have graphically illustrated the information needed to design your RC circuit. The word design means finding values of R and C that will meet the circuit specifications. Do so. Justify and explain your choices. Show all your calculations in the space below. Remember that there is a limited set of stock values for R and C. If you haven t taken that into account in your design choices, do so now. Use only a single capacitor. (I make the rules.) You can use more than one resistor in a series and/or parallel combination, but try to limit yourself to 2 or 3 resistors. List the actual component values you plan to use, and if using a combination of resistors, describe the combination and its equivalent resistance. C = R = 6

7 The time constant Depending on the values of R and C, capacitors in an RC circuit charge more or less quickly. The rapidity with which the capacitor charges is characterized by the circuit s time constant, τ. It is the product of R and C. What is the time constant for your design? Show your work. Mark and label the time corresponding to one time constant on the time axis of the charging curve above. Then draw a vertical line segment from this mark on the time axis until it intersects the charging curve. Then draw a horizontal line segment from that intersection point to the vertical axis. Label the voltage on the vertical scale at the point of intersection and record it here. ( t = RC) = Check if this is correct. From the theoretical charging function calculate ( t RC) =. Show all your work. Is your theoretical result consistent with your graphical result? It should be clear from your answers to the previous question that, although the time constant characterizes the rapidity with which the capacitor charges, it is not equal to the time it takes for the capacitor to fully charge. We will use a common rule-of-thumb. We will say that the capacitor is fully charged after five time constants have elapsed. Given this rule of thumb, how long will is take the capacitor in your design to fully charge? Show your work. Mark and label the time corresponding to five time constants on the time axis of the charging curve above. Then draw a vertical line segment from this mark until it intersects the charging curve. Then draw a horizontal line segment from that intersection 7

9 RC build and test As shown in Figure 5(b) insert the wire between rows 19 and 23 to close the door and short the capacitor. When you are ready to set the alarm time-delay circuit in motion open the door by removing the wire. Reinsert it when you want to reset the circuit. In words explain the test you must perform to determine if your RC circuit works properly. Be specific. (The electrometer, familiar from previous labs, must be used to measure voltage.) Then, draw a schematic of the test circuit by adding instruments and connections to the diagram of the design board shown below. Obtain your instructor s initials before proceeding. Explanation of test: The instructor has checked a) my explanation, b) that my capacitor is inserted properly, c) that my test circuit is correct, and d) that my electrometer is properly zeroed. 9

10 Test your circuit. Describe your results. If the time delay does not meet specs to your satisfaction, adjust the resistance to speed-it-up or slow-it-down. Then retest. Describe any redesign. Charging curve Next, you will measure your circuit s charging curve and determine it s time constant. Carefully measure the voltage across the capacitor as a function of time. Find a method that works best. I suggest marking the time every time an additional 2 V appears across the capacitor from 0 V to 10 V. (But you might also try marking the voltage for fixed time intervals.) Create neat data tables in the space below for all your trials. Add explanatory notes if necessary. 10

11 Transfer your data to Graphical Analysis and plot the data. Fit the data with the built in function y = 10(1 exp( x / A)). This is just the theoretical charging function with y, t x, V max 10V, RC A. Print the graph. Record RC as obtained from the best fit of your data and compare to RC calculated from the component values currently in your circuit. What is the percent difference? (When contemplating the difference note that your resistors have a tolerance of ±5% and your capacitors a whopping ±20%) RC from best fit of charging data = RC calculated from component values = % difference = Final test When you have finished this analysis and are satisfied with your circuit s performance present it to the instructor for final testing. Obtain your instructor s initials in one of the two boxes. The circuit s time delay was 10 ± 1 s. The circuit s time delay was not within 1s of 10 s. Full Schematic Here is a schematic of the complete circuit. Add to the diagram values for the supply voltage, the resistances in your divider and the resistor and capacitor value in your RC circuit. Place the values next to the corresponding components. LED Siren LM N

12 Wrap-up Check your thinking: The charging formula for the capacitor can be written as τ V = V ( 1 e t ). Four quantities, V C, V C,max, t and τ appear. C C,max As the capacitor charges which ones change with time? As the capacitor charges which ones remain constant? Although our attention was focused on the capacitor voltage, there are three other quantities changing with time as the capacitor charges. They are the charge on the capacitor t, the voltage across the resistor V R t and the current i t. q () ( ) Sketch a graph of q ( t). Explain your reasoning, calculate the maximum value of q in your RC circuit, and state the time at which it occurs. () Sketch a graph of ( t) V R. Explain your reasoning, calculate the maximum value of V R in your RC circuit, and state the time at which it occurs. Sketch a graph of ( ) t i. Explain your reasoning, calculate the maximum value of i in your RC circuit, and state the time at which it occurs. 12

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