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A couple of simple questions about a simple op amp circuit

Discussion in 'Electronic Basics' started by Bob Engelhardt, Apr 1, 2012.

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  1. I'm a new poster here. I've posted a couple of times to SED, but always
    felt that the general level of SED was _way_ above me. SE_Basics_ is
    more my level.

    My questions are about this battery tester (an "electronic load"):

    1. What is the purpose of R5? My guess is that the ckt would work
    without it, but it's in some way better with it.

    2. The 2nd op amp: "The voltage reference, U2, provides a stable
    2.5-volt reference voltage ...". How does it do that? It's not
    connected, so it must be internal, but ...??

  2. If you aren't designing, it doesn't belong there. You are trying to
    interpret an existing schematic.
    This is all about loading the battery so you can see what the voltage is
    when under load. A battery may show decent voltage when unloaded, but
    then drop significantly when under load. This sort of thing means when you
    measure the voltage, it's more like when the battery is in the circuit.

    You could just load the battery with a big resistor, but that has
    problems, so the fancier circuit.

    U1 and Q1, the fet, form a constant current sink, meaning no matter what
    the voltage the FET sees, it keeps drawing the same current (a resistor
    across the battery would draw current varying with the voltage on the

    Since the circuit turns voltage into a current draw, if there was no
    voltage regulator, the drain would vary according to whatever is powering
    this circuit, the 9v battery. I'm not sure that the voltage regulator
    isn't overkill, but it doesn't add much in cost or size to the circuit,
    that sort of voltage regulator can be found in plenty of computer
    switching supplies, though maybe not that specific device.
    U1 and the FET form a constant voltage sink.

    The resistor is in the feedback circuit to the op-amp. No, it probably
    isn't needed, it's there for isolation (note that c1, the .01uf capacitor,
    is probably there to limit frequency response, and without R5, it wouldn't
    work as well).
    U2 is the TL531 in the upper left corner, a precision voltage regulator
    (kind of like a fancy zener, where you can actually control the point at
    which the regulator regulates). It supplies a stable voltage to U1.

    The other half of the 358, is simply labelled "U" and is completely out of
    the circuit (it's not used, so likely a dual op-amp was specified because
    the 358 has certain characteristics that means it works better in a single
    voltage power supply)

  3. But technically, if not for the capacitor from the output of the opamp to
    the inverting input of the op-amp, the resistor is not needed.

    It's no different from a voltage follower (or indeed, the other half of
    the op-amp that lies unused at the lower left, the output connected to the
    inverting input), though in this case, the FET is in that feedback loop.

    But the opamp wants to see voltage, which it's already seeing on the
    non-inverting input. Since no voltage amplification is done in that
    stage, there's no absolute reason for the resistor, the voltage at the
    FET is the same voltage as at the inverting input of the op-amp.

    But of course, it isolates the capacitor that's going from the op-amp
    output to the inverting input of that op-amp.

  4. Jamie

    Jamie Guest

    No, you need R5 there. It is the feed back sense required to keep
    U1 operating as a voltage comparator. The + input of U1 is the reference
    voltage required and the (-)input would be the comparing point, in this
    case, it is comparing the SOURCE (S) side of the mosfet transistor and
    will make what ever needed adjustment output on U1 to bias Q1 to get there.
    If the voltage exceeds at (S) of Q1, compared to what is sitting at (+)
    input of U1, U1 output will then drop in bias voltage on the gate (G) of
    Q1. This of course, will cause the Q1 to not conduct as much and lower
    the voltage at (S) of Q1 to satisfy the voltage comparator circuit of U1.

    The output of U1 will not be following the + input reference voltage,
    it will be higher than the 2.5v max you would get with that circuit.

    Looking up the transistor, the sheet tells me you'll need ~3 Volts
    Plus what is sitting at the Source of Q1 to get it to come on.

    That device is like a programmable zener diode. Internally it has a
    2.5v fixed reference (Band Gap), which is very stable. You can think of
    that as a zener diode. That is used as a internal voltage comparator
    against the control pin voltage.

    Since the internal is set for 2.5 volts, the component stops clamping
    the load when it hits 2.5 volts, because the internal comparator as hit
    the balance point of the internal fixed voltage reference.

    Now, if you were to apply a scaled reference of what is appearing at
    the top side to the control pin, you can then force it to elevate its
    clamping voltage at a higher point. A scale reference would be like a
    voltage divider network where it derives its source from the top side of
    the programmable zener here.

    Btw, U2 is the 3 terminal voltage reference, not the OP-AMP.

    The 358 is a dual unit, it looks like they are simply terminating the
    leads due to lack of use so it won't damage the chip.

    Hope that shed some light on the subject.

  5. Jamie

    Jamie Guest

    Ha? I think you better look at that again, it is very needed..unless you
    want a run away system.
    They terminate un-used op-amps in a package like that to insure no damage
    comes to them, which would most likely propagate over to the used side.
    Yes, it is a dual op-amp, to be exact.

  6. Jamie

    Jamie Guest

    No, the R5 is needed. The cap there serves to pad the feed back down so
    it won't oscillate. Just think of adding more miller effect on top of
    what is already there inside of the op-amp.

    In order to have a constant current you need the circuit to monitor
    the actual current and make calibrations at the gate drive. You can only
    do this if you have a way to monitor the current and R5 is that. It
    simply is monitoring the voltage which would be a function of current on
    those high power R's there.

  7. Jamie

    Jamie Guest

    Well, at least it gives people something to talk about. But I still
    can't see how he expects the circuit to be a constant current source for
    the test load if you don't bother to account for the sharp knee on the
    gate turn on voltage point and the load varying due to a battery
    discharging while under test.

    I almost get the impression that maybe he thinks that is a jfet or
    non-enhanced, when in fact, it's not. Maybe using the correct foot print
    may have removed the mystery behind that.

  8. Jamie

    Jamie Guest

    I fully understand how the circuit works, but my comment to the original
    statement is, that R5 is needed when it was thought it could've been
    removed because it looked like it wasn't needed. That is far from the
    truth. That is all I was trying to convey, R5 is absolutely needed here.

    This is a 101 constant current circuit using a differential circuit to
    maintain it's current at R13 and R14.

    Oh well, maybe I should pick a different brand beer. This Coors Light
    is getting to me, then again, it could be the fact that I just got done
    with my Taxes. And I hope all the free loaders enjoy getting my money
    that I have to additionally pay on this year.

  9. Jasen Betts

    Jasen Betts Guest

    the circuit compares the volage across in r13 + r14 with the preset
    voltage in the non-inverting input and turns the mosfet up or down to
    match the voltages. the mosfet response doesn't need to be linear, only
  10. Jasen Betts

    Jasen Betts Guest

    nah, a capacitor from output to the inverting input reduces the AC gain
    producing even more lag, this stops the op-amp from overshooting and
    also ensure that it won't oscillate.
  11. Jamie

    Jamie Guest

    You mean it lowers the BW ?

  12. Jamie

    Jamie Guest

    And, if you stop chopping up the messages, you'll know that the whole
    statement was about removing R5 from the circuit completely.

    My how things can run a muck around here. Nothing but chop monkeys
    around here.

  13. Jamie

    Jamie Guest

    Well, I do enjoy Sam Adams however, I can not drink that any more. It
    seems to dry out my throat and gives me breathing problems when trying
    to sleep at night. You notice how I said at night, other times I just
    sleep at the desk! :)

  14. I had actually built a ckt very similar to this a while ago, without R4,
    R5, & C1. It "worked" very well, as far as keeping a load current
    fixed, as shown on a DVM. If I had thought to 'scope it I suppose that
    I would have seen oscillation. Next time I'll know.

    Follow up question: if my ckt was oscillating, how would that affect the
    battery under test?
    Well, that was embarrassing! When he said "U2", I thought that he was
    talking about the 2nd half of the op amp pkg. But the zener was clearly
    marked as "U2". I guess that I expected a "U" to be an IC & a zener to
    be a "D", never thinking ...

    Thanks to all the reply-ers.

  15. Jasen Betts

    Jasen Betts Guest

    I suspect he intended to replace the resistor with a conductor,
  16. Jasen Betts

    Jasen Betts Guest

    An equation,,, you mean like numbers?

    My initial thought was that the capacitor in the negative feedback path
    is going to kill all the AC gain (because caps pass AC, and negative
    feedback reduces gain)

    Looking closer I see that the op-amp is organised as an integrator
    integrating the difference between the voltage at the mosfet source
    and the voltage from the pot.

    So, a step change at the source will result in a ramp at the op-amp output
    the slope is determined by (V_source-V_pot) R5 C1, this will result in
    a change that will turn the mosfet on or off the compensate for the
    error. As the source voltage approaches the set point the current in
    R5 reduces and the ramp levels out.

    As I understand MOSFETs (which isn't all that well) that one is
    configured as a source follower, so it's going to have approxiately
    unity voltage gain.

    So closing the loop the step response is going to be a logarythmic
    curve with the limit at the set point.

    R5 is 1k and C1 is 10nF so the time constant is 10us whick looks to
    be between 10 and 100 times more than the time the op-amp takes to
    respond to its inputs, so it's going to mostly behave like an integrator
    and will quickly

    The capacitances of the mostfet (which as I said I don't really
    understand) are all much smaller than C1, so I'm guessing that the
    mosfet will respond about 10 times faster than the integrator does.
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