1959 , Volume v.10 n.9-10 , Issue May/June-1959

1959 , Volume v.10 n.9-10 , Issue May/June-1959
V
HEWLETT-PACKARD
" f
T E C H N I C A L
JOURNAL
I N F O R M A T I O N
F R O M
T H E
- h p -
L A B O R A T O R I E S
)l. 10, No. 9- 10
PUBLISHED BY THE HEWLETT-PACKARD COMPANY, 275 PAGE MILL ROAD, PALO ALTO, CALIFORNIA
MAY -JUNE, 1959
A Clip -On Oscilloscope Probe
for Measuring and Viewing Current Waveforms
A though current is a fundamental quantity
in electronic circuitry and accurate knowl
edge of it is valuable, it is a quantity that has
always been rather inconvenient to measure
and in at least one important case quite diffi
cult. This is the case of alternating currents in
circuits elevated from ground. Here, to use a
current meter involves at best the trouble of
opening the circuit, while the meter, when con
nected, will usually not indicate such oftenneeded information as the current's peak value.
At the same time to measure the current wave
form in such circuits with an oscilloscope has
required the combination of a suitable circuit
resistance to connect across and an oscilloscope
with a differential input of adequate range, a
combination often not available.
These problems are overcome and in addi
tion the general problem of measuring alter
nating currents is made much more convenient
by a new oscilloscope probe which permits
both viewing and measuring alternating cur
rents merely by clipping the probe around the
current conductor. The probe operates with the
-hp- Model 150A Oscilloscope and a new plugin amplifier to measure and display currents
over an amplitude range from 1 milliampere
to 15 amperes peak-to-peak and over a fre
quency range from below 500 cps to 8 mega
cycles. In the case of sinusoidal currents, wave
forms down to about 50 cps can be displayed.
Electrically, the probe consists of a widerange current transformer with a split core
which is mechanically opened and closed by
flanges on the probe body in the manner proved
popular in other -hp- probes. When the probe
PLATE
VOLTAGE
Fig. 2. Oscillogram illustrating type of dis
play obtainable with new probe and plug-in
unit. V pper trace shows plate current waveform
in an oscillator circuit, while lower trace shows
oscillator plate voltage.
Fig. 1 (at left). N'e/i' current probe and plugin unit for Model 1 W A Oscilloscope enable al
ternating currents as small as I ma and up to 8 me in frequency to be measured merely by clipping probe on conductor.
Unit also simultaneously roltage channel and dual-trace provision to permit foliage to be measured simultaneously with current.
P R I N T E D
I N
C O P Y R I G H T
U . S . A .
© Copr. 1949-1998 Hewlett-Packard Co.
1 9 5 9
H E W L E T T - P A C K A R D
C O .
Fig. 3 (at left). Circuit
arrangement of probe
u'hen clipped on con
ductor.
CURRENT
TRANSFORMER
PROBE
Fig. 5 (at right). Im
pedance reflected into
measured circuit is
negligible, permitting
probe to he used in
lou'-impedance cir
cuits.
Ollf THRU PRIMRY
(CONDUCTOR If/HC HEASt/HED)
is closed around the conductor being
measured, the conductor becomes a sin
gle-turn primary for the transformer.
The oscilloscope then displays the wave
form of the current in the conductor.
The arrangement is such that very little
impedance is reflected into the primary
circuit, so that measurements can be
made in virtually the lowest-impedance
circuits without disturbance.
The plug-in amplifier associated with
the probe, in addition to its currentmeasuring channel, also contains a volt
age-measuring channel. The overall
unit thus permits both current and
voltage to be measured. If desired, these
can be displayed simultaneously on the
oscilloscope by means of a dual-trace
presentation incorporated in the unit.
Magnetic and electrostatic shielding are
incorporated to minimize response to
fields other than that of the current be
ing measured.
The probe operates into a broad-band
amplifier of high gain such that the en
ergy extracted from the circuit under
measurement is very small — in the or
der of 10~8 watt on the most sensitive
range. The loading reflected into the
primary (measured) circuit is thus also
very small — about 0.01 ohm — and is
essentially constant with frequency.
This value is shunted by an inductive
component of approximately 1 micro
henry, but this component is essen
tially shorted by the low reflected re
sistance. The equivalent circuit of the
conductor being measured when the
probe is connected is indicated in Fig. 5.
The probe also adds a slight capaci
tance from the conductor being meas
ured to ground, owing to the grounded
electrostatic shield in the probe. This
is typically less than 1 ¡JLJJ.Ã, however,
and will thus seldom be a factor in the
measurement.
FREQUENCY RESPONSE
Fig. 4. Current probe clips around con
ductor to make measurement. Probe jau'S
are operated by flanges on probe body
and accept conductors up to 0. 175-inch
O.D.
Such a dual display will then permit
such quantities as impedance, admit
tance and phase to be determined. The
voltage channel is identical to that of
the -hp- Model 152A/B plug-in unit,
having a maximum sensitivity of 0.05
volt/cm and a frequency range from
dc to 10 megacycles.
Fig. 6 shows the amplitude response
of the current probe and its associated
amplifier. The mid-band gain is accur
ate within ±5%, which is thus the
basic accuracy of the system. If desired,
this value can easily be checked using
the calibrator on the oscilloscope.
The high-frequency 3 db point oc
curs at approximately 8 megacycles,
while the usable response extends to at
Â:»
v\
WIRE WITH RESISTANCE ANO INDUCTANCE
IjlH
'TOT'
.OÃA
^ W
WIRE WITH AC-21F PROBE CLIPPED ON
least 10 megacycles. Pulse-wise the sys
tem has a rise of approximately 0.045
microsecond (Fig. 7), making it usable
for pulse work where the repetition rate
is not too low, as discussed below.
On the low-frequency end the re
sponse of the probe circuit exclusive of
the amplifier is essentially constant
from high frequencies down to about
600 cps. Below this region the response
of the probe begins to drop off at 6
db/octave owing to the decreasing ratio
of probe transformer reactance to re
sistance. This drop-off has been com
pensated by arranging the gain of the
associated amplifier to increase by 6
db/octave in this region. By itself, this
compensation gives a low-frequency 3
db point in the vicinity of 50 cps and
permits the probe to be used to display
sine waves down to this frequency.
However, the phase characteristics of
a corresponding simple RL (or RC)
network with a 50-cps 3-db point are
such that complex waves below about
1 kc would be considerably distorted.
Consequently, additional phase com
pensation has been provided by causing
the overall response to rise a few db
in the vicinity of 100 cps. This im
proves the phase characteristics to the
point where the probe can be used with
complex waves of about 500 cps and
above. Fig. 8(b) demonstrates this by
showing the overall response of the
probe and amplifier to a 1 kc square
wave, while Fig. 8 (a) shows the re
sponse to the same square wave of an
RL circuit with a 50 cps cut-off.
MEASUREMENT CIRCUIT
Fig. 3 indicates the electrical ar
rangement of the probe. The trans
former secondary is wound on a ferrite
core which has magnetic properties
suited to wide frequency range usage.
100% 1000% IMC
IOMC
FREQUENCY
Fig. 6. Typical frequency response of current probe and
amplifier as used with -hp- Model 150A Oscilloscope.
© Copr. 1949-1998 Hewlett-Packard Co.
Fig. 7. Typical step response of new
current probe and amplifier as used with
Model I 50A Oscilloscope, Sweep speed is
.02 microsecond /cm, so that 10-90r/c rise
time is approximately .0-45 microsecond.
CALIBRATION CHECKS
The phase characteristics of the
probe-amplifier combination can easily
be checked, if desired, by use of the
square-wave calibrator provided on the
Model 150A Oscilloscope. By shorting
the calibrator terminal to ground and
connecting the probe around the short
ing lead, a 1 kc square wave signal is
applied to the probe. If necessary, the
phase characteristic of the probe can
be optimized by means of a low-fre
quency compensation control available
at the panel of the probe amplifier (Fig.
10).
The amplitude calibration can be
checked simultaneously with the phase
characteristic by making use of the
0.2-volt position of the calibrator. In
Fig. 8. Oscillograms demonstrating ef
fect on complex waveforms of phase com
pensating probe amplifier, as described in
text. Upper oscillogram shows response
to 1 kc square irate of high-pass RL cir
cuit with 50-cps 3-dh point. Lower oscillo
gram shows improvement in response to
same wave obtained with compensated
amplifier.
50% ioo\
IKC 10 KC
'V.
IOMC
FREQUENCY
Fig. 9. Rating carves for -hp- AC-21F current-measuring
probe.
this position the calibrator will deliver
5 milliamperes peak-to-peak into the
shorting lead. This current can then be
measured with the probe. A calibration
adjustment in the form of a screwdriv
er-type control is located at the panel
(Fig. 10).
CURRENT RATINGS
The probe has a basic sensitivity of 1
milliampere/cm, which is extended by
an attenuator on the amplifier panel in
1-2-5-10-.. . steps to 1 ampere/cm
or 6 amperes peak-to-peak full scale.
The attenuator is also provided with a
2.5:1 vernier which additionally ex
tends this range to approximately 15
amperes peak-to-peak full scale. The
probe thus covers the majority of cur
rent-measuring applications encoun
tered in usual electronics work includ
ing power-transistor work. An arrow
on the probe indicates the direction of
conventional current flow (opposite to
electron flow) in the conductor for an
upward deflection on the oscilloscope.
Since there is a practical limitation
on the size of the probe core, non-linear
effects can occur with currents of high
amplitude at low frequencies. Conse
quently, an upper limit of '/Ã- ampere
rms (1.4 amp peak-to-peak) per kilo
cycle has been established for the over
all system for frequencies below 20 kc
(Fig. 9). This implies that the current
should not exceed 5 amperes rms at 10
kc, 50 milliamperes at 100 cps, etc.
This limitation is conservative, repre
senting the point at which phase error
begins to distort the shape of a square
wave. With sine waves, where ampli
tude accuracy is usually more impor
tant than small phase errors, it is per
missible to exceed this limitation by a
factor of 4 and handle currents of 2
amperes rms (5.65 amp peak-to-peak)
per kilocycle.
© Copr. 1949-1998 Hewlett-Packard Co.
DC EFFECT
The effect of direct current in the
circuit being measured in the amounts
usually found in electronic circuits has
little effect on the measurement. A di
rect current of l/z ampere can be pres
ent in the measured circuit without no
ticeable effect on any current range of
the system. Application or removal of
unusually large dc currents may cause a
temporary increase in probe induct
ance, but this will disappear in less than
a minute.
HIGHER SENSITIVITIES
Since the probe measures current
values by measuring the signal induced
in the probe coil by the current flow
ing in the conductor, the sensitivity
of the measurements can be increased
by increasing the number of turns act
ing as the primary. The increase in sen
sitivity will be proportional to the num
ber of turns, i.e., 4 turns will increase
the basic sensitivity from 1 ma/cm to
Y4 ma/cm.
Increasing the number of turns in
the primary will also increase the im
pedance reflected into the primary in
proportion to the square of the number
of primary turns. In high-frequency
work it should be noted that the turns
themselves will also add inductance to
the primary circuit.
CURRENT BALANCING AND SUMMING
Besides measuring and viewing sin
gle current waveforms, the probe is
often useful in cases where it is desirable
to balance currents such as in pushpull amplifiers. By clipping the probe
around two conductors simultaneously,
such as around the two cathode leads
of the amplifier, the oscilloscope will
display the difference between the two
currents. Circuit adjustments can then
be made to balance the signal currents
to a high degree.
Fig. Amplifier. Panel view of -hp- Model 154A Voltage /Current Plug-in Amplifier.
MAGNETIC SEARCHING
It is also feasible to use the probe to
search out the direction and magnitude
of ac magnetic fields. This can be done
by fashioning a single shorted-turn coil
for use with the probe. Magnetic fields
will induce currents in this coil which
will be indicated by the probe and
oscilloscope, permitting the direction
and strength of the field to be deter
mined.
EXTERNAL FIELDS
To minimize the effect of external
magnetic fields, the probe has been care
fully shielded and symmetrical con
struction has been used, but strong
fields such as may be encountered in the
vicinity of a power transformer or elec
tric motor will link the probe sufficient
ly to cause a reading. The effect that
such a field may have on the measure
ment can be determined by holding the
probe with its jaws closed in the region
in which a measurement is to be made.
In cases where the reading may be ex
cessive for the measurement, the meas
urement can often be made on another
portion of the conductor farther re
moved from the source of the field.
DC magnetic fields such as are nor
mally encountered from typical direct
currents in electronic circuits and from
the earth's field have no observable ef
fect on measurements with the probe.
INSULATION
While the exterior surfaces of the
probe are formed from insulating ma
terials so that there is no danger to the
operator from reasonable voltages, the
mating edges of the probe jaws are part
of a metallic shield and are connected
to ground. To avoid grounding the cir
cuit being measured, then, it is neces
sary that the conductor being measured
be insulated. In the case of bare con
ductors this can usually be accom
plished without breaking the circuit by
slipping a short length of split spaghetti
over the conductor or by wrapping the
conductor with a piece of insulating
tape.
VOLTAGE CHANNEL
In order to make the system as flex
ible as possible, and in fact to add to its
usefulness by permitting a dual display,
the plug-in unit has been arranged to
include a voltage-measuring channel as
well as the current-measuring channel.
This not only enables voltage wave
forms to be compared with current
waveforms but permits impedance, ad
mittance and phase to be determined.
The voltage-measuring channel has
a bandwidth from dc to 10 megacycles
and a sensitivity range extending from
0.05 volt/cm to a maximum of 300
volts peak-to-peak full scale. Its in
put impedance is 1 megohm shunted by
approximately 30 ¡JL/J.Ã, which can be
increased to 10 megohms shunted by 10
¡ILIJ.à with the 10:1 division AC-21A
probe supplied with the Model 150A.
The AC-21C 50:1 division probe can
also be used to increase the input im-
SPECIFICATIONS
-hp- MODEL 154A
VOLTAGE/CURRENT AMPLIFIER
WITH AC-2IF CLIP-ON PROBE
When plugged into -hp- Model 150A
Oscilloscope
CURRENT CHANNEL
Band Pass: 50 cps to 8 me.
Sensitivity: 10 calibrated ranges, 1 ma/cm
to 1000 ma, cm in a 1, 2, 5, 10 sequence.
Accuracy ±5% with vernier in "cal" posi
tion. Vernier provides continuous control
between calibrated steps and extends
1000 ma/cm range to at least 2500
ma/cm.
Maximum AC Current: 10 amperes rms 20 kc
and above. Below 20 kc core non-linearity
reduces current capability proportional to
frequency. For example, maximum current
is 5 amps rms at 10 kc and \'i amp at 1 kc.
Maximum DC Currenf: Direct current up to T/2
amp has no appreciable effect.
Ca/ifarofion: Calibrate at 5 ma with short
circuited 150A calibrator output on the
0.2v position.
input Impedance: (Impedance added to test
circuit by probe) approx. 0.01 ohm
shunted by 1 /¿henry.
© Copr. 1949-1998 Hewlett-Packard Co.
Fig. 11. Amplitude and phase response
of prohe and amplifier can easily be
checked using calibrator on Model 150 A
Oscilloscope.
pedance to 9 megohms shunted by only
2.5 fifjif.
Like the current channel, the voltage
channel has a 5% accuracy rating. It
also has a polarity-inverting switch,
while in the current channel current
direction is obtained from the orienta
tion of the current probe.
—Robert R. Wilke
VOLTAGE CHANNEL
Bond Pass: DC Coupled: dc to 10 me, 0.035
Msec rise time. AC Coupled: 2 cps to 10 me,
0.035 Msec rise time.
Sensitivity: 9 calibrated ranges, 0.05 v/cm
to 20 v/cm in a 1, 2, 5, 10 sequence. Ac
curacy ±5% with vernier in cal. Vernier
provides continuous control between steps
and extends 20 v/cm range to at least 50
v/cm.
Input Impedance: Approx. 1 megohm (nom
inal) shunted by 30 Wf.
GENERAL
Vertical Presentation: (1) Either voltage or
current signal continuously or (2) voltage
and current signals sampled at 100 kc or
on alternate traces.
Vertical Position: Each channel individually
adjustable.
Power: Supplied by Model 150A Oscillo
scope.
Weight: Net 5 Ibs., shipping 10 Ibs.
Accessories Available: AC-21A Probe (10:1
voltage division), $25.00; specify gray or
black lead. AC-21C Probe (50:1 voltage
division), $25.00; specify gray or black
lead.
Price: Model 154A Voltage/Current Ampli
fier with AC-21F Clip-On Probe: $430.00.
Prices f.o.b. Palo Alto, California
Data Subject to Change Without Notice
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