Lab 4 - PittKit
Laboratory 4
Laboratory 4
Exploring AC Waveforms
Introduction
In this lab you will use the BLIP to generate periodic
waveforms (sine, triangle, and square) and explore various
properties of these signals. You will build an audio amplifier with
a speaker and listen to the period waveforms, as well as ambient
noise and the signal from a microphone. You will use the
microphone to generate oscillatory feedback. In the process, you
will learn to use an oscilloscope to look at signals and measure
their frequency and period.
Before you do anything else, make sure that the 9 V battery is
not connected to the breadboard. Power for this lab will come
only from the BLIP.
page 1 of 7
Parts List
BLIP board (operational)
LM386 audio amplifier
speaker, 8 Ω, 0.5 watt
Electret Condenser Microphone
(WM-60PC)
100K potentiometer
26 gauge multi-stranded wire
velcro square with self-adhesive
various 5% resistors
various capacitors
© 2007 George Stetten
Laboratory 4
page 2 of 7
Using the Oscilloscope
The Tektronix Oscilloscope at each station is a basic tool
that permits the viewing and measurement of time-varying
signals, beyond what is possible with your multimeter. The
oscilloscope, or simply “scope”, has many features which are
beyond this lab. In the first encounter, you will simply use it
view and measure simple signals.
The User Manual for the Tektronix 200 series scope can
be downloaded from the class schedule (next to this week’s
lab). You shouldn’t need it, however. Just be sure the settings
are correct for the 5 buttons to the right of the screen, as
described on the following page. Most of the scopes in the lab
are the 2-channel model (right, top), although one or two may
be 4-channel (right, bottom). They both share the same basic
adjustments of all scopes, (1) voltage on the vertical axis, (2)
time on the horizontal axis, and (3) triggering.
(1) The voltage scale is controlled by the “VOLTS/DIV”
(volts per division) knob above each input jack. The setting is
displayed on the screen. Generally, 1 volt/div will work well in
today’s lab. Use the “POSITION” knob for each channel to
move that trace vertically.
(2) The time scale is controlled by the SEC/DIV” (seconds
per division) knob, with the setting displayed on the screen.
The trace can be very slow (1 sec/div) to see entire events, or
fast (1 msec/div to 1µsec/div) to see details of waveforms.
The horizontal “POSITION” knob moves the trace left and
right.
© 2007 George Stetten
Laboratory 4
page 3 of 7
(3) Triggering is the act of synchronizing the start of each trace to make it appear stationary on the screen
for proper viewing. This is a complex operation, but luckily your scope comes with an “AUTOSET” button
that should accomplish satisfactory triggering to view the waveforms in this lab.
Attach a scope probe (with red and black bongo clips) to Channel 1. Make sure the channel has the
proper settings by pressing the “CH 1” menu button, and then using the column of 5 buttons to right of the
screen to achieve the settings shown on the screen in the picture below.
The scope provides an
internal 5 volt square wave
test signal at the “PROBE
COMP” connector. Attach
your scope probe from CH 1
to this connector as shown
in the picture and adjust the
settings on the scope to view
the square wave. You will
need to set the “SEC/DIV”
to something like 500
µsec/div. and “VOLTS/DIV”
to something like 2 volts/div.
You may need to press the
“AUTOSET”
button
to
establish triggering. What is
the frequency and period of
this square wave? (A)
© 2007 George Stetten
Laboratory 4
page 4 of 7
Listening to Signals with an Audio Amplifier
Now construct an audio amplifier, which takes small time-varying signals in the
audio range (20 Hz - 20 KHz) and increases their voltage and current sufficiently to
drive a speaker. Let’s start with the speaker and work our way backwards.
Starting with two 1-foot pieces of 26 gauge multi-strand wire, strip ¼ inch from
the end of each, twist, tin, and bend into a hook. Insert the hooks into the lugs on
the speaker and carefully solder (don’t melt the plastic!). Wrap the wires around the
magnet to provide strain relief as shown. Solder short pieces of single strand 22
gauge wire to the other ends of the wires to plug into the breadboard, just as you did
with the 9 V battery clips. Mount the speaker on the lower left corner of the
breadboard with Velcro. The speaker surface is just paper, so treat it with care. (B)
The next piece of the puzzle is the amplifier to drive the speaker. This is based
on an integrated circuit (IC), or “chip”, in what is called a Dual Inline Package (DIP).
The DIP chip is convenient because the pins have the same 1/10 inch spacing as
your breadboard. The LM386 audio amplifier chip is shown to the right. Note the pin
numbers, running from 1 to 8 counterclockwise from the end of the chip with the
little notch. Normally, the chip is inserted into the board with pin 1 in the lower left,
the notch to left, and the chip label right-side-up. Pin 6, VS (source
voltage) is connected to the +5 V bus, and pin 4 (GND) is connected to
ground, to power the chip.
The LM386 is a fixed gain differential amplifier with two possible
fixed gains (20 and 200) by which it amplifies the voltage between the
+input (pin 3) and the –input (pin 2). This specialized amplifier is meant
to drive a speaker, and is quite different than the general comparators
and operational amplifiers that we will use later in the course. For now,
view it as a black box, a basic tool enabling us to listen to signals, just as
your multimeter allows you to measure voltages or resistances as
numerical values.
LM386
Top view
© 2007 George Stetten
Laboratory 4
page 5 of 7
Build the audio amplifier circuit shown below around the LM386, on the bottom left side of the
breadboard, taking care to get the polarity of the electrolytic capacitors correct. Note the use of a 1 µF
capacitor to stabilize the power supply. Occasionally this circuit has been known to oscillate, due to internal
feedback similar to that which you will introduce intentionally using a microphone later in this lab.
Attach the oscilloscope leads as follows. First (and always!) attach the ground (black) scope lead to the
ground bus of your breadboard. Then attach the signal (red) lead to the ungrounded side of your speaker.
Now whatever you hear, you will also see. Temporarily include the 10 µF cap (boosts gain to 200) and turn
the volume control (pot in the amplifier circuit) to max. Touch the input with your finger, and examine the
speaker output with the oscilloscope and with your ears. Adjust the VOLTS/DIV on the scope accordingly.
Describe what you see and hear. (C) You may hear a local AM radio station, and you will probably hear 60
cycle “hum” from power sources around you. Using the oscilloscope, look for 60 cycle hum setting the
SEC/DIV accordingly. What is its period in milliseconds? (D) This is a good number to remember, since 60
cycle hum is frequently an unwelcome guest.
© 2007 George Stetten
Laboratory 4
page 6 of 7
Connecting a Microphone to the Audio Amplifier
WM-60PC microphone
Next, you will connect the microphone (“mike”) that
Signal-to-noise ratio >40 dB
came with your kit, an Electret Condenser Microphone,
Current
0.5 mA
which is essentially two plates of a capacitor (the old word
Type
Omnidirectional
for which is “condenser”) with a fixed charge Q on them.
Freq. response
20 Hz–12 KHz
When the plates move because of incoming sound, the
Sensitivity
54 dB SPL
capacitance changes, and thus the voltage V = Q/C also
changes. Because the charge is very tiny, the mike is
packaged with a Field Effect Transistor (FET) amplifier whose input
impedance is extremely high (we will learn about the FET later). The
mike is powered through a resistor to its output, a method known as
“phantom” power, since it avoids a separate power connection. The
specifications for the mike are shown. The 54 dB SPL (sound pressure
level) describes the quietest sound that can be picked up.
Build the circuit below. Remove the 10 µF cap from the audio amp
to return gain from 200 to 20. The “mike” is powered through the 2.2 K
output resistor. Have someone talk into the mike while you report
sound quality at speaker. (E) The low frequency response of the small speaker is
limited. Move the mike near the speaker until you hear “feedback”, a runaway
condition caused by sound from the speaker returning to the mike with everincreasing volume. What controls the frequency of the feedback? Explain in terms
of the speed of sound in air vs. the speed of electrons in a circuit. (F)
bottom view
© 2007 George Stetten
Laboratory 4
page 7 of 7
Looking at, and Listening to, the Sine, Triangle, and Square Waves
Remove the microphone and 2.2 KΩ resistor from the input of the audio amplifier. Run red and black
power wires from the BLIP to the breadboard as in Lab 3. Run a white signal lead from the BLIP’s I/O
header pin 1 (Signal Generator Output) to a blank column on the breadboard and then connect a 1 MΩ
resistor from that to the input of the audio amplifier as shown in the circuit below.
Signal Generator waveform jumpers
Signal Type
Pin 38
Pin 37
Square Wave
yes
yes
Sine Wave
no
yes
Triangle Wave
no
no
In the previous lab, you used the BLIP in Data Acquisition
Mode. In the present lab, you will set the BLIP to Signal
Generator Mode by having a jumper at pin 40 and no jumper
at pin 39. You will then select sine, triangle, and square
waves using jumpers at pins 38 and 37, as defined in the table
to the left. Begin with jumpers in the sine wave setting.
The periodic waveforms generated by the BLIP (sine, triangle, and square) can be varied in frequency
between approximately 460 Hz and 6.8 kHz by adjusting the potentiometer on the BLIP. Open a new
document in Microsoft Word on your computer and click the mouse in the document. Pressing the top button
on the BLIP (not the Reset button) will now type the present frequency (Hz) of the waveform on the computer
through the USB. Adjust the frequency of the sine wave, reporting 4 different frequencies from the computer
and their corresponding periods as shown on the scope. Show that frequency is the inverse of period. (G)
Adjust the BLIP to 600 Hz and listen. Now adjust to 900 Hz, 3/2 the original frequency. These two
frequencies should sound like the first and second notes in “Twinkle, twinkle, little star…”, an interval called
the perfect fifth. The ear likes small whole number ratios. Adjust to 1200 Hz, or twice the original frequency.
This is called an octave, and in a way sounds like the same note as the original 600 Hz, only higher. (H)
Returning to 600 Hz, listen to the sine wave carefully. Then, using the waveform table given earlier,
change the jumpers on pins 38 and 37 to give first the triangle wave and then the square wave. Describe the
differences in tone. (I)
Keep the audio amplifier assembled
on your breadboard. It is a handy tool
and you will use it in later labs.
© 2007 George Stetten
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