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Bridge Circuit

Bridge Circuit is a null method, operates on the principle of

comparison. That is a known (standard) value is adjusted until it is
equal to the unknown value.

Bridge Circuit

DC Bridge AC Bridge
(Resistance)
Inductance Capacitance Frequency

Wheatstone Bridge Maxwell Bridge Schering Bridge Wien Bridge

Kelvin Bridge Hay Bridge
Megaohm Bridge Owen Bridge
Etc.
Wheatstone Bridge and Balance Condition

Suitable for moderate resistance values: 1  to 10 M

A Balance condition:
No potential difference across the
R1 R2 galvanometer (there is no current through
the galvanometer)
I1 I2
Under this condition: VAD = VAB
V D B
I3 I4 I1R1  I2R2
And also VDC = VBC
R3 R4
I3R3  I4R4
where I1, I2, I3, and I4 are current in resistance
arms respectively, since I1 = I3 and I2 = I4
C
R1 R2 or R2
 Rx  R4  R3
R3 R4 R1
Example
   

12 V 12 V

   

     

12 V 12 V

     

(c) Proportional resistance (d) 2-Volt unbalance

Measurement Errors
 R R 2 
1. Limiting error of the known resistors Rx  R3  R3  2 
 R1 R1 
Using 1st order approximation: R2  R1 R2 R3 
Rx  R3 1   
A R1  R1 R2 R3 

3. Changes in resistance of the bridge

arms due to the heating effect (I2R) or
V D B temperatures

4. Thermal emf or contact potential in the

bridge circuit
R3
Rx 5. Error due to the lead connection
C 3, 4 and 5 play the important role in the
measurement of low value resistance
Example In the Wheatstone bridge circuit, R3 is a decade resistance with a specified in
accuracy ±0.2% and R1 and R2 = 500  ± 0.1%. If the value of R3 at the null position is
520.4  determine the possible minimum and maximum value of RX

R2  R1 R2 R3 

SOLUTION Apply the error equation Rx  R3 1   
R1  R1 R2 R3 

520.4500  0.1 0.1 0.2 

Rx  1     520.4( 1 0.004)  520.4 0.4%
500  100 100 100 
Therefore the possible values of R3 are 518.32 to 522.48 

Example A Wheatstone bridge has a ratio arm of 1/100 (R2/R1). At first balance, R3 is
adjusted to 1000.3  The value of Rx is then changed by the temperature change, the new
value of R3 to achieve the balance condition again is 1002.1  Find the change of Rx due to
the temperature change.
R2 1
SOLUTION At first balance: Rx old  R3 1000.3 10.003 
R1 100
R2 1
After the temperature change: Rx new  R3 1002.1 10.021 
R1 100
Therefore, the change of Rx due to the temperature change is 0.018 
Application of Wheatstone Bridge

Unbalance bridge
Consider a bridge circuit which have identical
A resistors, R in three arms, and the last arm has the
resistance of R +R. if R/R << 1
R R
Thévenin Voltage (VTH)
V
C G D
R
VTH  VCD  V
R R+R 4R

B Thévenin Resistance (RTH)

Small unbalance
occur by the external RTH  R
environment
RTH = R
C

This kind of bridge circuit can be found in sensor

R applications, where the resistance in one arm is
VTH=V G
4R sensitive to a physical quantity such as pressure,
D
temperature, strain etc.
Example Circuit in Figure (a) below consists of a resistor Rv which is sensitive to the
temperature change. The plot of R VS Temp. is also shown in Figure (b). Find (a) the
temperature at which the bridge is balance and (b) The output signal at Temperature of
60oC.
6
5 k 5 k 5

R v (k 
4
6V
3
2 4.5 k
1
0
Rv Output 0 20 40 60 80 100 120
5 k signal o
Temp ( C)

(b)
(a)
R3  R2 5 k5 k
SOLUTION (a) at bridge balance, we have Rv    5 k
R1 5 k
The value of Rv = 5 k corresponding to the temperature of 80oC in the given plot.
(b) at temperature of 60oC, Rv is read as 4.5 k thus R = 5 - 4.5 = 0.5 k We will
use Thévenin equivalent circuit to solve the above problem.
R 0.5 k
VTH  V  6 V  0.15V
4R 45 k
AC Bridge: Balance Condition
B
all four arms are considered as impedance
Z1 Z2 (frequency dependent components)
The detector is an ac responding device:
I1 I2
V A D C Source: an ac voltage at desired frequency

Z1, Z2, Z3 and Z4 are the impedance of bridge arms

Z3 Z4
At balance point: EBA = E BC or I1 Z1 = I 2Z 2
D
V V
I1 = and I 2 =
General Form of the ac Bridge Z1 + Z3 Z2 + Z 4

Polar Form: Z1Z4 =Z2Z3

Magnitude balance:
Z1Z4 1   4 =Z2 Z3  2   3 
Phase balance: 1  4 =2  3
Example The impedance of the basic ac bridge are given as follows:
Z1 100  80o (inductive impedance) Z3  400 30o (inductiveimpedance)
Z2  250  (pure resistance) Z4  unknown
Determine the constants of the unknown arm.

SOLUTION The first condition for bridge balance requires that

Z 2 Z 3 250 400
Z4    1,000 
Z1 100

The second condition for bridge balance requires that the sum of the phase angles of
opposite arms be equal, therefore
4 =2  3  1  0  30  80  50 o

Hence the unknown impedance Z4 can be written in polar form as

Z4  1,000    50 o

Indicating that we are dealing with a capacitive element, possibly consisting of a

series combination of at resistor and a capacitor.
Example an ac bridge is in balance with the following constants: arm AB, R = 200 
in series with L = 15.9 mH R; arm BC, R = 300  in series with C = 0.265 F; arm CD,
unknown; arm DA, = 450 . The oscillator frequency is 1 kHz. Find the constants of
arm CD. B
SOLUTION
Z1 Z2

I1 I2 Z1  R  j L  200  j100 
V
D C Z 2  R 1/ jC  300  j600 
A
Z3  R  450 
Z4  unknown
Z3 Z4

D
The general equation for bridge balance states that Z1Z4 = Z2 Z3

Z2 Z3 450 (200  j100)

Z4 =   j150 
Z1 (300  j600)

This result indicates that Z4 is a pure inductance with an inductive reactance of 150
 at at frequency of 1kHz. Since the inductive reactance XL = 2fL, we solve for L
and obtain L = 23.9 mH
Comparison Bridge: Capacitance

Measure an unknown inductance or

R1 capacitance by comparing with it with a known
R2
inductance or capacitance.

Vs D At balance point: Z1 Zx = Z2 Z 3
C3 Rx 1
where Z =R 1; Z 2 = R2; and Z3  R3 
jC3
1
R3 Cx Unknown
capacitance  1   1 
R1  Rx    R2 3
R  
Diagram of Capacitance  j C x  j C 3
Comparison Bridge
R2 R3 R1
Separation of the real and imaginary terms yields: Rx  and Cx  C3
R1 R2

Frequency independent
To satisfy both balance conditions, the bridge must contain two variable
elements in its configuration.
Comparison Bridge: Inductance

Measure an unknown inductance or

R1 R2 capacitance by comparing with it with a known
inductance or capacitance.

Vs D At balance point: Z1 Zx = Z2 Z 3
L3 Lx where Z =R 1; Z 2 = R2; and Z3  R3  j L3
1
R3 Rx Unknown
inductance
R1  Rx  j Lx   R2  RS  jLS 
Diagram of Inductance
Comparison Bridge
R2 R3 R2
Separation of the real and imaginary terms yields: Rx  and Lx  L3
R1 R1

Frequency independent
To satisfy both balance conditions, the bridge must contain two variable
elements in its configuration.