Bridge Circuit Construction

Figure 8 shows a basic bridge circuit which consists of three known resistances, R1, R2, and R3 (variable), an unknown variable resistor RX (RTD), a source of voltage, and a sensitive ammeter.

Resistors R1 and R2 are the ratio arms of the bridge. They ratio the two variable resistances for current flow through the ammeter. R3 is a variable resistor known as the standard arm that is adjusted to match the unknown resistor. The sensing ammeter visually displays the current that is flowing through the bridge circuit. Analysis of the circuit shows that when R3 is adjusted so that the ammeter reads zero current, the resistance of both arms of the bridge circuit is the same. Equation 1-1 shows the relationship of the resistance between the two arms of the bridge.


Since the values of R1, R2, and R3 are known values, the only unkown is Rx. The value of Rx can be calulated for the bridge during an ammeter zero current condition. Knowing this resistance value provides a baseline point for calibration of the instrument attached to the bridge circuit. The unknown resistance, Rx, is given by Equation 1-2.


Temperature Detection Circuit

Figure 11 is a block diagram of a typical temperature detection circuit. This represents a balanced bridge temperature detection circuit that has been modified to eliminate the galvanometer.

The block consists of a temperature detector (RTD) that measures the temperature. The detector is felt as resistance to the bridge network. The bridge network converts this resistance to a DC voltage signal. An electronic instrument has been developed in which the DC voltage of the potentiometer, or the bridge, is converted to an AC voltage. The AC voltage is then amplified to a higher (usable) voltage that is used to drive a bi-directional motor. The bi-directional motor positions the slider on the slidewire to balance the circuit resistance. If the RTD becomes open in either the unbalanced and balanced bridge circuits, the resistance will be infinite, and the meter will indicate a very high temperature. If it becomes shorted, resistance will be zero, and the meter will indicate a very low temperature.

When calibrating the circuit, a precision resistor of known value is substituted for the resistance bulb, as shown in Figure 12.

Battery voltage is then adjusted by varying Rb until the meter indication is correct for the known resistance.

Temperature Compensation

Because of changes in ambient temperature, the resistance thermometer circuitry must be compensated. The resistors that are used in the measuring circuitry are selected so that their resistance will remain constant over the range of temperature expected. Temperature compensation is also accomplished through the design of the electronic circuitry to compensate for ambient changes in the equipment cabinet. It is also possible for the resistance of the detector leads to change due to a change in ambient temperature. To compensate for this change, three and four wire RTD circuits are used. In this way, the same amount of lead wire is used in both branches of the bridge circuit, and the change in resistance will be felt on both branches, negating the effects of the change in temperature.


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