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Neon Oscillator

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Lab Activities

Students use an oscilloscope to observe a simple oscillator circuit in which the voltage varies as a function of time. The period of the time variation and the amplitude of the voltage is determined by the the values of the resistance and capacitance in the circuit and by the applied DC voltage. The operation of the circuit can be described in terms of the basic physics of resistive and capacitive circuits and the properties of electrical breakdown in gases.

Specific measurements include the measurement of the period of the time variation of the voltage, the rise time, the fall time and the internal resistance of the bulb. All measurements are compared to the theoretically predicted values. Results tend to be within 5% of the expected values.

Course Level

Introductory: P4, P14, P16

Student Handouts


Number of set-ups available: 10

Per lab station:

1 oscilloscope
1 Heathkit high voltage power supply
1 multimeter
1 capacitance substitution box
1 resistance substitution box
1 neon bulb/holder
1 10 Meg probe
2 alligator clips
8 banana leads


Circuit Diagrams

Circuit diagram


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Site contact: largent@Dartmouth.EDU

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