- Technical Blog From My Notebook

## Sunday, June 19, 2016

Current is a flow of charge carriers. Voltage, or electromotive force (EMF), or potential difference, is the pressurethat makes a current possible. Given a circuit whose resistance is constant, the current that will flow in the circuit is directly proportional to the voltage placed across it. Early electrical experimenters recognized that an ammeter could be used to measure voltage, since an ammeter is a form of constant-resistance circuit.
If you connect an ammeter directly across a source of voltagea battery, saythe
meter needle will deflect. In fact, a milliammeter needle will probably be pinnedif you do this with it, and a microammeter might well be wrecked by the force of the needle striking the pin at the top of the scale. For this reason, you should never connect milliammeters or microammeters directly across voltage sources. An ammeter, perhaps with a range of 0-10 A, might not deflect to full scale if it is placed across a battery, but its still a bad idea to do this, because it will rapidly drain the battery.
Some batteries, such as automotive lead-acid cells, can explode under these conditions. This is because all ammeters have low internal resistance. They are designed that way deliberately. They are meant to be connected in series with other parts of a circuit, not right across the power supply.
But if you place a large resistor in series with an ammeter, and then connect the
ammeter across a battery or other type of power supply, you no longer have a short circuit. The ammeter will give an indication that is directly proportional to the voltage of the supply. The smaller the full-scale reading of the ammeter, the larger the resistance to get a meaningful indication on the meter. Using a microammeter and a very large value of resistor in series, a voltmeter can be devised that will draw only a little current from the source.
A voltmeter can be made to have different ranges for the full-scale reading, by switching different values of resistance in series with the microammeter (Fig. 3-6). The internal resistance of the meter is large because the values of the resistors are large.
The greater the supply voltage, the larger the internal resistance of the meter, because the necessary series resistance increases as the voltage increases.

Its always good when a voltmeter has a high internal resistance. The reason for this is that you dont want the meter to draw much current from the power source. This current should go, as much as possible, towards working whatever circuit is hooked up to the supply, and not into just getting a reading of the voltage. Also, you might not want, or need, to have the voltmeter constantly connected in the circuit; you might need the voltmeter for testing many different circuits. You dont want the behavior of the circuit to be affected the instant you connect the voltmeter to the supply. The less current a voltmeter draws, the less it will affect the behavior of anything that is working from the power supply.