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FLOATING MEASUREMENTS

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March 01, 2014
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FLOATING MEASUREMENTS
A floating measurement reads the voltage between two points, neither
of which is at ground potential.
Signal common may be elevated to hundreds of volts from earth
FACETS OF FLOATING MEASUREMENT
Operator safety
Form factor and cost of the measurement tools
Measurement quality

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Performance Form Safety
Real-time bandwidth Portability (size) Insulation
Sample Rate Weight Isolation from ground
Accuracy Probing solutions Isolation between channels
Channel count Cost Voltage rating
Triggering capability Ease of use UL/IEC1010 certification
Table: 1 Attributes that make the facets
APPLICATIONS
Power control circuits (motor controllers, uninterruptible power
supplies, and switching DC power supplies) and industrial equipment
To measure one machine with reference to another where the two
machines are connected to different power distribution circuits with
different ground reference levels
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FLOATING MEASUREMENT
TECHNIQUES
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Battery Powered DMM
Well suited for floating measurement
within their bandwidth limits
Insulated housings facilitates safe
handling
Due to battery operation, provide good
isolation from earth ground
Emphasize the form facet, trades off
performance benefits

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Isolated Input Oscilloscopes Measurements
Provides true and complete
channel to channel and channel
to power line isolation
Channels are individually isolated
Requires special probes which
has insulated BNC connectors
and reference lead which can
withstand rated float voltage
Safe and reliable measurement;
trades off balanced floating
measurement
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Differential Probe Measurements
These systems enable floating
measurements with grounded
oscilloscope
Safer way of operation
Neither of the probe contacts are at
earth ground nor the probe system at
chassis ground
May require independent power
supply
Emphasize performance and safety
facts; trades off form factor

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Voltage Isolator Measurements
Isolators do not have direct
electrical connection
between floating inputs and
ground referenced outputs
Signal is coupled through
optical or transformer
Provides safety; trades off
cost and form facet
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A minus B Measurements
Uses conventional oscilloscope and passive voltage probe to make an
indirect floating measurement
One channel measures positive test point and other negative test
point and difference between the two results in floating voltage
measurement
Probes must be matched to maximize common mode rejection ratio
Easily done; trades off measurement capability
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Floating A Conventional Grounded Oscilloscope
Uses isolation transformer which does not carry ground through to the
secondary (or) uses an oscilloscope with disconnected AC mains
power cord grounding connector
Puts all accessible metal parts at the same voltage as the test point
where the probe reference lead is connected
Uses existing device, trades off safety and measurement capability
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