Basic Electronics For Field Measurement

Author: Steve O’Bannon

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Since Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, Electricity has become the life blood of industrialized nations. Today, we depend on it for every aspect of our lives. Electricity is used for everything from powering motors, to running the most complicated computer systems, factories and defense systems, to charging our iPods and iPhones.

This paper will focus on the use of electric circuits that apply to the devices used in the oil and gas industry.


Electricity is made-up, in part by electrons and protons. Electrons have a negative charge and protons have a positive charge. Electrons repel each other, protons repel each other, but electrons and protons are attracted to each other. The heart of all this is the electron movement. This electron movement is enabled by electric circuits.

There exists what are called Alternating Current (AC) circuits, and Direct Current (DC) circuits. An in depth discussion of these topics and the differences between them are out of the scope of this document. Only DC circuits will be discussed.

Three elements that are always present in an electric circuit are:

Current. A progressive movement of free electrons along a wire or other conductor. Current is expressed in Amperes or Amps (A).

Electromotive Force. This is also known as voltage. This is the force that pushes or pulls electrons (current) through the circuit. Voltage is expressed in Volts (V).