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#129091 - 07/12/04 07:26 AM 5VDC TO 4-20mA Conversion
rad74ss Offline
Registered: 04/19/04
Posts: 156
Loc: Pryor, OK USA
I need help trying to figure out how to convert a 0-5vdc signal to 4-20mA. This is to convert the signal on a 0-500psi transducer.

The company wants to use resistors instead of buying a converter.

I would appreciate any help from the electronically inclined electricians.


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#129092 - 07/12/04 08:57 AM Re: 5VDC TO 4-20mA Conversion
mistermike Offline
Junior Member
Registered: 05/17/04
Posts: 3
Without going into a long-winded dissertation, forget about using resistors. The differences in the "zero" point base (0 volts vs. 4 mA) and in how instrument designs handle voltages versus currents do not lend themselves to a simple conversion using only resistors.

A 0-5V/4-20mA signal conditioner can be bought for around $250. You will burn up that money in a heartbeat trying to configure and calibrate a homebrew resistor setup.
#129093 - 07/12/04 09:54 AM Re: 5VDC TO 4-20mA Conversion
Bjarney Offline
Registered: 04/10/02
Posts: 2527
Loc: West-Southern Inner-Northeast ...
5V/0.020A=250Ω, but it’s not usually that simple.

There is an offset problem for transducer output—below 1 volt, the current channel will treat the reading as zero, or as a signal error when under 4mA. A resistor may work with the right 4-20mA transducer output and 1-5V input channel.
#129094 - 07/10/05 06:10 PM Re: 5VDC TO 4-20mA Conversion
NJwirenut Offline
Registered: 09/15/01
Posts: 806
Loc: Bergen County, NJ
If you are handy with a soldering iron, you could build your own V/I converter using a chip like the XTR110 from Burr-Brown:

Because you need to source 4 mA of current with zero voltage input, you will NEVER get ther with a purely passive network of resistors.
#129095 - 07/12/05 09:36 AM Re: 5VDC TO 4-20mA Conversion
IanR Offline
Registered: 12/06/04
Posts: 328
Loc: Palm Bay FL USA
if you're can read a schematic and use a soldering iron try here:

also a good source for many other circuits
#129096 - 07/12/05 10:19 AM Re: 5VDC TO 4-20mA Conversion
resqcapt19 Offline
Registered: 11/10/00
Posts: 2148
Loc: IL
Are you sure that you need a conveter? Many 4-20ma inputs just use a 250 ohm resistot internal to convert the current to a voltage, and many have a setting that will change the input from 4-20 to 0-20. If both of these conditions are present, all you have to do is to remove the internal resistor and change the setting to 0-20ma.

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