# Clamper Circuit

A clamper is a circuit that adds a DC component to an AC signal. This can be used to set the levels of the positive and negative peaks of an AC waveform.

In other words, **clamper circuits are used to raise or lower an entire AC voltage waveform.**

Clamper circuits function by using a capacitor to store and release electric charge and function as a voltage source in the circuit.

A simple clamper circuit consists of a capacitor, a diode, a resistor, and a primary AC voltage source.

Along with their similar sounding ‘cousins’ **clipper circuits**, clampers are commonly used to modify AC signals.

## What is a Clamper Circuit?

The best way to understand a clamper circuit is to look at what the clamper circuit actually does.

Let’s look at the input and output of a clamper circuit in order to understand its’ function.

The clamper receives a sinusoidal AC input signal. The input voltage is called V_{i}. The sine waveform is usually centered around 0V.

We will use the clamper circuit to raise the voltage level of the entire waveform.

### Clamper Circuit Input

### Clamper Output

The clamper does not distort the voltage waveform in any way. Unlike clipper circuits, clamper circuits don’t flatten any peaks or valleys.

Instead, the entire voltage waveform is shifted up or down by a designated amount. The output voltage is called V_{o}.

This image shows the output voltage more clearly.

## Clamper Time Constant

Like other RC circuits, clamper circuits feature a characteristic **time constant ‘τ’**, which is equal to value of the resistor times the value of the capacitor used in the clamper circuit:

\tau=RC

This time constant is an indication of the time it takes for the capacitor to charge and discharge. If the time constant is much greater than the frequency of the AC source, the capacitor will function as a voltage source through each cycle. The circuit designer can ensure that the clamper circuit will function properly by increasing time constant (using a larger value resistor or capacitor).

## Clamping Voltage

Clamper circuits all feature a clamping voltage. The clamping voltage is the voltage level that the clamper adds or subtracts from the waveform.

The diode in the clamper circuit produces a voltage drop that reduces the clamping voltage.

For example, a clamper circuit

## Types of Clamper Circuits

There are several different types of clamper circuits. Here’s a brief overview and then we’ll explore each one in more depth:

### Positive and Negative Clampers

The first major division is between positive and negative clamper circuits.

**Positive clampers** add a ** positive **clamping voltage to the entire waveform.

**Negative clampers** add a ** negative **clamping voltage to the entire waveform.

### Biased and Unbiased Clampers

The next division is between biased and unbiased clampers. Both positive and negative clampers can be either biased or unbiased.

**Unbiased clampers** use the clamping voltage produced by the capacitor alone.

**Biased clampers** use an extra voltage source to shift the clamping voltage up or down. They use a capacitor as well as another source, such as a battery. **The additional voltage source allows more control** in determining the final clamping voltage,** enabling the voltage to be adjusted up or down** by the battery voltage.

### Positive Biased and Negative Biased Clampers

There are two types of biased clampers: positive biased and negative biased.

**Positive biased clampers** contain a voltage source (like a battery) that **adds a positive voltage**, shifting the clamping voltage up.

**Negative biased clampers** have a voltage source that **adds a negative voltage**, shifting the clamping voltage down.

## Positive Clamper Circuits

Positive clamper circuits are used to add a positive clamping voltage to a signal. It increases the voltage of the entire waveform by the clamping voltage.

A positive clamper circuit increases the central voltage level around which the sine wave oscillates by the maximum voltage level of the original sine wave, V_{m}. It shifts the entire voltage waveform up by V_{m}.

Positive clamper circuits are divided into two main categories: unbiased positive clampers, and biased positive clampers. Biased positive clampers can also be divided into clamper circuits with positive bias and clamper circuits with negative bias.

### Unbiased Positive Clamper

An unbiased positive clamper has a positive clamping voltage and uses the combination of a diode and capacitor.

#### Unbiased Positive Clamper Circuit Diagram

It may be helpful to review our lesson on **capacitors in AC circuits**.

The clamper circuit does not function during the first positive half cycle because the diode is reverse-biased.

Instead, the capacitor will charge during the first negative half cycle, while the diode is forward biased.

Once the capacitor is charged, it will then discharge during subsequent cycles, adding a positive voltage to the entire waveform.

The capacitor will maintain the voltage placed on it, and will be successful as long as the period of the waveform is much less than the RC time constant τ.

It will then produce a voltage equal to the maximum value of the input waveform, **V _{max}**. This voltage is added to the whole waveform, thereby boosting the voltage level of the entire AC signal.

The original signal V_{in} was centered around zero and had a maximum voltage (peak voltage) of V_{max}.

In contrast, the output of the unbiased positive clamper circuit is now centered around V_{max}, and has a maximum peak voltage of 2V_{max}.

The equation describing the output voltage waveform is:

* V_{out}* =

*+*

**V**_{in}

**V**_{max}### Biased Positive Clampers

#### Positive Biased Positive Clamper

Positive biased clampers add a voltage source (like a battery) to the circuit. Take note of the orientation of the voltage source; the positive terminal faces the capacitor.

#### Positive Biased Positive Clamper Circuit Diagram

The battery adds voltage V_{bias} to the whole voltage waveform, as we can see in the figure below:

The output of this circuit is equal to the input V_{in}, plus the battery voltage V_{bias}, plus the capacitor voltage V_{max}:

* V_{out}* =

*+*

**V**_{in}**+**

*V*_{bias}

*V*_{max}#### Negative Biased Positive Clamper

Negative biased clampers also have a voltage source, but it is used in the opposite orientation as the source in a positively biased clamper.

#### Negative Biased Positive Clamper Circuit Diagram

In this case, the battery adds a negative voltage V_{bias} to the whole voltage waveform, as we can see in the figure below:

The output of this circuit is equal to the input V_{in}, plus the capacitor voltage V_{max}, minus the battery voltage V_{bias}, :

* V_{out}* =

*+*

**V**_{in}**–**

*V*_{max}

*V*_{bias}## Negative Clamper Circuits

Negative clamper circuits are used to add a negative clamping voltage to a signal. In essence, a negative clamper circuit decreases the central voltage level around which the sine wave oscillates.

Negative clamper circuits are also divided into two categories: unbiased negative clampers, and biased negative clampers. Biased negative clampers can also be divided into negative clamper circuits with positive bias and negative clamper circuits with negative bias.

### Unbiased Negative Clamper

An unbiased negative clamper has a negative clamping voltage and uses the combination of a diode and capacitor.

#### Unbiased Negative Clamper Circuit Diagram

The capacitor will maintain the voltage placed on it, and will be successful as long as the period of the waveform is much less than the RC time constant τ. The right side of the capacitor will charge during the first positive half cycle, while the diode is forward biased.

It will then produce a voltage equal to the negative maximum value of the input waveform, **-V _{max}**. This voltage is added to the whole waveform, thereby lowering the voltage level of the entire AC signal.

The original signal V_{in} was centered around zero and had a maximum voltage (peak voltage) of V_{max}.

In contrast, the output of the unbiased negative clamper circuit is now centered around -V_{max}, and has a negative peak (i.e. lowest point of the ‘valley’) voltage of -2V_{max}.

The output of this circuit is the input voltage V_{in}, plus the negative voltage contributed by the capacitor -V_{max}:

* V_{out}* =

*–*

**V**_{in}

**V**_{max}Note that we stated this as ‘plus the negative voltage -V_{max}‘ instead of ‘minus V_{max}‘. This is because a more complex signal might have different absolute values for the top of the most positive peak and the most negative valley. We differentiate by calling -V_{max} the lowest point of the waveform instead of just assuming that |V_{max}| = |-V_{max}|.

### Biased Negative Clampers

#### Positive Biased Negative Clamper

Positive biased clampers add a voltage source (like a battery) to the circuit. Take note of the orientation of the voltage source; the positive terminal faces the capacitor.

#### Positive Biased Negative Clamper Circuit Diagram

The battery adds voltage V_{bias} to the whole voltage waveform.

Even though the capacitor adds a negative voltage -V_{max}, the battery adds a small *positive *voltage V_{bias}, allowing the clamper circuit to output a signal that is below the input Vin, but not quite as low as an unbiased negative clamper. We can see this in the figure below:

The output of this circuit is equal to the input V_{in}, plus the negative capacitor voltage -V_{max}, plus the battery voltage V_{bias}:

* V_{out}* =

*–*

**V**_{in}**+**

*V*_{max}

*V*_{bias}#### Negative Biased Negative Clamper

Negative biased clampers also have a voltage source, but it is used in the opposite orientation as the source in a positively biased clamper.

#### Negative Biased Negative Clamper Circuit Diagram

In this case, the battery adds a negative voltage V_{bias} to the whole voltage waveform, as we can see in the figure below:

The output of this circuit is equal to the input V_{in}, plus the capacitor voltage V_{max}, minus the battery voltage V_{bias}, :

* V_{out}* =

*+*

**V**_{in}**–**

*V*_{max}

*V*_{bias}