# What is a Linear Variable Differential Transformer

linear variable differential transformer (LVDT) has an AC driven primary wound between two secondaries on a cylindrical air core form. (Figure below) A movable ferromagnetic slug converts displacement to a variable voltage by changing the coupling between the driven primary and secondary windings. The LVDT is a displacement or distance measuring transducer. Units are available for measuring displacement over a distance of a fraction of a millimeter to a half a meter. LVDT’s are rugged and dirt resistant compared to linear optical encoders.

The excitation voltage is in the range of 0.5 to 10 VAC at a frequency of 1 to 200 Khz. A ferrite core is suitable at these frequencies. It is extended outside the body by an non-magnetic rod. As the core is moved toward the top winding, the voltage across this coil increases due to increased coupling, while the voltage on the bottom coil decreases. If the core is moved toward the bottom winding, the voltage on this coil increases as the voltage decreases across the top coil. Theoretically, a centered slug yields equal voltages across both coils. In practice leakage inductance prevents the null from dropping all the way to 0 V.

With a centered slug, the series-opposing wired secondaries cancel yielding V13 = 0. Moving the slug up increases V13. Note that it is in-phase with with V1, the top winding, and 180o out of phase with V3, bottom winding.

Moving the slug down from the center position increases V13. However, it is 180o out of phase with with V1, the top winding, and in-phase with V3, bottom winding. Moving the slug from top to bottom shows a minimum at the center point, with a 180o phase reversal in passing the center.

Article extracted from Lesson in Electric Circuits AC Volume Tony R Kuphaldt under Design Science License