Milliamp Meter to Voltmeter

Posted on Nov 25, 2012

A milliamp meter can be used as a volt meter by adding a series resistance. The resistance needed is the full scale voltage reading divided by the full scale current of the meter movement. So, if you have a 1 milliamp meter and you want to read 0-10 volts you will need a total resistance of 10/.001 = 10K ohms. The meter movement itself will have a small resistance which will be part of the total 10K resistance, but it is usually low enough to ignore. The meter in the example below has a resistance of 86 ohms so the true resistor value needed would be 10K-86 or 9914 ohms.

Milliamp Meter to Voltmeter
Click here to download the full size of the above Circuit.

But using a 10K standard value will be within 1% so we can ignore the 86 ohms. For a full scale reading of 1 volt, the meter resistnace would be more significant since it would be about 8% of the total 1K needed, so you would probably want to use a 914 ohm resistor, or 910 standard value. The milliamp meter can also be used to measure higher currents by adding a parallel resistance. The meter resistance now becomes very significant since to increase the range by a factor of ten, we need to bypass 9/10 of the total current with the parallel resistor. So, to convert the 1 milliamp meter to a 10 milliamp meter, we will need a parallel resistor of 86/9 = 9.56 ohms.

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