Resistance of a Wire

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  • Topic: Orders of magnitude, Electrical resistance, Measurement
  • Pages : 6 (1879 words )
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  • Published : March 15, 2006
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The resistance of a wire


To investigate the resistance of a wire at different lengths to see whether or not a longer wire has a larger resistance than a shorter wire.

2 crocodile clips
Metre rule
Variable resistor



The material and diameter of the wire needs to be kept constant to keep the test fair as we are investigating resistance. The independent variable will be the length of wire as we will be changing it to see whether or not the resistance changes. The dependent variable will be the resistance of the wire as that is what is going to change due to the length of wire.

The length of wire will be measured accurately using a metre rule. The wire will be stuck onto the rule using tape. This means that the wire will not move about so we can measure the length accurately. Repeating measurements improve accuracy as you can spot any anomalies and the results can be averaged to give more reliable results. The voltmeter will give the reading for voltage ( V ) and the ammeter will give the reading for current ( I ). The resistance will then be calculated using the formula R=V/I. A variable resistor will be used to give three sets of voltage and current readings so we can work out the resistance of the wire. These three values will be taken for each length of wire. Each value will have a resistance. These three resistances will be added together and then divided by three to give an average resistance.

Preliminary measurements:

These preliminary measurements are taken so we can choose the wire which gives a range of resistance values as the length is changed. A high resistance means less current so there is less chance for the wire to get hot. The maximum current must not cause the wire to get hot. This because it will give unreliable results because the resistance increases. Also, the use of preliminary work is to find suitable ranges for the voltmeter and ammeter.

The types of wire that are going to be used are:
32 swg constantan
34 swg constantan
36 swg constantan
32 swg nichrome
36 swg nichrome

Length (cm)V (mV)I (mA)R (ohms)
32 C:100.08871127.92
34 C:100.010088711.59
36 C:100.0113070.116.12
32 N:100.0112563.517.72
36 N:100.013903342.12

These results show that the 36 swg nichrome wire has the greatest resistance/metre and it give a wide range of resistance values as the length is changed. This also shows the suitable ranges for the voltmeter and ammeter, and the number of cells that are needed. The voltmeter will be set to the 2000 mV (2V) range because the voltage is always less than 2 volts and this range is most accurate. The ammeter will be set to the 200 mA range because the current will always be between this range (e.g. 30 mA to 100 mA), also this range is most accurate. I will be using I cell because this reduces the current in the wire and so reduces heating. The range of lengths that I will be using are 30.0 cm to 100.0cm because six values can be obtained, and the measurement of length is more accurate as the wire will be stuck onto a metre rule (100.0cm).

The circuit will be set up as shown in the diagram. Then a length of wire over a metre long is sellotaped to a metre rule. The positive crocodile clip is attached at 0cm. And the negative is moved up and down the wire, stopping at different lengths ranging from 30.0cm and 100.0cm. Each time reading the ammeter and voltmeter to work out resistance R = V/I. This is using 36 swg nichrome wire. Other variables, voltage, thickness, and temperature will be kept constant, although the temperature will rise slightly once current is passing through it, which will cause the atoms in the wire to vibrate, and so obstruct the flow of electrons, so...
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