I am trying to understand this op-amp circuit that came from one of our suppliers. The input on X9 connector is a speed sensor (magnetic pickup sensor.) Its voltage amplitude is proportionnal to a motor speed (up to 7500 Hz.)

From what I understand, the op-amp IC11 plays the role of a differential amplifier circuit. With the voltage dividers made of R282, R306, R283 and R305, there is an offset of 3V on both inputs (probably because it is a single supplied op amp) so the signal coming from X9 is shifted up. I have three questions:

  • What would be the input impedance of this circuit (seen from the sensor?)
  • What is the role of D515 and R281 + R318 + R308 ? I assume that D515 is here not to disturb the 5V supply but why are there resistors?)
  • Is Z1 acting as a voltage limiter? If so, are D516 and D517 not enough?



  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Why not try simulating it? \$\endgroup\$
    – Andy aka
    Commented Oct 21, 2020 at 15:05
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ The LM2903 is a comparator. You should also note that the feedback is positive. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 21, 2020 at 15:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ Its voltage amplitude is proportional to a motor speed (up to 7500 Hz). Given the circuit (and in particular the net name on the output node) I would expect that the input signal frequency is proportional to motor speed. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 21, 2020 at 16:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ I can't simulate it today, but I will surely do it tomorrow. I didn't realise it was a comparator and a Schmitt trigger. What would be the threshold value? I am not sure about it. Why is the output bad ? @user287001 \$\endgroup\$
    – Ultra67
    Commented Oct 21, 2020 at 16:04
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Here's an online calculator to figure that out: sim.okawa-denshi.jp/en/compkeisan.htm. As far as why the output is 'bad', maybe it isn't given that you thought it was a voltage out vs. a pulse out? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 21, 2020 at 16:33

1 Answer 1


It’s a Schmitt trigger circuit. All that gobbledygook on the front end is there to protect the input, and to bias the op-amp (actually a comparator) inputs at a working midpoint.

The sensor signal is AC coupled to the (-) input through C786. It's biased at 3/5 VCC by R305/306, to a net impedance of 120K. R307 acts like a voltage divider with R305/306 and reduces the gain a bit, acting as a high-pass RC filter with C786. The actual input impedance is frequency-dependent and is about 195K at the right side of C786.

Going further up the input, R281/R318 and D515 form a biasing network. D515 is reverse polarity / leakage protection. Overall impedance will be a bit less than the divider you add in the downstream stuff: about 1K depending on frequency.

R308 and Z1 are input protection. Z1 limits the voltage swing to +5.1 / -0.6V. R308 limits the current to Z1 so it doesn't take the full brunt of an ESD spike.

D516/D517 further limit the input to VCC +0.3V and -0.3V. Being Schottky types they have faster response than the Zener Z1. Kind of belt-and-suspenders in my opinion.

On the comparator (+) side, there's the biasing network R282/283. Not only does it set the 3/5 VCC operating point, it works with R309 to make the hysteresis snap-action (Schmitt triggering) to square up the signal.

That all said, if the designer were that concerned about transients, they haven't taken care of the ground input. That's a major vulnerability. I would add a common-mode filter between X1 and rest of the signals.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you very much for your complete answer. I have some comments: -Isn't R305 and R306 forming a bias at 3/5 of VCC ? 2/3 Would be with 100k and 200k resistors. -How do you find the 325kOhms and 2.5kOhms input impedance ? -How would you design this common-mode filter ? \$\endgroup\$
    – Ultra67
    Commented Oct 21, 2020 at 17:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ I updated my computations. The common-mode filter would use a type for a differential input; the sensor leads would feed through that. I’d further isolate the input by AC coupling both the ‘GND’ and signal side. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 21, 2020 at 17:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ One more thing. If this is for a reluctor to sense position (like a crank angle sensor) the polarity matters as the signal isn’t symmetrical. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 21, 2020 at 18:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ The application is a speed sensor for a motor. The sensor is magnetoresistive and the output voltage is proportional to the speed. I'm reading everything, trying to understand. Isn't there a mistake with R318 and R281 values that should be swapped? \$\endgroup\$
    – Ultra67
    Commented Oct 21, 2020 at 18:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ok, so the MR sensor is outputting pulses and requires a DC bias to operate. It’s being biased at 1.7V. (2/5 * 4.3V). Maybe not enough? Check the sensor spec. If you swapped the bias resistors then it would be biased at 2.6V and have a bit larger of a swing. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 21, 2020 at 18:19

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