With this kind of connection I expect 555 to run as a multivibrator.

As far as I understand the discharge of the capacitor should be via R2, while charge of the capacitor via R3 and D1. => discharge slope should not depend on R3.


I've got 3 different discharge slopes, for 3 different values of R3

Moreover, when R3 = 0, it seems as not a multivibrator anymore with constant voltage across the capacitor equals supply voltage.

Could anyone please explain, why discharge slope depend on R3, and why when R3 = 0, capacitor holds constant charge and does not discharge at all.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you understand how a 555 works internally? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 26, 2014 at 20:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Personally, I don't think understanding a chip's internals is of crucial importance... I would rephrase the question: Do you understand how a 555 works? \$\endgroup\$
    – Dzarda
    Commented Jan 26, 2014 at 20:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Understand the internals of something like a MCU is not usually feasible much less required. The 555 is so simple that understanding its internals will tell you everything you need to know about its operation. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 26, 2014 at 21:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ R3 seems a little on the low side. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 26, 2014 at 21:04

1 Answer 1


The discharge slope, or output low time, only depends on R3 when R3 is too low. It's also worth noting that R1 and R3 in your schematic form an equivalent resistance. Is there a reason they are separate? Is R1 fixed and R3 a pot in practice? If not, you can just use one resistor.

From the wikipedia article, "Particularly with bipolar 555s, low values of \$R_1\$ must be avoided so that the output stays saturated near zero volts during discharge, as assumed by the above equation. Otherwise the output low time will be greater than calculated above."

In normal operation, the voltage drop inside the 555 timer's discharge pin is fixed while the capacitor is discharging. The bulk of the voltage drop is across the R1||R3 resistance. Thus, the discharge pin is at nearly 0V and the capacitor discharges at the normal rate. However, when the R1||R3 resistance is too low, there is less voltage drop across these resistors and more internal to the timer. Then, the discharge pin is no longer near 0V and the capacitor takes longer to discharge. When R3 = 0, the same thing is happening, just to an extreme. There is theoretically no voltage drop across R3||R1. Instead all the voltage drop from Vcc to GND is internal to the 555 timer. Thus, the capacitor is simply held at about Vcc.

As the other suggested, it's good to look at the internals of the 555 timer to understand what is really going on. I've had to do the same in the past. These java applets are a good way to play around with circuit and see what is really going on.

http://falstad.com/circuit/e-555int.html - 555 Internals

http://falstad.com/circuit/e-555square.html - Astable Multivibrator


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