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Project Notes

#157 ML741/VoltageFollower

Test a voltage follower/buffer circuit with the ML741 discrete component opamp


This is a demonstration of a voltage follower circuit using the ML741 discrete component opamp. The general operation of a voltage follower is for the output to follow the non-inverting input, with a gain of 1, i.e.

Vout = Vin


How it works

Fundamentally, an op-amp strives to keep its inverting an non-inverting inputs equal by modulating the output.

When the non-inverting input rises above the inverting input, the output will rise to offset the differential. Since there is 100% feedback to the non-inverting input, the output will immediately change to match the inverting input.

Voltage followers, also known as unity gain buffers, are often used to isolate circuit sub-systems since they offer - at least in the idealised op-amp model - infinite impedence at the input and zero impedance at the output.



The Schematic

ML741 on the right, and a standard UA741CN on the left waiting to be put to the test..

The Build

ML741 v “real” 741 Test

Here are some results comparing the behaviour of a standard UA741CN chip with the ML741 (protoboard version).


  • power is 5V single rail, i.e. V- = GND
  • non-inverting input is fed a sine wave 1Vpp with 2.5V DC offset (with a 1kΩ resistor in series for redundant protection)
  • the function generator sine wave input replaces the manual 10kΩ pot in the schematic above

Scope connections

  • CH1: non-inverting input
  • CH2: output/inverting input

I’ve purposely driven the input signal such that it clips the lower output rail of both the ML741 and UA741CN, because things get interesting around the rails.

At 20kHz

  • both tracking the input voltage quite well
  • clean clipping at the lower output rail
  • ML741 again proves its ability to drive lower than the standard UA741CN





At 80kHz

  • both struggling to drop the output voltage fast enough
  • the poorer ML741 response time has effectively increased its lower output limit so it is now higher than the UA741CN
  • ML741 is the first to get into trouble (from 40kHz at least)





Measurements in action…


Credits and References

Project Source on GitHub Project Gallery Return to the LEAP Catalog

This page is a web-friendly rendering of my project notes shared in the LEAP GitHub repository.

LEAP is just my personal collection of projects. Two main themes have emerged in recent years, sometimes combined:

  • electronics - usually involving an Arduino or other microprocessor in one way or another. Some are full-blown projects, while many are trivial breadboard experiments, intended to learn and explore something interesting
  • scale modelling - I caught the bug after deciding to build a Harrier during covid to demonstrate an electronic jet engine simulation. Let the fun begin..
To be honest, I haven't quite figured out if these two interests belong in the same GitHub repo or not. But for now - they are all here!

Projects are often inspired by things found wild on the net, or ideas from the many great electronics and scale modelling podcasts and YouTube channels. Feel free to borrow liberally, and if you spot any issues do let me know (or send a PR!). See the individual projects for credits where due.