A micro-power precision amplifier for converting the output of light sensors to a voltage readable by miniature data loggers
AbstractTo record photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) simultaneously at a number of points throughout a forest canopy, we developed a simple, inexpensive (< %10 US) current-to-voltage converter that processes the current generated by a photodiode radiation sensor to a voltage range that is recordable with a miniature data logger. The converter, which weighs less than 75 g and has a volume of only 100 cm 3 , is built around an ultra-low power OP-90 precision operational amplifier, which consumes less than 0.5 mA at 9 V when converting the output of a Li-Cor LI-190SA quantum sensor exposed to photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) of 2500 μmol m −2 s −1 or only 5 μA in low light. A small 9-V battery thus powers the amplifier for more than 1000 h of continuous operation. Correlations between photometer readings and voltage output from the current-to-voltage converter were high and linear at both high and low PAR. Sixteen Li-Cor LI-190SA quantum sensors each equipped with current-to-voltage converters and connected to a miniature data logger were deployed in the upper branches of a Panamanian tropical rainforest canopy. Each unit performed reliably during a one- or two-week evaluation.