In simplest terms, a dynamo is essentially an electric motor run in reverse.The electric motor uses magnets spinning in a metal coil to spin an axle.Conversely, spinning the axle causes the magnets to rotate in the coil andgenerates an electric current moving away from the motor. A coolexperiment to try is to buy a small motor from radio shack and put it to yourtongue. Spin it and you will feel a slight tingle coming from the connectors.This is known as the Faraday effect. Look up this effect to gain a fullerunderstanding of motors and dynamos.A
, originally another name for anelectrical generator, now means agenerator that producesdirect currentwith the use of acommutator.Dynamos were the first electrical generators capable of delivering powerfor industry, and the foundation upon which many other later electric-powerconversion devices were based, including theelectric motor, the alternating-currentalternator, and therotary converter. They are rarely used forpower generation now because of the dominance ofalternating current, thedisadvantages of the commutator, and the ease of converting alternating todirect current usingsolid statemethods.The word still has some regional usage as a replacement for the word
. In the UK, a small electrical generator built into the hub of abicycle wheel to power lights is called aHub dynamo.
The dynamo uses rotating coils of wire and magnetic fields to convertmechanical rotation into a pulsing direct electriccurrentthroughFaraday'slaw. A dynamo machine consists of a stationary structure, called thestator,which provides a constantmagnetic field, and a set of rotating windingscalled thearmaturewhich turn within that field. On small machines theconstant magnetic field may be provided by one or morepermanent magnets;larger machines have the constant magnetic field provided by one or moreelectromagnets, which are usually called
.Thecommutatorwas needed to producedirect current. When a loop of wirerotates in a magnetic field, the potential induced in it reverses with eachhalf turn, generating an alternating current. However, in the early days of