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Chapter Eee Basie: INTRODUCTION Alternating Current (AC) continually changes its polarity and can vary in both magnitude and how often it changes direction. This differs from Direct Current (DC), which is usually of a constant value flowing in one direction only. The voltage and current in an AC circuit increase from zero to maximum and back to zero again in one direction before reversing and reaching @ maximum in the other direction. The effect of an AC supply on resistors, inductors, and capacitors also differs from that of a DC supply. ALTERNATING CURRENT ADVANTAGES OF AC OVER DC AC is extremely versatile and has the following advantages over DC: > AC can be simply and efficiently changed from one voltage to another using a transform ® AC generators are simpler and lighter in construction than DG generators for the ‘equivalent power output. > AC can be easily and efficiently changed into DC using rectifiers. > The magnitude or frequency of AC voltages can be easily modified to carry or transmit information as AC signals. > The frequency at which electro-magnetic radio waves can be made to propagate outward from a suitable aerial begins at 3000 Hz or 3 kHz, known as a radio frequency (RF). It is relatively easy to increase an AC supply frequency to the RF level. GENERATING AC ‘An AC generator converts mechanical energy into electrical energy by using the electromagnetic induction properties of a coil rotating in a magnetic field. The magnitude of the voltage produced is dependent on the following factors: > The strength of the magnetic field > The speed at which the conductor cuts the magnetic field > The length of the conductor within the magnetic field, > The angle at which the conductor cuts the magnetic field Electrics 81 Chapter 8 Basic AC Theory ‘As with a DC generator, the polarity of the induced voltage can be found using Fleming's Right- Hand Rule (see page 5-1) moron SIMPLE AC GENERATOR In its simplest form, an AC generator consists of a single loop of wire or armature, which is mounted on a shaft, such that it can be rotated within a magnetic field. When it is rotated, an AC ‘voltage is induced in it, which can be easily transferred to an external circuit by means of carbon brushes that bear on slip rings connected to the loop. osciLLoscoPE ‘ARMATURE, ‘When the armature moves through 360°, or through one revolution, at @ constant speed the output voltage and current rise to a maximum value in one direction and back to zero, before reversing in polarity. The voltage and current rise to a maximum value in the opposite direction before again returning to zero. The paths plotted by the voltage and current are in the shape of a sine wave whose magnitude and polarity are determined by the actual position of the armature as shown in the following diagram. 82 Electries Basic AC Theory Chapter 8 AC TERMINOLOGY The diagram below shows how the voltage output varies when the armature is rotated through 360°, PEAK TO PEAK VOLTAGE By convention, the following terminology applies to the resulting sine wave: Electries Cycle This is @ complete variation of voltage from zero through @ maximum value in each direction and retuming to zero. It occurs when the armature of a basic AC generator rotates through one complete revolution (360°). Instantaneous Value This is the value at a specific instant in time. Peak Value The voltage curve rises to a maximum value in one half cycle, and the level at which this occurs is the peak voltage.