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Electrical Transformers in Theory and Practice

During the early part of my working life I was a student apprentice at the firm of
Partridge Wilson & Co Ltd., whose trade name was Davenset. During my apprenticeship I learned about various transformer devices... From 10 mm cube to items that weighed half a ton.

As a radio ham I have often had a requirement for transformers of types that are
not available 'off the shelf' and as a result I have developed a technique of remanufacturing existing transformers and customising them to my own use.

Basic design and construction
A transformer generally consists of one or
more coils (winding) of conducting wire, wound on a former (bobbin) that surrounds the centre limb (sometimes all limbs) of a circuit of magnetic material (core). The winding wires are insulated and the core is made from thin sheet steel plates known as laminations (this reduces 'eddy current' losses). The assembly is held together by metal cheeks known as clamps, these clamps are held in place by long screws that are insulated from the rest of the structure (again to limit eddy currents). The winding wires are either made off to terminals mounted on the clamps or the wire may leave the coil by 'flying leads'.

A typical transformer... The illustration at right shows all the
elements used in the construction of most transformers.

Common types of lamination are shown at left,
they are known by the shape of alphabetic letter that they form. The most common type is the 'E' & 'I' form, the 'T' & 'U' is still used, but was more common in days past. The laminations are often oxidised to form a surface film of oxide that has a higher resistance


than plain steel. The magnetic flux runs around the two side limbs and combines in the centre limb which is twice the cross sectional area of a single side limb. Sometimes one or both sides of a lamination are sprayed with lacquer for insulation purposes. if higher frequencies (up to a hundred or so kHz) are envisaged then ferrite or other sintered iron oxide compounds are used to make solid split cores. thus isolating each layer to a certain extent and reducing eddy currents that may occur perpendicular to the plane of lamination. The interleaving is usually to avoid any gaps in the magnetic circuit as air is much less permeable to magnetic flux than iron and steel. Other forms are possible and the 'F' & 'F' type shown right is one of these. than my graphic skills can reproduce. The flux lines that are indicated in red in the diagram at right would follow a slightly tighter path near the corner fixing holes. It should be noticed that there is practically zero flux in the centre of the . thus keeping flux density constant. Commonly used versions are RM Cores and ETD Cores The linked pages also give some rudimentary design details. The laminations when assembled form an interleaved 'stack' or 'core'. Laminations are mostly used at power distribution frequencies of 50 Hz or 60 Hz and audio frequencies.

The windings or coils that are wound around these bobbins can be either single coils or multiple ones. Occasionally. The 'holes' in the core are known as 'windows' or 'window spaces' and in an assembled component they are filled by coils wound on a bobbin. but has it's uses at very high voltages (above 3. This method of construction is rare. Single coils are a type known as 'Auto Transformers' and we will not deal any further with them on this page.long side and fixing holes or notches are common at this point. transformers are constructed with two or more independent bobbins. but larger ones often have paxolin or bakalised paper board cheeks. Coil formers or bobbins Bobbins these days are mainly injection moulded in plastic. each having it's own winding(s). . as they are generally not applicable to the type of project that I get involved in.000 volts). the one shown at left is plain and the other at right is the split version. These are of two types known as 'plain' or 'split'.

Generally the primary or input winding is completed first as the innermost coil then layers of plastic or paper are placed over the completed primary and this is then used as a base upon which further windings are made. All that remains is to add a pair of clamps and connect the wires to terminals that are mounted on one of the clamps. The resistive losses in the windings. The number of turns per volt is a function of the cross sectional area of the magnetic circuit. due to the current flowing is generally known as 'copper loss' and is proportionate to the percentage of full load that the device is run at. Testing is then performed to ensure that the specification is correct and that the finished transformer will operate safely for the rest of it's life. the transformer will look some thing like this. Winding Coils After the core and wound coils are assembled . the duty cycle and the allowable temperature rise. If this alternating voltage is applied to a load then an alternating current will result. one crimson and one green. Two coils are shown. Eddy current losses are constant and the fraction of the primary current that is due to this cause is known as the 'magnetising current'. Coils may be wound side by side on split bobbins or may be wound on top of one another with a suitable insulation between.. Secondary windings may be of any number. they indicate primary and secondary coils. 'Primary' and 'Secondary' generally there is only one primary although it may be divided into two or more portions. The ratio of turns between the primary and the secondary is proportionate (minus losses) to the voltages on primary and secondary.. An alternating current flowing in the primary coil will cause an alternating flux in the core which in turn couples with the secondary coil inducing an alternating voltage in it.Multiple coil types are known as 'double wound' and the windings fall into two subdivisions.

The Clamp illustrated at right has been drawn as a brass one so that it stands out against the grey page background. Insulating stepped washers This small flanged fibre washer Terminals These are made in strips of 10 or 12 and sub divided (using a hacksaw) provides a break in any possible eddy current paths that would occur due to the to provide the correct number of ways to fixing bolts passing perpendicular to the suit the windings and tappings. mostly they are of steel although aluminium and brass are sometimes used if an air gap is incorporate d in the magnetic path.. The principal is illustrated at right. plane of lamination. In transformers that have one winding on top of another there is sometimes a single turn of copper or aluminium foil (the ends of this turn are insulated otherwise it would be a 'shorted turn') this Faraday shield or screen is earthed and helps to suppress interference that could be transmitted from coil to coil. This method utilises all of a sheet of rectangular material. . hence the name. Waste Free Laminations There is a way of punching 'E' & 'I' laminations that produces a pair of 'I's from the window spaces of two 'E's..