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Low-voltage AC power supply (6 volt output) Two 1N4001 rectifying diodes (Radio Shack catalog # 276-1101) Small "hobby"

motor, permanent-magnet type (Radio Shack catalog # 273223 or equivalent) Audio detector with headphones 0.1 F capacitor One toggle switch, SPST ("Single-Pole, Single-Throw")

It is essential for this experiment that the low-voltage AC power supply be equipped with a center tap. A transformer with a non-tapped secondary winding simply will not work for this circuit.

The diodes need not be exact model 1N4001 units. Any of the "1N400X" series of rectifying diodes are suitable for the task, and they are quite easy to obtain. LEARNING OBJECTIVES

Design of a center-tap rectifier circuit Measuring "ripple" voltage with a voltmeter

SCHEMATIC DIAGRAM

ILLUSTRATION

INSTRUCTIONS

This rectifier circuit is called full-wave because it makes use of the entire waveform, both positive and negative half-cycles, of the AC source voltage in powering the DC load. As a result, there is less "ripple" voltage seen at the load. The RMS (Root-Mean-Square) value of the rectifier's output is also greater for this circuit than for the half-wave rectifier.

Use a voltmeter to measure both the DC and AC voltage delivered to the motor. You should notice the advantages of the full-wave rectifier immediately by the greater DC and lower AC indications as compared to the last experiment.

An experimental advantage of this circuit is the ease of which it may be "deconverted" to a half-wave rectifier: simply disconnect the short jumper wire connecting the two diodes' cathode ends together on the terminal strip. Better yet, for quick comparison between half and full-wave rectification, you may add a switch in the circuit to open and close this connection at will:

With the ability to quickly switch between half- and full-wave rectification, you may easily perform qualitative comparisons between the two different operating modes. Use the audio signal detector to "listen" to the ripple voltage present between the motor terminals for half-wave and full-wave rectification modes, noting both the intensity and the quality of the tone. Remember to use a coupling capacitor in series with the detector so that it only receives the AC "ripple" voltage and not DC voltage:

COMPUTER SIMULATION

Schematic with SPICE node numbers:

Common applications of center-tapped transformers

In a rectifier, a center-tapped transformer and two diodes can form a fullwave rectifier that allows both half-cycles of the AC waveform to contribute to the direct current, making it smoother than a half-wave rectifier. This form of circuit saves on rectifier diodes compared to a diode bridge, but has poorer utilization of the transformer windings. Center-tapped two-diode rectifiers were a common feature of power supplies in vacuum tube equipment. Modern semiconductor diodes are low-cost and compact so usually a fourdiode bridge is used (up to a few hundred watts total output) which produces the same quality of DC as the center-tapped configuration with a more compact and cheaper power transformer. Center-tapped configurations may still be used in high-current applications, such as large automotive battery chargers, where the extra transformer cost is offset by less costly rectifiers. Center-tapped transformers are also used for dual-voltage power supplies. When a center-tapped transformer is combined with a bridge (four diode) rectifier, it is possible to produce a positive and a negative voltage with respect to a ground at the tap. Dual voltage supplies are important for all sorts of electronics equipment. A full-wave rectifier using two diodes and a center tap transformer.

In early vacuum tube audio amplifiers, center-tapped transformers were sometimes used as the phase inverter to drive the two output tubes of a

push-pull stage. The technique is nearly as old as electronic amplification and is well documented, for example, in "The Radiotron Designer's Handbook, Third Edition" of 1940. This technique was carried over into transistor designs also, part of the reason for which was that capacitors were large, expensive and unreliable. However, since that era, capacitors have become vastly smaller, cheaper and more reliable, whereas transformers are still relatively expensive. Furthermore, as designers acquired more experience with transistors, they stopped trying to treat them like tubes. Coupling a class A intermediate amplification stage to a class AB power stage using a transformer doesn't make sense anymore even in small systems powered from a single-voltage supply. Modern higher-end equipment is based on dualsupply designs which eliminates coupling. It is possible for an amplifier, from the input all the way to the loudspeaker, to be DC coupled without any capacitance or inductance.

In vacuum tube amplifiers, center-tapped transformers are used to couple a push-pull output stage to the speaker. This use is still relevant today because tubes and tube amplifiers continue to be produced for niche markets.

In analog telecommunications systems center-tapped transformers can be used to provide a DC path around an AC coupled amplifier for signalling purposes.

Power distribution, see 3 wire single phase.

The center-tapped rectifiers are preferred to the full bridge rectifier when the output DC current is high and the output voltage is low.

Phantom power can be supplied to a condenser microphone using center tap transformers. One method, called "direct center tap" uses two center tap transformers, one at the microphone body and one at the microphone preamp. Filtered DC voltage is connected to the microphone preamp center tap, and the microphone body center tap is grounded through the cable shield. The second method uses the same center tap transformer topology at the microphone body, but at the microphone preamp, a matched pair of resistors spanning the signal lines in series creates an "artificial center tap".