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AE 514


Direct current (DC) electricity is non-varying in nature, such as that obtained

from a battery or filtered power supply. In other words, the amplitude of voltage
and current remain steady. This is often referred to as "pure DC," meaning that
no alternating current or noise is present.
DC Terms and Values

Pulsating DC - DC electricity in which either the current or voltage

vary from a zero reference level to a maximum or peak value

DC Polarity - expressed as being either positive or negative.

Average Value of DC - the average of the current or voltage
excursion made by a pulsating DC waveform as it moves from zero
to its maximum value. The average value is computed by multiplying the maximum value of the pulsating waveform by 0.637.

Series DC Circuits
A series circuit is a circuit that has only one path for electrons to flow.

Volts - the algebraic sum of the applied voltage and the voltage
drop around any closed circuit is equal to zero
Amperes - The algebraic sum of the currents at any junction of
conductors in a circuit is zero.
Resistance - Total resistance in a series circuit equals the sum of
the individual resistances in the circuit.
Power - the amount of power available in the circuit is calculated
using the formula: P = VI

Parallel DC Circuits
The most widely used circuit arrangement is the parallel circuit. All of the load
components in a parallel circuit are directly across the source, and if one
component fails, it has no effect on the others.

Volts - Since each path has only one load device, the voltage must
equal the source voltage.
Amperes The current flow in a circuit is equal to the sum of the
current flow through each path/load.
Resistance - Unlike a series circuit, the more resistance added to a
parallel circuit, the lower the total resistance.

Power - the amount of power available in the circuit is calculated

using the formula: P = VI

Changing DC to AC
It is often necessary to change direct current into alternating current. For
example, many aircraft require alternating current to power equipment such
as flight instruments and navigation receivers. During an emergency, when
normal aircraft power is not available, power is taken from the battery to
operate all electrical loads. Since batteries are capable of storing only direct
current, a means must be provided to change DC to AC.
The device used to change DC to AC is called an inverter.

Rotary inverters - are essentially DC motors with an AC generator

built in. They are powered by a DC source, and have AC as an output.
Static inverters - are electronic devices containing a specialized
circuit known as an oscillator. An oscillator is capable of changing
DC to AC through electronics.

Alternating Current (AC) is current flow which continually changes its value
and periodically reverses direction.
Advantages of AC
1. Much easier to generate in the large quantities needed for homes
and industries, and for large transport aircraft.
2. The ease with which AC current and voltage can be changed to get
the most effective use of electrical energy. For example, since the
current flowing in a conductor determines the amount of heat
generated, current dictates the size of conductor needed to
transport it. Delivering the same amount of power with less current
would allow the use of smaller conductors, saving money and
Generation of AC Electricity
Common household electricity is produced by a rotary generator in which a
coiled conductor rotates inside a magnetic field. The changing values of voltage
produced as the coil rotates can be observed on an oscilloscope. The values
start at zero, rise to a peak, and then drop back off to zero. As the coil continues to rotate, the voltage builds up in the opposite direction to a peak
and then back to zero. One complete cycle of voltage change is produced
with each complete revolution of the coil.

Cycle - one complete sequence of voltage or current change

from zero, through a positive peak, back to zero, through a negative peak, and back to zero again.
Alternation - one-half of an AC cycle in which the voltage or
current rises or falls from zero to a peak and back to zero.
Period - The time required for one cycle of events to occur
Frequency - the number of cycles completed in one second.
Frequency is expressed in hertz (Hz) with one hertz equal to
one cycle per second. The frequency of alternating current
produced by a generator is determined by the number of pairs
of magnetic poles in the generator and the number of
revolutions completed per minute by the rotating coils.
Phase - In alternating current where the values are constantly
changing, certain circuit components cause a phase shift
between the voltage and the current. The amount of shift is
referred to as the phase angle.
Power - the values for both voltage and current are given in
effective values. The product of these effective values is called the
apparent power and is expressed in volt-amps rather than in

Transformers allow the values of AC voltage and current to be changed through
the use of mutual inductance. A typical transformer consists of two coils of wire
wound around a common core, but not connected electrically. The coil in which
alternating current flows into a transformer is called the primary coil,
whereas the coil in which the alternating current flows out is the secondary
When an alternating current flows in the primary coil, a voltage is induced into
the secondary coil. The amount of voltage generated in the secondary coil is
equal to the voltage in the primary times the turn ratio between the two coils.
For example, 100 turns in a primary coil and 1,000 turns in a secondary equates
to a turns ratio of 1:10. Therefore, if 115 volts flows across the primary, 1,150
volts are induced across the secondary.

Step-Up Transformer - there are more turns in the secondary coil

than in the primary coil. This results in an increase in voltage and a
decrease in current.
Step-Down Transformer - the secondary coil has fewer turns than
the primary coil. In this case the voltage decreases and current

Converting AC to DC
It is often necessary to convert alternating current into direct current to power
various circuits in the aircraft or within electronic equipment. The conversion of
alternating to direct current is accomplished by a circuit referred to as a
rectifier. Rectifier circuits employ vacuum tube or solid-state diodes that
allow current flow in only one direction.
Three-Phase AC
When it is necessary to get the maximum amount of power from alternating
current, it is typically converted into three-phase AC. Generators that produce
three-phase AC have three sets of output windings excited by a single rotating
field. The voltage in each winding is 120 degrees out of phase with that in the
other windings.
Advantages of Three-Phase AC

There are three times as many pulses of rectified current as there

are in single-phase AC, The pulses overlap so the current never
drops to an instantaneous value of zero.
The higher the pulse frequency, the easier it is to filter the AC and
make it smooth.

Three-Phase Transformer
Three-phase transformers can have their primary and secondary windings
connected in either a Y or a delta to provide the needed output.

Converters vs. Rectifiers

Rectifier means Alternating current (AC) to Direct current (DC) conversion and
apply the use of diodes.
A converter can be AC to DC or DC to AC or conversion from one level of
either AC or DC to another level. a voltage converter is a device which
converts AC Power to DC Power. It changes the voltage of an electrical power
source and is usually combined with other components to create a power
supply. Some claims also proves that it is also possible to do a AC-DC-AC
conversion. The use of the term voltage converter is also known in other
electrical term which is power supply. A voltage converter and power
supply can also be called as transformer. However, it does not actually pertain
to the device called transformer which also has a different meaning.

General Chapter 3: Basic Electricity