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Sinusoidal Waveforms
In our tutorials about Electromagnetism, we saw that when an electric current ows through
a conductor, a magnetic eld is generated around itself.

We also saw that if this single wire conductor is moved or rotated within a stationary

magnetic eld, an EMF, (Electro-Motive Force) is induced within the conductor due to the
movement of the conductor through the magnetic ux.

From this tutorial we learnt that a relationship exists between Electricity and Magnetism

giving us, as Michael Faraday discovered the eect of Electromagnetic Induction and it is
this basic principal that electrical machines and generators use to generate a Sinusoidal
Waveform for our mains supply.

In the Electromagnetic Induction, tutorial we said that when a single

wire conductor moves through a permanent magnetic eld thereby
cutting its lines of ux, an EMF is induced in it.

However, if the conductor moves in parallel with the magnetic eld in

the case of points A and B, no lines of ux are cut and no EMF is

induced into the conductor, but if the conductor moves at right angles

to the magnetic eld as in the case of points C and D, the maximum

amount of magnetic ux is cut producing the maximum amount of induced EMF.

Also, as the conductor cuts the magnetic eld at dierent angles between points A and C, 0
and 90o the amount of induced EMF will lie somewhere between this zero and maximum

value. Then the amount of emf induced within a conductor depends on the angle between
the conductor and the magnetic ux as well as the strength of the magnetic eld.

An AC generator uses the principal of Faradays electromagnetic induction to convert a

mechanical energy such as rotation, into electrical energy, a Sinusoidal Waveform. A simple
generator consists of a pair of permanent magnets producing a xed magnetic eld between
a north and a south pole. Inside this magnetic eld is a single rectangular loop of wire that
can be rotated around a xed axis allowing it to cut the magnetic ux at various angles as
shown below.

Basic Single Coil AC Generator

As the coil rotates anticlockwise around the central axis which is perpendicular to the

magnetic eld, the wire loop cuts the lines of magnetic force set up between the north and

south poles at dierent angles as the loop rotates. The amount of induced EMF in the loop at
any instant of time is proportional to the angle of rotation of the wire loop.

As this wire loop rotates, electrons in the wire ow in one direction around the loop. Now

when the wire loop has rotated past the 180o point and moves across the magnetic lines of
force in the opposite direction, the electrons in the wire loop change and ow in the

opposite direction. Then the direction of the electron movement determines the polarity of
the induced voltage.

So we can see that when the loop or coil physically rotates one complete revolution, or 360o,

one full sinusoidal waveform is produced with one cycle of the waveform being produced for
each revolution of the coil. As the coil rotates within the magnetic eld, the electrical

connections are made to the coil by means of carbon brushes and slip-rings which are used
to transfer the electrical current induced in the coil.

The amount of EMF induced into a coil cutting the magnetic lines of force is determined by
the following three factors.

Speedthe speed at which the coil rotates inside the magnetic eld.
Strengththe strength of the magnetic eld.
Lengththe length of the coil or conductor passing through the magnetic eld.
We know that the frequency of a supply is the number of times a cycle appears in one second
and that frequency is measured in Hertz. As one cycle of induced emf is produced each full
revolution of the coil through a magnetic eld comprising of a north and south pole as

shown above, if the coil rotates at a constant speed a constant number of cycles will be

produced per second giving a constant frequency. So by increasing the speed of rotation of
the coil the frequency will also be increased. Therefore, frequency is proportional to the
speed of rotation, () where =r.p.m.

Also, our simple single coil generator above only has two poles, one north and one south

pole, giving just one pair of poles. If we add more magnetic poles to the generator above so

that it now has four poles in total, two north and two south, then for each revolution of the
coil two cycles will be produced for the same rotational speed. Therefore, frequency is

proportional to the number of pairs of magnetic poles, (P) of the generator where P=is
the number of pairs of poles.

Then from these two facts we can say that the frequency output from an AC generator is:

Where: is the speed of rotation inr.p.m. P is the number of pairs of poles and 60
converts it into seconds.

Instantaneous Voltage
The EMF induced in the coil at any instant of time depends upon the rate or speed at which
the coil cuts the lines of magnetic ux between the poles and this is dependant upon the

angle of rotation, Theta () of the generating device. Because an AC waveform is constantly

changing its value or amplitude, the waveform at any instant in time will have a dierent
value from its next instant in time.

For example, the value at 1ms will be dierent to the value at 1.2ms and so on. These values

are known generally as the Instantaneous Values, or Vi Then the instantaneous value of the
waveform and also its direction will vary according to the position of the coil within the
magnetic eld as shown below.

Displacement of a Coil within a Magnetic Field

The instantaneous values of a sinusoidal waveform is given as the Instantaneous value =

Maximum value x sin and this is generalized by the formula.

Where, Vmax is the maximum voltage induced in the coil and =t, is the rotational angle of
the coil with respect to time.

If we know the maximum or peak value of the waveform, by using the formula above the

instantaneous values at various points along the waveform can be calculated. By plotting
these values out onto graph paper, a sinusoidal waveform shape can be constructed.

In order to keep things simple we will plot the instantaneous values for the sinusoidal

waveform at every 45o of rotation giving us 8 points to plot. Again, to keep it simple we will
assume a maximum voltage, VMAX value of 100V. Plotting the instantaneous values at

shorter intervals, for example at every 30o (12 points) or 10o (36 points) for example would
result in a more accurate sinusoidal waveform construction.

Sinusoidal Waveform Construction

Coil Angle ()












-70.71 -100 -70.71


The points on the sinusoidal waveform are obtained by projecting across from the various

positions of rotation between 0o and 360o to the ordinate of the waveform that corresponds
to the angle, and when the wire loop or coil rotates one complete revolution, or 360o, one
full waveform is produced.

From the plot of the sinusoidal waveform we can see that when is equal to 0o, 180o or 360o,
the generated EMF is zero as the coil cuts the minimum amount of lines of ux. But when

is equal to 90o and 270o the generated EMF is at its maximum value as the maximum amount
of ux is cut.

Therefore a sinusoidal waveform has a positive peak at 90o and a negative peak at 270o.

Positions B, D, F and H generate a value of EMF corresponding to the formula e=Vmax.sin.

Then the waveform shape produced by our simple single loop generator is commonly

referred to as a Sine Wave as it is said to be sinusoidal in its shape. This type of waveform is
called a sine wave because it is based on the trigonometric sine function used in
mathematics, (x(t)=Amax.sin).

When dealing with sine waves in the time domain and especially current related sine waves

the unit of measurement used along the horizontal axis of the waveform can be either time,
degrees or radians. In electrical engineering it is more common to use the Radian as the
angular measurement of the angle along the horizontal axis rather than degrees. For
example, =100rad/s, or 500rad/s.

The Radian, (rad) is dened mathematically as a quadrant of a circle where the distance

subtended on the circumference equals the radius (r) of the circle. Since the circumference
of a circle is equal to 2xradius, there must be 2 radians around a 360o circle, so 1 radian =

360o/2=57.3o. In electrical engineering the use of radians is very common so it is important

to remember the following formula.

Denition of a Radian

Using radians as the unit of measurement for a sinusoidal waveform would give 2 radians

for one full cycle of 360o. Then half a sinusoidal waveform must be equal to 1 radians or just
(pi). Then knowing that pi, is equal to 3.142 or 227, the relationship between degrees
and radians for a sinusoidal waveform is given as.

Relationship between Degrees and Radians

Applying these two equations to various points along the waveform gives us.

The conversion between degrees and radians for the more common equivalents used in
sinusoidal analysis are given in the following table.

Relationship between Degrees and Radians


































The velocity at which the generator rotates around its central axis determines the frequency
of the sinusoidal waveform. As the frequency of the waveform is given as Hz or cycles per

second, the waveform has angular frequency, , (Greek letter omega), in radians per second.
Then the angular velocity of a sinusoidal waveform is given as.

Angular Velocity of a Sinusoidal Waveform

and in the United Kingdom, the angular velocity or frequency of the mains supply is given

in the USA as their mains supply frequency is 60Hz it is therefore: 377 rad/s

So we now know that the velocity at which the generator rotates around its central axis
determines the frequency of the sinusoidal waveform and which can also be called its

angular velocity, . But we should by now also know that the time required to complete one
revolution is equal to the periodic time, (T) of the sinusoidal waveform.

As frequency is inversely proportional to its time period, =1/T we can therefore substitute
the frequency quantity in the above equation for the equivalent periodic time quantity and
substituting gives us.

The above equation states that for a smaller periodic time of the sinusoidal waveform, the

greater must be the angular velocity of the waveform. Likewise in the equation above for the
frequency quantity, the higher the frequency the higher the angular velocity.

Sinusoidal Waveform Example No1

A sinusoidal waveform is dened as: Vm=169.8sin(377t) volts. Calculate the RMS voltage of
the waveform, its frequency and the instantaneous value of the voltage, (Vi) after a time of
six milliseconds (6ms).

We know from above that the general expression given for a sinusoidal waveform is:

Then comparing this to our given expression for a sinusoidal waveform above of

Vm=169.8sin(377t) will give us the peak voltage value of 169.8 volts for the waveform.
The waveforms RMS voltage is calculated as:

The angular velocity () is given as 377 rad/s. Then 2=377. So the frequency of the
waveform is calculated as:

The instantaneous voltage Vi value after a time of 6mS is given as:

Note that the angular velocity at time t=6mS is given in radians so we have to convert this

into an equivalent angle in degrees and use this value instead to calculate the instantaneous
voltage value. The angle in degrees is therefore given as:

Sinusoidal Waveform
Then the generalised format used for analysing and calculating the various values of a
Sinusoidal Waveform is as follows:

A Sinusoidal Waveform

In the next tutorial about Phase Dierence we will look at the relationship between two

sinusoidal waveforms that are of the same frequency but pass through the horizontal zero
axis at dierent time intervals.


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thanks a lot my teacher
Posted on September 20th 2016 | 9:00 pm


Want to know about AC current
Posted on September 20th 2016 | 5:43 pm

What is the value of sin in an equation?.
On one of the last questions for instantaneous values the sum is
Vi= 169.8 sin ( 377x6ms), how do you get 130 v as the answer?.
This is a fantastic website.
Thanks Jim.


Posted on July 13th 2016 | 7:24 pm


Wayne Storr
When a coil rotates inside a magnetic eld, as in the case of an alternator, the voltage varies

sinusoidally with time producing an AC voltage. The coil will take a certain amount of time to
rotate around a full 360 degrees. The value of the voltage at any instant of time as the coil
rotates is called the instantaneous voltage.

The instantaneous voltage of the coil at any point in time around the full 360 degree circle is
given as:

Vt = Vmax.sin(wt)

Vt is the instantaneous voltage

Vmax is the maximum voltage the coil can produce

sin stands for the sine function

w (omega) is the angular frequency in radians of the coil dened as 2pif

t is time in seconds from zero radians

then the sine angle of (377 x 0.006) = 2.262 radians

2.262 radians = 129.59 degrees, as one radian equals 57.3 degrees

sine(129.59) = 0.771

169.8 x 0.771 = 130.8 volts

Posted on July 13th 2016 | 9:30 pm


Sorry to be stupid, but at the bottom of your answer you say that sine(129.59)=

How does it equal that?.

Posted on July 14th 2016 | 8:20 am


What is the value of sin?. And what does the wt stand for in theta?, does it mean degree for w and time
for t?, if so how do I workout time?. These are for Vi calculations.
Thanks Jim.

Posted on June 27th 2016 | 6:30 pm


Im confused as this article states

that when the conductor is parallel to the magnetic eld the maximum amount of magnetic ux is cut.

This is in contrast to what this article seems to be saying. Also, the drawing here shows the conductors
points of A and B perpendicular to the magnetic led, not parallel as is stated. Likewise, points C and D
are said to be at a right angle with the magnetic eld when they are clearly parallel.
Posted on May 22nd 2016 | 11:58 am


very good article thanks
Posted on March 31st 2016 | 9:13 am


can u give me equation of 3d sinusoidal wave formplz
Posted on March 15th 2016 | 1:26 pm


Steve Weiler
I have a monitor heater with solid state controls. When the power goes of in the winter, local people
have said that a gas ac generator can not be used. The reason is they say that the sine wave of a gas

generator will burn out the sensitive electronics of the oil heater. Is this true? Does the generator need
some kind of adaptor to work? We need a backup power supply for our heaters , anything you can do to

help us with this problem?

Thank you

Posted on December 17th 2015 | 11:45 pm


Pavitra Dummadri
got a clear idea of positioning of rotating coil of AC dynamo in magnetic eld
Posted on November 05th 2015 | 1:27 pm


sir one question ..why EMF is need in a.c generator ?????
Posted on August 28th 2015 | 5:56 am



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