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Moving Coil Loudspeakers

Think back to the chapter on electromagnetism and remember the right hand rule. If you put current
though a wire, you'll create a magnetic field surrounding it; likewise if you move a wire in a magnetic field,
you'll induce a current. A moving coil loudspeaker uses a coil of wire suspended in a stationary magnetic
field (compliments of a permanent magnet). If you send current thought the coil, it induces a magnetic
field around the coil (think of a transformer). Since the coil is suspended, it is free to move, which is does
according to the strengths and directions of the two magnetic fields (the permanent one and the induced
one). The bigger the current, the bigger the field, therefore the greater the movement.

Figure 6.130: A cross section of a simplified model of a moving coil


Figure 6.131: A diaphragm is glued to the front (this side) of the coil (called the voice coil. It has two basic
purposes: 1) to push the air and 2) to suspend the coil in the magnetic field
In order for the system to work well, you need reasonably strong magnetic fields. The easiest way to do
this is to use a really strong permanent magnet. You could also improve the packing density of the voice
coil. This essentially means putting more metal in the same space by changing the cross-section of the
wire. The close-ups shown below illustrate how this can be done. The third (and least elegant) method is to
add more wire to the coil. We'll talk about why this is a bad idea later.

Figure 6.132: Voice coil using wire with a round cross section. This is cheap and easy to make, but less
Figure 6.133: Voice coil using wire with a flat cross section. This has greater packing density, producing a
stronger magnetic field and is therefore more efficient.
Loudspeaker have to put a great deal of acoustic energy into a room, so they have to push a great deal of
air. This can be done in one of two ways:

- use a big diaphragm and move lots of molecules by a little bit (big diaphragm, small excursion)

- use a little diaphragm and move a few molecules by a lot (little diaphragm, big excursion)

In the first case, you have to move a big mass (the diaphragm and the air next to it) by a little, in the
second case, you move a little mass by a lot - either way you need to get a lot of energy into the room. If
the loudspeaker is inefficient, you'll be throwing away large amounts of energy produced by your power
amplifier. This is why you worry about things like packing density of the voice coil. If you try to solve the
problem simply by making the voice coil bigger (by adding more wire), you also make it heavier, and
therefore harder to move.

There are advantages and disadvantages to using moving coil loudspeakers:Advantages---They are pretty rugged
(that's to say that they can take a lot of punishment - not that they look nice if they're carpeted...

They can make very loud sounds

They are easy (and therefore cheap) to construct

Disadvantages There's a big hunk of metal (the voice coil) that you're trying to move back and forth. In this case, inertia is not
your friend. The more energy you want to emit (you'll need lots in low frequencies) the bigger the coil - the bigger the heavier -
the heavier, the harder to move quickly - the harder to move quickly, the more difficult it is to produce high frequencies. The
moral: a driver (single coil and diaphragm without an enclosure) can't effectively produce all frequencies for you. It has to be
optimized for a specific frequency range.

They're heavy because strong permanent magnets weigh a lot. This is especially bad if you're part of a road crew for a rock

They have funny-looking impedance curves - but we'll talk about that later.

Eddy currents are currents induced in conductors to oppose the change in flux that
generated them.[citation needed] It is caused when a conductor is exposed to a changing magnetic
field due to relative motion of the field source and conductor; or due to variations of the field
with time. This can cause a circulating flow of electrons, or a current, within the body of the
conductor. These circulating eddies of current create induced magnetic fields that oppose the
change of the original magnetic field due to Lenz's law, causing repulsive or drag forces
between the conductor and the magnet. The stronger the applied magnetic field, or the
greater the electrical conductivity of the conductor, or the faster the field that the conductor is
exposed to changes, then the greater the currents that are developed and the greater the
opposing field.

The term eddy current comes from analogous currents seen in water when dragging an oar
breadthwise: localised areas of turbulence known as eddies give rise to persistent vortices.

Eddy currents, like all electric currents, generate heat as well as electromagnetic forces. The
heat can be harnessed for induction heating. The electromagnetic forces can be used for
levitation, creating movement, or to give a strong braking effect. Eddy currents can often be
minimised with thin plates, by lamination of conductors or other details of conductor shape.


As the circular plate moves down through a small region of constant magnetic field directed
into the page, eddy currents are induced in the plate. The direction of those currents is given
by Lenz's law.
When a conductor moves relative to the field generated by a source, electromotive forces
(EMFs) can be generated around loops within the conductor. These EMFs acting on the
resistivity of the material generate a current around the loop, in accordance with Faraday's law
of induction. These currents dissipate energy, and create a magnetic field that tends to oppose
the changes in the field.

Eddy currents are created when a moving conductor experiences changes in the magnetic
field generated by a stationary object, as well as when a stationary conductor encounters a
varying magnetic field. Both effects are present when a conductor moves through a varying
magnetic field, as is the case at the top and bottom edges of the magnetized region shown in
the diagram. Eddy currents will be generated wherever a conducting object experiences a
change in the intensity or direction of the magnetic field at any point within it, and not just at
the boundaries.

The swirling current set up in the conductor is due to electrons experiencing a Lorentz force
that is perpendicular to their motion. Hence, they veer to their right, or left, depending on the
direction of the applied field and whether the strength of the field is increasing or declining.
The resistivity of the conductor acts to damp the amplitude of the eddy currents, as well as
straighten their paths. Lenz's law encapsulates the fact that the current swirls in such a way as
to create an induced magnetic field that opposes the phenomenon that created it. In the case
of a varying applied field, the induced field will always be in the opposite direction to that
applied. The same will be true when a varying external field is increasing in strength. However,
when a varying field is falling in strength, the induced field will be in the same direction as that
originally applied, in order to oppose the decline.

An object or part of an object experiences steady field intensity and direction where there is
still relative motion of the field and the object (for example in the center of the field in the
diagram), or unsteady fields where the currents cannot circulate due to the geometry of the
conductor. In these situations charges collect on or within the object and these charges then
produce static electric potentials that oppose any further current. Currents may be initially
associated with the creation of static potentials, but these may be transitory and small.

Eddy currents generate resistive losses that transform some forms of energy, such as kinetic
energy, into heat. In many devices, this Joule heating reduces efficiency of iron-core
transformers and electric motors and other devices that use changing magnetic fields. Eddy
currents are minimized in these devices by selecting magnetic core materials that have low
electrical conductivity (e.g., ferrites) or by using thin sheets of magnetic material, known as
laminations. Electrons cannot cross the insulating gap between the laminations and so are
unable to circulate on wide arcs. Charges gather at the lamination boundaries, in a process
analogous to the Hall effect, producing electric fields that oppose any further accumulation of
charge and hence suppressing the eddy currents. The shorter the distance between adjacent
laminations (i.e., the greater the number of laminations per unit area, perpendicular to the
applied field), the greater the suppression of eddy currents.

The conversion of input energy to heat is not always undesirable, however, as there are some
practical applications. One is in the brakes of some trains known as eddy current brakes.
During braking, the metal wheels are exposed to a magnetic field from an electromagnet,
generating eddy currents in the wheels. The eddy currents meet resistance as charges flow
through the metal, thus dissipating energy as heat, and this acts to slow the wheels down. The
faster the wheels are spinning, the stronger the effect, meaning that as the train slows the
braking force is reduced, producing a smooth stopping motion.

Construction and operation

[edit] Circular eddy current brake

Circular eddy current brake on 700 Series Shinkansen

Electromagnetic brakes are similar to electrical motors; non-ferromagnetic metal discs (rotors) are connected to a
rotating coil, and a magnetic field between the rotor and the coil creates a resistance used to generate electricity
or heat. When electromagnets are used, control of the braking action is made possible by varying the strength of
the magnetic field. A braking force is possible when electric current is passed through the electromagnets. The
movement of the metal through the magnetic field of the electromagnets creates eddy currents in the discs.
These eddy currents generate an opposing magnetic field, which then resists the rotation of the discs, providing
braking force. The net result is to convert the motion of the rotors into heat in the rotors.

Japanese Shinkansen trains had employed circular eddy current brake system on trailer cars since 100 Series
Shinkansen. However, N700 Series Shinkansen abolished eddy current brakes in favour of regenerative brakes
since 14 of the 16 cars in the trainset used electric motors.

[edit] Linear eddy current brake

The principle of the linear eddy current brake has been described by the French physicist Foucault, hence in
French the eddy current brake is called the "frein à courants de Foucault".

The linear eddy current brake consists of a magnetic yoke with electrical coils positioned along the rail, which are
being magnetized alternating as south and north magnetic poles. This magnet does not touch the rail, as with the
magnetic brake, but is held at a constant small distance from the rail (approximately seven millimeters). It does
not move along the rail, exerting only a vertical pull on the rail.

When the magnet is moved along the rail, it generates a non-stationary magnetic field in the head of the rail,
which then generates electrical tension (Faraday's induction law), and causes eddy currents. These disturb the
magnetic field in such a way that the magnetic force is diverted to the opposite of the direction of the movement,
thus creating a horizontal force component, which works against the movement of the magnet.

The braking energy of the vehicle is converted in eddy current losses which lead to a warming of the rail. (The
regular magnetic brake, in wide use in railways, exerts its braking force by friction with the rail, which also creates

The eddy current brake does not have any mechanical contact with the rail, and thus no wear, and creates no
noise or odor. The eddy current brake is unusable at low speeds, but can be used at high speeds both for
emergency braking and for regular braking.[1]

The TSI (Technical Specifications for Interoperability) of the EU for trans-European high speed rail recommends
that all newly built high speed lines should make the eddy current brake possible.

Eddy current brakes at the Intamin roller coaster Goliath in Walibi World (Netherlands)
The first train in commercial circulation to use such a braking is the ICE 3.

Modern roller coasters use this type of braking, but utilize permanent magnets instead of electromagnets, and
require no electricity. However, their braking strength cannot be adjusted as easily as with an electromagne