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Sinusoidal Waveform /accircuits/sinusoidal-waveform.html


We also saw that if this single wire conductor is moved or rotated within a stationary magnetic field, an EMF,
(Electro-Motive Force) is induced within the conductor due to the movement of the conductor through the
magnetic flux.

From this tutorial we learnt that a relationship exists between Electricity and Magnetism giving us, as Michael
Faraday discovered the effect 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 field thereby cutting its lines of flux, an EMF is
induced in it.

However, if the conductor moves in parallel with the magnetic field in the case of
points A and B, no lines of flux are cut and no EMF is induced into the conductor, but
if the conductor moves at right angles to the magnetic field as in the case of points C
and D, the maximum amount of magnetic flux is cut producing the maximum amount
of induced EMF.

Also, as the conductor cuts the magnetic field at different angles between points A
and C, 0 and 90 o 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 flux as well as the strength of
the magnetic field.

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 fixed magnetic field between a north and a south pole. Inside this magnetic field is a single
rectangular loop of wire that can be rotated around a fixed axis allowing it to cut the magnetic flux 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 field, the wire
loop cuts the lines of magnetic force set up between the north and south poles at different 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 flow 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 flow 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 360 o, 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 field, 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

Speed the speed at which the coil rotates inside the magnetic field.
Strength the strength of the magnetic field.
Length the length of the coil or conductor passing through the magnetic field.

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
field 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 in r.p.m. P is the

number of pairs of poles and 60 converts it into

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 flux 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 different value from its next instant in time.

For example, the value at 1ms will be different 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 field 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 45 o 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 ( ) 0 45 90 135 180 225 270 315 360

e = Vmax.sin 0 70.71 100 70.71 0 -70.71 -100 -70.71 -0

The points on the sinusoidal waveform are obtained by projecting across from the various positions of rotation
between 0 o 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 0 o, 180o or 360o, the generated
EMF is zero as the coil cuts the minimum amount of lines of flux. But when is equal to 90 o and 270o the
generated EMF is at its maximum value as the maximum amount of flux is cut.

Therefore a sinusoidal waveform has a positive peak at 90 o and a negative peak at 270 o. 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, = 100 rad/s, or 500 rad/s.

The Radian, (rad) is defined 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 2 x radius, there

must be 2 radians around a 360 o circle, so 1 radian = 360 o/2 = 57.3o. In electrical engineering the use of
radians is very common so it is important to remember the following formula.

Definition of a Radian

Using radians as the unit of measurement for a sinusoidal waveform

would give 2 radians for one full cycle of 360 o. 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

Degrees Radians Degrees Radians Degrees Radians

0o 0 135o 3 270o 3

4 2

30 o 150o 5 300o 5

6 6 3

45 o 180o 315o 7

4 4

60 o 210o 7 330o 11

3 6 6

90 o 225o 5 360o 2

2 4

120o 2 240o 4

3 3

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 as:

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

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 defined as: Vm = 169.8 sin(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 = 169.8 sin(377t) will give us the peak voltage value of 169.8 volts for the

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:

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 Difference we will look at the relationship between two sinusoidal waveforms
that are of the same frequency but pass through the horizontal zero axis at different time intervals.