A single-loop generator with each terminal connected to a segment of a two-segment metal ring is shown in the illustration.
The two segments of the split metal ring are insulated from each other. This forms a simple COMMUTATOR. The commutator in a dc generator replaces the slip rings of the ac generator.
This is the main difference in their construction. The commutator mechanically reverses the armature loop connections to the external circuit. This occurs at the same instant that the polarity of the voltage in the armature loop reverses.
Through this process the commutator changes the generated ac voltage to a pulsating dc voltage as shown in the graph of the illustration. This action is known as commutation.
Effects of commutation.
For the remainder of this discussion, refer to the illustration, parts A through D. This will help you in following the step-by-step description of the operation of a dc generator.
When the armature loop rotates clockwise from position A to position B, a voltage is induced in the armature loop which causes a current in a direction that deflects the meter to the right.
Current flows through loop, out of the negative brush, through the meter and the load, and back through the positive brush to the loop.
Voltage reaches its maximum value at point B on the graph for reasons explained earlier. The generated voltage and the current fall to zero at position C. At this instant each brush makes contact with both segments of the commutator. As the armature loop rotates to position D, a voltage is again induced in the loop.
In this case, however, the voltage is of opposite polarity.
The voltages induced in the two sides of the coil at position D are in the reverse direction to that of the voltages shown at position B. Note that the current is flowing from the black side to the white side in position B and from the white side to the black side in position D. However, because the segments of the
commutator have rotated with the loop and are contacted by opposite brushes, the direction of current flow through the brushes and the meter remains the same as at position B.
The voltage developed across the brushes is pulsating and unidirectional (in one direction only). It varies twice during each revolution between zero and maximum. This variation is called RIPPLE.
A pulsating voltage, such as that produced in the preceding description, is unsuitable for most applications. Therefore, in practical generators more armature loops (coils) and more commutator segments are used to produce an output voltage waveform with less ripple.
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