Direct-Current (DC) Generators

If an armature revolves between two stationary field poles, the current in the armature moves in one direc­tion during half of each revolution and in the other di­rection during the other half. To produce a steady flow of unidirectional, or direct, current from such a device, it is necessary to provide a means of reversing the cur­rent flow outside the generator once during each revolu­tion. In older machines this reversal is accomplished by means of a commutator (коллектор) — a split metal ring mounted on the shaft of the armature. The two halves of the ring are insulated from each other and serve as the terminals of the armature coil. Fixed brushes of metal or carbon are held against the commutator as it revolves, connecting the coil electrically to external wires. As the armature turns, each brush is in contact alternately with the halves of the commutator, changing position at the moment when the current in the armature coil reverses its direction. Thus there is a flow of unidirectional cur­rent in the outside circuit to which the generator is con­nected. DC generators are usually operated at fairly low voltages to avoid the sparking between brushes and com­mutator that occurs at high voltage. The highest poten­tial commonly developed by such generators is 1500 V. In some newer machines this reversal is accomplished using power electronic devices, for example, diode recti­fiers.

Modern DC generators use drum armatures that usu­ally consist of a large number of windings set in longitu-


dinal slits in the armature core and connected to appro­priate segments of a multiple commutator. In an arma­ture having only one loop of wire, the current produced will rise and fall depending on the part of the magnetic field through which the loop is moving. A commutator of many segments used with a drum armature always connects the external circuit to one loop of wire moving through the high-intensity area of the field, and as a re­sult the current delivered by the armature windings is virtually constant. Fields of modern generators are usu­ally equipped with four or more electromagnetic poles to increase the size and strength of the magnetic field. Sometimes smaller interpoles are added to compensate for distortions in the magnetic flux of the field caused by the magnetic effect of the armature.

DC generators are commonly classified according to the method used to provide field current for energizing the field magnets. A series-wound generator has its field in series with the armature, and a shunt-wound genera­tor has the field connected in parallel with the armature. Compound-wound generators have part of their fields in series and part in parallel. Both shunt-wound and com­pound-wound generators have the advantage of deliver­ing comparatively constant voltage under varying elec­trical loads. The series-wound generator is used princi­pally to supply a constant current at variable voltage. A magneto is a small DC generator with a permanent-mag­net field.