Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

5387The Master's Own Words... (Tesla's Notes on A Unipolar Dynamo)

Expand Messages
  • James P Moore
    Sep 1, 2000
    • 0 Attachment
      Ok.... for you plain txt folks... here it is again in plain txt format. jpm
      ************************************************************************************************

      *NOTES ON A UNIPOLAR DYNAMO*

      Written by Nikola Tesla and published in:
      * The Electrical Engineer, N.Y., Sept. 2, 1891 *


      It is characteristic of fundamental discoveries, of great
      achievements of intellect, that they retain an undiminished
      power upon the imagination of the thinker. The memorable
      experiment of Faraday with a disc rotating bctwe'en the two
      poles of a magnet, which has borne such magnificent fruit,
      has long passed into every-day experience; yet there are certain
      features about this embryo of the present dynamos and motors
      which even to-day appear to us Striking, and are worthy of the
      most careful study.

      Consider, for instance, the case of a disc of iron or other
      metal revolving between the two opposite poles of a magnet,
      and the Polar surfaces completely covering both sides of the
      disc, and assume the current to be taken off or conveyed to
      the same by contacts uniformly from all points of the periphery
      of the disc. Take first the case of a motor.

      In all ordinary motors the operation is dependent upon some
      shifting or change of the resultant of the magnetic attraction
      exerted upon the armature, this process being effected either
      by some mechanical contrivance on the motor or by the action
      of currents of the proper character. We may explain the operation
      of such a motor just as we can that of a water-wheel.

      But in the above example of the disc surrounded completely by
      the polar surfaces, there is no shifting of the ;magnetic action,
      no change whatever, as far as we know, and yet rotation ensues.
      Here, then, ordinary considerations do not apply; we cannot even
      give a superficial explanation, as in ordinary motors, and the
      operation will be clear to us only when we shall have recognized
      the very nature of the forces concerned, and fathomed the mystery
      of the invisible connecting mechanism.

      Considered as a dynamo machine, the disc is an equally interesting
      object of study. In addition to its peculiarity of giving currents
      of one direction without the employment of commutating devices, such
      a machine differs from ordinary dynamos in that there is no reaction
      between armature and field. The armature current tends to set up a
      magnetization at right angles to that of the field current, but since
      the current is taken off uniformly from all points of the periphery,
      and since, to be exact, the external circuit may also be arranged
      perfectly symmetrical to the field magnet, no reaction can occur.

      This, however, is true only as long as the magnets are weakly
      energized, for when the magnets are more or less saturated, both
      magnetizations at right angles seemingly interfere with each other.

      For the above reason alone it would appear that the output of
      such a machine should, for the same weight, be much greater than
      that of any other machine in which the armature current tends to
      demagnetize the field. The extraordinary output of the Forbes
      unipolar dynamo and the experience of the writer confirm this view.

      Again, the facility with which such a machine may be made to
      excite itself is striking, but this may be due m besides to the
      absence of armature reaction -- to the perfect smoothness of the
      current and non-existence of self-induction.


      Page 2


      If the poles do not cover the disc completely on both
      sides, then, of course, unless the disc be properly subdivided,
      the machine will be very inefficient. Again, in this case there
      are points worthy of notice. If-the disc be rotated and the
      field current interrupted, the current through the armature
      will continue to flow and the field magnets will lose their
      strength comparatively slowly. The reason for this will at once
      appear when we consider the direction of the currents set up
      in the disc.

      Figure 1

      Referring to the diagram Fig. 1, d represents the disc with
      the sliding contacts B B' on the shaft and periphery. N and S
      represent the two poles of a magnet. If the pole N be above, as
      indicated in the diagram, the disc being supposed to be in the
      plane of the paper, and rotating in the direction of the arrow D,
      the current set up in the disc will flow from the centre to the
      periphery, as indicated by the arrow A. Since the magnetic action
      is more o.or less confined to the space between the poles N S,
      the other portions of the disc may be considered inactive.

      The current set up will therefore not wholly pass through the
      external circuit F, but will close through the disc itself, and
      generally, if the disposition be in any way similar to the one
      illustrated, by far the greater portion of the current
      generated will not appear externally, as the circuit F is
      practically short-circuited by the inactive portions of the disc.

      The direction of the resulting currents in the latter may be
      assumed to be as indicated by the dotted lines and arrows
      m and n; and the direction of the energizing field current
      being indicated by the arrows a b c d, an inspection of the
      figure shows that one of the two branches of the eddy current,
      that is, A B' m B, will tend to demagnetize the field, while
      the other branch, that is, A B' n B, will have the opposite
      effect.

      Therefore, the branch A B' m B, that is, the one which is
      approaching the field, will repel the lines of the same, while
      branch A B' n B, that is, the one leaving the field, will gather
      the lines of force upon itself. In consequence of this there
      will be a constant tendency to reduce the current flow in the
      path A B' m B, while on the other hand no such opposition will
      exist in path A B' n B, and the effect of the latter branch or
      path will be more or less preponderating over that of the former.

      The joint effect of both the assumed branch currents might be
      represented by that of one single current of the same direction
      as that energizing the field. In other words, the eddy currents
      circulating in the disc will energize the field magnet. This is
      a result quite contrary to what we might be led to


      Page 3

      suppose at first, for we would naturally expect that the
      resulting effect of the armature currents would be such
      as to oppose the field current, as generally occurs when
      a primary and secondary conductor are placed in inductive
      relations to each other.

      But it must be remembered that this result from the
      peculiar disposition in this case, namely, two paths being
      afforded to the current, and the latter selecting that path
      which offers the least opposition to its flow. From this we
      see that the eddy currents flowing in the disc partly
      energize the field, and for this reason when the field
      current is interrupted the currents in the disc will continue
      to flow, and the field magnet will lose its strength with
      comparative slowness and may even retain a certain strength
      as long as the rotation of the disc is continued.

      Figure 2 & 3 together

      The result will, of course, largely depend on the
      resistance and geometrical dimensions of the path of
      the resulting eddy current and on the speed of rotation;
      these elements, namely; determine the retardation of
      this current and its position relative to the field.

      For a certain speed there would be a maximum energizing
      action; then at higher speeds, it would gradually fall off
      to zero and finally reverse, that is, the resultant eddy
      current effect would be to weaken the field. The reaction
      would be best demonstrated experimentally by arranging the
      fields N S, N' S', freely movable o.on an axis concentric
      with the shaft of the disc.

      If the latter were rotated as before in the direction of
      the arrow D, the field would be dragged in the same direction
      with a torque, which, up to a certain point, would go on
      increasing with the speed of rotation, then fall off, and
      passing through zero, finally become negative; that is: the
      field would begin to rotate in opposite direction to the disc.

      In experiments with alternate current motors in which the
      field was shifted by currents of differing phase, this
      interesting result was observed. For very low speeds of
      rotation of the field the motor would show a torque of
      900 lbs or more, measured on a pulley 12 inches in
      diameter.

      When the speed of rotation of the poles was increased, the
      torque would diminish, would finally go down to zero, become
      negative, and then the armature would begin to rotate in
      opposite direction to the field.

      To return to the principal subject; assume the conditions
      to be such that the eddy currents generated by the rotation
      of the disc strengthen the field, and suppose the latter gradually
      removed while the disc is kept rotating at an increased rate.
      The current, once started, may then be sufficient to maintain
      itself and even increase in strength, and then we have the case
      of Sir William Thomson's "current accumulator."

      Page 4


      But from the above considerations it would seem that for the
      success of the experiment the employment of a disc not subdivided
      would be essential, for if there should be a radial subdivision,
      the eddy currents could not form and the self-exciting action would
      cease. If such a radially subdivided disc .were used it would be
      necessary to connect the spokes by a conducting rim or in any
      proper manner so as to form a symmetrical system of dosed circuits.

      The action of the eddy currents may be utilized to excite a machine
      of any construction. For instance, in Figs. 2 and 3 an arrangement
      is shown by which a machine with a disc armature might be excited.
      Here a number of magnets, N S, N S, are placed radially on each
      side of a metal disc D carrying on its rim a set of insulated coils,
      C C. The magnets form two separate fields, an internaY and an
      external one, the solid disc rotating in the field nearest the axis,
      and the coils in the field further from it.

      Assume the magnets slightly energized at the start; they could be
      strengthened by the action of the eddy currents in the solid disc
      so as to afford a stronger field for the peripheral coils. Although
      there is no doubt that under proper conditions a machine might be
      excited in this or a similar manner, there being sufficient
      experimental evidence to warrant such an assertion, such a mode of
      excitation would be wasteful.

      But a unipolar dynamo or motor, such as shown in Fig. 1 may be
      excited in an efficient manner by simply properly subdividing the
      disc or cylinder in which the currents are set up, and it is
      practicable to do away with the field coils which are usually employed.

      Such a plan is illustrated in Fig. 4.

      The disc or cylinder D is supposed to be arranged to rotate between
      the two poles N and S of a magnet, which completely cover it on both
      sides, the contours of the disc and poles being represented by the

      Figure 3 & 4 together


      But from the above considerations it would seem that for
      the success of the experiment the employment of a disc not
      subdivided would be essential, for if there should be a
      radial subdivision, the eddy currents could not form and
      the self-exciting action would cease. If such a radially
      subdivided disc were used it would be necessary to connect
      the spokes by a conducting rim or in any proper manner so
      as to form a symmetrical system of dosed circuits.

      The action of the eddy currents may be utilized to excite a
      machine of any construction. For instance, in Figs. 2 and 3
      an arrangement is shown by which a machine with a disc armature
      might be excited. Here a number of magnets, N S, N S, are
      placed radially on each side of a metal disc D carrying on its
      rim a set of insulated coils, C C. The magnets form two
      separate fields, an internal and an external one, the solid disc
      rotating in the field nearest the axis, and the coils in the
      field further from it.

      Assume the magnets slightly energized at the start; they could
      be strengthened by the action of the eddy currents in the solid
      disc so as to afford a stronger field for the peripheral coils.
      Although there is no doubt that under proper conditions a machine
      might be excited in this or a similar manner, there being
      sufficient experimental evidence to warrant such an assertion,
      such a mode of excitation would be wasteful.

      But a unipolar dynamo or motor, such as shown in Fig. 1 may be
      excited in an efficient manner by simply properly subdividing
      the disc or cylinder in which the currents are set up, and it
      is practicable to do away with the field coils which are usually
      employed.

      Such a plan is illustrated in Fig. 4. The disc or cylinder D
      is supposed to be arranged to rotate between the two poles N and S
      of a magnet, which completely cover it on both sides, the contours
      of the disc and poles being represented by the circles d and d'
      respectively, the upper pole being omitted for the sake of clearness.

      The cores of the magnet are supposed to be hollow, the shaft C of
      the disc passing through them. If the unmarked pole be below, and
      the disc be rotated screw fashion, the current will be, as before,
      from the centre to the periphery, and may be taken off by suitable
      sliding contacts, B B', on the shaft and periphery respectively.

      In this arrangement the current flowing through the disc and
      external circuit will have no appreciable effect on the field
      magnet. But let us now suppose the disc to be subdivided, spirally
      as indicated by the full or dotted lines, Fig. 4. The difference
      of potential between a point on the shaft and a point on the
      periphery will remain unchanged, in sign as well as in amount.

      The only difference will be that the resistance o,of the disc will
      be augmented and' that there will be a greater fall of potential
      from a point on the shaft to a point on the periphery when the same
      current is traversing the external circuit. But since the current
      is forced to follow the lines of subdivision, we see that it will
      tend either to energize or de-energize

      Page 5



      the field, and this will depend, other things being equal,
      upon the direction of the lines of subdivision. If the
      subdivision be as indicated by the full lines in Fig. 4,
      it is evident that if the current is of the same direction
      as before, that is, from centre to periphery, its effect
      will be to strengthen the field magnet; whereas, if the
      subdivision be as indicated by the dotted lines, the
      current generated will tend to weaken the magnet.

      In the former case the machine will be capable of exciting
      itself when the disc is rotated in the direction of arrow D;
      in the latter case the direction of rotation must be reversed.
      Two such discs may be combined, however, as indicated, the
      two discs rotating in opposite fields, and in the same or
      opposite direction.

      Similar disposition may, of course, be made in a type of
      machine in which, instead of a disc, a cylinder is rotated.
      In such unipolar machines, in the manner indicated, the usual
      field coils and poles may be omitted and the machine may be
      made to consist only of a cylinder or of two discs enveloped
      by a metal casting.

      Instead of subdividing the disc or cylinder spirally, as
      indicated in Fig. 4, it is more convenient to interpose one
      or more turns between the disc and the contact ring on the
      periphery, as illustrated in Fig. 5.

      A Forbes dynamo may, for instance, be excited in such a manner.
      In the experience of the writer it has been found that instead
      of taking the current from two such discs by sliding contacts,
      as usual, a flexible conducting: belt may be employed to advantage.

      The discs are in such case provided with large flanges, affording
      a very great contact surface. The belt should be made to bear
      on the flanges with spring pressure to take up the expansion.
      Several machines with belt contact were constructed by the
      writer two years ago, and worked satisfactorily; but for want
      of time the work in that direction has been temporarily suspended.

      A number of features pointed out above. have also been
      used by, the writer in connection with some types of
      alternating current motors.

      THE END
    • Show all 3 messages in this topic