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Many people are familar with DC motors. If you have ever had a electric toy train or car as a child, you may know how a DC motor works. If you were like me you probably took one apart and couldn't put it back together. Usually the brush springs get lost. The stator is the stationary outside part of a motor. The rotor is the inner part which rotates. In the motor animations, red represents a magnet or winding with a north polarization, while green represents a magnet or winding with a south polarization. Opposite, red and green, polarities attract. The stator of a permanent magnet dc motor is composed of two or more permanent magnet pole pieces.

The rotor is composed of windings which are connected to a mechanical commutator. In this case the rotor has three pole pairs. The opposite polarities of the energized winding and the stator magnet attract and the rotor will rotate until it is aligned with the stator. Just as the rotor reaches alignment, the brushes move across the commutator contacts and energize the next winding. In the animation the commutator contacts are brown and the brushes are dark grey. A yellow spark shows when the brushes switch to the next winding. Notice that the comutator is staggered from the rotor poles. If the connections of a dc motor are reversed the motor will change directions. Though it will not always work as well in both directions. This is a permanent magnet dc motor.

Two other types of dc motors are series wound and shunt wound dc motors. These motors also use a similar rotor with brushes and a commutator. However, the stator uses windings instead of permanent magnets. The basic principle is still the same. A series wound dc motor has the stator windings in series with the rotor. A shunt wound dc motor has the stator windings in parallel with the rotor winding. The series wound motor is more common. A series wound motor is also called a universal  motor. It is universal in the sense that it will run equally well using either an ac or a dc voltage source. Reversing the polarity of both the stator and the rotor cancel out. Thus the motor will always rotate the same direction irregardless of the voltage polarity. A universal motor is in a sense an ac motor in that it will operate from an ac power source. I prefer the term universal motor to avoid confusion with ac induction motors.

© Ken Berringer, Motorola 2000

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