Lecture Text, AC

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 Lecture Text.
AC Circuits.

Many of the principles discussed in the DC lectures still apply to AC circuits. The new factor presented with AC circuits are that voltage periodically reverses polarity, producing a reversing current.  More importantly these voltages and currents are constantly changing.  They are usually expressed mathematically as sinusoidal or exponential functions.  

One advantage of AC power is that its voltage level can be stepped up or down with transformers.  Transmission of AC power  occurs at  very high voltage (over 100,000 volts) for very long distances.  AC power is generated at 60 Hz (in the United States), 50 Hz (in Europe ) and 400hz (Military).  Power distribution is the province of electrical engineers, and electricians.  Electronic circuits use both DC and AC signals ranging generally from audio to microwaves.  

Passive electronic circuits are combinations of resistors, inductors, and capacitors.  Associated with resistors, inductors, and capacitors are resistance, inductive reactance, and capacitance reactance, respectively.  The resistance of a resistor is a property of the resistor.  It effects AC the same as DC.  Capacitors block DC current or appear as an open in DC circuits.  Air gap capacitors read just like a open with an ohm-meter.  Other types will be discussed later.  Inductors are essentially short circuits in DC circuits.  Inductors are coils of wire so that they actually do have the resistance of the wire.  The wire used is usually copper for low resistance and ease of coiling.  

The impedance of a resistor is simply the resistance of the resistor and is the same for all frequencies.  The capacitance reactance of a circuit is a function of frequency.  Capacitance reactance is a inversely proportional to frequency. The higher the frequency the less the capacitive reactance. The impedance of an inductor is proportional to signal frequency and is referred to a the inductive reactance.  

For a thorough analysis of AC principles you click on links below.  This subject is covered in most basic electronics or physics books that you can get at your public library.   AC circuits are relatively complex.  High school algebra, geometry, trigonometry and physics teach most of what is needed to understand AC electronics. 


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