Module 8 − Introduction to Amplifiers
and Direct Current
|Alternating Current and Transformers
|Circuit Protection, Control, and Measurement
|Electrical Conductors, Wiring Techniques,
and Schematic Reading
|Generators and Motors
|Electronic Emission, Tubes, and Power Supplies
|Solid-State Devices and Power Supplies
|Wave-Generation and Wave-Shaping Circuits
|Wave Propagation, Transmission Lines, and
|Introduction to Number Systems and Logic Circuits
|- Introduction to Microelectronics
|Principles of Synchros, Servos, and Gyros
|Introduction to Test Equipment
|Radio-Frequency Communications Principles
|The Technician's Handbook, Master Glossary
|Test Methods and Practices
|Introduction to Digital Computers
|Introduction to Fiber Optics
|Note: Navy Electricity and Electronics Training
Series (NEETS) content is U.S. Navy property in the public domain.
Now compute the voltage developed by R1 (ER1):
Compute the current through R1 (IR1):
Compute the voltage developed by R3 (ER3):
Add this voltage to the voltage at point a to compute the output voltage (Eout):
This was the output desired, so the circuit works as a difference amplifier.
Q-28. What is the difference between a summing amplifier and an adder
Q-29. Can a summing amplifier have more than two inputs?
Q-30. What is a scaling amplifier?
Refer to figure 3-27 in answering Q31 through Q33.
Figure 3-27. - Circuit for Q31 through Q33.
Q-31. What type of circuit is figure 3-27?
Q-32. If: E1 = +2V, and: E2 = +6V, then Eout =
Q-33. What is the difference in potential between the inverting (-)
and noninverting (+) inputs to the operational amplifier when: E1 = +6V, and
E2 = +2V
Q-34. What is the difference between a subtractor and a difference
Q-35. Can a difference amplifier have more than two inputs?
Refer to figure 3-28 in answering Q36 through Q38.
Figure 3-28. - Circuit for Q36 through Q38.
Q-36. What type of circuit is figure 3-28?
Q-37. If: E1 = +5V, and: E2 = +11V, then Eout =
Q-38. What is the difference in potential between the inverting (í
DQG noninverting (+) inputs to the operational amplifier when: E1 = +2V, and
E2 = +4V
You have now been shown various ways that electron tubes (NEETS, Module 6) and
transistors (NEETS, Module 7) can be used to amplify signals. You have also been
shown the way in which this is done. There is another type of amplifier in use -
the Magnetic Amplifier, sometimes called the MAG AMP.
The magnetic amplifier has certain advantages over other types of amplifiers.
These include (1) high efficiency (up to 90 percent); (2) reliability (long life,
freedom from maintenance, reduction of spare parts inventory); (3) ruggedness (shock
and vibration resistance, high overload capability, freedom from effects of moisture);
and (4) no warm-up time. The magnetic amplifier has no moving parts and can be hermetically
sealed within a case similar to the conventional dry-type transformer.
However, the magnetic amplifier has a few disadvantages. For example, it cannot
handle low-level signals; it is not useful at high frequencies; it has a time delay
associated with the magnetic effects; and the output waveform is not an exact reproduction
of the input waveform (poor fidelity).
The magnetic amplifier is important, however, to many phases of naval engineering
because it provides a rugged, trouble-free device that has many applications aboard
ship and in aircraft. These applications include throttle controls on the main engines
of ships; speed, frequency, voltage, current, and temperature controls on auxiliary
equipment; and fire control, servomechanisms, and stabilizers for guns, radar, and
As stated earlier, the magnetic amplifier does not amplify magnetism, but uses
electromagnetism to amplify a signal. It is a power amplifier with a very limited
frequency response. Technically, it falls into the classification of an audio amplifier;
but, since the frequency response is normally limited to 100 hertz and below, the
magnetic amplifier is more correctly called a low-frequency amplifier.
The basic principle of a magnetic amplifier is very simple. (Remember, all amplifiers
are current- control devices.) a magnetic amplifier uses a changing inductance to
control the power delivered to a load.
Basic Operation of a Magnetic Amplifier
Figure 3-29 shows a simple circuit with a variable inductor in series with a
resistor (representing a load). The voltage source is 100 volts at 60 hertz.
Figure 3-29. - Variable inductor in series with a load.
What happens when the inductance decreases? The end result is that the power
in the load (true power) increases. Why? Look at the following formulas and see
how each is affected by a decrease in inductance.
(True power is covered in NEETS, Module 2 - Introduction to Alternating Current
As inductance (L) decreases, XL decreases. As XL decreases, Z decreases. As Z
decreases, I increases. Finally, as I increases, true power increases.
This general conclusion can be confirmed by using some actual values of inductance
in the formulas along with other values from figure 3-29.
If the value of inductance is 23 millihenries, the formulas yield the following
Now, if the value of inductance is decreased to 11.7 millihenries, the formulas
yield the following values:
So a decrease in inductance of 11.3 millihenries (23 mH - 11.7 mH) causes an
increase in power to the load (true power) of 625 watts (1125 W - 500 W). If it
took 1 watt of power to change the inductance by 11.3 millihenries (by some electrical
or mechanical means), figure 3-29 would represent a power amplifier with a gain
Q-39. What is the frequency classification of a magnetic amplifier?
Q-40. What is the basic principle of a magnetic amplifier?
Q-41. If inductance increases in a series LR circuit, what happens
to true power?
Methods of Changing Inductance
Since changing the inductance of a coil enables the control of power to a load,
what methods are available to change the inductance? Before answering that question,
you should recall a few things about magnetism and inductors from NEETS, Module
1 - Introduction to Matter, Energy, and Direct Current, chapter 1 - Matter, Energy,
and Electricity; and Module 2 - Introduction to Alternating Current and Transformers,
chapter 2 - Inductance.
Permeability was defined as the measure of the ability of a material to act as
a path for additional magnetic lines of force. Soft iron was presented as having
high permeability compared with air. In fact, the permeability of unmagnetized iron
is 5000 while air has a permeability of 1. a nonmagnetized piece of iron has high
permeability because the tiny molecular magnets (Weber's Theory) or the directions
of electron spin (Domain Theory) are able to be aligned by a magnetic field. As
they align, they act as a path for the magnetic lines of force.
Earlier NEETS modules state that the inductance of a coil increases directly
as the permeability of the core material increases. If a coil is wound around an
iron core, the permeability of the core is 5000. Now, if the iron is pulled part
way out of the coil of wire, the core is part iron and part air. The permeability
of the core decreases. As the permeability of the core decreases, the inductance
of the coil decreases. This increases the power delivered to the load (true power).
This relationship is shown in figure 3-30.
The system shown in figure 3-30 is not too practical. Even if a motor were used
in place of the hand that is shown, the resulting amplifier would be large, expensive,
and not easily controlled. If the permeability of a core could be changed by electrical
means rather than mechanical, a more practical system would result.
Figure 3-30. - Varying coil inductance with a movable coil.
High permeability depends on there being many molecular magnets (or electron
spin directions) that can be aligned to provide a path for magnetic lines of force.
If almost all of these available paths are already being used, the material is magnetized
and there are no more paths for additional lines of force. The "flux density" (number
of lines of force passing through a given area) is as high as it can be. This means
that the permeability of the material has decreased. When this condition is reached,
the core is said to be SATURATED because it is saturated (filled) with all the magnetic
lines of force it can pass. At this point, the core has almost the same value of
permeability as air (1) instead of the much higher value of permeability (5000)
that it had when it was unmagnetized.
Of course, the permeability does not suddenly change from 5000 to 1. The permeability
changes as the magnetizing force changes until saturation is reached. At saturation,
permeability remains very low no matter how much the magnetizing force increases.
If you were to draw a graph of the flux density compared to the magnetizing force,
you would have something similar to the graph shown in figure 3-31. Figure 3-31
also includes a curve representing the value of permeability as the magnetizing
force increases. Point "s" in figure 3-31 is the point of saturation. The flux density
does not increase above point "s," and the permeability is at a steady, low value.
Figure 3-31. - Magnetization and permeability curves.
You have now seen how a change in the magnetizing force causes a change in permeability.
The next question is, how do you change the magnetizing force? Magnetizing force
is a function of Ampere-Turns. (An ampere-turn is the magnetomotive force developed
by 1 ampere of current flowing in a coil of one turn.) If you increase the ampere-turns
of a coil, the magnetizing force increases. Since it is not practical to increase
the number of turns, the easiest way to accomplish this is to increase the current
through the coil.
If you increase the current through a coil, you increase the ampere-turns. By
increasing the ampere- turns you increase the magnetizing force. At some point,
this causes a decrease in the permeability of the core. With the permeability of
the core decreased, the inductance of the coil decreases. As said before, a decrease
in the inductance causes an increase in power through the load. a device that uses
this arrangement is called a Saturable-CORE Reactor or Saturable Reactor.
A saturable-core reactor is a magnetic-core reactor (coil) whose reactance is
controlled by changing the permeability of the core. The permeability of the core
is changed by varying a unidirectional flux (flux in one direction) through the
Figure 3-32 shows a saturable-core reactor that is used to control the intensity
of a lamp. Notice that two coils are wound around a single core. The coil on the
left is connected to a rheostat and a battery. This coil is called the control coil
because it is part of the control circuit. The coil on the right is connected to
a lamp (the load) and an a.c. source. This coil is called the load coil because
it is part of the load circuit.
As the wiper (the movable connection) of the rheostat is moved toward the right,
there is less resistance in the control circuit. With less resistance, the control-circuit
current increases. This causes the amount of magnetism in the core to increase and
the inductance of the coil in the load circuit to decrease (because the core is
common to both coils). With less inductance in the load circuit, load current increases
and the lamp gets brighter.
Figure 3-32. - a simple saturable-core reactor circuit.
The schematic diagram of this circuit is shown in figure 3-33. L1 is the schematic
symbol for a saturable-core reactor. The control winding is shown with five loops,
and the load winding is shown with three loops. The double bar between the inductors
stands for an iron core, and the symbol that cuts across the two windings is a saturable-core
symbol indicating that the two windings share a saturable core.
Figure 3-33. - Schematic diagram of a simple saturable-core reactor.
Now that you have seen the basic operation of a saturable-core reactor, there
is one other idea to discuss before moving on to the circuitry of a magnetic amplifier.
There is a point upon the magnetization curve where the saturable-core reactor should
be operated. The ideal operating point is the place in which a small increase in
control current will cause a large increase in output power and a small decrease
in control current will cause a large decrease in output power. This point is on
the flattest portion of the permeability curve (after its peak).
Figure 3-34 shows the magnetization and permeability curves for a saturable-core
reactor with the ideal operating point (point "O") indicated. Notice point "O" on
the magnetization curve. The portion of the magnetization curve where point "O"
is located is called the KNEE of The Curve. The knee of the curve is the point of
maximum curvature. It is called the "knee" because it looks like the knee of a leg
that is bent. Saturable-core reactors and magnetic amplifiers should be operated
on the knee of the magnetization curve.
Figure 3-34. - Magnetization and permeability curves with operating point.
When the saturable-core reactor is set at the knee of the magnetization curve,
any small increase in control current will cause a large increase in load current.
Any small decrease in control current will cause a large decrease in load current.
That is why point "O" is the ideal operating point-because small changes in control
current will cause large changes in load current. In other words, the saturable-core
reactor can amplify the control current. However, a saturable-core reactor is NOT
a magnetic amplifier. You will find out a little later how a magnetic amplifier
differs from a saturable-core reactor. First you should know a few more things about
the saturable-core reactor.
If a d.c. voltage is applied to the control winding of a saturable-core reactor
and an a.c. voltage is applied to the load windings, the a.c. flux will aid the
d.c. flux on one half cycle and oppose the d.c. flux on the other half cycle. This
is shown in figure 3-35. Load flux is indicated by the dashed-line arrows, and control
flux is indicated by the solid-line arrows. View (A) shows the load and control
flux adding during one half cycle of the a.c. View (B) of the figure shows the load
and control flux opposing during the other half cycle of the a.c.
Figure 3-35A. - Flux paths in a saturable-core reactor. Flux AIDING
Figure 3-35B. - Flux paths in a saturable-core reactor. Flux Opposing
This situation causes the operating point of the saturable-core reactor to shift
with the applied a.c. However, the situation would be better if the load flux was
not an influence on the control flux. Figure 3-36 shows a circuit in which this
During the first half cycle, the load circuit flux (dashed-line arrows) cancels
in the center leg of the core. This is shown in figure 3-36, view (A). As a result,
there is no effect upon the flux from the control circuit. During the second half
cycle, the polarity of the a.c. (and therefore the polarity of the flux) reverses
as shown in view (B). The result is the same as it was during the first half cycle.
There is no effect upon the control circuit flux.
Figure 3-36A. - Three-legged, saturable-core reactor. First Half Cycle