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Generation of Sinusoidal Waveforms

Review Electromagnetism
1. An electric current flowing through a conductor can be used to generate a magnetic
field around itself,
2. If a single wire conductor is moved or rotated within a stationary magnetic field, an
EMF, (Electro-Motive Force) will be induced within the conductor due to this


We learnt that a relationship exists between Electricity

and Magnetism giving us, as Michael Faraday
discovered the effect of Electromagnetic Induction
and it is this basic principal that is used to generate
Sinusoidal Waveform.
If a conductor moves in parallel with the magnetic
field as in the case of points A and B, no lines of flux
are cut and no EMF is induced into the conductor, but
the conductor moves at right angles to the magnetic
field as in the case of points C and D, the maximum
amount of magnetic flux is cut producing the
maximum amount of induced EMF.
Also, as the conductor cuts the magnetic field at different
angles between points A and C, 0 and 90o the amount of
induced EMF will lie somewhere between this zero and
maximum value. Then the amount of emf induced
within a conductor depends on the angle between the
conductor and the magnetic flux as well as the strength

of the magnetic field.

An AC generator uses the principal of Faradays electromagnetic induction to convert a
mechanical energy such as rotation, into electrical energy, a Sinusoidal Waveform. A simple
generator consists of a pair of permanent magnets producing a fixed magnetic field between a
north and a south pole. Inside this magnetic field is a single rectangular loop of wire that can be
rotated around a fixed axis allowing it to cut the magnetic flux at various angles as shown below.

Basic Single Coil AC Generator

As the coil rotates anticlockwise around the central axis which is perpendicular to the magnetic
field, the wire loop cuts the lines of magnetic force set up between the north and south poles at
different angles as the loop rotates. The amount of induced EMF in the loop at any instant of
time is proportional to the angle of rotation of the wire loop.
As this wire loop rotates, electrons in the wire flow in one direction around the loop. Now when
the wire loop has rotated past the 180o point and moves across the magnetic lines of force in the
opposite direction, the electrons in the wire loop change and flow in the opposite direction. Then
the direction of the electron movement determines the polarity of the induced voltage.
So we can see that when the loop or coil physically rotates one complete revolution, or 360 o, one
full sinusoidal waveform is produced with one cycle of the waveform being produced for each
revolution of the coil. As the coil rotates within the magnetic field, the electrical connections are
made to the coil by means of carbon brushes and slip-rings which are used to transfer the
electrical current induced in the coil.
The amount of EMF induced into a coil cutting the magnetic lines of force is determined by the
following three factors.

Speed the speed at which the coil rotates inside the magnetic field.

Strength the strength of the magnetic field.

Length the length of the coil or conductor passing through the magnetic field.

We know that the frequency of a supply is the number of times a cycle appears in one second and
that frequency is measured in Hertz. As one cycle of induced emf is produced each full
revolution of the coil through a magnetic field comprising of a north and south pole as shown
above, if the coil rotates at a constant speed a constant number of cycles will be produced per
second giving a constant frequency. So by increasing the speed of rotation of the coil the
frequency will also be increased. Therefore, frequency is proportional to the speed of rotation,
( ) where = r.p.m.
Also, our simple single coil generator above only has two poles, one north and one south pole,
giving just one pair of poles. If we add more magnetic poles to the generator above so that it now
has four poles in total, two north and two south, then for each revolution of the coil two cycles
will be produced for the same rotational speed. Therefore, frequency is proportional to the
number of pairs of magnetic poles, ( P ) of the generator where P = is the number of pairs
of poles.
Then from these two facts we can say that the frequency output from an AC generator is:

Where: is the speed of rotation in r.p.m. P is the number of pairs of poles and 60 converts it
into seconds.
Instantaneous Voltage
The EMF induced in the coil at any instant of time depends upon the rate or speed at which the
coil cuts the lines of magnetic flux between the poles and this is dependant upon the angle of
rotation, Theta ( ) of the generating device. Because an AC waveform is constantly changing its
value or amplitude, the waveform at any instant in time will have a different value from its next
instant in time.
For example, the value at 1ms will be different to the value at 1.2ms and so on. These values are
known generally as the Instantaneous Values, or Vi Then the instantaneous value of the
waveform and also its direction will vary according to the position of the coil within the
magnetic field as shown below.

Displacement of a Coil within a Magnetic Field

The instantaneous values of a sinusoidal waveform is given as the Instantaneous value =

Maximum value x sin and this is generalized by the formula.

Where, Vmax is the maximum voltage induced in the coil and = t, is the angle of coil rotation.
If we know the maximum or peak value of the waveform, by using the formula above the
instantaneous values at various points along the waveform can be calculated. By plotting these
values out onto graph paper, a sinusoidal waveform shape can be constructed. In order to keep
things simple we will plot the instantaneous values for the sinusoidal waveform at every 45 o and
assume a maximum value of 100V. Plotting the instantaneous values at shorter intervals, for
example at every 30o would result in a more accurate waveform construction.
Sinusoidal Waveform Construction
Coil Angle ( )









e = Vmax.sin








The points on the sinusoidal waveform are obtained by projecting across from the various
positions of rotation between 0o and 360o to the ordinate of the waveform that corresponds to the
angle, and when the wire loop or coil rotates one complete revolution, or 360 o, one full
waveform is produced.
From the plot of the sinusoidal waveform we can see that when is equal to 0o, 180o or 360o, the
generated EMF is zero as the coil cuts the minimum amount of lines of flux. But when is equal
to 90o and 270o the generated EMF is at its maximum value as the maximum amount of flux is
Therefore a sinusoidal waveform has a positive peak at 90o and a negative peak at 270o.
Positions B, D, F and H generate a value of EMF corresponding to the formula e = Vmax.sin.
Then the waveform shape produced by our simple single loop generator is commonly referred to
as a Sine Wave as it is said to be sinusoidal in its shape. This type of waveform is called a sine
wave because it is based on the trigonometric sine function used in mathematics,
( x(t) = Amax.sin ).
When dealing with sine waves in the time domain and especially current related sine waves the
unit of measurement used along the horizontal axis of the waveform can be either time, degrees
or radians. In electrical engineering it is more common to use theRadian as the angular
measurement of the angle along the horizontal axis rather than degrees. For
example, = 100 rad/s, or 500 rad/s.
The Radian, (rad) is defined mathematically as a quadrant of a circle where the distance
subtended on the circumference equals the radius (r) of the circle. Since the circumference of a
circle is equal to 2 x radius, there must be 2 radians around a 360o circle, so 1 radian =
360o/2 = 57.3o. In electrical engineering the use of radians is very common so it is important to
remember the following formula.

Definition of a Radian

Using radians as the unit of measurement for a sinusoidal waveform would give 2 radians for
one full cycle of 360o. Then half a sinusoidal waveform must be equal to 1 radians or just (pi).
Then knowing that pi, is equal to 3.142 or 227, the relationship between degrees and radians
for a sinusoidal waveform is given as.
Relationship between Degrees and Radians

Applying these two equations to various points along the waveform gives us.

The conversion between degrees and radians for the more common equivalents used in
sinusoidal analysis are given in the following table.
Relationship between Degrees and Radians

































The velocity at which the generator rotates around its central axis determines the frequency of
the sinusoidal waveform. As the frequency of the waveform is given as Hz or cycles per

second, the waveform has angular frequency, , (Greek letter omega), in radians per second.
Then the angular velocity of a sinusoidal waveform is given as.
Angular Velocity of a Sinusoidal Waveform

and in the United Kingdom, the angular velocity or frequency of the mains supply is given as:

in the USA as their mains supply frequency is 60Hz it is therefore: 377 rad/s
So we now know that the velocity at which the generator rotates around its central axis
determines the frequency of the sinusoidal waveform and which can also be called its angular
velocity, . But we should by now also know that the time required to complete one revolution
is equal to the periodic time, (T) of the sinusoidal waveform.
As frequency is inversely proportional to its time period, = 1/T we can therefore substitute the
frequency quantity in the above equation for the equivalent periodic time quantity and
substituting gives us.

The above equation states that for a smaller periodic time of the sinusoidal waveform, the greater
must be the angular velocity of the waveform. Likewise in the equation above for the frequency
quantity, the higher the frequency the higher the angular velocity.
Sinusoidal Waveform Example No1
A sinusoidal waveform is defined as: Vm = 169.8 sin(377t) volts. Calculate the RMS voltage of
the waveform, its frequency and the instantaneous value of the voltage after a time of 6ms.
We know from above that the general expression given for a sinusoidal waveform is:

Then comparing this to our given expression for a sinusoidal waveform above
ofVm = 169.8 sin(377t) will give us the peak voltage value of 169.8 volts for the waveform.
The waveforms RMS voltage is calculated as:

The angular velocity () is given as 377 rad/s. Then 2 = 377. So the frequency of the
waveform is calculated as:

The instantaneous voltage Vi value after a time of 6mS is given as:

Note that the phase angle at time t = 6mS is given in radians. We could quite easily convert this
to degrees if we wanted to and use this value instead to calculate the instantaneous voltage value.
The angle in degrees will therefore be given as:

Sinusoidal Waveform
Then the generalised format used for analysing and calculating the various values of
a Sinusoidal Waveform is as follows: