The d.c. generators and d.c. motors have the same general construction. In fact, when the machine is being assembled, the workmen usually do not know whether it is a d.c. generator or motor. Any d.c. generator can be run as a d.c. motor and vice-versa. All d.c. machines have five principal components viz., (i) field system (ii) armature core (iii) armature winding (iv) commutator (v) brushes [See Fig. 1.7].
(i) Field system
The function of the field system is to produce uniform magnetic field within which the armature rotates. It consists of a number of salient poles (of course, even number) bolted to the inside of circular frame (generally called yoke). The yoke is usually made of solid cast steel whereas the pole pieces are composed of stacked laminations. Field coils are mounted on the poles and carry the d.c. exciting current. The field coils are connected in such a way that adjacent poles have opposite polarity.
The m.m.f. developed by the field coils produces a magnetic flux that passes through the pole pieces, the air gap, the armature and the frame (See Fig. 1.. Practical d.c. machines have air gaps ranging from 0.5 mm to 1.5 mm. Since armature and field systems are composed of materials that have high permeability, most of the m.m.f. of field coils is required to set up flux in the air gap. By reducing the length of air gap, we can reduce the size of field coils (i.e. number of turns).
(ii) Armature core
The armature core is keyed to the machine shaft and rotates between the field poles. It consists of slotted soft-iron laminations (about 0.4 to 0.6 mm thick) that are stacked to form a cylindrical core as shown in Fig (1.9). The laminations (See Fig. 1.10) are individually coated with a thin insulating film so that they do not come in electrical contact with each other. The purpose of laminating the core is to reduce the eddy current loss. The laminations are slotted to accommodate and provide mechanical security to the armature winding and to give shorter air gap for the flux to cross between the pole face and the armature “teeth”.
(iii) Armature winding
The slots of the armature core hold insulated conductors that are connected in a suitable manner. This is known as armature winding. This is the winding in which “working” e.m.f. is induced. The armature conductors are connected in series-parallel; the conductors being connected in series so as to increase the voltage and in parallel paths so as to increase the current. The armature winding of a d.c. machine is a closed-circuit winding; the conductors being connected in a symmetrical manner forming a closed loop or series of closed loops.
A commutator is a mechanical rectifier which converts the alternating voltage generated in the armature winding into direct voltage across the brushes. The commutator is made of copper segments insulated from each other by mica sheets and mounted on the shaft of the machine (See Fig 1.11). The armature conductors are soldered to the commutator segments in a suitable manner to give rise to the armature winding. Depending upon the manner in which the armature conductors are connected to the commutator segments, there are two types of armature winding in a d.c. machine viz., (a) lap winding (b) wave winding.
Great care is taken in building the commutator because any eccentricity will cause the brushes to bounce, producing unacceptable sparking. The sparks may bum the brushes and overheat and carbonise the commutator.
The purpose of brushes is to ensure electrical connections between the rotating commutator and stationary external load circuit. The brushes are made of carbon and rest on the commutator. The brush pressure is adjusted by means of adjustable springs (See Fig. 1.12). If the brush pressure is very large, the friction produces heating of the commutator and the brushes. On the other hand, if it is too weak, the imperfect contact with the commutator may produce sparking.
Multipole machines have as many brushes as they have poles. For example, a 4- pole machine has 4 brushes. As we go round the commutator, the successive brushes have positive and negative polarities. Brushes having the same polarity are connected together so that we have two terminals viz., the +ve terminal and the −ve terminal.