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ACMotorControlCircuits:ACElectricCircuitsWorksheets

ACMotorControlCircuits
ACElectricCircuits
WorksheetTopics

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Question1

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Perhapsthemostchallengingaspectofinterpretingladderdiagrams,for
peoplemorefamiliarwithelectronicschematicdiagrams,ishow

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electromechanicalrelaysarerepresented.Comparethesetwoequivalent
diagrams:

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First,theladderdiagram:

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devices

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Next,theschematicdiagram:

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Basedonyourobservationsofthesetwodiagrams,explainhow
electromechanicalrelaysarerepresenteddifferentlybetweenladderand
schematicdiagrams.
Hideanswer

Oneofthemostsignificantdifferencesisthatinladderdiagrams,
relaycoilsandrelaycontacts(thenormallyopencontactinthis
diagramshownasacapacitorlikesymbol)neednotbedrawnnear
eachother.
Followupquestion:whatdothetwolabelsL1andL2represent?
Notes:

Discussthesediagramswithyourstudents,notinganysignificant
advantagesanddisadvantagesofeachconvention.
Inreferencetothechallengequestion,thesymbolsL1andL2are
verycommondesignationsforACpowerconductors.Besureyour
studentshaveresearchedthisandknowwhattheselabelsmean!

Question2

InterpretthisACmotorcontrolcircuitdiagram,explainingthemeaningof
eachsymbol:

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Also,explaintheoperationofthismotorcontrolcircuit.Whathappens
whensomeoneactuatestheRunswitch?Whathappenswhentheylet
gooftheRunswitch?
Hideanswer

Inthiscircuit,themotorwillstartoncetheRunswitchisactuated.
WhentheRunswitchisreleased,themotorcontinuestorun.
Followupquestion:thiscircuithasnostopswitch!Whatwould
havetobemodifiedintheladderlogiccircuittoprovidestop
control?
Notes:

Thiscircuitisknownasalatchingcircuit,becauseitlatchesinthe
onstateafteramomentaryaction.Thecontactinparallelwiththe
Runswitchisoftenreferredtoasasealincontact,becauseit
sealsthemomentaryconditionoftheRunswitchclosureafterthat
switchisdeactuated.
Thefollowupquestionofhowwemaymakethemotorstoprunning
isaveryimportantone.Spendtimewithyourstudentsdiscussing
thispracticaldesignproblem,andimplementasolution.

Question3

Drawthenecessarywireconnectionstobuildthecircuitshowninthis
ladderdiagram:
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Ladderdiagram:

Illustrationshowingcomponents:

Hideanswer

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Notes:

Thisquestionhelpsstudentsbuildtheirspatialrelationsskills,as
theyrelateaneat,cleandiagramtoarelativelymessyrealworld
circuit.Asusual,thecircuitshownhereisnottheonlywayitcould
havebeenbuilt,butitisonesolution.

Question4

Thesimplestandleastexpensivestyleofelectricmotorcontrolistheso
calledacrossthelinestarter.Describehowthismotorcontrolcircuit
functions,andalsodefinethewordstarterinthiscontext.
Hideanswer

Astarterisanothernameforthelargepowerrelayusedtoconduct
currenttothemotorlines.Startersarealsoknownascontactors,and
areusuallylabeledwiththeletterMinladderdiagrams.
Notes:

Askyourstudentstoidentifyanymotorcontrolcircuitdiagrams
theyvealreadyseenasbeingacrosstheline.Ifthereareno
convenientmotorcontrolcircuitdiagramsavailableforillustration,
youmaywanttoaskastudenttodrawanacrossthelinestarter

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youmaywanttoaskastudenttodrawanacrossthelinestarter
circuitonthewhiteboardforeveryonetosee.

Question5

Althoughacrossthelinemotorcontrolcircuitsaresimpleand
inexpensive,theyarenotpreferredforstartinglargemotors.Analternative
toacrossthelinemotorstartingisreducedvoltagestarting.Identifysome
ofthereasonsacrossthelinestartingisundesirableforlargeelectric
motors.
Hideanswer

Illletyouresearchtheanswerstothisquestion!
Notes:

Thereasonsforusingreducedvoltagestartinginsteadofacrossthe
linestartinggobeyondelectrical!Discussthiswithyourstudents.

Question6

Aspecialtypeofovercurrentprotectiondeviceusedcommonlyinmotor
controlcircuitsistheoverloadheater.Thesedevicesareconnectedin
serieswiththemotorconductors,andheatupslightlyundernormal
currentconditions:

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Althoughtheheaterelementsareconnectedinserieswiththemotor
linesasfuseswouldbe,theyarenotfuses!Inotherwords,itisnotthe
purposeofanoverloadheatertoburnopenunderanovercurrentfault
condition,althoughitispossibleforthemtodoso.
Thekeytounderstandingthepurposeofanoverloadheaterisfoundby
examiningthesinglephase(L1/L2)controlcircuit,whereanormally
closedswitchcontactbythesamename(L)isconnectedinserieswith
themotorrelaycoil.
How,exactly,dooverloadheatersprotectanelectricmotoragainst
burnoutfromovercurrentconditions?Howdoesthispurposedifferfrom
thatoffusesorcircuitbreakers?Doesthepresenceofoverloadheatersin
thiscircuitnegatethatneedforacircuitbreakerorregularfuses?Explain
youranswers.
Hideanswer

Whentheoverloadheatersbecomeexcessivelywarmfrom
overcurrent,theytriggertheopeningoftheLcontact,thus
stoppingthemotor.Theheatersdonottaketheplaceofregular
overcurrentprotectiondevices(circuitbreakers,fuses),butservea
differentpurposeentirely.Itisthetaskoftheoverloadheatersto
protectthemotoragainstovercurrentbymimickingthethermal
characteristicsofthemotoritself.Circuitbreakersandfuses,onthe
otherhand,protectanentirelydifferentpartofthecircuit!
Notes:

Askyourstudentstodescribetheinformationtheyfoundonoverload
heatersthroughtheirresearch.Therearedifferentstylesand
variationsofoverloadheaters,buttheyallperformthesamefunction.
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Also,besuretoreviewwithyourstudentsthepurposeoffusesand
circuitbreakers.Thesedevicesarenotintendedtoprotecttheload
(motor),butratheranotherimportantcomponentofanelectrical
system!
Aninterestingwaytoexplainthefunctionofoverloadheatersisto
refertothemasanalogmodelsofthemotorwindings.Theyare
designedsuchthatatanygivencurrentlevel,theywilltakeaslongto
heatupandreachtheirtrippointastherealmotoritselfwilltaketo
heatuptoapointofimpendingdamage.Likewise,theyalsocooloff
atthesamerateastherealmotorcoolsoffwhennopoweris
applied.Overloadheatersarelikesmallmotormodelswitha
thermostatmechanismattached,totriptheoverloadcontactatthe
appropriatetime.Itisanelegantconcept,andquitepracticalinreal
motorcontrolapplications.

Question7

Thecircuitshownhereprovidestwodirectioncontrol(forwardand
reverse)forathreephaseelectricmotor:

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Explainhowthereversalofmotordirectionisaccomplishedwithtwo
differentmotorstarters,M1andM2.Also,explainwhythereisonlyone
setofoverloadheatersinsteadoftwo(oneforforwardandonefor
reverse).Finally,explainthepurposeofthenormallyclosedcontactsin
serieswitheachstartercoil.
Hideanswer

Motorreversalisaccomplishedbyreversingthephasesequenceof
thethreephasepowergoingtothemotor(fromABCtoACB).The
existenceofonlyoneset(three)heatersmaybeadequately
explainedifyouconsiderascenariowherethemotoroverheatsafter
beingrunintheForwarddirection,thenanimmediateattemptis
madetorunitinReverse.Finally,theNCcontacts(typicallycalled
interlockcontacts)preventlotsofsparksfromflyingifboth
pushbuttonsaresimultaneouslypressed!
Notes:

Askyourstudentstoexplainexactlywhysparks[wouldfly]ifboth
pushbuttonswerepressedatthesametime.Thenamecommonly
giventotheNCcontactsisinterlock,becauseeachonelocksout
theotherstarterfrombeingenergized.

Question8

Thestarterandoverloadheaterassemblyforanindustrialelectricmotoris
oftenlocatedquiteadistancefromthemotoritself,insidearoomreferred
toasamotorcontrolcenter,orMCC:

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Sinceitisimpossibleforatechniciantobeintwoplacesatonce,itis
oftennecessarytoperformdiagnosticchecksonamalfunctioningelectric
motorfromtheMCCwherethetechnicianhasaccesstoallthecontrol
circuitry.
Onesuchdiagnosticcheckislinecurrent,todetectthepresenceofan
openmotorwinding.Ifathreephasemotorwindingfailsopen,themotor
willnotrunasitshould.Thisiscalledsinglephasing.Agoodwaytocheck
forthisconditionistouseaclampon(inductive)ammetertocheckline
currentonallthreelineswhilethestarterisenergized.Thismaybedone
atanylocationwherethereisphysicalaccesstothemotorpower
conductors.
Suppose,though,youareworkingonajobsitewheresinglephasingis
suspectedandyoudonothaveaclamponammeterwithyou.Allyou
haveisaDMM(digitalmultimeter),whichdoesnothavetheabilityto
safelymeasurethemotorscurrent.Youareabouttoheadbacktothe
shoptogetaclamponammeterwhenamoreexperiencedtechnician
suggestsanalternatetest.HetakesyourDMM,setsittotheACmillivolt
range,thenconnectsthetestprobestoeithersideofeachoverload
heaterelement,oneheateratatimelikethis:

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Acrosseachoverloadheaterelementhemeasuresabout20mVACwith
thestarterengaged.Fromthishedeterminesthatthemotorisnotsingle
phasing,butisdrawingapproximatelyequalcurrentonallthreephases.
Explainhowthisdiagnosticcheckworks,andwhythisdeterminationcan
bemade.Alsodescribewhatlimitationsthisdiagnosticprocedurehas,
andhowaclamponammeterreallyisthebestwaytomeasuremotorline
current.
Hideanswer

Eachoverloadheaterelementpossessesasmallamountofelectrical
resistance,whichisthekeytothisdiagnosticprocedure.Ofcourse,
themeasurementobtainedisstrictlyqualitative,notquantitativeasa
clamponammeterwouldgive.
Followupquestion#1:whatsortofresultmightoccurwiththis
diagnosticcheckifthemotorwereindeedsinglephasingduetoone
oftheoverloadheatersfailingopen?
Followupquestion#2:whatothercausescouldtherebeforathree
phasemotorsinglephasingotherthanamotorwindingfailed
open?
Notes:

Ihaveusedthisdiagnosticcheckmorethanoncetotroubleshooting
asinglephasingelectricmotor.Itisamazingwhatsortsofdiagnostic
checksyoucandowithahighqualityDMMandasound
understandingofelectricaltheory!

Question9
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ApopularstrategyforACinductionmotorcontrolistheuseofvariable
frequencydriveunits,orVFDs.Explainwhatvaryingthefrequencyof
powertoanACinductionmotoraccomplishes,andwhythismightbe
advantageous.
Hideanswer

Variablefrequencydrivesallowforthepreciseandefficientcontrolof
inductionmotorspeed,whichisnotpossiblebyothermeans.
Notes:

Centraltotheanswerofthisquestionistheprincipleofarotating
magneticfieldandhowrotorspeedisprimarilyafunctionofline
frequency.WhiletheinternaldetailsofaVFDarequitecomplex,the
basicoperatingprinciple(andrationale)isnot.

Question10

Shownhereisatypicalsetofcurvesforanoverloadheater,suchasis
commonlyusedtoprovideovercurrentprotectionforACelectricmotors:

Whyisthereanytimerequiredtoresetanoverloadheatercontactaftera

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Whyisthereanytimerequiredtoresetanoverloadheatercontactaftera
trip?Circuitbreakerscanbereclosedmeremomentsafteratripwithno
problem,andfuses(ofcourse)canbereplacedmomentsafterblowing.Is
thisanintentionaldesignfeatureofoverloadheaters,orjustan
idiosyncrasy?
Also,explainwhytheresetcurvestartstodecreaseforcurrentsabove
300%ofthemotorsfullloadrating.Whydoesnttheresettimecurve
continuetoincreasewithincreasingfaultcurrentmagnitudes?
Hideanswer

Theresettimeforanovercurrentheaterisanintentionaldesign
feature.Iftheheateristoohottoreset,thenthemotoristoohotto
restart.
Notes:

Remindyourstudentsthatthepurposeofanoverloadheateristo
provideathermalanalogueoftheelectricmotoritself.Ideally,the
heaterheatsupandcoolsdownattheexactsamerateasthemotor.
Thisexplainswhythereisanecessaryresettimeafteranoverload
heatercausesthemotorcontrolcircuittotrip.
Askyourstudentstosharethecommondesignfeaturesofan
overloadheater,fromtheirresearch.Howdothesedevicesactually
function?Ifyourstudentsunderstandthis,theyshouldhaveno
difficultyunderstandingwhyoverloadheatercontactsrequiretimeto
resetafteratrip.
Thereasonfortheresettimecurvedecreasingafterabout300%full
loadcurrentisabitmorecomplextoanswer.This,aswell,isnotan
idiosyncrasy,butratheradesignfeatureoftheoverloadheater.Since
greaterlevelsofcurrentwilltriptheheaterinashortertime,they
actuallyheatupthemotorlessduringthatbriefontimethana
sustainedovercurrentoflessermagnitude.Thereforethemotordoes
notneedtocooldownaslongpriortothenextrestart.
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Question11

Protectiverelaysarespecialpowersensingdeviceswhosejobitisto
automaticallyopenorclosecircuitbreakersinlargeelectricpower
systems.Someprotectiverelaysaredesignedtobeuseddirectlywith
largeelectricmotorstoprovidesophisticatedmonitoring,shutdown,and
startupcontrol.
Oneofthefeaturesofthesemotororientedprotectiverelaysisstartup
lockout.Whatthismeansistherelaywillpreventsomeonefrom
attemptingtoomanysuccessiverestartsofalargeelectricmotor.Ifthe
motorisstartedandstoppedseveraltimesoverashortperiodoftime,the
relaywillpreventthepersonfromstartingitagainuntilasufficientrest
timehaspassed.
Explainwhyalargeelectricmotorwouldneedtorestafterseveral
successivestartupevents.Ifelectricmotorsareperfectlycapableof
runningcontinuouslyatfullloadforyearsonend,whywouldafewstart
upsbeworthyofautomaticlockout?
Hideanswer

Iwontgiveyouadirectanswerhere,butIwillprovideabighint:
inrushcurrent.
Notes:

Inrushcurrentisafactorwitheverymotortype,ACorDC.Itiseasy
toforgetjusthowsubstantiallylargeratypicalmotorsinrushcurrent
iscomparedtoitsnormalfullloadcurrent.Whenstudentsconsider
themagnitudeofthecurrentsinvolved,andalsothefactthatmost
electricmotorsarefancooledandthereforelackingincoolingduring
theinitialmomentsofastartup,thereasonforautomaticlockout
afterseveralsuccessivestartupeventsbecomesobvious.
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afterseveralsuccessivestartupeventsbecomesobvious.

Question12

Electromechanicalrelaysusedtostartandstophighpowerelectric
motors(calledcontactorsorstarters)mustbeconsideredapossible
sourceofarcflash.Explainwhythisis.Whatisitabouttheconstructionor
operationofsucharelaythatinvitesthisdangerousphenomenon?
Hideanswer

Electromechanicalrelaysinterruptcircuitcurrentbydrawingpairsof
metalcontactsapart,separatingthemwithanairgap.Becausethis
contactmotionisnotinstantaneous,itispossibletogenerateanarc
acrosstheairgapsofsuchmagnitudethatitbecomesanarcflash.
Notes:

Arcflashisjustashazardoustoelectricaltechniciansaselectric
shock,yetIhaveseen(andworkedwith)peoplewhopayno
attentiontothedangers!Itmustbeunderstoodthatmotorstarters
arebytheirverynaturearcgeneratingdevices,andthatunder
certainunusualconditionsmaygeneratelethalarcflashes.Youmight
wanttoaskyourstudentswhatsortsofunusualconditionscouldlead
toacontactorproducinganactualarcflash(ratherthanmerelyafew
smallsparks).

Question13

Thereareseveraldifferentmethodsofprovidingreducedvoltagestarting
forelectricmotors.Oneofthemistheautotransformermethod.Hereisa
diagramshowinghowthisworks:

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diagramshowinghowthisworks:

L1,L2,andL3representthethreephasepowersupplyconductors.
Threesetsofcontacts(R,S,andY)servetoconnectpowertothemotor
atdifferenttimes.Thestartingsequenceforthemotorisasfollows:
1.Motoroff(Ropen,Sopen,Yopen)
2.Startbuttonpressed(SandYcontactsallclose)
3.Timedelay(dependingonthesizeofthemotor)
4.Ycontactsopen
5.Timedelay(dependingonthesizeofthemotor)
6.Rcontactsclose,Scontactsopen

Explaintheoperationofthissystem.Howdotheautotransformersserve
toreducevoltagetotheelectricmotorduringstartup?
Hideanswer

WhentheSandYcontactsareallclosed,theautotransformers
formathreephaseYconnection,withlinevoltage(L1,L2,andL3)
appliedtothetipsoftheY,andareducedmotorvoltagetappedoff
aportionofeachautotransformerwinding.
WhentheYcontactsopen,thethreeautotransformersnowfunction
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WhentheYcontactsopen,thethreeautotransformersnowfunction
merelyasseriesconnectedinductors,limitingcurrentwiththeir
inductivereactance.
WhentheRcontactsclose,themotorreceivesdirectpowerfrom
L1,L2,andL3.
Followupquestion:howdotheoverloadheatersfunctioninthis
circuit?Theyarentconnectedinserieswiththemotorconductorsas
istypicalwithsmallermotors!
Notes:

Foreachstepofthestartupsequence,itispossibletoredrawthe
circuitfeedingpowertothemotor,inordertomakeitsfunctionmore
apparent.Donotcreatetheseredrawingsyourself,buthaveyour
studentsdrawanequivalentcircuitforeachstepinthestartup
sequence.
Thefollowupquestionisagoodreviewofcurrenttransformers(CT),
aswellasanintroductiontotheuseofoverloadheatersinhigh
currentelectricalsystems.

Question14

Identifyatleastthreeindependentfaultsthatcouldcausethismotornotto
start:

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Foreachoftheproposedfaults,explainwhytheywouldpreventthemotor
fromstarting.
Hideanswer

Herearesomepossiblefaults(notanexhaustivelistbyanymeans!):
Anyfuseblown
Contactorcoilfailedopen
Anytransformerwindingfailedopen
BrokenjumperbetweenH3andH2onthetransformer
CorrodedwireconnectionatterminalA1orA2
Motorwindingfailedshorted

Followupquestion:therewillbeadifferenceinoperationbetween
theL1fuseblowingandeithertheL2orL3fuseblowing.Explain
whatthisdifferenceis,andwhyitmightserveasacluetowhatwas
wrong.
Notes:

Identifyingmultiplefaultsshouldbequiteeasyinthiscircuit.Thereal
valueofthisquestionistheopportunityforexplanationand
discussionthatitgeneratesforyourstudentsastheysharetheir
answerswitheachother.

Question15

Thereissomethingwronginthismotorcontrolcircuit.Whenthestart
buttonispressed,thecontactorenergizesbutthemotoritselfdoesnot
run:

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run:

Identifyagoodplacetocheckwithyourmultimetertodiagnosethenature
ofthefault,andexplainyourreasoning.
Hideanswer

Trycheckingforlinevoltagesattheline(source)sideofthe
contactor,betweenterminals1and2,2and3,and1and3,withthe
contactorenergized(motorissupposedtoberunning).Illleaveitto
youtoexplainwhythisisagoodplacetocheckfirst.
Notes:

Discusswithyourstudentsthevariousoptionstheyhavein
diagnosticsteps,andwhattheythinkofthestepproposedinthe
answer.Troubleshootingscenariossuchasthisasexcellentfor
stimulatingactiveclassdiscussions,sotakeadvantageofit!
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Question16

InterpretthisACmotorcontrolcircuitdiagram,explainingthemeaningof
eachsymbol:

Also,explaintheoperationofthismotorcontrolcircuit.Whathappens
whensomeoneactuatestheRunswitch?Whathappenswhentheylet
gooftheRunswitch?
Hideanswer

TheRunswitchisanormallyopenpushbutton.RelaycoilM1is
energizedbythisswitch,andactuatesthreenormallyopencontacts
(alsolabeledM1)tosendthreephasepowertothemotor.Notethat
thedetailsofthepowersupplyarenotshowninthesediagrams.This
isacommonomission,doneforthesakeofsimplicity.
Notes:

Discusswithyourstudentsthesourcesofelectricalpowerforboth
circuitshere:therelaycontrolcircuitandthemotoritself.Challenge
yourstudentstoexplorethisconceptbyaskingthemthefollowing
questions:
Arethetwosourcesnecessarilythesame?
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Arethetwosourcesnecessarilythesame?
Howdoestheconventionoflinkingrelaycoilswithcontactsby
name(ratherthanbydashedlinesandproximity)inladder
diagramsbenefitmultiplesourcecircuitssuchasthisone?
Dothesecircuitsevenhavetobedrawnonthesamepage?

Question17

Identifyatleastonefaultthatwouldcausethemotortoturnoff
immediatelyoncetheStartpushbuttonswitchwasreleased,insteadof
latchintherunmodeasitshould:

Foreachofyourproposedfaults,explainwhyitwillcausethedescribed
problem.
Hideanswer

M1controlcontactfailedopen.
Wire(s)betweenM1controlcontactandcontrolcircuitbroken
open.

Notes:

Thisformofmotorcontrolcircuitisverypopularinindustry.Itiswell
worthyourstudentstimetostudyitandunderstandbothhowand

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worthyourstudentstimetostudyitandunderstandbothhowand
whyitworks.

Question18

Averycommonformoflatchcircuitisthesimplestartstoprelaycircuit
usedformotorcontrols,wherebyapairofmomentarycontactpushbutton
switchescontroltheoperationofanelectricmotor.Inthisparticularcase,I
showalowvoltagecontrolcircuitanda3phase,highervoltagemotor:

Explaintheoperationofthiscircuit,fromthetimetheStartswitchis
actuatedtothetimetheStopswitchisactuated.ThenormallyopenM1
contactshowninthelowvoltagecontrolcircuitiscommonlycalledaseal
incontact.Explainwhatthiscontactdoes,andwhyitmightbecalleda
sealincontact.
Hideanswer

EventhoughtheStartandStopswitchesaremomentary,the
sealincontactmakesthecircuitlatchinoneoftwostates:either
motorenergizedormotordeenergized.
Notes:

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Notes:

Motorstartstopcircuitsareverycommoninindustry,andapplyto
applicationsbeyondelectricmotors.Askyourstudentsiftheycan
thinkofanyapplicationforacircuitsuchasthis.

Question19

AnalternativetotheconventionalschematicdiagraminACpowercontrol
systemsistheladderdiagram.Inthisconvention,thehotandneutral
powerconductorsaredrawnasverticallinesneartheedgesofthepage,
withallloadsandswitchcontactsdrawnbetweenthoselineslikerungson
aladder:

Asyoucansee,thesymbolisminladderdiagramsisnotalwaysthesame
asinelectricalschematicdiagrams.Whilesomesymbolsareidentical(the
toggleswitch,forinstance),othersymbolsarenot(thesolenoidcoil,for
instance).
Redrawthisladderdiagramasaschematicdiagram,translatingallthe
symbolsintothosecorrectforschematicdiagrams.
Hideanswer
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Notes:

Whileladderdiagramshavetheirownuniqueelegance,itmaybe
frustratingforsomestudentstohavetolearnanewdiagram
convention.Sinceladderdiagramsaresocommoninindustry,your
studentsreallyhavenochoice.

Question20

Drawthenecessarywireconnectionstobuildthecircuitshowninthis
ladderdiagram:
Ladderdiagram:

Illustrationshowingcomponents:
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Yes,theRunswitchshowninthediagramisaSPST,buttheswitch
shownintheillustrationisaSPDT.Thisisarealisticscenario,wherethe
onlytypeofswitchyouhaveavailableisaSPDT,butthewiringdiagram
callsforsomethingdifferent.Itisyourjobtoimproviseasolution!
Hideanswer

Challengequestion:whichswitchposition(handletotheleftor
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Challengequestion:whichswitchposition(handletotheleftor

handletotheright)turnsthemotoron?
Notes:

Thisquestionhelpsstudentsbuildtheirspatialrelationsskills,as
theyrelateaneat,cleandiagramtoarelativelymessyrealworld
circuit.Asusual,thecircuitshownhereisnottheonlywayitcould
havebeenbuilt,butitisonesolution.
Inreferencetothechallengequestion,theparticularstyleofSPDT
switchshownisverycommon,andtheterminalconnectionsonthe
bottommightnotbewhatyouwouldexpectfromlookingatits
schematicsymbol.

Question21

Examinethisthreephasemotorcontrolcircuit,wherefusesprotect
againstovercurrentandathreepolerelay(calledacontactor)turnspower
onandofftothemotor:

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Afteryearsoffaithfulservice,onedaythismotorrefusestostart.Itmakes
ahummingsoundwhenthecontactorisenergized(relaycontacts
close),butitdoesnotturn.Amechanicchecksitoutanddeterminesthat
theshaftisnotseized,butisfreetoturn.Theproblemmustbeelectricalin
nature!
Youarecalledtoinvestigate.Usingaclamponammeter,youmeasurethe
currentthrougheachofthelines(immediatelyaftereachfuse)asanother
startisonceagainattempted.Youthenrecordthethreecurrent
measurements:

Line Current

152.7amps

251.9amps

3 0amps

Determineatleasttwopossiblefaultswhichcouldaccountforthemotors
refusaltostartandthethreecurrentmeasurementstaken.Then,decide
whatyournextmeasurement(s)willbetoisolatetheexactlocationand
natureofthefault.
Hideanswer

Herearesomepossibilities:
Fuse#3blownopen
Thirdrelaycontactdamaged(failedopen)insidethecontactor
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Thirdrelaycontactdamaged(failedopen)insidethecontactor
Onewindingfailedopeninsidethemotor(assumingaY
windingconfiguration)

Thereareseveralvalidnextstepsyoucouldtakefromthispoint.
Discussalternativeswithyourclassmates.
Notes:

Thisisapracticalscenariowhichyouandyourstudentsshouldhave
somefunexploring.Iftheyhaveneverheardofacontactorbefore,
thisquestionisagoodopportunitytointroducethecomponent.Bring
onewithyoutodiscussionifyouhavetheopportunity!

Question22

Workingonajobsitewithanexperiencedtechnician,youaretaskedwith
tryingtodeterminewhetherthelinecurrentsgoingtoathreephase
electricmotorarebalanced.Ifeverythingisokaywiththemotorandthe
powercircuitry,ofcourse,thethreelinecurrentsshouldbepreciselyequal
toeachother.
Theproblemis,neitherofyoubroughtaclamponammeterformeasuring
thelinecurrents.Yourmultimetersaremuchtoosmalltomeasurethe
largecurrentsinthiscircuit,andconnectinganammeterinserieswith
suchalargemotorcouldbedangerousanyway.So,theexperienced
techniciandecidestotrysomethingdifferentheuseshismultimeteras
anACmillivoltmetertomeasurethesmallvoltagedropacrosseachfuse,
usingthefusesascrudeshuntresistors:

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Heobtainsthefollowingmeasurements:

LineFusevoltagedrop

24.3mV

37.9mV

15.4mV

Dothesevoltagedropmeasurementssuggestimbalancedmotorline
currents?Whyorwhynot?
Hideanswer

Theresultsareinconclusive,becauseresistanceforthewholefuse
andholderassemblyisnotareliablystablequantity.Corrosion
betweenoneofthefuseendsandthefuseholderclip,forexample,
wouldincreaseresistancebetweenthepointswheremillivoltageis
shownmeasured.
Followupquestion:justbecausetheresultsofthesemillivoltage
measurementsareinconclusiveinthisscenariodoesnotnecessarily
meantheprincipleofusingfusesascurrentindicatingshuntresistors

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meantheprincipleofusingfusesascurrentindicatingshuntresistors
isuseless.Describeoneapplicationwhereusingafuseasacurrent
indicatingshuntwouldyieldtrustworthyinformationaboutthecurrent.
Challengequestion:determinewhereyoucouldmeasure
millivoltage,thatmightbemorereliableintermsofquantitatively
indicatinglinecurrent.
Notes:

Whilemeasuringmillivoltageacrossafusemayseemlikeastrange
diagnostictechnique,itisoneIhavegainfullyappliedforyears.The
catchisyouhavetoknowwhatitisgoodforandwhatitisnot.Itis
notaprecise,quantitativetechniquebyanymeans!

Question23

Onemethodofachievingreducedvoltagestartingforlargeelectricmotors
istoinsertseriesresistancesintoeachofthemotorspowerconductors.
Whenstarting,allpowermustgothroughtheresistors.Afterthemotorhas
hadtimetospeedup,anothersetofstartercontactsbypasslinepower
aroundtheresistors,directlytothemotorwindings.
Drawadiagramshowinghowthiscouldbedoneforasinglephase
electricmotor,usingtwostartercontacts:RforrunandSforstart.
Hint:youonlyneedtwocontactsandoneresistor!
Hideanswer

Noneofthecontrolcircuitry(startswitch,overloadcontact,starter
coil,etc.)isshowninthisdiagram:

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Notes:

Ifstudentshavestudiedtheautotransformermethodofreduced
voltagestarting,askthemtocomparethismethodagainstthat.
Certainly,theresistivemethodissimpler,butdoesthe
autotransformermethodhaveitsownadvantage(s)?

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