A generator uses magnets and a coil of wire to convert mechanical energy into electricity. According to Georgia State University, Faraday's Law states that any change in the magnetic environment of a coil of wire will cause voltage to be induced in the coil.
The movement of a magnet inside a coil of wire demonstrates how this principle is used in generators to produce electricity. As the magnetic field that surrounds the magnet comes into contact with the wire, it induces electromotive force--voltage--in the coils of the wire, and this voltage can then be used to do work.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Enamel-coated copper wire, #28 gauge
- Strong bar magnet
- Bath tissue tube
- Cigarette lighter
- Digital voltage meter with alligator clip probe leads
- Pen or pencil
- Wire cutters
Pull out a 6-inch length of the #28 gauge copper wire, and stick it inside the paper tube. Do not cut the wire, as this will be one of the terminal end wires of your induction coil.
Attach the wire to the top of the paper tube with a piece of tape, above where you inserted it into the tube.
Wrap 300 turns of the copper wire around the paper tube to make your induction coil. An easy way to do this is to place a pen or pencil through the spool and hold it between your knees. This will allow the spool to turn freely as you pull wire off of it to wrap the paper tube.
Pull out an additional 6 inches of wire, and cut it using the wire cutters. This will be the other terminal end of your induction coil.
Pull the terminal wire out of the inside of the paper tube, and burn off the enamel coating on the end with the cigarette lighter. Remove the enamel coating to reveal 1/2-inch of the shiny copper wire. Burn off the enamel coating on the other terminal wire in the same way.
Insert the probe leads into the voltage jacks on your voltage meter, and set the meter to its lowest voltage setting.
Attach the alligator clips to the terminal wires of the induction coil. The meter is now set to read the voltage in the coil.
Push the magnet in and out of the paper tube induction coil repeatedly, and watch the changing display of the voltage meter to see how much voltage you generate.
Tips and warnings
- Attach the terminal ends to a C battery, and the coil will become an electromagnet.
- Be careful when burning the enamel off the wire. The copper wire will get hot very quickly.
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