DC Motors

A DC motor is any of a class of rotary electrical machines that converts direct current electrical power into mechanical power. The most common types rely on the forces produced by magnetic fields. Nearly all types of DC motors have some internal mechanism, either electromechanical or electronic, to periodically change the direction of current flow in part of the motor.

A simple DC motor has a stationary set of magnets in the stator and an armature with one or more windings of insulated wire wrapped around a soft iron core that concentrates the magnetic field. The windings usually have multiple turns around the core, and in large motors there can be several parallel current paths. The ends of the wire winding are connected to a commutator. The commutator allows each armature coil to be energized in turn and connects the rotating coils with the external power supply through brushes. The total amount of current sent to the coil, the coil's size and what it's wrapped around dictate the strength of the electromagnetic field created.

The sequence of turning a particular coil on or off dictates what direction the effective electromagnetic fields are pointed. By turning on and off coils in sequence a rotating magnetic field can be created. These rotating magnetic fields interact with the magnetic fields of the magnets (permanent or electromagnets) in the stationary part of the motor (stator) to create a force on the armature which causes it to rotate. In some DC motor designs the stator fields use electromagnets to create their magnetic fields which allow greater control over the motor. At high power levels, DC motors are almost always cooled using forced air.

Different number of stator and armature fields as well as how they are connected provide different inherent speed/torque regulation characteristics. The speed of a DC motor can be controlled by changing the voltage applied to the armature. The introduction of variable resistance in the armature circuit or field circuit allowed speed control. Modern DC motors are often controlled by power electronics systems which adjust the voltage by "chopping" the DC current into on and off cycles which have an effective lower voltage.