between shoes.
in grammes.

With a stronger battery the magnet without shoes had an attraction of 885 grammes, but with the shoes 15 millimeters apart, 1,195 grammes. When one pole only was employed, the attraction, which was 88 grammes without a shoe, was diminished by adding a shoe to 39 grammes!

Contrast Between Electromagnets And Permanent Magnets

Now I want particularly to ask you to guard against the idea that all these results obtained from electromagnets are equally applicable to permanent magnets of steel; they are not, for this simple reason. With an electromagnet, when you put the armature near, and make the magnetic circuit better, you not only get more magnetic lines going through that armature, but you get more magnetic lines going through the whole of the iron. You get more magnetic lines round the bend when you put an armature on to the poles, because you have a magnetic circuit of less reluctance with the same external magnetizing power in the coils acting around it. Therefore, in that case, you will have a greater magnetic flux all the way round. The data obtained with the electromagnet (Fig. 42), with the exploring coil, C, on the bend of the core, where the armature was in contact, and when it was removed are most significant. When the armature was present it multiplied the total magnetic flow tenfold for weak currents and nearly threefold for strong currents. But with a steel horseshoe, magnetized once for all, the magnetic lines that flow around the bend of the steel are a fixed quantity, and, however much you diminish the reluctance of the magnetic circuit, you do not create or evoke any more.

When the armature is away the magnetic lines arch across, not at the ends of the horseshoe only, but from its flanks; the whole of the magnetic lines leaking somehow across the space. Where you have put the armature on, these lines, instead of arching out into space as freely as they did, pass for the most part along the steel limbs and through the iron armature. You may still have a considerable amount of leakage, but you have not made one line more go through the bent part. You have absolutely the same number going through the bend with the armature off as with the armature on. You do not add to the total number by reducing the magnetic reluctance, because you are not working under the influence of a constantly impressed magnetizing force. By putting the armature on to a steel horseshoe magnet you only collect the magnetic lines, you do not multiply them. This is not a matter of conjecture. A group of my students have been making experiments in the following way: They took this large steel horseshoe magnet (Fig. 52), the length of which, from end to end, through the steel, is 42½ inches. A light, narrow frame was constructed so that it could be slipped on over the magnet, and on it were wound 30 turns of fine wire, to serve as an exploring coil. The ends of this coil were carried to a distant part of the laboratory, and connected to a sensitive ballistic galvanometer. The mode of experimenting is as follows:

The coil is slipped on over the magnet (or over its armature) to any desired position. The armature of the magnet is placed gently upon the poles, and time enough is allowed to elapse for the galvanometer needle to settle to zero. The armature is then suddenly detached. The first swing measures the change, due to removing the armature, in the number of magnetic lines that pass through the coil in the particular position.


I will roughly repeat the experiment before you: The spot of light on the screen is reflected from my galvanometer at the far end of the table. I place the exploring coil just over the pole, and slide on the armature; then close the galvanometer circuit. Now I detach the armature, and you observe the large swing. I shift the exploring coil, right up to the bend; replace the armature; wait until the spot of light is brought to rest at the zero of the scale. Now, on detaching the armature, the movement of the spot of light is quite imperceptible. In our careful laboratory experiments, the effect was noticed inch by inch all along the magnet. The effect when the exploring coil was over the bend was not as great as 1-3000th part of the effect when the coil was hard up to the pole. We are, therefore, justified in saying that the number of magnetic lines in a permanently magnetized steel horseshoe magnet is not altered by the presence or absence of the armature.

You will have noticed that I always put on the armature gently. It does not do to slam on the armature; every time you do so, you knock some of the so-called permanent magnetism out of it. But you may pull off the armature as suddenly as you like. It does the magnet good rather than harm. There is a popular superstition that you ought never to pull off the keeper of a magnet suddenly. On investigation, it is found that the facts are just the other way. You may pull off the keeper as suddenly as you like, but you should never slam it on.

From these experimental results I pass to the special design of electromagnets for special purposes.

Electromagnets For Maximum Traction

These have already been dealt with in the preceding lecture; the characteristic feature of all the forms suitable for traction being the compact magnetic circuit.

Several times it has been proposed to increase the power of electromagnets by constructing them with intermediate masses of iron between the central core and the outside, between the layers of windings. All these constructions are founded on fallacies. Such iron is far better placed either right inside the coils or right outside them, so that it may properly constitute a part of the magnetic circuit. The constructions known as Camacho's and Cance's, and one patented by Mr. S.A. Varley, in 1877, belonging to this delusive order of ideas, are now entirely obsolete.

Another construction which is periodically brought forward as a novelty is the use of iron windings of wire or strip in place of copper winding. The lower electric conductivity of iron, as compared with copper, makes such a construction wasteful of exciting power. To apply equal magnetizing power by means of an iron coil implies the expenditure of about six times as many watts as need be expended if the coil is of copper.

Electromagnets For Maximum Range Of Attraction

We have already laid down the principle which will enable us to design electromagnets to act at a distance. We want our magnet to project, as it were, its force across the greatest length of air gap. Clearly, then, such a magnet must have a very large magnetizing power, with many ampere turns upon it, to be able to make the required number of magnetic lines pass across the air resistance. Also it is clear that the poles must not be too close together for its work, otherwise the magnetic lines at one pole will be likely to curl round and take short cuts to the other pole. There must be a wider width between the poles than is desirable in electromagnets for traction.

Electromagnets Of Minimum Weight

In designing an apparatus to put on board a boat or a balloon, where weight is a consideration of primary importance, there is again a difference. There are three things that come into play - iron, copper, and electric current. The current weighs nothing, therefore, if you are going to sacrifice everything else to weight, you may have comparatively little iron, but you must have enough copper to be able to carry the electric current; and under such circumstances you must not mind heating your wires nearly red hot to pass the biggest possible current. Provide as little copper as you conveniently can, sacrificing economy in that case to the attainment of your object; but, of course, you must use fireproof material, such as asbestos, for insulating, instead of cotton or silk.

A Useful Guiding Principle

In all cases of design there is one leading principle which will be found of great assistance, namely, that a magnet always tends so to act as though it tried to diminish the length of its magnetic circuit. It tries to grow more compact. This is the reverse of that which holds good with an electric current. The electric circuit always tries to enlarge itself, so as to inclose as much space as possible, but the magnetic circuit always tries to make itself as compact as possible. Armatures are drawn in as near as can be, to close up the magnetic circuit. Many two-pole electromagnets show a tendency to bend together when the current is turned on. One form in particular, which was devised by Ruhmkorff for the purpose of repeating Faraday's celebrated experiment on the magnetic rotation of polarized light, is liable to this defect. Indeed, this form of electromagnet is often designed very badly, the yoke being too thin, both mechanically and magnetically, for the purpose which it has to fulfill.

Here is a small electric bell, constructed by Wagener, of Wiesbaden, the construction of which illustrates this principle. The electromagnet, a horseshoe, lies horizontally; its poles are provided with protruding curved pins of brass. Through the armature are drilled two holes, so that it can be hung upon the two brass pins; and when so hung up it touches the ends of the iron cores just at one edge, being held from more perfect contact by a spring. There is no complete gap, therefore, in the magnetic circuit. When the current comes and applies a magnetizing power, it finds the magnetic circuit already complete in the sense that there are no absolute gaps. But the circuit can be bettered by tilting the armature to bring it flat against the polar ends, that being indeed the mode of motion. This is a most reliable and sensitive pattern of bell.


Electromagnetic Pop-Gun

Here is another curious illustration of the tendency to complete the magnetic circuit. Here is a tubular electromagnet (Fig. 53), consisting of a small bobbin, the core of which is an iron tube about two inches long. There is nothing very unusual about it; it will stick on, as you see, to pieces of iron when the current is turned on. It clearly is an ordinary electromagnet in that respect. Now suppose I take a little round rod of iron, about an inch long, and put it into the end of the tube, what will happen when I turn on my current? In this apparatus as it stands, the magnetic circuit consists of a short length of iron, and then all the rest is air. The magnetic circuit will try to complete itself, not by shortening the iron, but by lengthening it; by pushing the piece of iron out so as to afford more surface for leakage. That is exactly what happens; for, as you see, when I turn on the current, the little piece of iron shoots out and drops down. You see that little piece of iron shoot out with considerable force. It becomes a sort of magnetic popgun. This is an experiment which has been twice discovered. I found it first described by Count Du Moncel, in the pages of La Lumiere Electrique, under the name of the "pistolet electromagnetique;" and Mr. Shelford Bidwell invented it independently. I am indebted to him for the use of this apparatus. He gave an account of it to the Physical Society, in 1885, but the reporter missed it, I suppose, as there is no record in the society's proceedings.

Electromagnets For Use With Alternating Currents

When you are designing electromagnets for use with alternating currents, it is necessary to make a change in one respect, namely, you must so laminate the iron that internal eddy currents shall not occur; indeed, for all rapid-acting electromagnetic apparatus it is a good rule that the iron must not be solid. It is not usual with telegraphic instruments to laminate them by making up the core of bundles of iron plates or wires, but they are often made with tubular cores, that is to say, the cylindrical iron core is drilled with a hole down the middle, and the tube so formed is slit with a saw cut to prevent the circulation of currents in the substance of the tube. Now when electromagnets are to be employed with rapidly alternating currents, such as are used for electric lighting, the frequency of the alternations being usually about 100 periods per second, slitting the cores is insufficient to guard against eddy currents; nothing short of completely laminating the cores is a satisfactory remedy. I have here, thanks to the Brush Electric Engineering Company, an electromagnet of the special form that is used in the Brush arc lamp when required for the purpose of working in an alternating current circuit.

It has two bobbins that are screwed up against the top of an iron box at the head of the lamp. The iron slab serves as a kind of yoke to carry the magnetism across the top. There are no fixed cores In the bobbins, which are entered by the ends of a pair of yoked plungers. Now in the ordinary Brush lamp for use with a steady current, the plungers are simply two round pieces of iron tapped into a common yoke; but for alternate current working this construction must not be used, and instead a U-shaped double plunger is used, made up of laminated iron, riveted together. Of course it is no novelty to use a laminated core; that device, first used by Joule, and then by Cowper, has been repatented rather too often during the past fifty years to be considered as a recent invention.

The alternate rapid reversals of the magnetism in the magnetic field of an electromagnet, when excited by alternating electric currents, sets up eddy currents in every piece of undivided metal within range. All frames, bobbin tubes, bobbin ends, and the like, must be most carefully slit, otherwise they will overheat. If a domestic flat iron is placed on the top of the poles of a properly laminated electromagnet, supplied with alternating currents, the flat iron is speedily heated up by the eddy currents that are generated internally within it. The eddy currents set up by induction in neighboring masses of metal, especially in good conducting metals such as copper, give rise to many curious phenomena. For example, a copper disk or copper ring placed over the pole of a straight electromagnet so excited is violently repelled. These remarkable phenomena have been recently investigated by Professor Elihu Thomson, with whose beautiful and elaborate researches we have lately been made conversant in the pages of the technical journals. He rightly attributes many of the repulsion phenomena to the lag in phase of the alternating currents thus induced in the conducting metal.

The electromagnetic inertia, or self-inductive property of the electric circuit, causes the currents to rise and fall later in time than the electromotive forces by which they are occasioned. In all such cases the impedance which the circuit offers is made up of two things - resistance and inductance. Both these causes tend to diminish the amount of current that flows, and the inductance also tends to delay the flow.

Electromagnets For Quickest Action

I have already mentioned Hughes' researches on the form of electromagnet best adapted for rapid signaling. I have also incidentally mentioned the fact that where rapidly varying currents are employed, the strength of the electric current that a given battery can yield is determined not so much by the resistance of the electric circuit as by its electric inertia. It is not a very easy task to explain precisely what happens to an electric circuit when the current is turned on suddenly. The current does not suddenly rise to its full value, being retarded by inertia. The ordinary law of Ohm in its simple form no longer applies; one needs to apply that other law which bears the name of the law of Helmholtz, the use of which is to give us an expression, not for the final value of the current, but for its value at any short time, t, after the current has been turned on. The strength of the current after a lapse of a short time, t, cannot be calculated by the simple process of taking the electromotive force and dividing it by the resistance, as you would calculate steady currents.

In symbols, Helmholtz's law is:

i = E/R ( 1 - e- (R/L)t )

In this formula i means the strength of the current after the lapse of a short time t; E is the electromotive force; R, the resistance of the whole circuit; L, its coefficient of self-induction; and e the number 2.7183, which is the base of the Napierian logarithms. Let us look at this formula; in its general form it resembles Ohm's law, but with a new factor, namely, the expression contained within the brackets. The factor is necessarily a fractional quantity, for it consists of unity less a certain negative exponential, which we will presently further consider. If the factor within brackets is a quantity less than unity, that signifies that i will be less than E ÷ R. Now the exponential of negative sign, and with negative fractional index, is rather a troublesome thing to deal with in a popular lecture. Our best way is to calculate some values, and then plot it out as a curve. When once you have got it into the form of a curve, you can begin to think about it, for the curve gives you a mental picture of the facts that the long formula expresses in the abstract. Accordingly we will take the following case. Let E = 2 volts; R = 1 ohm; and let us take a relatively large self-induction, so as to exaggerate the effect; say let L = 10 quads. This gives us the following:


In this case the value of the steady current as calculated by Ohm's law is 10 amperes, but Helmholtz's law shows us that with the great self-induction which we have assumed to be present, the current, even at the end of 30 seconds, has only risen up to within 5 percent. of its final value; and only at the end of two minutes has practically attained full strength. These values are set out in the highest curve in Fig. 54, in which, however, the further supposition is made that the number of spirals, S, in the coils of the electromagnet is 100, so that when the current attains its full value of 10 amperes, the full magnetizing power will be Si = 1000. It will be noticed that the curve rises from zero at first steeply and nearly in a straight line, then bends over, and then becomes nearly straight again, as it gradually rises to its limiting value. The first part of the curve - that relating to the strength of the current after very small interval of time - is the period within which the strength of the current is governed by inertia (i.e., the self-induction) rather than by resistance. In reality the current is not governed either by the self-induction or by the resistance alone, but by the ratio of the two. This ratio is sometimes called the "time constant" of the circuit, for it represents the time which the current takes in that circuit to rise to a definite fraction of its final value.


This definite fraction is the fraction (e - 1)/e; or in decimals, 0.634. All curves of rise of current are alike in general shape, they differ only in scale, that is to say, they differ only in the height to which they will ultimately rise, and in the time they will take to attain this fraction of their final value.

Example (1)

Suppose E = 10; R = 200 ohms; L = 8. The final value of the current will be 0.025 amp. or 25 milliamperes. Then the time constant will be 8 ÷ 400 = 1-50th sec.

Example (2)

The P.O. Standard "A" relay has R = 400 ohms; L = 3.25. It works with 0.5 milliampere current, and therefore will work with 5 Daniell cells through a line of 9,600 ohms. Under these circumstances the time constant of the instrument on short circuit is 0.0081 sec.

It will be noted that the time constant of a circuit can be reduced either by diminishing the self-induction or by increasing the resistance. In Fig. 54 the position of the time constant for the top curve is shown by the vertical dotted line at 10 seconds. The current will take 10 seconds to rise to 0.634 of its final value. This retardation of the rise of current is simply due to the presence of coils and electromagnets in the circuit; the current as it grows being retarded because it has to create magnetic fields in these coils, and so sets up opposing electromotive forces that prevent it from growing all at once to its full strength. Many electricians, unacquainted with Helmholtz's law, have been in the habit of accounting for this by saying that there is a lag in the iron of the electromagnet cores. They tell you that an iron core cannot be magnetized suddenly, that it takes time to acquire its magnetism. They think it is one of the properties of iron. But we know that the only true time lag in the magnetization of iron, that which is properly termed "viscous hysteresis," does not amount to any great percentage of the whole amount of magnetization, takes comparatively a long time to show itself, and cannot therefore be the cause of the retardation which we are considering.

There are also electricians who will tell you that when magnetization is suddenly evoked in an iron bar, there are induction currents set up in the iron which oppose and delay its magnetization. That they oppose the magnetization is perfectly true, but if you carefully laminate the iron so as to eliminate eddy currents, you will find, strangely enough, that the magnetism rises still more slowly to its final value. For by laminating the iron you have virtually increased the self-inductive action, and increased the time constant of the circuit, so that the currents rise more slowly than before. The lag is not in the iron, but in the magnetizing current, and the current being retarded, the magnetization is of course retarded also.

Connecting Coils For Quickest Action

Now let us apply these most important though rather intricate considerations to the practical problems of the quick working of the electromagnet. Take the case of an electromagnet forming some part of the receiving apparatus of a telegraph system in which it is desired to secure very rapid working. Suppose the two coils that are wound upon the horseshoe core are connected together in series. The coefficient of self-induction for these two is four times as great as that of either separately; coefficients of self-induction being proportional to the square of the number of turns of wire that surround a given core. Now if the two coils instead of being put in series are put in parallel, the coefficient of self-induction will be reduced to the same value as if there were only one coil, because half the line current (which is practically unaltered) will go through each coil. Hence the time constant of the circuit when the coils are in parallel will be a quarter of that which it is when the coils are in series; on the other hand, for a given line current, the final magnetizing power of the two coils in parallel is only half what it would be with the coil in series.