Three Unit Regulators
Many light aircraft employ a three unit regulator for their generator systems. [Figure 12-329] This type of regulator includes a current limiter and a reverse current cutout in addition to a voltage regulator.
The action of the voltage regulator unit is similar to the vibrating-type regulator described earlier. The second of the three units is a current regulator to limit the output current of the generator. The third unit is a reverse current cutout that disconnects the battery from the generator. If the battery is not disconnected, it discharges through the generator armature when the generator voltage falls below that of the battery, thus driving the generator as a motor. This action is called “motoring” the generator and, unless it is prevented, it discharges the battery in a short time.
The operation of a three unit regulator is described in the following paragraphs. [Figure 12-330]
The action of vibrating contact C1 in the voltage regulator unit causes an intermittent short circuit between points R1 and L2. When the generator is not operating, spring S1 holds C1 closed; C2 is also closed by S2. The shunt field is connected directly across the armature.
When the generator is started, its terminal voltage rises as the generator comes up to speed, and the armature supplies the field with current through closed contacts C2 and C1.
As the terminal voltage rises, the current flow through L1 increases and the iron core becomes more strongly magnetized. At a certain speed and voltage, when the magnetic attraction on the movable arm becomes strong enough to overcome the tension of spring S1, contact points C1 are separated. The field current now flows through R1 and L2. Because resistance is added to the field circuit, the field is momentarily weakened and the rise in terminal voltage is checked. Also, since the L2 winding is opposed to the L1 winding, the magnetic pull of L1 against S1 is partially neutralized, and spring S1 closes contact C1. Therefore, R1 and L2 are again shorted out of the circuit, and the field current again increases; the output voltage increases, and C1 is opened because of the action of L1. The cycle is rapid and occurs many times per second. The terminal voltage of the generator varies slightly, but rapidly, above and below an average value determined by the tension of spring S1, which may be adjusted.
The purpose of the vibrator-type current limiter is to limit the output current of the generator automatically to its maximum rated value in order to protect the generator. As shown in Figure 12-330, L3 is in series with the main line and load.
Thus, the amount of current flowing in the line determines when C2 is opened and R2 placed in series with the generator field. By contrast, the voltage regulator is actuated by line voltage, whereas the current limiter is actuated by line current. Spring S2 holds contact C2 closed until the current through the main line and L3 exceeds a certain value, as determined by the tension of spring S2, and causes C2 to be opened. The increase in current is due to an increase in load. This action inserts R2 into the field circuit of the generator and decreases the field current and the generated voltage. When the generated voltage is decreased, the generator current is reduced. The core of L3 is partly demagnetized and the spring closes the contact points. This causes the generator voltage and current to rise until the current reaches a value sufficient to start the cycle again. A certain minimum value of load current is necessary to cause the current limiter to vibrate.
The purpose of the reverse current cutout relay is to automatically disconnect the battery from the generator when the generator voltage is less than the battery voltage. If this device were not used in the generator circuit, the battery would discharge through the generator. This would tend to make the generator operate as a motor, but because the generator is coupled to the engine, it could not rotate such a heavy load. Under this condition, the generator windings may be severely damaged by excessive current.
There are two windings, L4 and L5, on the soft iron core. The current winding, L4, consisting of a few turns of heavy wire, is in series with the line and carries the entire line current. The voltage winding, L5, consisting of a large number of turns of fine wire, is shunted across the generator terminals.
When the generator is not operating, the contacts, C3 are held open by the spring S3. As the generator voltage builds up, L5 magnetizes the iron core. When the current (as a result of the generated voltage) produces sufficient magnetism in the iron core, contact C3 is closed, as shown. The battery then receives a charging current. The coil spring, S3, is so adjusted that the voltage winding does not close the contact points until the voltage of the generator is in excess of the normal voltage of the battery. The charging current passing through L4 aids the current in L5 to hold the contacts tightly closed. Unlike C1 and C2, contact C3 does not vibrate. When the generator slows down or, for any other cause, the generator voltage decreases to a certain value below that of the battery, the current reverses through L4 and the ampere turns of L4 oppose those of L5. Thus, a momentary discharge current from the battery reduces the magnetism of the core and C3 is opened, preventing the battery from discharging into the generator and motoring it. C3 does not close again until the generator terminal voltage exceeds that of the battery by a predetermined value.
Differential Relay Switch
Aircraft electrical systems normally use some type of reverse current relay switch, which acts not only as a reverse current relay cutout but also serves as a remote control switch by which the generator can be disconnected from the electrical system at any time. One type of reverse current relay switch operates on the voltage level of the generator, but the type most commonly used on large aircraft is the differential relay switch, which is controlled by the difference in voltage between the battery bus and the generator.
The differential type relay switch connects the generator to the main bus bar in the electrical system when the generator voltage output exceeds the bus voltage by 0.35 to 0.65 volt. It disconnects the generator when a nominal reverse current flows from the bus to the generator. The differential relays on all the generators of a multiengine aircraft do not close when the electrical load is light. For example, in an aircraft having a load of 50 amperes, only two or three relays may close. If a heavy load is applied, the equalizing circuit lowers the voltage of the generators already on the bus and, at the same time, raise the voltage of the remaining generators, allowing their relays to close. If the generators have been paralleled properly, all the relays stay closed until the generator control switch is turned off or until the engine speed falls below the minimum needed to maintain generator output voltage.
The differential generator control relay shown in Figure 12-331 is made up of two relays and a coil-operated contactor.
One relay is the voltage relay and the other is the differential relay. Both relays include permanent magnets that pivot between the pole pieces of temporary magnets wound with relay coils. Voltages of one polarity set up fields about the temporary magnets with polarities that cause the permanent magnet to move in the direction necessary to close the relay contacts; voltages of the opposite polarity establish fields that cause the relay contacts to open. The differential relay has two coils wound on the same core. The coil-operated contactor, called the main contactor, consists of movable contacts that are operated by a coil with a movable iron core.
Closing the generator switch on the control panel connects the generator output to the voltage relay coil. When generator voltage reaches 22 volts, current flows through the coil and closes the contacts of the voltage relay. This action completes a circuit from the generator to the battery through the differential coil.
When the generator voltage exceeds the bus voltage by 0.35 volt, current flows through the differential coil, the differential relay contact closes and, thus, completes the main contractor coil circuit. The contacts of the main contactor close and connect the generator to the bus.
When the generator voltage drops below the bus (or battery) voltage, a reverse current weakens the magnetic field about the temporary magnet of the differential relay. The weakened field permits a spring to open the differential relay contacts, breaking the circuit to the coil of the main contactor relay, opening its contacts, and disconnecting the generator from the bus. The generator battery circuit may also be broken by opening the flight deck control switch, which opens the contacts of the voltage relay, causing the differential relay coil to be de-energized.
Overvoltage and Field Control Relays
Two other items used with generator control circuits are the overvoltage control and the field control relay. As its name implies, the overvoltage control protects the system when excessive voltage exists. The over-voltage relay is closed when the generator output reaches 32 volts and completes a circuit to the trip coil of the field control relay. The closing of the field control relay trip circuit opens the shunt field circuit and completes it through a resistor, causing generator voltage to drop; also, the generator switch circuit and the equalizer circuit (multiengine aircraft) are opened. An indicator light circuit is completed, warning that an overvoltage condition exists. A “reset” position of the flight deck switch is used to complete a reset coil circuit in the field control relay, returning the relay to its normal position.