Parts and Materials
- Paper tube, from a toilet-paper roll
- Bar of iron or steel, large enough to almost fill diameter of paper tube
- 28 gauge "magnet" wire
- Low-voltage AC power supply
- Incandescent lamp, rated for power supply voltage
Lessons In Electric Circuits, Volume 1, chapter 14: "Magnetism and Electromagnetism"
Lessons In Electric Circuits, Volume 1, chapter 15: "Inductors"
Lessons In Electric Circuits, Volume 2, chapter 3: "Reactance and Impedance -- Inductive"
- Effects of magnetic permeability on inductance.
- How inductive reactance can control current in an AC circuit.
Wrap hundreds of turns of magnet wire around the paper tube. Connect this home-made inductor in series with an AC power supply and lamp to form a circuit. When the tube is empty, the lamp should glow brightly. When the steel bar is inserted in the tube, the lamp dims from increased inductance (L) and consequently increased inductive reactance (XL).
Try using bars of different materials, such as copper and stainless steel, if available. Not all metals have the same effect, due to differences in magnetic permeability.
Lessons In Electric Circuits copyright (C) 2000-2020 Tony R. Kuphaldt, under the terms and conditions of the CC BY License.
See the Design Science License (Appendix 3) for details regarding copying and distribution.
Revised January 18, 2010
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