NEETS Module 4—Introduction to Electrical Conductors, Wiring Techniques, and Schematic Reading
Pages i - ix
, 1-1 to 1-10
1-11 to 1-20
, 1-21 to 1-28
2-1 to 2-10
, 2-11 to 2-20
2-21 to 2-30
, 2-31 to 2-40
2-41 to 2-53
, 3-1 to 3-10
3-11 to 3-20
, 3-21 to 3-24
to 4-10, 4-11 to 4-18, Index
Learning objectives are stated at the beginning of each chapter. These learning objectives serve as a
preview of the information you are expected to learn in the chapter. The comprehensive check questions are based
on the objectives. By successfully completing the NRTC, you indicate that you have met the objectives and have
learned the information. The learning objectives are listed below.
Upon completion of this chapter
you will be able to:
1. State two ways circuit measurement is used, why in-circuit meters are used, and one advantage of
2. State the way in which a compass reacts to a conducting wire including
the compass reaction to increasing and decreasing dc and ac high and low frequencies.
how a d’Arsonval meter movement reacts to dc.
4. State the purpose of a rectifier as used in ac
5. State the meaning of the term "damping" as it applies to meter movements and describe
two methods by which damping is accomplished.
6. Identify average value as the value of ac
measured and effective value (rms) as the ac value indicated on ac meter scales.
7. Identify three meter movements that measure dc or ac without the use of a rectifier.
8. State the electrical quantity measured by an ammeter, the way in which an ammeter is connected in
a circuit, and the effect of an ammeter upon a circuit.
9. Define ammeter sensitivity.
10. State the method used to allow an ammeter to measure different ranges and the reason for using
the highest range when connecting an ammeter to a circuit.
11. List the safety precautions for
12. State the electrical quantity measured by a voltmeter, the way in which a voltmeter is
in a circuit, the way in which a voltmeter affects the circuit being measured, and the way in which a
voltmeter is made from a current reacting meter movement.
13. Define voltmeter sensitivity.
14. State the method used to allow a voltmeter to measure different ranges and the reason for using
the highest range when connecting a voltmeter to a circuit.
15. Identify the type of meter movement that reacts to voltage and the most common use of this
16. List the safety precautions for voltmeter use.
17. State the
electrical quantity measured by an ohmmeter, the second use of an ohmmeter, and the way in which an ohmmeter is
connected to a resistance being measured.
18. State the method used to allow an ohmmeter to
measure different ranges and the area of an ohmmeter scale that should be used when measuring resistance.
19. State the two types of ohmmeters and the way in which each can be identified.
20. List the safety precautions for ohmmeter use.
21. State the primary reason for
using a megger and the method of using it.
22. Identify normal and abnormal indications on a
23. List the safety precautions for megger use.
24. State how a multimeter differs from other meters, the reason a multimeter is preferred over separate
meters, and the way in which a multimeter is changed from a voltage measuring device to a current measuring
25. State the reason the ac and dc scales of a multimeter differ, the reason for having a mirror on
the scale of a multimeter, and the proper way of reading a multimeter using the mirror.
the safety precautions for multimeter use.
27. State the purpose of a hook-on type voltmeter.
28. State the electrical quantity measured by a wattmeter and a watt-hour meter.
29. Identify the two types of frequency meters.
30. Identify the type of meter and
interpret the meter reading from scale presentations of an ammeter; a voltmeter; an ohmmeter; a megger; a
multimeter (current, voltage, and resistance examples); a wattmeter; a watt-hour meter; and a frequency meter
(vibrating reed and moving-disk types).
This chapter will acquaint you with the basics of circuit measurement and some of the devices used to
measure voltage, current, resistance, power, and frequency. There are other quantities involved in electrical
circuits, such as capacitance, inductance, impedance, true power, and effective power. It is possible to measure
any circuit quantity once you are able to select and use the proper circuit measuring device. You will NOT know
all there is to know about circuit measuring devices (test equipment) when you finish this chapter. That is beyond
the scope of this chapter and even beyond the scope of this training series. However, more information on test
equipment is provided in another portion of this training series.
A question which you might ask
before starting this chapter is "Why do I need to know about circuit measurement?"
If you intend to accomplish anything in the field of electricity and electronics, you must be aware of the forces
acting inside the circuits with which you work. Modules 1 and 2 of this training series introduced you to the
physics involved in the study of electricity and to the fundamental concepts of direct and alternating current.
The terms voltage (volts), current (amperes), and resistance (ohms) were explained, as well as the various circuit
elements; e.g., resistors, capacitors, inductors, transformers, and batteries.
In explaining these
terms and elements to you, schematic symbols and schematic diagrams were used. In many of these schematic
diagrams, a meter was represented in the circuit, as shown in figure 1-1.
As you recall, the current in a dc circuit with 6 volts across a 6-ohm resistor is 1 ampere. The
@(UPPERCASE A) in figure 1-1 is the symbol for an ammeter. An ammeter is a device that measures current. The
name "ammeter" comes from the fact that it is a meter used to measure current (in amperes), and thus is called an
AMpere METER, or AMMETER. The ammeter in figure 1-1 is measuring a current of 1 ampere with the voltage and
resistance values given.
Figure 1-1.—A simple representative circuit.
In the discussion and explanation of electrical and electronic circuits, the quantities in the circuit
(voltage, current, and resistance) are important. If you can measure the electrical quantities in a circuit, it is
easier to understand what is happening in that circuit. This is especially true when you are troubleshooting
defective circuits. By measuring the voltage, current, capacitance, inductance, impedance, and resistance in a
circuit, you can determine why the circuit is not doing what it is supposed to do. For instance, you can determine
why a radio is not receiving or transmitting, why your automobile will not start, or why an electric oven is not
working. Measurement will also assist you in determining why an electrical component (resistor, capacitor,
inductor) is not doing its job.
The measurement of the electrical parameters quantities in a circuit is an essential part of working
on electrical and electronic equipment.
INTRODUCTION TO CIRCUIT MEASUREMENT
Circuit measurement is used to monitor the operation of an electrical or electronic device, or to
determine the reason a device is not operating properly. Since electricity is invisible, you must use some sort of
device to determine what is happening in an electrical circuit. Various devices called test equipment are used to
measure electrical quantities. The most common types of test equipment use some kind of metering device.
Some electrical and electronic devices have meters
built into them. These meters are known as in- circuit meters. An in-circuit meter is used to
monitor the operation of the device in which it is installed. Some examples of in-circuit meters are the generator
or alternator meter on some automobiles; the voltage, current, and frequency meters on control panels at
electrical power plants; and the electrical power meter that records the amount of electricity used in a building.
It is not practical to install an in-circuit meter in every circuit. However, it is possible to install an in-
circuit meter in each critical or representative circuit to monitor the operation of a piece of electrical
equipment. A mere glance at or scan of the in-circuit meters on a control board is often sufficient to tell if the
equipment is working properly.
While an in-circuit meter will indicate that an electrical device is not functioning properly, the
cause of the malfunction is determined by troubleshooting. Troubleshooting is the process of locating and
repairing faults in equipment after they have occurred. Since troubleshooting is covered elsewhere in this
training series, it will be mentioned here only as it applies to circuit measurement.
In troubleshooting, it is usually necessary to use a meter that can be connected to the electrical or
electronic equipment at various testing points and may be moved from one piece of equipment to another. These
meters are generally portable and self-contained, and are known as out-of-circuit meters.
Out-of-circuit meters are more versatile than in-circuit meters in that the out-of-circuit meter can be used
wherever you wish to connect it. Therefore, the out-of-circuit meter is more valuable in locating the cause of a
malfunction in a device.
Q1. What are two ways that circuit measurement is used?
Q2. Why are in-circuit meters used?
Q3. What is one advantage of an
out-of-circuit meter when it is compared with an in-circuit meter?
BASIC METER MOVEMENTS
The meter movement is, as the name implies, the part of a meter that moves. A meter movement converts
electrical energy into mechanical energy. There are many different types of meter movements. The first one you
will learn about is based upon a principle with which you are already familiar. That principle is the interaction
of magnetic fields.
COMPASS AND CONDUCTING WIRE
You know that an
electrical conductor in which current flows has a magnetic field generated around it. If a compass is placed close
to the conductor, the compass will react to that magnetic field (fig. 1-2).
Figure 1-2.—Compass and conductor with direct current.
If the battery is disconnected, the north end of the compass needle will point to magnetic north, as
illustrated in figure 1-2(A) by the broken-line compass needle pointing to the right. When the battery is
connected, current flows through the circuit and the compass needle aligns itself with the magnetic field of the
conductor, as indicated by the solid compass needle. The strength of the magnetic field created around the
conductor is dependent upon the amount of current.
In figure 1-2(A), the resistance in the circuit
is 6 ohms. With the 6-volt battery shown, current in the circuit is 1 ampere. In figure 1-2(B), the resistance has
been changed to 12 ohms. With the 6-volt battery shown, current in the circuit is 1/2 or .5 ampere. The magnetic
field around the conductor in figure 1-2(B) is weaker than the magnetic field around the conductor in figure
1-2(A). The compass needle in figure 1-2(B) does not move as far from magnetic north.
direction of the current is reversed, the compass needle will move in the opposite direction because the polarity
of the magnetic field has reversed.
In figure 1-2(C), the battery connections are reversed and the
compass needle now moves in the opposite direction.
You can construct a crude meter to measure current by using a compass and a piece of paper. By using
resistors of known values, and marking the paper to indicate a numerical value, as in figure 1-3, you have a
device that measures current.
Figure 1-3.—A simple meter from a compass.
This is, in fact, the way the first GALVANOMETERS were developed. A galvanometer is an instrument that
measures small amounts of current and is based on the electromagnetic principle. A galvanometer can also use the
principles of electrodynamics, which will be covered later in this topic.
The meter in figure 1-3
is not very practical for electrical measurement. The amount the compass needle swings depends upon the closeness
of the compass to the conductor carrying the current, the direction of the conductor in relation to magnetic
north, and the influence of other magnetic fields. In addition, very small amounts of current will not overcome
the magnetic field of the Earth and the needle will not move.
Q4. How does a compass react
when placed close to a current carrying conductor?
Q5. If the amount of current in the
conductor changes, what happens to the magnetic field around the conductor?
Q6. How does
the compass needle react to a decreased magnetic field?
The compass and conducting wire meter can be considered a fixed-conductor moving-magnet device since
the compass is, in reality, a magnet that is allowed to move. The basic principle of this device is the
interaction of magnetic fields-the field of the compass (a permanent magnet) and the field around the conductor (a
A permanent-magnet moving-coil movement is based upon a fixed permanent magnet and a coil of wire
which is able to move, as in figure 1-4. When the switch is closed, causing current through the coil, the coil
will have a magnetic field which will react to the magnetic field of the permanent magnet. The bottom portion of
the coil in figure 1-4 will be the north pole of this electromagnet. Since opposite poles attract, the coil will
move to the position shown in figure 1-5.
Figure 1-4.—A movable coil in a magnetic field (no current).
Figure 1-5.—A movable coil in a magnetic field (current).
The coil of wire is wound on an aluminum frame, or bobbin, and the bobbin is supported by jeweled
bearings which allow it to move freely. This is shown in figure 1-6.
Figure 1-6.—A basic coil arrangement.
To use this permanent-magnet moving-coil device as a meter, two problems must be solved. First, a way
must be found to return the coil to its original position when there is no current through the coil. Second, a
method is needed to indicate the amount of coil movement.
The first problem is solved by the use of
hairsprings attached to each end of the coil as shown in figure 1-7. These hairsprings can also be used to make
the electrical connections to the coil. With the use of hairsprings, the coil will return to its initial position
when there is no current. The springs will also tend to resist the movement of the coil when there is current
through the coil. When the attraction between the magnetic fields (from the permanent magnet and the coil) is
exactly equal to the force of the hairsprings, the coil will stop moving toward the magnet.
Figure 1-7.—Coil and hairsprings.
As the current through the coil increases, the magnetic field generated around the coil increases. The
stronger the magnetic field around the coil, the farther the coil will move. This is a good basis for a meter.
But, how will you know how far the coil moves? If a pointer is attached to the coil and extended out
to a scale, the pointer will move as the coil moves, and the scale can be marked to indicate the amount of current
through the coil. This is shown in figure 1-8.
Figure 1-8.—A complete coil.
Two other features are used to increase the accuracy and efficiency of this meter movement. First, an
iron core is placed inside the coil to concentrate the magnetic fields. Second, curved pole
attached to the magnet to ensure that the turning force on the coil increases steadily as the current
The meter movement as it appears when fully assembled is shown in figure 1-9.
Figure 1-9.—Assembled meter movement.
This permanent-magnet moving-coil meter movement is the basic movement in most measuring instruments.
It is commonly called the d’Arsonval movement because it was first employed by the Frenchman d’Arsonval in making
electrical measurements. Figure 1-10 is a view of the d’Arsonval meter movement used in a meter.
Figure 1-10.—A meter using d'Arsonval movement.
Q7. What type of meter movement is the d’Arsonval meter movement?
Q8. What is the effect of current flow through the coil in a d’Arsonval meter movement? Q9.
What are three functions of the hairsprings in a d’Arsonval meter movement? COMPASS AND ALTERNATING
Up to this point, only direct current examples have been used. What happens with
the use of alternating current? Figure 1-11 shows a magnet close to a conductor carrying alternating current at a
frequency of 1 hertz.
Figure 1-11.—Compass and conductor with ac.
The compass needle will swing toward the east part of the compass (down) as the current goes positive,
as represented in figure 1-11(A). (The sine wave of the current is shown in the lower portion of the figure to
help you visualize the current in the conductor.)
In figure 1-11(B), the current returns to zero, and
the compass needle returns to magnetic north (right). As the current goes negative, as in figure 1-11(C), the
compass needle swings toward the west portion of the compass (up). The compass needle returns to magnetic north as
the current returns to zero as shown in figure 1-11(D).
This cycle of the current going positive and
negative and the compass swinging back and forth will continue as long as there is alternating current in the
If the frequency of the alternating current is increased, the compass needle will swing
back and forth at a higher rate (faster). At a high enough frequency, the compass needle will not swing back and
forth, but simply vibrate around the magnetic north position. This happens because the needle cannot react fast
enough to the very rapid current alternations. The compass (a simple meter) will indicate the average value of the
alternating current (remember the average value of a sine wave is zero) by vibrating around the zero point on the
meter (magnetic north). This is not of much use if you wish to know the value of the alternating current. Some
device, such as a rectifier, is needed to allow the compass to react to the alternating current in a way that can
be useful in measuring the current.