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Harnessing AC Current

  1. Jan 14, 2007 #1
    Hello All,
    I am currently in need of rigging an AC CIrcuit within my household in order to run through a breadboard where I can "play with it" and observe it with Vernier LabPro equiptment. My problem is that I only have a power supply at my disposal. Since a house runs on AC current is there that I can harness this current and run it through wires to my breadboard. I already attempted plugging an extension cord into the wall and then running alligator clips from the large (power) socket and small (ground) socket of the opposite end of the extension to the input and output ports of the breadboard. Viewing this with the Vernier software for current I was not able to view the markedly sinusoidal action one would expect of an AC current and it resembles the graph of when I am not running a current at all (minor highs and lows varying close to .002). Does anyone have any advice as to how to harness this current or obtain an AC from the power supply? Any advice to the above would be greatly appreciated.

  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 14, 2007 #2


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    By the sounds of your set up you name should be impending doom :rolleyes:
  4. Jan 14, 2007 #3


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    What are the characteristics of the power supply? A power supply for what? Is it rectified, which means one will not see a sinusoidal characteristic, but perhaps a relatively constant current with some ripple.

    If one wants to observe, it would be best to use an appropriate signal generator with safe voltages.

    Wall current can be fatal if handled inappropriately. If one does not have experience with such equipment, it would be best to do this under the supervision of someone with experience, and in a proper laboratory.
  5. Jan 14, 2007 #4


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    Honestly, it sounds as if you have absolutely no idea what you're doing. You should not attempt anything with household mains without significant experience. I actually feel as though I should not give you any advice, because you are very likely to hurt yourself (or start a fire) if you continue this kind of unsupervised experimentation.

    Find someone with some experience to help you in person.

    - Warren
  6. Jan 14, 2007 #5


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    The safest way is to probably use a function generator.
  7. Jan 15, 2007 #6
    (huh - my last reply got eaten somewhere :mad: )

    If you really need to monitor the quality of your house's AC, look for a step-down transformer, preferably one that plugs directly into the wall, and something like 5 volts AC output. Not to be confused with the more common "wall wart" battery eliminators for consumer electronics, which rectify the AC.

    If any old sinusoidal waveform will do, and you don't have a function generator, you can always use an audio test tone played through a computer sound card, or an iPod, CD player, whatever.
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