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Inductors: Magnetic Amplifiers

Controlling high current AC with DC signal

Magnetic Amplifiers provide control of high current AC signals with small DC control voltages. They work by saturating the an inductor which then allows or prevents the transmission of AC power through the inductors coil to the load. They can also be used to measure high voltage DC with a small AC signal. As the DC saturates the inductor, the AC signal is blocked.

Although semiconductors are more commonly used, MagAmps do have some advantages: Primary among them, the windings of a magnetic amplifier have a higher tolerance to momentary overloads than comparable solid-state devices. MagAmps are found in applications requiring high reliability, tolerance to power spikes, and very high power levels.

MagAmps can be made with very low tech tools, and could replace fried semiconductor systems in case of emergencies like EMP pulse, solar flare event, or lightning strike. Prior to the 1960s, before semiconductors became widely available, they were the primary component for switching power, and were even used as replacements for vacuum tubes in signaling systems.

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