The Standard Electrical Dictionary - A Popular Dictionary of Words and Terms Used in the Practice - of Electrical Engineering
by T. O'Conor Slone
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[Transcriber's note: Solar wind, streams of electrons and protons, interacting with the earth's magnetic field causes aurora. Neither electrons (1897) nor protons (1920) were known in 1892. The Soviet satellite Luna first measured the solar wind in 1959. Even today increased understanding of solar and auroral phenomenon continues.]


Austral Pole. The north pole of the magnet is thus called sometimes in France; the austral pole of a magnet is the one which points towards the north polar regions As unlike magnetic poles attract each other, it is but rational to call the north-seeking pole of the magnet the south or Austral Pole. In the same nomenclature the south pole of a magnet, or the south-seeking pole, is called the Boreal Pole.

A. W. G. Abbreviation for American Wire Gauge, q. v.

Axis, Electric. The electric axis of a pyroelectric crystal, such as a tourmaline crystal; the line connecting the points of greatest pyroelectric excitability.

Axis of Abscissa. In a system of rectilinear, or right angle co-ordinates, the horizontal axis. (See Co-ordinates.)

Synonym—Axis of X.

Axis of Ordinates. In a system of rectilinear right angle co-ordinates, the vertical axis. (See Co-ordinates.)

Synonym—Axis of Y.

Azimuth. The angle between the plane of the meridian and the plane of an azimuth circle, q. v.

Azimuth Circle. A great circle, whose plane passes through the zenith or point of the heavens directly overhead; any great circle in whose plane the vertical at the point of observation is included.

Each celestial body has or determines an azimuth circle.


B. (a) Abbreviation for Baum, a hydrometer scale. (See Baum.) Thus 10 B. means "ten degrees Baum."

(b) Symbol for the coefficient of induced magnetization, or the number of lines per square centimeter induced in a magnetic circuit or in any specified part of it.

B. A. Abbreviation for British Association. It is prefixed to standards fixed by the committee of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. Thus the B. A. ohm means the British Association ohm, a measure of resistance which is equal to the resistance of a column of mercury 104.9 centimeters long and one square millimeter area of cross-section. (See Ohm.)

Back Induction. A demagnetizing force produced in a dynamo armature when a lead is given the brushes. The windings by such setting of the brushes are virtually divided into two sets, one a direct magnetizing set, the other a cross magnetizing set. The latter have a component due to the obliqueness of the neutral line, which component is demagnetizing in its action.

Back Shock or Stroke of Lightning. A lightning stroke received after the main discharge of the lightning, and caused by a charge induced in neighboring surfaces by the main discharge. The discharge affects the evenness of distribution of surrounding surfaces so that a species of secondary discharge is required to make even the distribution, or to supply charge where needed to bind an opposite one. The effects are much lese severe as a rule than those of the main charge, although the back stroke has caused death. The back stroke is sometimes felt a considerable distance from the place of the original lightning stroke.

Synonym—Return Stroke.

Back Stroke. (a) In telegraphy the return stroke of the lever in a telegraph sounder, striking the end of the regulating screw with a sound distinct from that which it produces on the forward stroke as it approaches the magnet poles. It is an important factor in receiving by ear or sound reading.

(b) See Back Shock or Stroke of Lightning.

Balance. (a) Wheatstone's Bridge, q. v., is sometimes termed the Electric Balance.

(b) A suspension or torsion balance is one which includes a filament or pair of filaments to whose lower end or ends are attached a horizontal indicator often called a needle, or a magnetic needle. (See Torsion Balance.)

(c) See Induction Balance, Hughes'.

(d) For Thermic Balance, see Bolometer.

(e) See Balance, Ampere.


Balance, Ampere. A class of electrical measuring instruments due to Sir William Thomson may be grouped under this head.

The instrument is a true balance or scales such as used for weighing. It is supported by a torsional wire support in place of knife edges. At each end it carries a circle of wire through which the current to be tested is passed. The torsional wire support enables the current to be carried to these wire rings. Above and below each of these rings are two similar rings, also connected so as to receive the current. They are so connected that the current shall go through them in opposite senses. When a current passes, therefore, one of these rings repels and one attracts the balanced ring.

The extent of this action measures the intensity of the current. A sliding weight moving along a graduated scale on the balance is used to bring the balance beam into equilibrium when the current is passing. The degree of displacement of this weight gives the strength of the current in amperes.

These balances are made for different currents. Thus there is a centi-ampere balance, deka-ampere balance and others, as well as an ampere balance.

Balata. A gum used as an insulating material. It is the inspissated juice of a sapotaceous tree, the bullet tree, Mimusops globosa, of tropical America, from the Antilles to Guiana. It is intermediate in character between caoutchouc and gutta percha. It is superior to gutta percha in some respects, being very slightly acted on by light.


B. & S.. W. G. Abbreviation for Brown & Sharpe Wire Gauge; the regular American Wire Gauge. (See Wire Gauge, American.)

Barad. An absolute or fundamental unit of pressure, equal to one dyne per square centimeter.

Barometer. An apparatus for measuring the pressure exerted by the atmosphere. It consists, in the mercurial form, of a glass tube, over 31 inches long, closed at one end, filled with mercury and inverted, with its open end immersed in a cistern of mercury. The column falls to a height proportional to the pressure of the atmosphere from 30 to 31 inches at the sea level. The "standard barometer" is a height of the mercury or of the "barometric column" of 30 inches or 760 centimeters, measured from the surface of the mercury in the cistern.

The column of mercury is termed the barometric column. Above it in the tube is the Torricellian vacuum.

[Transcriber's note: More accurately, 29.92 inches of mercury or 14.696 PSI.]

Bars of Commutators. The metal segments of a commutator of a dynamo or motor. They are made of bars of copper, brass or bronze insulated from one another. (See Commutator.)

Synonyms—Segments, Commutator Segments, Commutator Bars.


Bath. (a) In electro-plating the solution used for depositing metal as contained in a vat or tank; as a silver, copper, or nickel bath used for plating articles with silver, copper, or nickel respectively.

(b) In electro-therapeutics a bath with suitable arrangements, electrodes and connections for treating patients with electricity. It is termed an electric bath or electro-therapeutic bath.

Bath, Bipolar Electric. In electro-therapeutics a bath in which the electrodes are both immersed in the water. The patient placed between them receives part of the discharge. The electrodes are large copper plates, termed shovel electrodes.

Bath, Electric Shower. An electro-medical shower bath. The patient is placed on a metallic stove or support connected to one of the electric terminals. Water slightly alkaline is showered upon him. The other electrode is in connection with the water. The rain of drops and streamlets is the conductor of the current or discharge.

Bath, Multipolar Electric. An electro-medical bath with a number of electrodes instead of two.

Bath, Stripping. In electro-plating a solution used for dissolving and thus removing the plating from any object. The stripping bath is of the same general type as the plating bath for the same metal as the one to be dissolved. The object to be "stripped" is made the anode of a plating circuit, and as the current acts the old plating is attacked and dissolves, leaving the body of the article bare. It is simply the operation of plating reversed. The same term is applied to baths acting by simple solution. Stripping baths are described under the different metals as Silver Bath, Stripping—Gold Bath, Stripping.

Bath, Unipolar Electric. An electro-medical bath, in which only one electrode connects with the water of the bath. The second electrode is supported above the bath. The patient touches this while in the water whenever electric action is desired.




Batten. A strip of wood grooved longitudinally for holding wires in wiring apartments for electric light or power. In use they are fastened to the wall, grooves inward, or else grooves outward, with the wires lying in the grooves and covered with the covering strip. For two wire work each batten contains two grooves; for the three wire system it contains three grooves.


Battery. A combination of parts or elements for the production of electrical action. The term is principally applied to voltaic batteries, but there are also magnetic batteries, batteries of Leyden jars, and other combinations, described in their places, which come under this category.

[Transcriber's note: A group of similar items such as questions, machines, parts, guns, or electric cells.]

Battery, Acetic Acid. A battery whose active solution or excitant is acetic acid or vinegar. This acid has been used by Pulvermacher in his medical battery, as being a substance found in every household in the form of vinegar. It is now but little used.

Battery, Alum. A battery using as excitant a solution of alum. This battery has had some application for electric clocks, but only to a limited extent.


Battery, Aluminum. A battery in which aluminum is the negative plate and aluminum sulphate the excitant. It is mounted like the gravity battery. Its electro-motive force is 0.2 volt.


Battery, Bagration. A battery with zinc and carbon electrodes immersed in earth sprinkled with sal ammoniac (ammonium chloride). The copper is preferably first immersed in sal ammoniac solution and dried, until a green layer is formed on its surface.

The battery is highly praised for its constancy by De la Rive, but may be regarded as obsolete.

Battery, Balloon. A form of gravity battery into whose centre a globular flask, B, is inverted, which is filled before inversion with copper sulphate, of which 2 lbs. are used, and water, so as to remain full. This acts as a reservoir of copper sulphate, which it constantly supplies. The glass jar is closed with a perforated wooden cover.

Battery, Banked. (a) A battery arranged to feed a number of separate circuits.

(b) A battery connected in parallel or in multiple arc.

Battery, Bichromate. A battery with amalgamated zinc and carbon plates, with an exciting fluid composed of sulphuric acid, water, and potassium bichromate. For formula of such solutions see Electropoion Fluid—Kookogey's Solution—Poggendorff's Solution—Trouv's Solution—Delaurier's Solution, and others. (See Index.)

Battery, Bunsen. A two fluid porous cell battery. The negative plate is carbon, the positive plate, amalgamated zinc. The depolarizer is nitric acid or electropoion fluid, q.v., in which the carbon is immersed. The last named depolarizer or some equivalent chromic acid depolarizing mixture is now universally used. The excitant is a dilute solution of sulphuric acid. Originally the carbon was made cylindrical in shape and surrounded the porous cups, in which the zinc was placed. This disposition is now generally reversed. The electro-motive force is 1.9 volts. The depolarizing solution is placed in the compartment with the carbon. The excitant surrounds the zinc.



Battery, Cadmium. A battery in which cadmium is the negative plate, sulphate of cadmium solution the excitant and depolarizer, and zinc the positive plate. Electro-motive force, .31 volt or about one third of a Daniell cell. It is mounted like a gravity battery.

Battery, Callan. A modification of Grove's battery. Platinized lead is used for the negative plate, and as a depolarizer a mixture of 4 parts concentrated sulphuric acid, 2 parts of nitric acid, and 2 parts of a saturated solution of potassium nitrate. (See Battery, Grove's.)

Battery, Camacho's. A battery with carbon negative and amalgamated zinc positive electrodes. The carbon is contained in a porous cup, packed with loose carbon. Electropoion or other fluid of that type serves as excitant and depolarizer, and is delivered as shown from cell to cell by syphons.


Battery, Carr's. A Daniell battery for whose porous cup a vessel or species of sack made of parchment paper is substituted. The battery has been used for electric light, and has been run for 200 successive hours, by replacing every 24 hours part of the zinc sulphate solution by water.


Battery, Cautery. A battery used for heating a platinum wire or other conductor used for cauterization in electro-therapeutics. The term is descriptive, not generic.

Battery, Chloric Acid. A battery of the Bunsen type in which an acidulated solution of potassium chlorate is used as depolarizer.

Battery, Chloride of Lime. A battery in which bleaching powder is the excitant. The zinc electrode is immersed in a strong solution of salt, the carbon in a porous vessel is surrounded with fragments of carbon and is packed with chloride of lime (bleaching powder). There is no action on open circuit. It has to be hermetically sealed on account of the odor. Its electro-motive force is—initial, 1.65 volts; regular, 1.5 volts.

Synonym—Niaudet's Battery.

Battery, Chromic Acid. Properly a battery in which chromic acid is used as a depolarizer. It includes the bichromate battery. (See Battery, Bichromate.)

Battery, Closed Circuit. A battery adapted by its construction to maintain a current on a closed circuit for a long time without sensible polarization. The term is merely one of degree, for any battery becomes exhausted sooner or later. As examples the Grove, Bunsen or Daniell batteries may be cited.



Battery, Column. The original Volta's pile. It consists of a series of compound circular plates, the upper or lower half, A, copper; the other, Z, of zinc. Between each pair of plates some flannel or cloth, u, u, is laid, which is saturated with dilute acid. As shown in the cut, the parts are laid up in two piles, connected at the top with a bar, c, c, and with vessels of acidulated water, b, b, as electrodes. The great point in setting it up is to be sure that no acid runs from one disc of flannel to the next over the outside of the plates, as this would create a short circuit. The plates are best compound, being made up of a zinc and a copper plate soldered together. They may, however, be separate, and merely laid one on the other. In such case great care must be taken to admit no acid between them.

Volta's pile is no longer used, except occasionally. Trouv's blotting paper battery (see Battery, Trouv's) is a relic of it, and the same is to be said for Zamboni's dry pile.

It rapidly polarizes, the flannel retains but little acid, so that it is soon spent, and it is very troublesome to set up. Great care must be taken to have the cloth discs thoroughly saturated, and wrung out to avoid short circuiting by squeezing out of the acid.

Battery, D'Arsonval's. A battery of the Bunsen type, differing therefrom in the solutions. As excitant in which the zinc electrode is immersed, the following solution is used:

Water, 20 volumes; Sulphuric Acid (purified by shaking with a little olive or similar oil), 1 volume; hydrochloric acid, 1 volume.

As polarizer in which the carbon is immersed the following is used:

Nitric acid, 1 volume; hydrochloric acid, 1 volume; water acidulated with 1/20th sulphuric acid, 2 volumes.

Battery, de la Rue. A battery with zinc positive and silver negative electrode; the depolarizer is silver chloride; the excitant common salt or ammonium chloride. The cut shows one of its forms of construction.

The right hand portion of the cut, Fig. 42, shows the zinc perforated at C for the connection from the next silver plate. The next to it is the negative electrode of silver around which a mass of silver chloride is cast in cylindrical form. A is a parchment paper cylinder with two holes near its top, through which the silver wire of the negative electrode is threaded, as shown in B. A solution of 23 parts ammonium chloride in 1,000 parts of water is the approved excitant. Its electro-motive force is 1.03 volts.

The jars are closed with paraffin.



Battery, Dry. (a) A form of open circuit battery in which the solutions by a mass of zinc oxychloride, gypsum, or by a gelatinous mass such as gelatinous silica, or glue jelly, are made practically solid. Numbers of such have been patented, and have met with considerable success.

(b) Zamboni's dry pile, q. v., is sometimes termed a dry battery.

Battery, Element of. A term applied sometimes to a single plate, sometimes to the pair of plates, positive and negative, of the single couple.

Battery, Faradic. A term applied, not very correctly however, to apparatus for producing medical faradic currents. It may be an induction coil with battery, or a magneto-generator worked by hand.

Battery, Ferric Chloride. A battery of the Bunsen type, in which a solution of perchloride of iron (ferric chloride) is used for the depolarizing agent. A little bromine is added with advantage. The depolarizing agent recuperates on standing, by oxidation from the oxygen of the air.

Battery, Fuller's. A battery of the Bunsen type. The zinc plate is short and conical, and rests in the porous jar into which some mercury is poured. An insulated copper wire connects with the zinc. A plate of carbon is in the outer jar. The solutions are used as in the Bunsen battery.

Synonym—Mercury Bichromate Battery.

Battery, Gas. (a) A battery whose action depends on the oxidation of hydrogen as its generating factor. It was invented by Grove. Plates of platinum are immersed in cups of dilute acid, arranged as if they were plates of zinc and carbon, in an ordinary battery. Each plate is surrounded by a glass tube sealed at the top. The plates are filled with acid to the tops. Through the top the connection is made. A current from another battery is then passed through it, decomposing the water and surrounding the upper part of one set of plates with an atmosphere of oxygen and of the other with hydrogen. Considerable quantities of these gasses are also occluded by the plates. On now connecting the terminals of the battery, it gives a current in the reverse direction of that of the charging current.

This battery, which is experimental only, is interesting as being the first of the storage batteries.

(b) Upward's Chlorine Battery and any battery of that type (see Battery, Upward's,) is sometimes termed a gas battery.


Battery Gauge. A pocket or portable galvanometer for use in testing batteries and connections.

Battery, Gravity. A battery of the Daniell type, in which the porous cup is suppressed and the separation of the fluids is secured by their difference in specific gravity. A great many forms have been devised, varying only in details. The copper plate, which is sometimes disc shaped, but in any case of inconsiderable height, rests at the bottom of the jar. Near the top the zinc plate, also flat or of slight depth, is supported. As exciting liquid a strong solution of copper sulphate lies at the bottom of the jar. This is overlaid by a solution of zinc sulphate, or sodium sulphate, which must be of considerably less specific gravity than that of the copper sulphate solution. In charging the jar one-tenth of a saturated solution of zinc sulphate mixed with water is sometimes used as the upper fluid. This may be first added so as to half fill the jar. The strong solution of copper sulphate may then be added with a syphon or syringe underneath the other so as to raise it up. From time to time copper sulphate in crystals are dropped into the jar. They sink to the bottom and maintain the copper sulphate solution in a state of saturation.


If the battery is left on open circuit the liquids diffuse, and metallic copper precipitates upon the zincs. This impairs its efficiency and creates local action. As long as the battery is kept at work on closed circuit work but little deposition, comparatively speaking, occurs.

From time to time, in any case, the zinc plates are removed and scraped, so as to remove the copper which inevitably forms on their surface. Care must be taken that the zinc sulphate solution, which is constantly increasing in strength, does not get so strong as to become of as high specific gravity as the copper sulphate solution. From time to time some of the upper solution is therefore removed with a syphon or syringe and replaced with water. An areometer is useful in running this battery.


Battery, Grenet. A plunge battery with zinc positive and carbon negative electrodes. Electropoion or other chromic acid or bichromate solution is used as depolarizer and excitant. The zinc plate alone is plunged into and withdrawn from the solution.



Battery, Grove's. A two fluid galvanic battery. A porous cup has within it a riband of platinum, which is the negative plate; amalgamated zinc in the outer jar is the positive plate. Dilute sulphuric acid (10 per cent. solution) is placed in the outer jar, and strong nitric acid (40 B.) as a depolarizer in the porous cups. Its E. M. F. is 1.96 volts.

It is objectionable, as it gives off corrosive nitrous fumes. These are produced by the oxidation of the nascent hydrogen by the nitric acid, by the following reaction:

3 H + H N O3 = 2 H2 O + N O. There are other reactions, one of which results in the formation of ammonia by the reduction of the nitric acid radical by the hydrogen. Ammonium can be detected in the spent liquids.


Battery, Hydrochloric Acid. A battery in which hydrochloric acid is used as the excitant. Many attempts have been made to use this acid in batteries, but the volatile nature of the acid causes the production of so much odor with corrosive fumes that it has never come into use.

Battery, Lead Chloride. A battery of the lead sulphate type in which lead chloride is the depolarizer. It has had no extended use.

Battery, Lead Sulphate. A battery similar to Mari Davy's battery or the gravity battery, but using lead sulphate as depolarizer and excitant. Lead, copper or tin is the material of the negative plate. Becquerel used the lead sulphate as a solid cylindrical mass surrounding a lead rod 1/5 to 1/4 inch in diameter. One part of common salt may be mixed with 5 parts of the lead sulphate. The electro-motive force is about 0.5 volt. The resistance is very high.

Battery, Leclanch. An open circuit battery with porous cup. In the outer jar is a zinc rod; a carbon plate is placed in the porous cup. The latter is packed with a mixture of clean powdered manganese binoxide as depolarizer, and graphite in equal volumes. A strong solution of ammonium chloride (sal ammoniac) is placed in the outer jar. It is only used on open circuit work. Its electromotive force is 1.48 volts, when not polarized.

The reaction is supposed to be about the following:

2 N H4 Cl + 2 Mn O2 + Zn = Zn Cl2 + 2 N H3 + H2 0 + M2 O3

The battery rapidly weakens on open circuit, but quickly recuperates. There is another form of this battery, termed the agglomerate battery. (See Battery, Leclanch Agglomerate.)


Battery, Leclanch Agglomerate. A form of the Leclanch in which the porous jar is suppressed. Cakes made of a mixture of carbon, 52 parts; manganese binoxide, 40 parts; gum lac, 5 parts; potassium bisulphate, 3 parts, compressed at 300 atmospheres, at a temperature of 100 C. (212 F.), are fastened by India rubber bands or otherwise against the carbon plate. These constitute the depolarizer. Various shapes are given the carbon and depolarizing agglomerates.

Battery, Local. A battery supplying a local circuit (see Circuit. Local). The current is governed by the relay situated on the main line and operated by its current.

Battery, Main. The battery used in operating the main line. It is usually applied to telegraphy. Its function is then to supply current for working relays, which in turn actuate the local circuits.

Main and local circuits and batteries are also used in the automatic block system of railroad signalling.


Battery, Mari Davy's. A two fluid porous cup battery with carbon negative plate, zinc positive plate, and mercury sulphate, a nearly insoluble salt, as depolarizer and excitant. Mercurous or mercuric sulphates have been used in it. Its electromotive force is 1.5 volts. The local action and waste, owing to the slight solubility of the mercury compounds, is very slight. If used on close circuit it becomes polarized. It is also subject under extreme circumstances to reversal of polarity, zinc becoming deposited upon the carbon, and there forming a positive electrode.

In using the cells in series the level of liquid in all must be the same, otherwise the cell in which it is lowest will become polarized and exhausted.

Modifications of this battery on the lines of the gravity battery have been constructed.

Synonym—Sulphate of Mercury Battery.

Battery, Maynooth's. A battery of the Bunsen type, with cast iron negative plate. The iron takes the passive form and is not attacked.

Battery, Medical. A term applied very indiscriminately to medical current generators, and to medical induction coils, or to any source of electricity, static or current, for medical application.


Battery, Meidinger's. A variety of Daniell cell of the gravity type. The plates are cylindrical. The zinc plate lies against the upper walls of the vessel. The copper plate of smaller diameter rests on the bottom. A large tube, with an aperture in its bottom, is supported in the centre and is charged with copper sulphate crystals. The cup is filled with a dilute solution of Epsom salts (magnesium sulphate) or with dilute sulphuric acid.

Battery Mud. A deposit of mud-like character which forms in gravity batteries and which consists of metallic copper precipitated by the zinc. It indicates wasteful action.

Battery, Multiple-connected. A battery connected in parallel, all the positive plates being connected to one electrode, and all the negative to another.

Battery, Nitric Acid. A battery in which nitric acid is used as the excitant. Owing to its cost and volatility this acid has been but little used in batteries, other than as a depolarizer. In Grove's battery (see Battery, Grove's) it has been thus used.

Battery of Dynamos. A number of dynamos may be arranged to supply the same circuit. They are then sometimes termed as above, a Dynamo Battery. They may be arranged in series or in parallel or otherwise combined.

Battery of Leyden Jars. To produce the quantity effect of a single large Leyden jar with a number of small ones they are often connected in parallel and termed a battery. In such case the inner coatings are all connected by regular bar conductors, and the outside coatings are also all in connection. They are conveniently placed in a box or deep tray whose inner surface is lined with tinfoil, with an outside connection for grounding, etc. The cascade, q. v., arrangement is not so generally termed a battery.

Battery, Open Circuit. A battery adapted for use in open circuit work. Its main requirement is that it shall not run down, or exhaust itself when left on open circuit. The Leclanch battery is very extensively used for this work. Its action is typical of that of most open circuit batteries. It is without any action on open circuit. It is very quickly exhausted on closed circuit, but recuperates or depolarizes quite soon when on open circuit. It is always in condition for a momentary connection, but useless for steady work.

Battery, Oxide of Copper. A battery with zinc positive and iron negative electrodes. The excitant is a 30 or 40 per cent. solution of sodium or potassium hydrate (caustic soda or caustic potash). The depolarizer is copper oxide. In action the copper is gradually reduced to the metallic state. The iron element is often the containing vessel. The battery is practically inactive on open circuit.

Its electro-motive force varies from .75 to .90 volt. To prevent the formation of sodium or potassium carbonate the cell should be closed, or else the liquid should be covered with mineral oil.

Synonyms—Lalande & Chaperon Battery—Lalande-Edison Battery.


Battery, Peroxide of Lead. A battery in which peroxide of lead (lead binoxide) is the depolarizer. It is a sort of predecessor of the present secondary battery.

Battery, Platinized Carbon. A modification of Smee's battery, in which platinized carbon is used for the negative plates. Before polarization the E. M. F. is equal to that of Smee's battery. Polarization reduces its electro-motive force one-half.

Battery, Plunge. A battery whose plates are mounted so as to be immersed in the battery cups or cells, when the battery is to be used, and withdrawn and supported out of the cups when not in use. The object is to prevent wasting of the plates by standing in the solution. It is a construction generally used with sulphuric acid—chromic acid solution and amalgamated zinc and carbon plates.

Battery, Pneumatic. A battery arranged to have air blown through the solution to assist diffusion and depolarization. It is a construction applied to chromic acid or bichromate batteries.

Battery, Primary. A battery in which the current is supplied by the solution of one of the plates by the solution. The term distinguishes it from a secondary or storage battery.

Battery, Pulvermacher's Electro-Medical. In this battery, the electrodes were zinc and copper wires wound upon small pieces of wood. Dilute vinegar was used as the excitant, because it could be found in every household. Formerly the battery had great success. It is now little used.

Battery, Sal Ammoniac. Batteries in which a solution of ammonium chloride is the excitant; they are very extensively used on open circuit work. (See Battery, Leclanch.)

The crystals formed in these batteries have been analyzed and found to consist of ammonium zinc chloride, 3 Zn Cl2, 8 N H3, 4 H20.

Battery, Salt, or Sea Salt. Batteries in which a solution of sodium chloride or common salt is the excitant, have been largely used, especially for telegraphic purposes. The Swiss telegraphs use a carbon-zinc combination with salt and water as the excitant. The batteries are sometimes mounted as plunge batteries. They are exhausted by short circuiting after some hours, but recuperate on standing. The zinc is not amalgamated.


Battery, Sand. A battery whose cells are charged with sand saturated with dilute acid. It prevents spilling of acid. It is now practically obsolete.


Battery, Secondary. A voltaic battery whose positive and negative electrodes are formed or deposited by a current from a separate source of electricity by electrolysis. On disconnection the battery is ready to yield a current, in the reverse direction of that of the charging current. The usual type has lead plates on one of which lead binoxide and on the other of which spongy lead is formed. The lead binoxide seems to be the negative element, and it also acts as the depolarizer. The spongy lead is the positive electrode. The solution is dilute sulphuric acid of specific gravity 1.17. The action consists first in the oxidation of the spongy lead. The hydrogen set free by the reaction, and which by electrolytic transfer goes to the other plate, reduces the lead binoxide to protoxide. The sulphuric acid then attacks the oxides and converts the oxides into sulphates.

The charging process consists in sending a current in the reverse direction through the battery. If there are several cells they are arranged in series, so that each one receives the same intensity of current. An electrolytic decomposition takes place, the lead sulphate on one plate is reduced to metallic lead, and that on the other plate is oxidized to lead binoxide. It is then ready for use.


The plates in a lead plate battery are of very large area per cell, and are placed close together. Sometimes, as in Plant's battery, large flat plates are laid together with a separating insulator between them, and are then rolled into a spiral. Sometimes, the most usual arrangement, the plates are in sets, the positive and negative ones alternating, and each cell containing a number of plates.

To secure a good quantity of active material, the plates are sometimes perforated, and the perforations are filled with oxide of lead. This gives a good depth of material for the charging current to act on, and avoids the necessity for a tedious "forming," q. v.

The electro-motive force of such a battery per cell is 2 volts. Its resistance may only be one or two-hundredths of an ohm. An intense current of many amperes can be supplied by it, but to avoid injuring the cell a current far less than the maximum is taken from it.

To charge it, a slightly greater electro-motive force, the excess being termed spurious voltage, is required.



Battery, Secondary, Plante's. Plante's secondary battery is one of the earlier forms of storage battery, but has had much success. Two lead plates, large in area and close together but not touching, are "formed," by exposure to an electrolyzing current of electricity in one direction, while they are immersed in dilute sulphuric acid. This converts the surface of one plate into binoxide. The cell is then allowed to discharge itself almost completely, when the charging current is again turned on. This process is repeated over and over again, until the surfaces of the plates are considerably attacked, one plate, however, being maintained in a state of oxidation. After a few days of this operation a period of rest is allowed between the reversals, which sets up a local action on the oxidized plate, between the metallic lead of the plate, and its coating of binoxide. This causes the lead to be attacked, under the influence of the local couple, and sulphate of lead is formed, which, ultimately, by the charging current is converted into peroxide. These operations produce an exceedingly good battery. The process described is termed forming.

The plates separated by strips of insulating material are generally wound into a double spiral.

Battery, Siemens' and Halske's. A Daniell battery of peculiar shape. The copper, C, is at the bottom of the glass jar, A. The inner jar, K, has the form of a bell, and supports a mass of paper pulp, which is dampened with sulphuric acid. The zinc, Z, rests on top of the mass of pulp. The battery is very durable, but of high resistance.

Battery, Sir William Thomson's. A form of Daniell battery, of the gravity type. The receptacles are shallow wooden trays lined with lead. A thin plate of copper rests on the bottom. The zinc plate is of gridiron shape, and rests on wooden blocks which support it in a horizontal position above the copper. One tray is placed on top of the other, the upper tray resting on the corners of the zinc plate which rise above the level of the top of the flat vessel. Thus connection is assured without wires or binding posts. It is charged like a gravity battery. The density of the zinc sulphate solution should be between 1.10 and 1.30. The circuit must be kept closed to prevent deposition of metallic copper on the zinc. The entire disposition of the battery is designed to reduce resistance.

Battery, Skrivanow. A pocket battery of the De la Rue type, with a solution of 75 parts caustic potash in 100 parts of water as the excitant. The silver chloride is contained in a parchment paper receptacle. Its electro-motive force is 1.45 to 1.5 volts.

Battery, Smee's. A single fluid combination, with zinc positive plate, and a plate of silver, coated with platinum black, for the negative plate. The finely divided platinum affords a surface from which the hydrogen bubbles instantly detach themselves, thus preventing polarization. The liquid is a mixture of one part sulphuric acid to seven parts of water. For the negative plate silver-plated copper, coated with platinum black, is used. Electromotive force, .47 volt.




Battery, Spiral. A battery whose plates of thin zinc and copper are wound into a spiral so as to be very close, but not touching. Dilute sulphuric acid is the excitant. It is now practically obsolete.

Synonyms—Calorimeter—Hare's Deflagrator.

Battery, Split. A battery of a number of voltaic cells, connected in series, with their central portion grounded or connected to earth. This gives the ends of opposite potentials from the earth, and of difference therefrom equal to the product of one-half of the number of cells employed, multiplied by their individual voltage.

Battery Solutions, Chromic Acid. A number of formulae have been proposed for these solutions. (See Electropoion Fluid—Kookogey's Solution—Poggendorff's Solution— Trouv's Solution—Delaurier's Solution—Chutaux's Solution—Dronier's Salt—Tissandier's Solution.)

Battery, Trough. A battery whose elements are contained in a trough, which is divided by cross-partitions so as to represent cups. A favorite wood for the trough is teak, which is divided by glass or slate partitions. Marine glue or other form of cement is used to make the joints tight. For porous cup divisions plates of porous porcelain or pottery are placed across, alternating with the impervious slate partitions.

Battery, Trouv's Blotting Paper. A battery of the Daniell type in which the solutions are retained by blotting paper. A considerable thickness of blotting paper lies between the two plates. The upper half of the thickness of the blotting paper is saturated with a solution of zinc sulphate, on which the zinc plate rests.

The lower half of the paper is saturated with copper sulphate solution, and this rests upon the copper plate.



Battery, Tyer's. A modification, as regards the positive element, of Smee's battery, q. v. The bottom of the battery jar contains a quantity of mercury in which pieces of zinc are thrown, and this constitutes the positive element.

A ball of zinc at the end of an insulated copper wire affords the connection with the zinc and mercury. Its great advantage is that the smallest scraps of zinc can be used in it, by being dropped into the mercury. The negative plate is platinized silver; the exciting liquid, dilute sulphuric acid.





Battery, Upward's. A primary voltaic cell, the invention of A. Rene Upward. Referring to the cuts, the positive plate. Z, is of cast zinc; it is immersed in water, in a porous cup, B. Outside of the porous cup and contained in the battery jar are two carbon plates, C, C, connected together. The rest of the space between the porous cup and battery jar is packed with crushed carbon, and the top is cemented. Chlorine gas is led by a pipe, D, into the outer cell. It diffuses through the fine carbon, dissolves in the water, and so finds its way to the zinc, which it attacks, directly combining therewith, and forming zinc chloride (Zn + 2 Cl = Zn Cl 2). Such of the chlorine as is not absorbed finds its way by an outlet tube, E, to the next cell. Arrangements are provided for generating chlorine gas as required. The high specific gravity of the gas is utilized in regulating its distribution through the cells. The electro-motive force of the cell is 2.1 volts. A cell 11.5 by 5.5 inches and 12.5 inches deep has a resistance of 0.2 ohm.

An overflow pipe, F, with faucet, T, is supplied to withdraw the solution of zinc chloride as it accumulates.


Battery, Varley's. A Daniell battery of the Siemens' and Halske's type (see Battery, Siemens' and Halske's), in which zinc oxide is substituted for the paper pulp of the other battery. It has been very little used.

Battery, Volta's. The original acid battery. It has a negative electrode of copper, a positive electrode of zinc; the excitant is sulphuric acid diluted with sixteen times its volume of water. It rapidly polarizes, and is very little used.

Battery, Voltaic or Galvanic. An apparatus for converting chemical energy directly into electric energy. This is as broad a definition as can well be given. The general conception of a battery includes the action of electrolysis, a solution in the battery acting upon one of two conducting electrodes immersed in such fluid, which dissolves one of them only, or one more than the other. The best way to obtain a fundamental idea of a battery is to start with the simplest. Dilute sulphuric acid dissolves neither pure zinc nor copper. But it has a far stronger affinity for the first named metal. If now we immerse in dilute acid two plates, one of pure zinc, and one of copper, no action will be discernible. But if the plates are brought in contact with each other a stream of bubbles of hydrogen gas will escape from the surface of the copper and the zinc will dissolve. By applying proper tests and deductions it will be found that the copper and zinc are being constantly charged with opposite electricities, and that these are constantly recombining. This recombination produces what is known as an electric current.

To constitute a battery the zinc and copper plates must be connected outside of the solution. This connection need not be immediate. Any conductor which touches both plates will bring about the action, and the current will pass through it.

The easiest way to picture the action of a battery is to accept the doctrine of contact action. In the battery the molecules of water are pulled apart. The hydrogen molecules go to the copper, the oxygen molecules go to the zinc, each one, leaving its contact with the other, comes off charged with opposite electricity. This charges the plates, and the continuous supply of charge and its continuous discharge establishes the current.

The accumulation of hydrogen acts to stop the action by polarization. Its own affinity for oxygen acts against or in opposition to the affinity of the zinc for the same element, and so cuts down the action. A depolarizer of some kind is used in acid batteries for this reason. As such depolarizer has only to act upon one plate, in most batteries it is usual to surround such plate only, as far as it is possible, with the depolarizer. The solution which dissolves the zinc is termed the excitant or exciting solution.

To this concrete notion of a voltaic battery the different modifications described here may be referred. Zinc, it will be seen, forms the almost universally used dissolved plate; carbon or copper forms the most usual undissolved plate; sulphuric acid in one form or another is the most usual excitant.

The solution in a voltaic battery is electrolyzed (see Electrolysis). Hence the solutions must be electrolytes. The sulphuric acid and other ingredients play a secondary role as imparting to the battery fluids this characteristic.

It is not necessary to have electrodes of different substances, the same metal maybe used for both if they are immersed in different solutions which act differentially upon them, or which act with more energy on one than on the other. Such are only of theoretical interest.


Battery, Water. A voltaic battery, whose exciting fluid is water. They are used for charging quadrant electrometer needles and similar purposes. They polarize very quickly and are of high resistance. Hence very small plates in large number can be used without impairing their advantage.

Rowland's water battery dispenses with cups and uses capillarity instead. The zinc and platinum or copper plates of a couple are placed very close together, while the couples are more distant. On dipping into water each couple picks up and retains by capillarity a little water between its plates, which forms the exciting fluid. Many hundred couples can be mounted on a board, and the whole is charged by dipping into water and at once removing therefrom. It then develops its full potential difference.




Battery, Wollaston. The original plunge battery is attributed to Wollaston. He also invented the battery known by his name, having the disposition shown in the cut, of zinc Z, surrounded by a thin sheet of copper C; o, o', o", are the terminals and B, B, the battery jars. Dilute sulphuric acid is used for exciting fluid.

B. A. U. Abbreviation for British Association unit, referring generally to the B. A. unit of resistance.

B. A. Unit of Resistance. The original ohm used under that name previous to 1884. The Paris committee of that year recommended as a practical unit what is known as the legal ohm. (See Ohm, Legal.) 1 Legal Ohm = 1.0112 B. A. Units of Resistance. 1 B. A. Unit of Resistance = .9889 Legal Ohms. 1 B. A. Unit of Resistance = .98651E9 C. G. S. units.

B. E. adj. British Engineering, a qualification of a set of units, the B. E. units, having for base the foot and pound. The term is but little used.

Beaum Hydrometer. A hydrometer graduated on the following principle:

The zero point corresponds to the specific gravity of water for liquids heavier than water. A solution of 15 parts of salt in 85 parts of water corresponds in specific gravity to 15 B., and between that and zero fifteen equal degrees are laid out. The degrees are carried down below this point.

The zero points for liquids lighter than water correspond to the specific gravity of a solution of 10 parts of salt in 90 parts of water. The specific gravity of water is taken as 10 B. This gives ten degrees which are continued up the scale.

Becquerel's Laws of Thermoelectricity. These are stated under the heads, Law of Intermediate Metals and Law of Successive Temperatures, q. v.

Bed Piece. In a dynamo or motor the frame carrying it, including often the standards in which the armature shaft is journaled, and often the yoke or even entire field magnet core.

Bell, Automatic Electric. A bell which rings as long as the circuit is closed, having a circuit breaker operated by its own motion. (See Bell, Electric.)

Synonyms—Trembling Bell—Vibrating Bell.

Bell, Call. A bell operated by electricity, designed to call attention, as to a telephone or telegraphic receiver. (See Bell, Electric.)


Bell Call. A calling device for attracting the attention of any one, consisting of some type of electric bell.

Bell, Circular. A gong-shaped bell, whose clapper and general mechanism is within its cavity or behind it.

Bell, Differentially Wound. An electric bell, whose magnet is wound differentially so as to prevent sparking.


Bell, Electric. A bell rung by electricity. Generally it is worked by a current exciting an electro-magnet, attracting or releasing an armature which is attached to the vibrating or pivoted tongue of the bell. It may be worked by a distant switch or press-button, q. v., ringing once for each movement of the distant switch, etc., or it may be of the vibrating bell type as shown in the cut. When the current is turned on in this case it attracts the armature. As this moves towards the poles of the magnet it breaks the circuit by drawing the contact spring, q. v., away from the contact point, q. v. This opens the circuit, to whose continuity the contact of these two parts is essential. The hammer, however, by its momentum strikes the bell and at once springs back. This again makes the contact and the hammer is reattracted. This action continues as long as the circuit is closed at any distant point to which it may be carried. The ordinary vibrating bell is a typical automatic circuit breaker, q. v., this type keeping up the ringing as long as the circuit is closed. Other bells have no electric contact and simply ring once every time the circuit is closed. Others worked by an alternating current ring once for each change of direction of current.


Bell, Electro-mechanical. A bell which has its striking train operated by a spring or descending weight, and which train is thrown into action by the release of a detent or equivalent action by the closing of an electric circuit. It rings for any given time after being started.

Bell, Indicating. A bell which by drop-shutter or other indicator connected in circuit with it, indicates its number or other designation of its call.

Bell, Magneto. An electric bell operated by the alternating current from a magneto generator. It has a polarized armature and no circuit breaker. The armature is attracted first in one direction and then in the other, as the current alternates and reverses the polarity of the electro-magnet.

Bell, Relay. A bell operated by a relay circuit.

Bias. In polarized relay the adjustment of the tongue to lie normally against one or the other contact. (See Relay, Polarized.)



Bifilar Winding. The method followed in winding resistance coils to prevent them from creating fields of force. The wire is doubled, and the doubled wire starting with the bend or bight is wound into a coil. The current going in opposite senses in the two lays of the winding produces no field of force.

Binary Compound. A chemical compound whose molecule contains only two elements, such as water (H2 0), lead oxide (Pb 0), and many others.

Binding. In a dynamo or motor armature the wire wound around the coils to secure them in place and prevent their disturbance by centrifugal action.




Binding Posts or Screws. Arrangements for receiving the loose end of a wire of an electric circuit, and securing such end by a screw. Several constructions are used, as shown here. Sometimes the wire is passed through a hole, and a screw tapped in at right angles to the hole is screwed down upon the wire. Sometimes the wire is clamped between two shoulders, one on the screw, the other on the post. The screw is often a flat-headed thumb screw or has a milled edge. Sometimes the screw has a slot and is turned by a screw-driver.

Several openings are often provided in the same post for different wires.

Binnacle. The case containing a mariner's compass on shipboard. It is enclosed completely; it has a glass side or window through which the compass can be seen, and is provided with one or two lamps arranged to light the card, while showing as little light as possible outside.


Bioscopy, Electric. The diagnosis of life and death by the action of the animal system when subjected to an electric current or electrification.

Bismuth. A metal, one of the elements, atomic weight, 210 ; equivalent, 70; valency, 3; specific gravity, 9.9. It is a conductor of electricity. Relative Resistance, compressed, (silver = 1) 87.23 Specific Resistance, 131.2 microhms Resistance of a wire (a) 1 foot long, weighing 1 grain, 18.44 ohms (b) 1 foot long, 1/1000 inch thick, 789.3 " (c) 1 meter long, weighing 1 gram, 12.88 " (d) 1 meter long, 1 millimeter thick, 1.670 " Resistance of a 1-inch cube 51.65 microhms Electro chemical equivalent, .7350 (Hydrogen = .0105) (See Thermo-electric Series.)



Bi-telephone. A pair of telephones arranged with a curved connecting arm or spring, so that they can be simultaneously applied to both ears. They are self-retaining, staying in position without the use of the hands.


Blasting, Electric. The ignition of blasting charges of powder or high explosives by the electric spark, or by the ignition to incandescence (red or white heat) of a thin wire immersed in or surrounded by powder. Special influence or frictional electric machines or induction coils are used to produce sparks, if that method of ignition is employed. For the incandescent wire a hand magneto is very generally employed. (See Fuse, Electric.)

The cuts, Figs. 62 and 63, show one form of incandescent wire fuse. The large wires are secured to the capsule, so that no strand can come upon the small wire within the cavity.

The cut, Fig. 64, shows a frictional electric machine for igniting spark fuses.

Bleaching, Electric. Bleaching by agents produced or made available by the direct action of electricity. Thus if a current under proper conditions is sent through a solution of common salt (sodium chloride), the electrodes being close together, the salt is decomposed, chlorine going to one pole and sodium hydrate to the other. The two substances react upon each other and combine, forming sodium hypochlorite, which bleaches the tissue immersed in its solution.

Block System. A system of signalling on railroads. The essence of the system consists in having signal posts or stations all along the road at distances depending on the traffic. The space between each two signal posts is termed a block. From the signal posts the trains in day time are signalled by wooden arms termed semaphores, and at night by lanterns. The arms may be moved by hand or by automatic mechanism depending in part on electricity for carrying out its functions. Thus in the Westinghouse system the semaphores are moved by pneumatic cylinders and pistons, whose air valves are opened and shut by the action of solenoid magnets, q. v. The current of these magnets is short circuited by passing trains, so as to let the valves close as the train passes the signal post. The block system causes the semaphore to be set at "danger" or "caution," as the train enters the next block. Then the following train is not allowed to enter the block until the safety signal is shown. The Westinghouse system provides for two semaphores on a post, one indicating "danger" as long as the train is on the next block; the other indicating "caution" as long as the train is on the next two blocks. The rails form part of the circuit, their joints being bridged by copper wire throughout the block, and being insulated where the blocks meet.

Block Wire. In the block system a wire connecting adjacent block-signal towers or semaphore poles.

Blow-pipe. A name sometimes given to an electric experiment illustrating the repulsion of electrified air particles from a point held at high relative potential. A metallic point, placed on the prime conductor of an electric friction or influence machine, becomes highly electrified, and the air becoming excited is repelled and acts upon the candle flame. If the candle is placed on the conductor and a point held towards it the repulsion is still away from the point.


Blow-pipe, Electric Arc. A name sometimes given to devices for using the voltaic arc to produce local heating effects. The directive action of the magnet may be used to force out the arc like a blow-pipe flame, or a blast of air may be directly applied for the same purpose.

Blue-stone. A trade name for crystallized copper sulphate, used in Daniell's and gravity batteries.

Boat, Electric. A boat propelled by electricity. The electricity drives a motor which actuates a screw propeller. The current is generally supplied by a storage battery. When used on rivers charging stations are established at proper places. When the boat is used as a tender or launch for a steam ship, such as a war-vessel, the battery is charged by a plant on board the ship. From their noiselessness electric boats are peculiarly available for nocturnal torpedo operations, and the universal equipment of modern war-ships with electric lightning and power plants makes their use possible at all points. This type is often termed an electric launch, and most or all electric boats fall under this category.

Bobbins. A spool of wood or other material wound with insulated wire. In a tangent galvanometer the bobbin becomes a ring, with a channel to receive the winding. As the ring is not infinitely large compared to the needle the tangent law is not absolutely fulfilled. It is most accurately fulfilled (S. P. Thomson) when the depth of the groove or channel in the radial direction bears to the breadth in the axial direction the ratio of square root of 3 to the square root of 2 or approximately 11 : 9

Body Protector. A metallic short circuit connected with the wrists and lower legs of the human body, so that if by accident an active circuit is grounded by the hands and body of the workman wearing it, most of the current will pass through the wire conductors, thus avoiding the vital organs of the body.

Boiler Feed, Electric. An apparatus by which an electric current acting on an electro-magnet, or other equivalent device, opens the water supply when the water level in a boiler sinks too low, and cuts off the water supply as the water level rises.

Boiling. In secondary batteries the escape of hydrogen and oxygen gas when the battery is charged. The bubbling of the escaping gases produces the effect of boiling.


Boll. An absolute, or c. g. s., unit of momentum; a gram moving at the rate of one centimeter per second; a gram-kine (see Kine); a unit proposed by the British Association.

Bolometer. An apparatus for detecting small amounts of radiant energy (radiant heat, so called). A coil suspended by a fine wire or filament so as to be free to rotate under the effect of force is made up of two parallel and equal wires, insulated from each other, but connected so that parallel currents sent through them go in opposite direction through each. This coil is hung in a strong electro-magnetic field produced by a large coil surrounding it. When a current passes through the suspended coil no effect will follow, because the oppositely wound portions counteract each other exactly. In the circuit with one half of the suspended coil is an exceedingly thin strip of platinum wire. The other half of the coil has no strips. Both halves unite after leaving the coil. If now the strip of platinum is heated its conductivity is affected and its half of the coil receives less current than the other half. This disturbs the balance and the coil swings through a small arc. This apparatus may be made very sensitive, so that an increase of temperature of 1/1400 F., 9/70000C. (1/14000 F.) will be perceptible. Another construction takes the form of a Wheatstone Bridge, q. v., in whose arms are introduced resistances consisting of bands of iron, .5 Millimeter wide (.02 inches), .004 millimeter (.00016 inch) thick, and folded on themselves 14 times so as to make a rectangular grating, 17 x 12 millimeters (.68 x .48 inch). The least difference of heat applied to the grating affects the galvanometer.

Synonym-Thermic Balance.

Boreal Pole. The south pointing pole of the magnet. (See Austral Pole.)

Bot. A colloquial expression for the English Board of Trade unit of Electrical Supply. It is formed of the initials of the words "Board of Trade." (See Unit, Board of Trade.)

Box Bridge. A constriction of Wheatstone's Bridge in which the necessary resistance coils are contained in a single box with plugs for throwing the coils in and out of circuit, and connections to bring the coils into the different arms of the system. The cut shows a box bridge. Connections for the galvanometer, battery wires, and terminals of the unknown resistance are provided, by which its resistances and the connections are brought into the exact relations indicated in the conventional diagram of Wheatstone's bridge. (See Wheatstone's Bridge.)

Referring to the cut, the battery wire, say from the zinc plate, connects at A1, thereby reaching A, its true connecting point. To B1 one end of the galvanometer circuit or lead is attached, thereby reaching B, its true connecting point. To C are connected the other end from the galvanometer and one end of the unknown resistance. The other end of the unknown resistance, and the other end of the battery wire, in this case from the carbon plate, connect to D. At G is an infinity plug, as it is called. When out it breaks the circuit.

In use after the connections are made the key is depressed and the galvanometer observed. The resistance is changed until no action of the galvanometer is produced by closing the circuit when the ratio of the resistances of the arms gives the proportion for calculating the unknown resistances.

Synonym—Commercial Wheatstone Bridge, or commercial form of same.



Boxing the Compass. Naming the thirty-two points of the compass in order, and in sequence to any point called out at random. There are many exercises in the relative sailing points and bearings that come under the same head. Thus the direction of two given points being given by names of the compass points, it may be required to state the number of points intervening.

Brake, Electro-magnetic. A brake to stop a wheel from rotating. It comprises a shoe, or sometimes a ring, which by electro-magnetic attraction is drawn against the rotating wheel, thus preventing it from turning, or tending to bring it to rest. (See Electro-magnet, Annular.)



Branch. A conductor branching from a main line. Sometimes the term is restricted to a principal conductor, from which current is distributed.

Branch Block. In electric wiring of buildings, a block of porcelain or other material with grooves, holes and screws for the connection of branch wires to a main wire. Its functions are not only to afford a basis for connecting the wires, but also to contain safety fuses. As when a branch wire is taken off, fuses have to be put in its line, the branch block carries these also. One end of each fuse connects with a main wire, the other end connects with one of the wires of the branch leader or wire.

Porcelain is a favorite material for them, as the fusing or "blowing out" of the safety fuses cannot set it on fire.

Branch Conductor. A parallel or shunt conductor.

Brazing, Electric. Brazing in which the spelter is melted by means of electricity; either current incandescence or the voltaic arc may be used. It is identical in general with electric welding. (See Welding, Electric.)

Branding, Electric. A system of branding in which the heat of electrically ignited or incandescent conductors is used to produce or burn in the marks upon the surface. For the alternating current a small transformer is connected to or forms part of the tool.


Brassing. The deposition of a coating of brass by electrolysis. The plating bath contains both copper and zinc. As anode a plate of brass is used. The operation must be constantly watched. The deposition of both metals goes on simultaneously, so that a virtual alloy is deposited. By changing the depth of immersion of the anode the color of the deposit is varied.

As a formula for a brassing bath the following are typical. They are expressed in parts by weight.

(a) For iron and steel. I. Sodium Bisulphate, 200 Potassium Cyanide, 70 per cent., 500 Sodium Carbonate, 1,000 Water, 8,000 II. Copper Acetate, 125 Zinc Chloride, 100 Water, 2,000 Add the second solution to the first.

(b) For zinc. I. Sodium Bisulphate, 700 Potassium Cyanide, 70 per cent., 1,000 Water, 20,000 II. Copper Acetate, 350 Zinc Chloride, 350 Aqua Ammoniae, 400 Water, 5,000 Add the second solution to the first.

Use a brass anode; add more zinc to produce a greenish color; more copper for a red color. A weak current gives a red color; a strong current lightens the color. The battery power can be altered, a larger or smaller anode can be used, or a copper or zinc anode can be used to change the color of the deposit. The bath may vary from 1.036 to 1.100 sp. gr., without harm.

Break. A point where an electric conductor is cut, broken, or opened by a switch or other device, or simply by discontinuity of the wires.

Break-down Switch. A switch used in the three-wire system to provide for the discontinuance of the running of one of the dynamos.

By connecting the positive and negative bus wires to one terminal of the active dynamo, and the neutral bus wire to the other terminal, one dynamo will supply the current and the system operates like a two-wire system, but can only be used for half its normal capacity.

Breaking Weight. The weight which, applied in tension, will break a prism or cylinder, as an electric current conductor.


Breath Figures, Electric. If a conductor is electrified and placed upon a piece of glass, it will electrify the glass in contact with it by conduction or discharge. On removing the conductor the glass remains electrified. The localized electrification is shown by breathing gently on the glass, when a species of image of the conductor is produced by the condensed moisture. A coin is often used for conductor.

Breeze, Electric. A term in medical electricity, used to designate the silent or brush discharge of high tension electricity. As an instance of its employment, the electric head bath (see Bath, Electric Head,) may be cited. The patient forming one electrode, being insulated and connected to one of the conductors, the other conductor, on being brought near his person, discharges into his body.

Bridge. (a) A special bar of copper connecting the dynamos to the bus wire, q. v., in electric lighting or power stations.

(b) Wheatstone's bridge, q. v., and its many modifications, all of which may be consulted throughout these pages.

British Association Bridge. The type of Wheatstone bridge used by the committee of the association in determining the B. A. ohm; the meter bridge, q. v.

Broadside Method. A method of determining the magnetic moment of a magnet. The magnet, n, s, under examination is fixed so that it is at right angles to the magnetic meridian, M, R, which passes through its own center and that of a compass needle. From the deflection of the latter the moment is calculated.


Bronzing. In electro-plating the deposition of a mixture or virtual alloy of copper and tin. In general manipulation it resembles the operation of depositing gold and silver alloy, or of brassing.

For bronzing the following bath is recommended:

Prepare each by itself (a) a solution of copper phosphate and (b) a solution of stannous chloride in a solution of sodium pyrophosphate. For a, dissolve recently precipitated copper phosphate in concentrated solution of sodium pyrophosphate. For b, add to a saturated solution of sodium pyrophosphate solution of stannous chloride as long as the precipitate which is formed dissolves. Of these two solutions add to a solution of sodium pyrophosphate which contains about 1.75 oz. of the salt to the quart, until the precipitate appears quickly and of the desired color. For anodes use cast bronze plates. Sodium phosphate must be added from time to time; if the deposit is too light add copper solution, if too dark add tin solution. (W. T. Brannt.)


Brush. In electric current generators and motors, the pieces of copper or other material that bear against the cylindrical surface of the commutator are thus termed. Many different constructions have been employed. Some have employed little wheels or discs bearing against and rotating on the surface of the commutator. A bundle of copper strips is often employed, placed flatwise. Sometimes the same are used, but are placed edgewise. Wire in bundles, soldered together at their distant ends have been employed. Carbon brushes, which are simply rods or slabs of carbon, are used with much success.

Synonym—Collecting Brush.

Brush, Carbon. A brush for a dynamo or motor, which consists of a plate or rod of carbon, held in a brush holder and pressed against the commutator surface.

Brushes, Adjustment of. In electric current generators and motors, the brushes which bear upon the commutator when the machine is in action need occasional adjustment. This is effected by shifting them until sparking between them and the commutator is nearly or quite suppressed.


Brushes, Lead of. In a dynamo electric generator, the lead or displacement in advance of or beyond the position at right angles to the line connecting the poles of the field magnet, which is given the brushes. In a motor the brushes are set back of the right angle position, or are given a negative lead. (See Lag.)


Brush Holders. The adjustable (generally) clutch or clamps for holding the commutator brushes of a dynamo, which keep them in contact with the commutator, and admit of adjustment by shifting backward and forward of the brushes to compensate for wear. They are connected to and form part of the rocker, q. v. By rotating the latter the brush-holders and brushes are carried in one direction or other around the commutator, so as to vary the lead as required.

Brush, Pilot. A third brush, used for application to different parts of a revolving armature commutator to determine the distribution of potential difference between its different members. (See Curve of Distribution of Potential in Armature.) One terminal of a volt-meter is connected to one of the regular brushes, A, of a dynamo; the other to a third brush, p, which is pressed against different portions of the commutator of the dynamo. The readings of the volt-meter are plotted in a curve of distribution of potential.


Brush, Rotating. Brushes for taking off the current from dynamo commutators, or giving current connection to motors, whose ends are in the form of rollers which rotate like little wheels, and press against the commutator surface.

Brush, Third. A third brush is sometimes provided in a dynamo for regulating purposes. Applied to a series machine it adjoins one of the regular brushes and delivers its current to a resistance, to whose further end the regular circuit is connected. By a sliding connection the resistance is divided between the third brush circuit and the regular circuit, and by varying the position of this contact regulation is obtained.

It is to be distinguished from the pilot brush used for determining the characteristic of the commutator, although based on the same general principles.



Brush, Wire Gauze. A collecting or commutator brush for a dynamo or motor, which brush is made of wire gauze rolled up and compressed into shape.

Buckling. The bending up and distortion of secondary battery plates. It is largely due to over-exhausting the batteries. Where the E. M. F. is never allowed to fall below 1.90 volt it is far less liable to occur.

Bug. Any fault or trouble in the connections or working of electric apparatus.

Bug Trap. A connection or arrangement for overcoming a "bug." It is said that the terms "bug" and "bug trap" originated in quadruplex telegraphy.

Bunsen Disc. In photometry, the Bunsen Disc is a piece of paper upon whose centre a spot is saturated with melted paraffin, or a ring of paraffined surface surrounds an untouched central spot. If placed in such a position that it receives an equal illumination on each side, the spot almost disappears. It is used on the bar photometer. (See Photometer, Bar.)

Synonym—Grease Spot.


Buoy, Electric. A buoy for use to indicate channels or dangers in harbors and elsewhere, which carries an electric light, whose current is supplied by cable from shore. It has been proposed to use glass tubes exhausted of air and containing mercury, which, as moved by the waves, would produce a luminous effect. A fifty-candle power incandescent lamp is an approved source of light.

Burner, Electric Gas. A gas burner arranged for the flame to be lighted by electricity. It takes a great variety of forms. In some cases a pair of terminals are arranged near the flame or a single terminal is placed near the metal tip, the latter forming one of the terminals. The spark is generally produced by an induction coil, or a spark coil. The gas may first be turned on and the spark then passed. Sometimes the turning of the gas cock of an individual burner makes and breaks a contact as it turns, and thereby produces simultaneously with the turning on of the gas a spark which lights it.

Another form is wholly automatic. A pair of electro-magnets are attached below the base of the burner, one of which, when excited, turns on the gas, and the other one when it is excited turns it off. At the same time a spark is produced with the turning on of the gas so that it is lighted. Thus, by use of a automatic burner, a distant gas burner can be lighted by turning an electric switch. An out-door lamp may be lighted from within a house.

The increasing use of electric incandescent lamps, lighted by the turning of a switch, tends to displace electric gas burners. The latter have been classified into a number of types depending on their construction.

Burners are sometimes connected in series with leads from an induction coil. Then the gas is turned on all at once, and a succession of sparks passed until the gas is all lighted. The ignition is practically instantaneous.

Button, Push. A species of switch which is actuated by the pressure of a button. In its normal position the button is pressed outwards by a spring, and the circuit is open. When pressed inwards, it closes the circuit. When released it springs backward and opens the circuit again.

They are principally used for ringing bells. If the latter are of the automatic type, they ring as long as the button is pressed.

For door-bells and room-bells, the button often occupies the center of a rosette of wood or bronze or other ornamental piece. Sometimes, as shown in the cut, they are constructed for use on floors to be pressed by the foot. The general principle of their construction is shown, although the method of making the contact varies.

Synonym—Press Button.



Burning. (a) In a dynamo, the production of shifting and temporary arcs between the commutator and brushes, which arcs produce heat enough to injure the parts in question.

(b) In electro-plating, a defect due to too strong a current in proportion to the strength of solution and area of electrodes. This gives a black or badly-colored deposit.

Bus Rod. A copper conductor used in electric lighting or power stations, to receive the current from all the dynamos. The distributing leads are connected to the bus wires.

In the three-wire system there are three; in the two-wire system there are two bus wires.

The name is undoubtedly derived from "omnibus."

The bus wires may be divided into positive, negative, and, in the three-wire system, neutral bus wires.

Synonyms—Omnibus Rod, Wire, or Bar—Bus Bar, or Wire.

Buzzer. An electric alarm or call produced by a rapid vibration of electric make and break mechanism, which is often magnified by enclosure in a resonating chamber, resembling a bell, but which is not struck or touched by the vibrating parts. Sometimes a square wooden box is used as resonator.

Fig. 72. BUZZER.


B. W. G. Abbreviation for Birmingham Wire Gauge. (See Wire Gauge, Birmingham.)

C. (a) Abbreviation for Centigrade, as 100 C., meaning 100 Centigrade. (See Centigrade Scale.)

(b) A symbol of current or of current strength. Thus in the expression of Ohm's law C = E/R. C indicates current strength or intensity, not in any fixed unit, but only in a unit of the same order in which E and R are expressed; E Indicating electro-motive force and R resistance.

Cable. (a) Abbreviation for Cablegram, q. v.

(b) v. It is also used as a verb, meaning to transmit a message by submarine cable.

(c). An insulated electric conductor, of large diameter. It often is protected by armor or metallic sheathing and may be designed for use as an aerial, submarine, subterranean or conduit cable. A cable often contains a large number of separately insulated conductors, so as to supply a large number of circuits.

Cable, Aerial. A cable usually containing a large number of separately insulated wires, and itself insulated. It is suspended in the air. As its weight is sometimes so great that it could not well sustain it, a suspending wire is in such cases carried along with it, to which it is suspended by cable hangers, q. v.

Cable Box. A box for receiving underground cable ends and connecting the separate wires of the cable to air-line wires. It is often mounted on a pole, which forms the starting point of the air-line portion of the system.

Cable, Bunched. A cable containing a number of separate and individual conductors. In some forms it consists virtually of two or more small cables laid tangent to each other and there secured. Thus each in section represents two or more tangent circles with the interstice solidly filled with the metal sheathing.

Cable, Capacity of. The electrostatic capacity of a cable. A cable represents a Leyden jar or static condenser. The outer sheathing or armor, or even the more or less moist coating, if it is unarmored, represents one coating. The wire conductors represent the other coating, and the insulator is the dielectric.

The capacity of a cable interferes with its efficiency as a conductor of broken or interrupted currents, such as are used in telegraphy or telephoning. As each impulse or momentary current is sent into the line, it has to charge the cable to at least a certain extent before the effects of the current are perceptible at the other end. Then the cable has to discharge itself. All this creates a drag or retardation.

The capacity of a cable is used to determine the locality of breaks in the continuity of the conductors. The capacity per unit of length being accurately known, it is obvious that, if the conductor breaks without disturbance of the insulator, the distance of the break from the end can be ascertained by determining the capacity of the cable from one end. This capacity will be in proportion to the capacity of a mile, a knot or any fixed unit, as the distance to the break is to the length used as standard.


Cable Core. The conductors of a cable. They are generally copper wire. In a telephone cable they may be very numerous and insulated from each other. In ocean cables they may be a group of bare wires twisted or laid together. Sometimes the conductors are arranged for metallic circuits, each pair being distinguished by special colored windings.

Cable, Duplex. A cable containing two wires, each with separate insulation, so as to be virtually two cables, laid and secured parallel and side by side.

Cable, Flat. A cable, flat in shape, so as to lie closely against a wall or ceiling.

Cablegram. A message which has been transmitted or is to be transmitted by a submarine cable. It is sometimes called a cable.

Cable Grip. A grip for holding the end of a cable, when the cable is to be drawn into a conduit in a subway. It is an attachment to provide the cable with an eye or loop. Its end is a split socket and embraces the end of the cable, and is secured thereto by bolts driven through the cable end. In drawing a cable into a conduit a capstan and rope are often used, and the rope is secured to the cable end by the grip.



Cable Hanger. When a heavy electric cable is suspended from poles it often would be unsafe to trust to its longitudinal strength to support or sustain its own weight unless the poles were very near together. In such case an auxiliary or sustaining wire is run along with it, and by clips or hangers the cable is connected thereto at as frequent intervals as seem desirable. The contrivance may take the form of a strip of metal surrounding the cable and carrying a hook or eye through which the supporting wire passes.

Synonym—Cable Clip.


Cable Hanger Tongs. Tongs for attaching cable hangers, q.v. They have long handles so as to be worked from the ground at the middle of a span.

Cable, Suspending Wire of. A wire by which an aerial cable is in part or entirely suspended. The cable, being incapable of sustaining its own weight, is secured by clips or hangers to a wire, strong from pole to pole immediately above it. (See Cable Hanger.)

Cable Tank. A tank in which a submarine cable is coiled away on board a cable-laying ship, or in the factory on shore for the purpose of testing or watching its insulation. Sometimes, in order to test it under pressures approximating to those it will be subjected to in practice, the tank is closed and the portion of cable within it is subjected to hydraulic pressure. This represents the pressure it will be exposed to in deep water.

Calamine. A mineral; zinc silicate; formula Zn2 Si 03, crystalline system, Orthorhombic; specific gravity, 3.16-3.9.

The crystals often show strong pyroelectric properties.

Calibration. The determination by experiment or calculation of the value of the readings of an instrument, such as a galvanometer or eudiometer. Thus if a tangent galvanometer has its circle graduated in degrees, a table of the value of tangents corresponding to every reading occurring in practice would represent a calibration by calculation. A determination of the current required to produce each deflection would be a calibration in the more usual sense. Calibration is generally absolute, as referring to some fixed unit, but it may be relative, as between two things both of unknown absolute value.

Calibration, Absolute. The determination of the absolute value of currents producing given deflections in a galvanometer, or in other instruments the determination of corresponding values, as the instrument may be a magnetometer, quadrant electrometer, or other apparatus.

Calibration, Invariable. Calibration applicable to specially constructed galvanometers, which is unaffected by the proximity of masses of iron or field magnets. Such galvanometers must have a constant controlling field. Such is given by a powerful permanent magnet, whose field is practically unaffected by the causes named. Or else, in place of a controlling field, a spring maybe used to which the needle is attached, and which tends to hold it in one position.


Calibration, Relative. The determination of the law connecting the various indications of an instrument, such as the deflections of the needle of a galvanometer, with the relative causes; in the case of a galvanometer, the strength of the currents or the electro-motive forces producing them directly or indirectly.

Call Bell. A bell rung by pressing a button or otherwise to call the attention of a person in a distant place. They can be classified into a great variety of types according to their uses or construction.

Call Button. A push button used for ringing a call bell, sounding a buzzer, working an annunciator and for similar purposes. (See Push Button.)

Synonym—Push Button.

Calling Drop. In a telephone exchange or telegraph office a drop shutter annunciator, which falls to call the attention of the operator, notifying him that the line connected to such drop is to be connected to some other circuit.

Calorie or Calory. A practical unit of heat. There are two calories, respectively called the great and the small calorie, or the kilogram and the gram calorie. The first is the quantity of heat required to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water one degree centigrade. The second is the quantity of heat required to raise the temperature of one gram of water one degree centigrade.

Calorimeter. An apparatus for measuring the quantity of heat evolved or produced by or under different conditions. Dulong's water calorimeter consists of a water jacket, and by the increase of temperature of the water and enclosing vessels the amount of heat produced by anything in the inner vessels is determined. The amount of ice a heated body will melt is sometimes made the basis of a calorimeter. The expansion of a fluid, as water, may be used. In the calorimeter shown in the cut the heat produced in a conductor by the passage of an electric current is caused to heat water whose temperature is shown by a thermometer immersed therein. The increase of temperature and the weight of the water give the basis for a determination of the heat produced by the current. Knowing the resistance of the conductor immersed, the watts can be calculated. This gives the bases for the determination of the heat-equivalent of electric energy. This is but an imperfect calorimeter, as it constantly would lose heat by the surrounding atmosphere, and would cease to operate as a calorimeter when the water was as hot as the wire normally would be, for then it would not absorb all the heat.



Candle. The generally accepted unit of illuminating power; there are three kinds in use as standards. (See Candle, Decimal—Candle, German Standard—Candle, Standard.)

Candle, Concentric. An electric candle of the Jablochkoff type, having a small solid carbon inside of an outside tubular carbon, the space between being filled with refractory material corresponding to the colombin, q. v., of the ordinary type. The arc springs across from one carbon to the other.

Candle, Debrun. An arc lamp with approximately parallel carbons. A transverse priming connects their bases, and the arc starting there at once flies out to the end.

Candle, Decimal. A standard of illuminating power, proposed to the Congress of Electricians of 1889 by Picou. It is one-twentieth of a Viole, or almost exactly one standard candle. (See Viole's Standard of Illuminating Power.)

Candle, Electric. An arc lamp regulated by simple gravity, or without any feed of the carbons or special feeding apparatus, generally for the production of an arc light of low intensity. This definition may be considered too elastic, and the word may be restricted to parallel carbon lamps in which the arc springs across from carbon to carbon. For the latter class an alternating current is used to keep the carbons of equal length. They are but little used now. Various kinds have been invented, some of which are given here.

Candle, German Standard. A standard of illuminating power used in Germany. It is a paraffin candle, 6 to the pound, 20 millimeters diameter; flame, 56 millimeters high; rate of consumption, 7.7 grams per hour. Its value is about two per cent. lower than the English standard candle.


Candle Holder. A clamp for holding electric candles of the Jablochkoff type. The ones shown in the cut designed for Jablochkoff candles comprise a pair of metallic clamps, each member insulated from the other, and connected as terminals of the circuit. When the candle is placed in position the metal pieces press against the carbons of the candle and thus convey the current. Below each member of the clamps is a binding screw for the line wire terminals.



Candle, Jablochkoff. An arc lamp without regulating mechanism, producing an arc between the ends of parallel carbons. It consists of two parallel rods of carbon, between which is an insulating layer of non-combustible material called the colombin. Kaolin was originally employed for this part; later, as the fusion of this material was found to short- circuit the arc, a mixture of two parts of calcium sulphate and one of barium sulphate was used. The carbons are 4 millimeters (.16 inch) thick, and the colombin is 3 millimeters (.12 inch) wide and two-thirds as thick. A little slip of carbon is placed across the top, touching both carbons to start the arc. Once started the candle burns to the end, and cannot be restarted after ignition, except by placing a short conductor across the ends, as at first. The Jablochkoff candle may now be considered as virtually extinct in this country. In France at one time a great number were in use.

To keep the carbons of equal length an alternating current must always be used with them. Special alternating combinations were employed in some cases where a direct current had to be drawn upon.

Candle, Jamin. An arc lamp with approximately parallel carbons, one of which oscillates and is controlled by an electro-magnet and armature. A coil of wire is carried around the carbons to keep the arc steady and in place. The frame and wire coils have been found unsatisfactory, as causing a shadow.

Candle Power. The amount of light given by the standard candle. The legal English and standard American candle is a sperm candle burning two grains a minute. It should have burned some ten minutes before use, and the wick should be bent over and have a red tip. Otherwise its readings or indications are useless. A sixteen candle power lamp means a lamp giving the light of sixteen candles. The candle power is a universal unit of illuminating power.


Candle Power, Rated. The candle power of arc lamps is always stated in excess of the truth, and this may be termed as above. A 2000 candle power lamp really gives about 800 candles illumination.

Synonym—Nominal Candle Power.

Candle Power, Spherical. The average candle power of a source of light in all directions. An arc lamp and an incandescent lamp vary greatly in the intensity of light emitted by them in different directions. The average of a number of determinations at various angles, the lamp being moved about into different positions, is taken for the spherical candle power.

Candle, Standard. A standard of illuminating power. Unless otherwise expressed the English standard sperm candle is indicated by this term. (See Candle Power.)

Candle, Wilde. An arc lamp with approximately parallel carbons. One of the carbons can rotate through a small arc being pivoted at its base. This oscillation is regulated by an electro-magnet at its base, and the carbons touch when no current is passing. They separate a little when the current passes, establishing an arc. The regulation is comparable to that of a regular arc lamp.


Caoutchouc. India rubber; a substance existing in an emulsion or solution in the juice of certain trees and vines of the tropics, whence it is obtained by coagulation and drying. The name "rubber" is due to the fact that one of its earliest uses was for erasing pencil marks by rubbing. It has a very high value as an insulator. The unworked crude rubber is called virgin gum; after working over by kneading, it is termed masticated or pure gum rubber; after mixture with sulphur and heating, it is termed vulcanized rubber. If enough sulphur is added it becomes hard, and if black, is termed ebonite; if vermilion or other pigment is also added to produce a reddish color, it is termed vulcanite. The masticated gum dissolves more or less completely in naphtha (sp. gr., .850) benzole, turpentine, chloroform, ether and other similar liquids.. The resistance per centimeter cube of "Hooper's" vulcanized India rubber, such as is used in submarine cables is 1.5E16 ohms. The specific inductive capacity of pure India rubber is 2.34—of vulcanized 2.94 (Schiller).

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