Re: Master Clock contact spark quenching

Darren Conway


There are two parts to this problem.

One is to reduce the back emf from the coil that generates the voltage to arc across the opening contacts.  A diode across the coil will achieve this.

Two is to maintain a near zero voltage across the contacts as they open, for long enough to open far enough to prevent an arc forming.  This is solved with an RC snubber across the contacts. 


Darren Conway
36 Orr Crescent
Lower Hutt
New Zealand
ph +64  (0)4 569 1963

On 7.01.21 11:33 pm, Ian Richardson via wrote:
In the pipe organ world, the use of diodes in direct electric actions is standard practice.  I have just fitted up a direct action unit extension organ with about 200 electromagnetic valves, each runs on 15 vdc. and carries a current of about 250mA.  Each coil is shunted with 1N400X diodes or equivalent. There is no sparking - imagine if there was, the organ woiuld break down every day as the coils are activated hundreds of times with each performance!  The diodes cost about €1 per 100.

The point about polarity is, of course, valid but simply solved by using a high current silicon diode in series with the power supply.  If connected the correct way round, all works well; if the wrong way round, it doesn't work at all, so it "fails safe".

Ian R

-----Original Message-----
From: John Hubert <jfphubert@...>
Sent: Thu, 7 Jan 2021 11:17
Subject: Re: [synchronomeelectricclock] Master Clock contact spark quenching

I do just as you suggest on all my dials and masters.  1N400X series diodes.  The maintaining of current is minimal (looked some years ago with an oscilloscope and it was insignificant).  There is typically some variation of impulse length dependant on the master anyway (Gents tend to be longer and early Synchronome clocks rather short - lighter parts?).  Typically, the coil carries about 300 mA and has a resistance of about 5 Ohms, with a parallel resistor of about 50 Ohms.

Diodes work well - but of course you have to have the right polarity.


On 7 Jan 2021, at 10:06, John Haine <john.haine@...> wrote:

Surely now we have cheap reliable silicon diodes the best approach is the now-standard practice of connecting a diode across the coil so that when the contact opens the diode shorts out the inductive kick?  The diode should be reverse biased when the coil is energised.  The only snag with this is that the diode maintains the current when the contact opens for a period which may cause a problem.  That can be made shorter by putting a resistor in series with the diode to dissipate the stored energy more quickly at the expense of a higher voltage.  For example, if the coil carried 1 amp when the contact was closed, and the resistor was 100 ohms, the peak backswing voltage would be 100 volts, quite a lot but probably not enough to cause breakdown in the gap.


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