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DC Dynamic Braking

Carlo B. DeLuca, PE (Ret.), MBA

Course Outline

Definition of Dynamic Braking and its relationship to energy is explained.  Energy is expressed in mechanical and electrical terms, comparing horsepower and watt-secs.  Advantages and disadvantages of electrical braking as compared to mechanical devices is discussed.

This course will deal with DC motors.  The difference between DC and AC motor dynamic braking is explained.  We first define the task to be accomplished and the parameters.  Once task and parameters are defined, we shall consider the components available to perform the task.  Samples of applications using dynamic braking are mentioned.

The task is to stop rotation of a model airplane propellor being driven by a DC motor after power is removed.  The purpose of the task and the manner in controlling the device is explained.  Electrical parameters of the motor are established.  Attention is directed to the energy and time in overcoming inertia to reach steady state condition.  Assumptions are made to determine the amount of energy required to stop the motor.  A capacitor is considered as an energy source.  A circuit (Circuit 1) is developed.  The schematic is shown and explained in detail.  An equation is expressed representing the amount of energy to be stored by employing the timed discharge of a charged capacitor.  Equations are presented to determine timing and energy required.  This reveals that the size of the capacitor will be too large for this application.  A second approach is proposed, using the prime power for braking.  A second circuit (Circuit 2) is developed.  The schematic is shown and explained in detail.  This concept uses a relay to direct energy to the proper components for braking action.  It is actuated and timed by discharge of a small capacitor.  Equations and mathematical calculations determine component values and timing.  The device is assembled and successfully tested.

This course includes a multiple choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

Learning Objective

Major learning objectives of this course are offered, but not limited, to the following:

Intended Audience

The engineer subscribing to this course should have a working knowledge of electrical circuitry, although some review is included in the course.  An understanding of the physics of energy will help to better appreciate dynamic braking.  Familiarity with mathematical integration and the tools it contributes to mathematical analysis is helpful. 

The course is particularly intended for the engineer frequently called upon to resolve a technical need, whether it be electrical or mechanical.  The concept of dynamic braking will be of particular interest to designers in the automation and robotic fields.

Benefit to Attendees

The audience will be made aware of a most interesting solution to a problem involving mechanical needs.  In developing the solutions, mathematical analysis is applied in a simple but descriptive manner.  The reader can view the steps in developing the circuits as a guideline for steps to create solutions for other needs and programs.

Course Introduction

Technical needs are often viewed as an electrical or mechanical problems.  Many times a solution seems more efficient and effective using mechanics to solve a mechanical need and electrical  solutions for an electrical need.  My first experience with Dynamic Braking was a solution to a mechanical need that was best provided electrically.  A long range zoom lens was used in concert with a telescope.  Control of the focus was very sensitive, thus the lens assembly movement had to be stopped quickly to achieve best focus settings.  Dynamic Braking provided the best solution.  It is a concept that uses magnetic force, usually applied to motors, for braking rather than propelling the device.  In the presentation of the course, an alternate application was pursued.  A different approach to the solution became evident due to the differences in application.  Perhaps the most effective and interesting lessons in this course are the procedures and techniques used to achieve a final solution.  However, the use of dynamic braking and variations of the design details can prove to be valuable in surprising applications.

Course Content

The course content is in a PDF file (100 KB):

DC Dynamic Braking.

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Course Summary

This course introduces an interesting application of an electrical concept.  Dynamic Braking is used to stop rotation of a propellor in a model airplane.   Circuits are described and illustrated using two different approaches.  The circuitry design is clearly illustrated and explained.  Mathematical analysis is presented using tools frequently employed in electrical applications.  Careful attention is given to definition and determination of the tasks and parameters appropriate to the solutions.  A circuit is presented that satisfies the task.  An assembled device performs within the parameters specified.


Once you finish studying the above course content, you need to take a quiz to obtain the PDH credits.

Take a Quiz

DISCLAIMER: The materials contained in the online course are not intended as a representation or warranty on the part of PDH Center or any other person/organization named herein. The materials are for general information only. They are not a substitute for competent professional advice. Application of this information to a specific project should be reviewed by a registered architect and/or professional engineer/surveyor. Anyone making use of the information set forth herein does so at their own risk and assumes any and all resulting liability arising therefrom.