A relay is an electrically operated switch. Many relays use an electromagnet to mechanically operate a switch, but other operating principles are also used, such as solid-state relays. Relays are used where it is necessary to control a circuit by a separate low-power signal, or where several circuits must be controlled by one signal.
In this lesson, we will show you how the 1-Channel Relay Module works and how to use it with the micro bit.
A relay is an electrically operated device. It has a control system and (also called input circuit or input contactor) and controlled system (also called output circuit or output cont actor). It is frequently used in automatic control circuit. To put it simply, it is an automatic switch to controlling a high-current circuit with a low-current signal.
The advantages of a relay lie in its lower inertia of the moving, stability, long-term reliability and small volume. It is widely adopted in devices of power protection, automation technology, sport, remote control, reconnaissance and communication, as well as in devices of electromechanics and power electronics. Generally speaking, a relay contains an induction part which can reflect input variable like current, voltage, power, resistance, frequency, temperature, pressure, speed and light etc. It also contains an actuator module (output) which can energize or de-energize the connection of controlled circuit. There is an intermediary part between input part and output part that is used to coupling and isolate input current, as well as actuate the output. When the rated value of input (voltage, current and temperature etc.) is above the critical value, the controlled output circuit of relay will be energized or de-energized.
NB: input into a relay can be divided into two categories: electrical quantities (including current, voltage, frequency, power etc.) and non- electrical quantities(including temperature, pressure, speed, etc.)
It has a 1×3 (2.54mm pitch) pin header for connecting power (5V//3.3V and 0V), and for controlling the relay. The pins are marked on the PCB:
The 1 channel relay module could be considered like a series switches: 1 normally Open (NO), 1 normally closed (NC) and 1 common Pins (COM).
The working of a relay can be better understood by explaining the following diagram given below.
There are 5 parts in every relay:
1. Electromagnet – It consists of an iron core wounded by coil of wires. When electricity is passed through, it becomes magnetic. Therefore, it is called electromagnet.
2. Armature – The movable magnetic strip is known as armature. When current flows through them, the coil is it energized thus producing a magnetic field which is used to make or break the normally open (N/O) or normally close (N/C) points. And the armature can be moved with direct current (DC) as well as alternating current (AC).
3. Spring – When no currents flow through the coil on the electromagnet, the spring pulls the armature away so the circuit cannot be completed.
4. Set of electrical contacts – There are two contact points:
．Normally open – connected when the relay is activated, and disconnected when it is inactive.
．Normally close – not connected when the relay is activated, and connected when it is inactive.
5. Molded frame – Relays are covered with plastic for protection.
The diagram shows an inner section diagram of a relay. An iron core is surrounded by a control coil. As shown, the power source is given to the electromagnet through a control switch and through contacts to the load. When current starts flowing through the control coil, the electromagnet starts energizing and thus intensifies the magnetic field. Thus the upper contact arm starts to be attracted to the lower fixed arm and thus closes the contacts causing a short circuit for the power to the load. On the other hand, if the relay was already de-energized when the contacts were closed, then the contact move oppositely and make an open circuit.
As soon as the coil current is off, the movable armature will be returned by a force back to its initial position. This force will be almost equal to half the strength of the magnetic force. This force is mainly provided by two factors. They are the spring and also gravity.
Relays are mainly made for two basic operations. One is low voltage application and the other is high voltage. For low voltage applications, more preference will be given to reduce the noise of the whole circuit. For high voltage applications, they are mainly designed to reduce a phenomenon called arcing.
Relays are used to protect the electrical system and to minimize the damage to the equipment connected in the system due to over currents/voltages. The relay is used for the purpose of protection of the equipment connected with it.
These are used to control the high voltage circuit with low voltage signal in applications audio amplifiers and some types of modems.
These are used to control a high current circuit by a low current signal in the applications like starter solenoid in automobile. These can detect and isolate the faults that occurred in power transmission and distribution system. Typical application areas of the relays include
Before we continue with this lesson, I will warn you here that we will use High Voltage which if incorrectly or improperly used could result in serious injuries or death. So be very caution of what you are doing.
In this example, we will show how to use a relay with the micro bit.
Connection for relay module:
If you are not familiar to make code, don’t worry. At first, you can enter this link: https://makecode.microbit.org/reference to get the reference of microbit block.
Either copy and paste, or re-create the following code into your own MakeCode editor by clicking the open icon in the upper right-hand corner of the editor window. You can also just download this example by clicking the download button in the lower right-hand corner of the code window.
Connect the Relay to P0 interface,then upload the code into Micro:bit, you will hear a mechanical on/off sound from the relay every 1 second, if you connect some other high voltage device to the output terminal of the relay, then we can control this device on/off.
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