“AC” stands for A
urrent, which can refer to either voltage or current
that alternates in polarity or direction, respectively. These experiments are designed to introduce you to several important concepts specific to AC.
A convenient source of AC voltage is household wall-socket power, which presents significant shock hazard. In order to minimize this hazard while taking advantage of the convenience of this source of AC, a small power supply
will be the first project, consisting of a transformer
that steps the hazardous voltage (110 to 120 volts AC, RMS) down to 12 volts or less. The title of “power supply” is somewhat misleading. This device does not really act as a source or supply
of power, but rather as a power converter
, to reduce the hazardous voltage of wall-socket power to a much safer level.