Car Horns

How does a car horn work?

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2007-07-03 15:25:09

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While some modern car horns are actually specialized computer audio

systems, the old-fashioned electromagnetic car horns are still

common. An electromagnetic horn uses an electromagnet to attract a

steel diaphragm and turns that electromagnet on and off

rhythmically so that the diaphragm vibrates. In fact, it uses the

diaphragm's position to control the power to the electromagnet.

Whenever the diaphragm is in its resting position or even farther

from the electromagnet, a switch closes to deliver electric current

to the electromagnet. The electromagnet then attracts the

diaphragm's center. But when the diaphragm moves closer to the

electromagnet, as the result of this attraction, the switch opens

and current stops flowing to the electromagnet. Because of this

arrangement, the diaphragm moves in and out and turns the

electromagnet off and on as it does. The diaphragm's tone is

determined by the natural resonances of its surface.


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