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A synchro is a type of rotary electrical transformer that is used for measuring the angle of a rotating machine such as an antenna platform. In its general physical construction, it is much like an electric motor. The primary winding of the transformer, fixed to the rotor, is excited by an alternating current, which by electromagnetic induction, causes currents to flow in three star-connected secondary windings fixed at 120 degrees to each other on the stator. The relative magnitudes of secondary currents are measured and used to determine the angle of the rotor relative to the stator, or the currents can be used to directly drive a receiver synchro that will rotate in unison with the synchro transmitter. In the latter case, the whole device may be called a selsyn (a portmanteau of self and synchronizing).


Synchro systems were first used in the control system of the Panama Canal in the early 1900's to transmit lock gate and valve stem positions, and water levels, to the control desks.

Fire-control system designs developed during World War II used synchros extensively, to transmit angular information from guns and sights to an analog fire control computer, and to transmit the desired gun position back to the gun location. Early systems just moved indicator dials, but with the advent of the amplidyne, as well as motor-driven high-powered hydraulic servos, the fire control system could directly control the positions of heavy...
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