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closed-circuit contact (switching) signal

English translation: no-voltage make contact

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GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
English term or phrase:closed-circuit contact (switching) signal
English translation:no-voltage make contact
Entered by: Katalin Horváth McClure
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04:32 Dec 1, 2003
English to English translations [PRO]
Tech/Engineering / electric engineering, circuitry
English term or phrase: closed-circuit contact (switching) signal
I have been agonizing over the translation of a partiular phrase from Japanese to English. I finally ended up posting it here, as it seems the literal Japanese translation does not make any sense from the engineering point of view.

Ok, here it is:
This is a power supply (inverter power supply). This particular phrase refers to one of the external signals that can be connected to this device. As far as I understand, this is for remote control (some functionality can be remotely controlled).
Now, the literal translation of the phrase referring to this signal is "no-voltage contact signal", but I suspect this is not an existing English phrase. I searched Google, and the only hits I got were Japanese instrument makers' websites, with some questionable translations of their product brochures. So, I assume this "no-voltage contact signal" is a product of non-engineer translators...

Now, I have some reference materials I received from the same company, including English translations of similar devices. In those documents, this signal is translated as "closed-circuit contact switching signal" or "closed-circuit switching signal".
Although the overall quality of the translation is questionable, I think this is closer to the solution, than the "no-voltage" version.

There is a brief circuit diagram, where this signal line in question is connected to the ground wire through a simple switch, meaning that the signal is active when it is connected to ground. The circuit is "closed" due to the contact by the switch.

I hope this makes sense to some electric engineers out there, and could enlighten me with the proper English term for this signal line.
For now, I have "closed-circuit contact signal" in the document, but I want to be sure.
Thank you very much
Katalin Horváth McClure
United States
Local time: 09:18
COMMENT
Explanation:
1) I don't think this can be 'dry contact' --- this means almost the opposite of what you've got, and is what is being described by the previous answerer as a 'no-voltage contact': it is simply an internal relay contact operated by a particular device, but where both terminals of the relay are brought out to the exterior, so they can be used in any way the user desires, with any chosen voltage / current / configuration etc.

However, this is NOT what you are describing from the small circuit diagram you have.

What I BELIEVE you have is a 'normally-closed circuit' --- that is to say, this external switch making the connection to earth is CLOSED under normal circumstances [and if you look carefully at the diagram, this should be indicated, either by the fact that the 'switch' is drawn closed, or by the fact that it's little terminal 'bobbles' are drawn as filled-in blobs rather than as hollow circles; there are other ways it may be indicated too].

So in other words, the unit will not operate 'normally' if this circuit is NOT connected to earth; this kind of technique is often used in a fail-safe situation (burglar alarms, etc. are a good example), so that if for any reason the external connection is lost, the circuit is broken, and the unit may shut down, or operate in some way differently (go into 'alarm', etc.).

I'm pretty sure this HAS to be it, but if you care to e-mail me privately with your circuit diagram etc., I would be able to confirm.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 9 hrs 3 mins (2003-12-01 13:35:56 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

In reply to Klaus\'s excellent point about input vs. output:

I would actually disagree with your logic on this point, Klaus! In my experience, a \'dry contact\' can ONLY really apply to an output, and NOT an INput.

By definition, an input will be looking for some kind of signal --- be that a voltage, a current, or some other variant. It may as a result REQUIRE a dry contact to operate it (as in this case, where the input clearly must have a (e.g.) voltage on it, and so it is looking for an external \'dry\' contact to simply connect it to ground [earth] --- but the fact remains that looking at it from the logic of the input itself, this must be a normally closed (i.e. \'active low\') connection (as appears to be the case in Asker\'s context).

Am I making sense? :-)

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 10 hrs 26 mins (2003-12-01 14:59:00 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Further reply to Klaus\'s added comment:

Yes, I see what you mean, Klaus --- but do remember that the Asker\'s question relates to a \'no-voltage contact SIGNAL\' --- in other words, it is not the input itself that is \'normally closed\', but the CONTACT PROVIDING THIS INPUT SIGNAL. It is perfectly usual techie jargon for us to talk about a \'NC input\' as a short-hand way of saying \'an input that requires a NC signal\'

Does that make more sense now?

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 12 hrs 46 mins (2003-12-01 17:18:54 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

IN REPLY TO ASKERS\'S EXTRA CONTEXT

Ahh. all is now clear! I think in this case, as you\'ve specified it is a normally-open contact, they must mean that this signal is a \'make contact\' --- in other words, the active signal is when the contact is \'made\' [= connected].

I feel sure that this \'dry-contact\' issue is a red herring; it simply refers to whether or not there is voltage (etc.) on the contact (whichever way round you choose to look at it); but that very contact (dry, wet, sloppy, or otherwise!) may be either a \'break\' or a \'make\' contact.

Here, I am quite convinced that they are SPECIFICALLY using \'closed-circuit\' to indicate that the contact is active when the circuit is closed; i.e., a \'make\' contact.
Selected response from:

Tony M
France
Local time: 15:18
Grading comment
Thank you very much for all of you helping here and via private email. This was a great example of teamwork!
Although there are a few possible translations of this term depending on the direction (input or output) of this signal, and on the intension of the original writer (describing the type of contact only or the intended use as well), I decided to go with "no-voltage make contact".
This version seems to be used for both input and output in the field, and definitely tells us that the connection must be closed for active state.
Thank you very much for all your help!
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
4 +3COMMENT
Tony M
4 +1dry contact
Klaus Herrmann


Discussion entries: 2





  

Answers


5 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +1
dry contact


Explanation:
I think you right. I had agreed to Dustys' answer prematurely bcause I had this term in a manual of Japanese origine to denote a NC *output*. However, reading your text again my impression is that you have an *input*, i.e. the signal in question is used to control the instrument, not to control an external device. If this understanding is correct, dry contact (or potential-free contact) is the correct term.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 12 hrs 12 mins (2003-12-01 16:44:54 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Hmm, where did my previous note go???? Anyhow, it\'s a question of perspective. What it boils down to is this question: Does the specification (no-voltage) refer to the signal to be applied to the input (output of whatever device controlling this signal) or does is no-voltage a property of the input? As the phrase is \"no-voltage contact signal\" I tend to think it refers to the signal. Hence, the *signal* has to be a contact signal, i.e. coming from a potential-free contact. Which means there is actually a voltage (however small) to detect the input state. Whenever the contact is closed (e.g. by a relay in the external device that lost power), the resulting change triggers the action.

In other words, if the phrase appears in the specifications of the UPS, I tend to think that I\'m likely to be correct.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 12 hrs 22 mins (2003-12-01 16:55:07 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

No matter what the contact turns out to be, it\'s nice to see teamwork in progress. Thanks for that.

Klaus Herrmann
Germany
Local time: 15:18
Native speaker of: Native in GermanGerman
PRO pts in pair: 147

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  Tony M: I'm not so sure, Klaus! Please would you refer to my fuller added comment?
3 hrs
  -> I don't know about a NC input. To open and to close is something the contact does, the input is at the receiving end (with the input state being controlled by an external contact). I have problems imaging how an input could have a nomally closed state.

agree  PB Trans: dry contact. See note added to my post
9 hrs
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

3 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +3
COMMENT


Explanation:
1) I don't think this can be 'dry contact' --- this means almost the opposite of what you've got, and is what is being described by the previous answerer as a 'no-voltage contact': it is simply an internal relay contact operated by a particular device, but where both terminals of the relay are brought out to the exterior, so they can be used in any way the user desires, with any chosen voltage / current / configuration etc.

However, this is NOT what you are describing from the small circuit diagram you have.

What I BELIEVE you have is a 'normally-closed circuit' --- that is to say, this external switch making the connection to earth is CLOSED under normal circumstances [and if you look carefully at the diagram, this should be indicated, either by the fact that the 'switch' is drawn closed, or by the fact that it's little terminal 'bobbles' are drawn as filled-in blobs rather than as hollow circles; there are other ways it may be indicated too].

So in other words, the unit will not operate 'normally' if this circuit is NOT connected to earth; this kind of technique is often used in a fail-safe situation (burglar alarms, etc. are a good example), so that if for any reason the external connection is lost, the circuit is broken, and the unit may shut down, or operate in some way differently (go into 'alarm', etc.).

I'm pretty sure this HAS to be it, but if you care to e-mail me privately with your circuit diagram etc., I would be able to confirm.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 9 hrs 3 mins (2003-12-01 13:35:56 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

In reply to Klaus\'s excellent point about input vs. output:

I would actually disagree with your logic on this point, Klaus! In my experience, a \'dry contact\' can ONLY really apply to an output, and NOT an INput.

By definition, an input will be looking for some kind of signal --- be that a voltage, a current, or some other variant. It may as a result REQUIRE a dry contact to operate it (as in this case, where the input clearly must have a (e.g.) voltage on it, and so it is looking for an external \'dry\' contact to simply connect it to ground [earth] --- but the fact remains that looking at it from the logic of the input itself, this must be a normally closed (i.e. \'active low\') connection (as appears to be the case in Asker\'s context).

Am I making sense? :-)

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 10 hrs 26 mins (2003-12-01 14:59:00 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Further reply to Klaus\'s added comment:

Yes, I see what you mean, Klaus --- but do remember that the Asker\'s question relates to a \'no-voltage contact SIGNAL\' --- in other words, it is not the input itself that is \'normally closed\', but the CONTACT PROVIDING THIS INPUT SIGNAL. It is perfectly usual techie jargon for us to talk about a \'NC input\' as a short-hand way of saying \'an input that requires a NC signal\'

Does that make more sense now?

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 12 hrs 46 mins (2003-12-01 17:18:54 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

IN REPLY TO ASKERS\'S EXTRA CONTEXT

Ahh. all is now clear! I think in this case, as you\'ve specified it is a normally-open contact, they must mean that this signal is a \'make contact\' --- in other words, the active signal is when the contact is \'made\' [= connected].

I feel sure that this \'dry-contact\' issue is a red herring; it simply refers to whether or not there is voltage (etc.) on the contact (whichever way round you choose to look at it); but that very contact (dry, wet, sloppy, or otherwise!) may be either a \'break\' or a \'make\' contact.

Here, I am quite convinced that they are SPECIFICALLY using \'closed-circuit\' to indicate that the contact is active when the circuit is closed; i.e., a \'make\' contact.

Tony M
France
Local time: 15:18
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 3261
Grading comment
Thank you very much for all of you helping here and via private email. This was a great example of teamwork!
Although there are a few possible translations of this term depending on the direction (input or output) of this signal, and on the intension of the original writer (describing the type of contact only or the intended use as well), I decided to go with "no-voltage make contact".
This version seems to be used for both input and output in the field, and definitely tells us that the connection must be closed for active state.
Thank you very much for all your help!

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Klaus Herrmann: Yes. That's all there is to it.
1 day 25 mins
  -> Thanks, Klaus!

agree  Nado2002
1 day 9 hrs
  -> Thanks, Nado!

agree  Henrik Brameus
2 days 9 hrs
  -> Thanks, Henrik!
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