Afroman covers the basics of how transformers work, where to shop for step down mains transformers, and how to wire one up to mains voltages without killing yourself. European and North American wiring is discussed. He finishes up with a quick example of AC to DC conversion in an unregulated dual rail power supply.
A transformer is a device that transfers electrical energy from one circuit to another through inductively coupled conductors—the transformer’s coils. A varying current in the first or primary winding creates a varying magnetic flux in the transformer’s core and thus a varying magnetic field through the secondary winding. This varying magnetic field induces a varying electromotive force (EMF), or “voltage”, in the secondary winding. This effect is called mutual induction.