Motor cables are defined as long when the motor frame is not bonded close enough to the drive panel to be considered a single ground plane. To be considered a single ground plane, the parts must be connected by a surface which is no longer than ten times its width.
Suppose you take a length of ordinary wire, make it into a big loop, and lay it between the poles of a powerful, permanent horseshoe magnet. Now if you connect the two ends of the wire to a battery, the wire will jump up briefly. It is amazing when you see this for the first time. It is just like magic! But there is a perfectly scientific explanation. When an electric current starts to creep along a wire, it creates a magnetic field all around it.
In simple DC and universal motors, the rotor spins inside the stator. The rotor is a coil connected to the electric power supply and the stator is a permanent magnet or electromagnet. Large AC motors (used in things like factory machines) work in a slightly different way: they pass alternating current through opposing pairs of magnets to create a rotating magnetic field, which "induces" (creates) a magnetic field in the motor rotor, causing it to spin around. You can read more about this in our article on AC induction motors. If you take one of these induction motors and "unwrap" it, so the stator is effectively laid out into a long continuous track, the rotor can roll along it in a straight line. This ingenious design is known as a linear motor, and you will find it in such things as factory machines and floating "maglev" (magnetic levitation) railroads.
If the coil of wire could carry on moving like this, it would rotate continuously—and we did be well on the way to making an electric motor. But that ca not happen with our present setup: the wires will quickly tangle up. Not only that, but if the coil could rotate far enough, something else would happen. Once the coil reached the vertical position, it would flip over, so the electric current would be flowing through it the opposite way. Now the forces on each side of the coil would reverse. Instead of rotating continuously in the same direction, it would move back in the direction it had just come! Imagine an electric train with a motor like this: it would keep shuffling back and forward on the spot without ever actually going anywhere.