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How does a gyroscope work?

  1. Oct 18, 2009 #1
    Can anybody Please post a link about the working of a Gyroscope.(detailed explanation,already seen how stuff works) I am simply not getting it.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 19, 2009 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    How about wikipedia? Some useful animations are included with the vector math:


  4. Oct 20, 2009 #3
    Search for Dr. Walter Lewin's physics lectures on youtube. There are many in the subject of mechanics, but I'm not sure which one in particular addresses gyroscopes. He is a great teacher, IMO, and does an excellent job explaining gyroscopes. However, I still don't have an intuitive understanding of it. The mathematical understanding is pretty straightforward, and he does a great job with it.
  5. Oct 20, 2009 #4


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    The closest I've ever been able to come to an 'intuitive' understanding of the ability of a gyroscope to hold its position is as follows:
    Imagine a spinning disk on an axle. Imagine yourself holding the end of each axle in front of you while the disk rotates. The axle is horizontal, one end in each hand, the disk in front of you at eye level. You basically can see the edge of the disk. Pick a point on the circumference of the disk, imagine it as a red dot or something. Now imagine it in slow motion so the red dot is revolving around at about one or two revolutions per second. Pretty easy to visualize right? Just a red dot going around in circles. Now tilt the axle by raising one hand and lowering the other and watch what happens to the red dot. It continues to rotate in a circle, but it also now has to move from left to right with each revolution. When the red dot is on one side (upward moving side) it is moving to the left for instance. But when the red dot is on the other side (downward moving side) it has to move to the right. This left to right motion I refer to is only ocurring when you try to tilt the axle. It takes energy to continually move something back and forth overcoming inertia constantly. This is where the energy goes that you expend overcoming the resistance to tilting the axle. It may be difficult to visualize, I tend to have the ability to visualize mechanical things in my mind with little difficulty so I may also under explain things. Not sure how else to describe it.
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