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Ticker timers

  1. Mar 27, 2015 #1
    Hi, I'm new to the forum....
    I just modified some ticker timers to serve as standing wave generators for my class. It got me wondering when ticker timers were first used to do physics motion experiments. I'm assuming it was from the time they had telegraphy, so maybe as early as the later 19th century. I couldn't seem to find any historical information online. Does anyone know who first did a lab with a ticker timer?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 27, 2015 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    What's a ticker timer?
  4. Mar 27, 2015 #3
    An electromagnet vibrates a metal strip, usually at the mains frequency (50 or 60 Hz). The metal hits a carbon paper circle with ticker tape under it. It makes a mark every 1/50 th or 1/60 th of a second. They're used to find the speed or acceleration of an object pulling the tape through the timer. They were standard in physics classrooms before photogates and computers.
  5. Mar 27, 2015 #4


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    I Recall using them in 1961, as part of the "PSSC" (Physical Science Study Committee) program which was started in 1956.
  6. Mar 28, 2015 #5


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    I remember that in about 1961 we demonstrated acceleration using Fletcher's Trolley, which traces out a sine wave on a paper strip. I suspect that the Ticker Timer originated around the dates you mention.
  7. Mar 28, 2015 #6


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    gosh, haven't seen one of those in 40+ yrs

  8. Mar 29, 2015 #7
    I teach in a public school. I'm still using 40 year old equipment. I haven't had curriculum-cycle funds in the 23 years at my school. Generally we get about $800 to spend in a year. Often that works out to about $4 a year per student. One single lab apparatus often costs several hundred, so class sets are out of the question. I'm happy to have some of the well made old equipment from back when states funded science classes. Here's the apparatus I set up for my lab next week to investigate the relationship between tension, wave speed, wavelength and frequency in standing waves.
  9. Apr 3, 2015 #8

    Philip Wood

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    Up to the early 1960s in the UK, trolley investigations in schools usually involved a long steel strip, clamped at one end, which oscillated back and forth. An inked brush attached to the free end made a wavy line on a piece of paper stuck to the moving trolley. Assuming each cycle took the same time, one could figure out the trolley's velocity and acceleration. Ticker timers were introduced in the UK in the early 1960s, probably originally in the Nuffield programme for re-invigorating science teaching. The idea may very well have come from the US (see Tech99's post). The dots they produced at equal time intervals (0.01s in the UK) caused much less confusion to the young mind than the wavy trace.
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