Gyroscope in gimbals


The above applet shows a 3d model of a gyroscope in gimbals. You can set the initial conditions for the motion using the sliders on the right. They allow you to set the initial Euler angels and their initial time rates. The bottom right slider enables you to set the offset of the disk from the fixed center of the gimbals.

Exploration 1 -- The meaning of Euler angles

There are three axes in the gimbals. Rotation about each axis corresponds directly to changing one of the Euler angles. Can you say which angle corresponds to rotation about which axis?

Exploration 2 -- Find initial conditions such that ...

Leave the default initial conditions unchanged, if you changed them, please, reload the web page with the applet. Press START to see how the gyro moves. Notice the precession and nutation.

Now, find a set of initial conditions leading to a regular precession of the disk at angle , without any nutation. Try these initial conditions and see if they work.

The applet above uses Open Source Physics library developed by Dr. Wolfgang Christian et. al. at Davidson College. It's source code is published here under the GNU GPL licence without any guarantee. For the details, please see the text of the licence.

Written by Slavomir Tuleja, August 2003.