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Motorize Vernier Centripetal Force Apparatus

By Jim Kyser |

This project involves motorizing the Centripetal Force Apparatus (CFA) from Vernier Technologies. As sold, the CFA is not motorized and Vernier does not sell any sort of kit to connect a motor to it.

The benefits for having a driven, multi speed, motor-system attached to the CFA are profound. During experimentation it is imperative to control the tangential velocity of the spinning masses. Prior to having this piece of equipment one could only produce accurate quantitative data on the relationship between tangential velocity and centripetal force / centripetal acceleration. With the addition of the driven motor system, quantitative data can be taken in regards to additional variables responsible for change in a centripetal force system. These experiments include but are not limited to relationship between mass and centripetal acceleration as well as relationship between radius and centripetal acceleration, all while maintaining constant rotational velocity.

The system we came up with is easily installed or removed and requires absolutely no modifications to the CFA. In fact, due to the use of the polyethylene angle bracket to attatch it to the CFA, it should never even scratch the anodized finish. It also easily allows students to work at multiple agular velocities through use of the CFA's 3 built in pulley bosses and the two pulleys added to our assembly, for 6 different gear ratios. The addition of a variable voltage power supply, or better yet a PWM motor controller, would allow for a near infinite number of fixed rotational velocities.