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A simple, low-cost, data logging pendulum built from a computer mouse

Description: Lessons and homework problems involving a pendulum are often a big part of introductory physics classes and laboratory courses from high school to undergraduate levels. Although laboratory equipment for pendulum experiments is commercially available, it is often expensive and may not be affordable for teachers on fixed budgets, particularly in developing countries. We present a low-cost, easy-to-build rotary sensor pendulum using the existing hardware in a ball-type computer mouse. We demonstrate how this apparatus may be used to measure both the frequency and coefficient of damping of a simple physical pendulum. This easily constructed laboratory equipment makes it possible for all students to have hands-on experience with one of the most important simple physical systems.
Date: January 1, 2009
Creator: Gintautas, Vadas & Hubler, Alfred
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department