Vernier Software & Technology
Innovative Uses

Fun with a Wireless Dynamics Sensor System

We’ve been having fun putting the new Wireless Dynamics Sensor System through its paces. This new sensor system, which includes a 3-axis accelerometer, dual-range force sensor, and altimeter, is perfect for exploring physics topics both in and out of the classroom.

Here are just a handful of things we have tried.

Measuring the Acceleration of a Car
The following graph shows the acceleration of a car having an automatic transmission. The car is starting from rest and traveling on a straight road. The x-axis accelerometer is oriented in the direction of the car’s motion.

Amusement Park Rides at Paramount’s Great America Theme Park
Celebration Swings at Great America is a rotating swing ride. After lifting up a bit, it starts to turn and the top tilts, rotating as it goes. The motion is complex, and is added to by the swaying of the rider. The WDSS was held with the x-axis oriented to the side, measuring lateral acceleration.

Psycho Mouse is a tight carnival-type ride. After a pretty steep climb, it goes through a series of sharp switchbacks before descending into a pretty intense roller coaster. The WDSS was held where the x-axis acceleration oriented to the side, measuring lateral acceleration.

Snowboarding at Palmer Snow Field, Mt. Hood, Oregon
The graphs show a chair ride to the top with some initial descent data. The acceleration during the trip to the top is near one g, with some variation due to the tower pulleys.

Note that at several points below (65 and 190 s), the snowboarder stopped; the scalar acceleration is quiet at those times. Near 315 s, the descent is very slow, but the accelerations remain highly variable. At that time, the snowboarder was traversing across the slope, moving over very rough snow.

The bottom graph shows a detail of one turn sequence. The peak accelerations are between turns, as the snowboard is changing edge. You can see the snowboarder made about one turn each second. That was a lot of turns for the approximately six-minute descent!

Investigating Frictional Forces

Studying Newton’s Laws

Measuring Centripetal Acceleration
The centripetal acceleration of a spinning bicycle wheel. The y-axis acceleration is oriented towards the center of the wheel.