A gyroscope is used in aviation and the aerospace industry to stabilise the position or as a navigation tool in so-called inertial navigation. The basic element of a mechanical spinning top is a rapidly rotating mass. A free spinning top is desired, which maintains the position of its rotational axis in space independently of gravity. This property is exploited in the artificial horizon in the aircraft. If the spinning top is mounted on a frame, it is referred to as a guided or enclosed gyro. A guided spinning top is the main component of a gyroscope. If a force acts on a guided spinning top perpendicular to the axis of rotation, the spinning top exerts a moment: the gyroscopic moment. The rotation perpendicular to the axis of rotation is known as precession. A gyroscope therefore has three axes: the axis of rotation of the spinning top, the precession axis and the axis of the gyroscopic effect that triggers the gyroscopic moment, which are all perpendicular to each other.
The TM 630 unit enables familiarisation with how a gyroscope works. The moments caused by the precession of the spinning top can be experimentally determined.
The spinning top is composed of a flywheel mass that is driven at high speed by an electric motor. The spinning top is mounted in a cardan frame. The frame can be rotated about the vertical axis by a second electric motor. This generates the precession of the spinning top. By means of the precession, the spinning top exerts a moment – the gyroscopic moment – about the horizontal axis. The gyroscopic moment causes deflection of the inner frame. The gyroscopic moment can be determined with a lever and a sliding weight.
The speeds of both electric motors for rotation and precession can be adjusted and are displayed digitally.
A transparent protective cover above the rotating arm ensures safety: operation is only possible when the protective cover is properly attached.