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which tells the reader what is

shown. The caption of a figure al-

ways appears below the diagram.

Parts of diagrams must be clearly

labelled. All figures must also be re-

ferred to by number in the text and

serve some use in the report. Gener-

ally, realistic three dimensional pic-

tures are to be avoided. Schematic

diagrams that put the emphasis on

function and organization are much

easier to understand. The object is

clarity, not embellishment.

forces.

attached to two spokes near its rim.

A Measurement of the

Moment of Inertia of a

Bicycle Wheel.

Purpose

To measure the moment of inertia of a modified bicycle

wheel.

Theory

A bicycle wheel with a moment of inertia, I, is free The theory section gives the the-

to rotate about a horizontal axis on a frictionless ory of the physical phenomenon to

bearing. The wheel is considered to be properly be investigated. Here, the essential

balanced so that it remains at rest in any position. consideration is that the wheel with,

A small mass, m, is attached to a spoke at a the small mass attached to a spoke,

distance, d, from the axis of rotation of the wheel forms a compound or physical pen-

forming a physical pendulum as in Figure A.1. If the dulum and that the angle θ is a pe-

wheel is rotated from its equilibrium position by an riodic function of time with period

angle θ, and released, it begins to oscillate. It can T given by equation (A.3). In most

be shown that if θ is small enough, then sin θ ≈ θ and cases it is not necessary to present a

the wheel undergoes simple harmonic motion described detailed derivation of the equation.

by Nevertheless, it should be discussed

and the meaning of all the variables

θ = θ0 sin(ωt + φ) (A.1) given. Limits of validity of the the-

where θ0 is the amplitude, ω, the frequency of ory should be made explicit. Here,

oscillation, t, the time, and φ, the phase angle. The the limit on θ is acknowledged.

frequency is given by

s

dmg

ω = (A.2)

I + d2 m

191

192 Student Formal Report

gravity. Since the period of oscillations of the

wheel is given by T = 2π/ω we have

s

I + d2 m

T = 2π . (A.3)

dmg

Method

The moment of inertia of the wheel will be determined In the method section one describes,

by measuring its period of oscillation as a function in general terms, how the experi-

of the magnitude of a small mass added to its rim. We ment will be done and what prin-

linearize equation (A.3) by squaring and rearranging ciples will be used. The theoretical

to obtain equation is manipulated to bring it

" # into a form which will be used in the

2 4π 2 I 1 4π 2 d analysis of the experimental data.

T = + . (A.4)

dg m g Often, variables in the theoretical

equation are transformed to intro-

From the form of equation (A.4), it is evident that if

duce the quantities which will actu-

T is measured as a function of m, a plot of T 2

ally be observed during the experi-

versus 1/m will be a straight line of slope 4π 2 I/dg.

ment. As an example, in an electri-

Having measured the slope directly from the plot, I

cal experiment, the quantity of in-

can then be evaluated from

terest may be a current, i, while an

4π 2 I equivalent voltage, V , is measured.

SLOPE = In this experiment the measured pa-

dg

rameter ‘SLOPE’ is introduced.

or

SLOPE × dg Equation (A.5) is the form used to

I = . (A.5) actually calculate I from the mea-

4π 2

surements.

Apparatus

• A 50 cm diameter bicycle wheel modified as shown The apparatus section is essentially

in figure A.2. The tire has been replaced by a a list of instruments used with their

lead rim, substantially increasing the wheel’s range and precision. Identifying

moment of inertia. The wheel is mounted on a information such a manufac-

stand with the axle horizontally secured in a turer, model, and any characteristic

metal bracket. features should also be given so that

Moment of Inertia of a Bicycle Wheel 193

Electronic Timer model 918 (±0.01 s). and assess systematic errors. This

and the calculation sections are the

• A CENCO triple beam balance with range of 111 g only parts of lab reports which may

and a nominal precision of ±0.005 g. be written in point form.

• Plumber’s solder wire (∼4 mm diameter,

∼ 1.25 g/cm) cut into various lengths to make

small weights.

wire.

Procedure

The outer circumference of the wheel was measured The procedure is a detailed account

using a flat measuring tape and the distance from the of how you actually performed the

outer rim to the center of the mass, m, was measured experiment. It is not a list of in-

with a small plastic ruler. Because of the difficulty structions and, specifically, it must

in estimating the center of mass of m an uncertainty not simply reproduce the instruc-

of ±0.5 cm was associated with the last quantity. tions given in the manual. Be care-

These length measurements were made only once. ful to relate and give the reasons for

The wheel, in its bracket, was placed at eye level on any special precautions taken. De-

a lab bench where oscillations could be counted scribe how each type of measure-

easily. It was spun a number of times to ensure that ment was made and then account

the bearing was free. A small imbalance which always for special cases. There is no need

caused the wheel to come to rest in the same position to give a historical account of each

was corrected by fastening a five cent piece to its and every measurement. With a lit-

outer rim with masking tape. tle forethought, it is possible to de-

scribe a complex experiment very

A length of solder wire was trimmed to a mass of 10 g

economically.

with the side cutters and weighed three times on the

triple beam balance. This length of solder wire was

then used as a measuring stick for cutting other

masses weighing multiples of 10 g. All combinations

of lengths used were weighed three times on the For this point, the procedure had to

balance except the largest mass. It consisted of two be modified and this fact is related

pieces of solder wire which had to be weighed here.

194 Student Formal Report

capacity of the balance. These were each weighed

three times. The measured weights are tabulated in

Table A.2.

For each measurement, the solder wires were wrapped The method of attaching the masses

around the same two neighbouring spokes, as close to to the wheel, described here, turned

the rim as possible, and further secured with a short out to be the weak link in the exper-

piece of masking tape. As the mass of this tape was iment. Enough information is given

much less than the measuring error in m, it was to make this clear.

ignored. For the heaviest mass (140 g) some of the

solder wire had to be wrapped around the rim of the

wheel in order to keep the mass within the smallest

possible volume. Toward the end of the experiment, it Remember that you are not describ-

became evident that this method of attaching the ing an ideal experiment, but the one

weights to the spokes made it difficult to keep the you actually performed with all it’s

mass confined to a small volume, always centered on flaws.

the same point. For this reason, the error in d is

rather large.

For each trial the wheel was turned until the small It is necessary to clearly give de-

mass made an angle less than ∼ 15◦ with the vertical, tails of the procedure which indicate

this in order to keep the approximation sin θ ≈ θ valid. whether or not variables remained

The wheel was then released and the time for a number within the range of validity of the

of complete oscillations was measured. Enough theory, and that sources of error

oscillations were counted to produce elapsed times were avoided or minimized. Here,

between 100 and 125 s. In order to achieve best the maximum value of θ is given, as

precision, the clock was started and stopped when the is the reason for using elapsed times

spoke to which the mass, m, was attached, crossed the greater than 100 s. The reference

edge of the vertical axle bracket (i.e., very close to point for measuring periods is also

the equilibrium point.) Eight points, with masses in given, making it clear that timing

a range from 10 to 140 g, were measured. The time errors were kept to a minimum.

measurements were repeated four times at each point

and recorded in Table A.3.

The calculated variables, 1/m and T 2 , were tabulated

in Table A.4 and plotted in Figure C.3.

Moment of Inertia of a Bicycle Wheel 195

Observations

The dimensions of the wheel can be found in Table A.1, Tables must also must have cap-

below. tions which explain them. Usually,

in scientific reporting, the caption

Table A.1: Wheel dimensions. is above the table so that it is seen

Wheel Edge of rim first as the page is read downward.

circumference to c.g. of mass m Each column must have a heading

l1 l0 l = l1 − l0 s1 s0 s = s1 − s0 which informs the reader of its con-

cm cm cm cm cm cm tent. Below the heading, the math-

±0.05 ±0.05 ±0.07 ±0.05 ± 0.05 ±0.5 ematical symbol for the variable is

160.00 8.10 151.90 4.30 1.10 3.2 shown with the mathematical ex-

pression from which it is calculated

if there is enough space. The next

Wheel radius: 24.18±0.01 cm line shows the units and below that

Distance from axle to m: d =21.0±0.5 cm appears the reading error. The ta-

bles in this example of a lab report

Table A.2: Mass measurements. The error of the zero follow a standard format and those

measurement has been included in σm̄ . in your reports should imitate them

in detail.

Mass Average Mass Average Reading errors must be recorded

mass mass with every measurement. If the er-

m1 m̄ m1 m̄ ror is constant in a column, then

±0.05 g g ±0.05 g g it should be recorded in the table

10.10 50.10 heading of the appropriate column.

10.00 50.10 When the reading error changes

10.00 10.03±0.07 50.10 50.10±0.07 from measurement to measurement

12.50 69.80 it should be recorded with each

12.50 69.90 measurement.

12.50 12.50±0.07 69.90 69.87±0.07

15.10 50.70

15.00 50.70

15.10 15.07±0.07 50.80 50.73±0.07

20.00 90.10

19.90 90.10

20.00 19.97±0.07 90.10 90.10±0.07

29.50 50.73

29.40 +

29.50 29.47±0.07 90.10 140.83±0.10

Zero reading: m0 =0.00±0.05

196 Student Formal Report

Oscillations time time

m N t t̄ T

g s s s

±0.07 ±0.01

10.03 4 104.61

104.46

102.91

110.42 105.6±1.9 26.4±0.5

12.50 5 117.64

120.47

116.69

114.60 117.4±1.5 23.5±0.5

15.07 5 109.05

103.98

107.13

106.04 106.6±1.3 21.3±0.3

19.97 6 111.15

108.10

108.41

112.83 110.1±1.2 18.35±0.20

29.47 7 106.19

108.41

106.88

106.40 106.97±0.55 15.28±0.08

50.10 10 114.32

114.09

114.13

113.90 114.11±0.11 11.411±0.011

69.87 11 110.26

110.75

110.07

110.28 110.34±0.17 10.030±0.015

140.83±0.10 17 119.39

119.24

119.25

119.33 119.30±0.04 7.0176±0.0024

Moment of Inertia of a Bicycle Wheel 197

m 1/m T T2

g kg−1 s s2

10.03 ± 0.07 99.7 ± 0.7 26.4 ± 0.5 697 ± 26

12.50 ± 0.07 80.0 ± 0.4 23.5 ± 0.5 552 ± 23

15.07 ± 0.07 66.4 ± 0.3 21.3 ± 0.3 454 ± 13

19.97 ± 0.07 50.08 ± 0.18 18.35 ± 0.20 339 ± 7

29.47 ± 0.07 33.93 ± 0.08 15.28 ± 0.08 233.5± 2.4

50.10 ± 0.07 19.96 ± 0.03 11.411± 0.011 130.2± 0.3

69.87 ± 0.07 14.312±0.014 10.030± 0.015 100.6± 0.3

140.83 ± 0.10 7.101 ±0.004 7.0176±0.0024 49.25±0.03

The nominal precision of the triple beam balance was Enough qualitative observations

not achieved. The suspension seemed a little stiff must be reported to signal sources

and some measurements varied by a significant fraction of error, or to support the validity

of 0.1 g leading us to quote an error of ±0.05 g. of the measurements. Here, the

The wheel bearing seemed very free, allowing it to measured mass varied more than

spin for an extended period after receiving an expected from the nominal pre-

impulse. For all trials, oscillations continued well cision of the balance, leading to

beyond the time required for the measurement. increased error estimates in m. It is

also important that the wheel spins

The elapsed time measurements became more consistent freely. Friction in the wheel bearing

as m increased, achieving a precision of ±0.1 s for would have produced a systematic

the largest mass. The errors in time were estimated error in the period measurements.

on the basis of the standard deviation of the mean of

the four measurements in each sample. See Table A.3.

From previous measurements, by other methods, the

moment of inertia of the wheel is known to be

IW = 0.361 ± 0.006 kg·m2 .

Calculations

One example of each calculation is given in the An example of each different cal-

following pages. When the calculated quantities are culation must be given. For each

from tables, a reference is made, in the text, to the example, the equation used must

appropriate table. be shown, and number substitutions

198 Student Formal Report

Table A.1

l = 160.00 − 8.10 = 151.90 means that the calculation of the

quantities in at least one line of each

q

σl = σl21 + σl20 table must be shown, plus any spe-

p cial cases which had to be handled

= 0.052 + 0.052 differently. Also, all calculations in

√

= 0.0025 + 0.0025 the analysis of data such as the de-

σl = 0.07 termination of the slope and its er-

ror must be shown.

l = 151.90 ± 0.07 cm. The mathematical expressions from

which these quantities are calcu-

Wheel radius: r = l/2π lated must all appear in the the-

ory or method sections of the report.

1

r = 151.90 The propagation of error calcula-

2π tions are based on formulae devel-

= 24.176 cm.

oped in Section 2.3, of the lab man-

error in r: ual, on propagation of error. Many

of these formulae are derived un-

1 der the Help for the Beginner head-

σr = σl

2π ing for the appropriate experiment

1 in the manual. If you must derive

= 0.07

2π a formula, yourself, you must show

σr = 0.01 cm.

the derivation in the calculation sec-

r = 24.18 ± 0.01 tion of your report.

d = 24.18 − 3.20

d = 20.98 cm.

error in d:

q

σd = σr2 + σs2

p

= 0.012 + 0.52

σd = 0.5 cm.

Moment of Inertia of a Bicycle Wheel 199

Table A.2

digits (within reason) than will be

m = 10.10 − 0.00 needed in the final result. Errors

m = 10.10 g. should be quoted to a precision of

about 20%. This means that if the

error in m: leading digit is a 1 or a 2, two dig-

q its are given in the error, otherwise

σm = 2 + σ2

σm only one digit is used. The quan-

1 m0

p tity’s least significant digit should

= 0.052 + 0.052

line up with the least significant

σm = 0.07 g. digit of the error. For example, if

the error has two digits to the right

Average m: of the decimal point, it’s quantity

P3 should also have two.

1 mi Be careful always to use a few extra

m̄ =

3 digits on all intermediate numbers,

10.10 + 10.00 + 10.00

m̄ = right up to the final result for the ex-

3 periment. This is in order not to ac-

m̄ = 10.03 g.

cumulate small computation errors

which can build up as one calcula-

error in m̄:

tion follows another.

As the samples consist of only three measurements and

the range of the measurements is comparable to the

reading error, we use the latter:

σm̄ = 0.07 g.

m̄ = 10.03 ± 0.07 g.

Table A.3

Average t:

4

1X

t̄ = ti

4 1

104.61 + 104.46 + 102.91 + 110.42

=

4

t̄ = 105.60 s.

200 Student Formal Report

error in t̄:

tmax − tmin

σt = √

n

110.42 − 102.91

= √

4

σt = 3.75 s.

of the clock (2 × 0.01 = 0.02 s), so the statistical

error in the mean is used:

σ

σt̄ = √t

n

3.75

= √

4

σt̄ = 1.9 s.

t̄ = 105.6 ± 1.9 s.

Period: T = t̄/N

106.6

T =

4

T = 26.40 s.

error in T :

σt̄

σT =

N

1.9

=

4

σT = 0.48 s.

T = 26.4 ± 0.5 s.

Table A.4

1/m:

1 1

=

m 10.03 g

1

= 99.7 kg−1 .

m

Moment of Inertia of a Bicycle Wheel 201

error in 1/m:

µ ¶

1

σm

σ1/m =

mm

0.07

= (99.07)

10.03

σ1/m = 0.69 kg−1 .

1

= 99.7 ± 0.7 kg−1 .

m

T 2:

T 2 = 26.42

= 697.0

2

T = 697.0 s2 .

error in T 2 :

σT 2 = 2T σT

= 2T σT

= 2 × 26.4 × 0.5

σT 2 = 26 s2 .

T 2 = 697 ± 26 s2 .

Show the calculation of the coordi-

Average point (X̄, Ȳ ): nates of the average point (X̄, Ȳ ).

Remember that this point is not a

P measured point, and so has no er-

X Y X

X̄ = ror associated with it. Identify it

99.7 697 n

371.503 clearly on the graph.

80.0 552 =

8 For convenience, the calculation of

66.4 454

X̄ = 46.44 kg−1 . X̄ and Ȳ is set up in tabular form.

50.1 339

P Nevertheless, there is no need to

33.93 234 Y

Ȳ = give complete headings with units,

19.96 130.2 n etc. and a caption. This is because

14.312 100.6 2556.15

= the information in this table is used

7.101 49.25 8

P only locally as part of a calculation,

371.503 2556.15 Ȳ = 319.5 s2 . and is not referred to anywhere else

Av 46.44 319.51

in the text.

202 Student Formal Report

They must always have a caption

which tells the reader what is plot-

ted. All points on the graph

must have error bars unless the er-

rors are too small to show at the

scale used. Then, there must be

a note in the caption explaining

why certain points don’t have er-

ror bars. The best line and the two

lines, with maximum and minimum

slopes, used for calculating the error

in the slope of the best line must

also be shown. Finally the trian-

gles defining points used to calcu-

late the three slopes must appear

in this example is reduced because

of the side bar for comments. In a

report, this graph would fill most of

the letter size page except for a 2 cm

margin on all sides, at most.

Moment of Inertia of a Bicycle Wheel 203

From triangles ABC, AH BH C and AL BL C, in Figure A.3, we The considerations about tables

find the following coordinates: used in calculations apply to the co-

ordinates of the points used for the

X Y slope calculations.

A 3.2 25 All that is required of the calcula-

AH 4.6 25 tion section is that all the calcula-

AL 2.0 25 tions be shown in a neat and logical

B 95.0 645 manner. In order to save space, it

BH 95.0 660 would be acceptable to show the cal-

BL 95.0 638 culations in two columns per page,

although a vertical sperule (line)

should then be used to separate the

Best slope: columns.

yB − yA

SLOPE =

xB − xA

645 − 25

=

95.0 − 3.2

SLOPE = 6.754 s2 ·kg.

Maximum slope: Clearly show the calculations of the

yBH − yAH three slopes and that of the error in

SLOPEmax = the slope of the best line.

xBH − xAH

660 − 25

=

95.0 − 4.6

SLOPEmax = 7.024 s2 ·kg.

Minimum slope:

yBL − yAL

SLOPEmin =

xBL − xAL

638 − 25

=

95.0 − 2.0

SLOPEmin = 6.591 s2 ·kg.

SLOPEmax − SLOPEmin

σSLOPE = √

2 n−2

7.024 − 6.591

= √

2 6

σSLOPE = 0.088 s2 ·kg.

SLOPE = 6.75 ± 0.09 s2 ·kg.

204 Student Formal Report

Moment of inertia, I:

SLOPE × dg

I =

4π 2

6.75 × 0.2098 × 9.806

=

4π 2

I = 0.3518 kg·m2 .

error in I:

From the formula for products,

µ ¶2 µ ¶ µ ¶ µ ¶

σI σSLOPE 2 σd 2 σg 2

= + +

I SLOPE d g

µ ¶2 µ ¶2 µ ¶

0.09 0.5 0.0005 2

= + +

6.75 21.0 9.806

= (0.013) + (0.024) + (5.0 · 10−5 )2

2 2

µ ¶2

σI

= 7.45 · 10−4

I

σI

= 0.027

I

σI = I × 0.027

= 0.3518 × 0.027

σI = 9.49 · 10−3 kg·m2 .

and its error have been calculated,

∆ = I − IW always compare the result to other

= 0.352 − 0.361 measurements of the same quan-

∆ = −0.009 kg·m2 . tity obtained by different methods,

q or to an accepted value from refer-

σ∆ = σI2 + σI2W ence tables. Refer to Section 2.4

p

= 0.0092 + 0.0062 of this manual to learn how to do

= 0.011 kg·m2 . this. This comparison must always

be discussed in the Discussions &

For consistent results; Conclusions section of the report.

|∆|

≤ 2

σ∆

Moment of Inertia of a Bicycle Wheel 205

0.009

=

0.011

= 0.82

|∆|

< 2.

σ∆

Result

The moment of inertia of the modified bicycle wheel The result is just a direct statement

was found to be: of the findings of the experiment as

they fulfill the purpose stated at the

I = 0.352 ± 0.009 kg·m2 . beginning of the report.

The known value of the moment of inertia of the wheel This part of the report is the most

is IW = 0.361 ± 0.006 kg·m2 . Comparison of the mystifying for many students, prob-

discrepancy between the two values to its standard ably because judgments must be

deviation gives |∆|/σ∆ = 0.82 < 2. Thus, the value of made on the value of the experi-

I obtained in this measurement is consistent with the ment. This is where comparisons

previously determined value. are made to numerical results ob-

From the expression for (σI /I)2 it is evident that the tained by others for the same quan-

greatest contributor to the uncertainty is the error tity. Also, sources of error are an-

in the position of m, d. In order to reduce the alyzed to determine which are the

error in I, this measurement must be improved greatest and the smallest. This is

significantly. This would require a better method of important because it shows where

localizing m. The smallest contribution to changes should be made to improve

uncertainty is clearly, g, the acceleration due to precision. Some indication of how

gravity. the experiment could be improved

should also be given. Only infor-

This method allows one to determine the moment of

mation in the previous sections of

inertia of a wheel without making difficult

the report can be used here, noth-

measurements of the angular acceleration due to a

ing new.

known torque. Although time consuming, it requires no

Some comment on the physical sig-

high precision instruments and can be made under most

nificance of the measurement or the

conditions.

advantages of the method should be

made to conclude the report.

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