Gyroscope

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A gyroscope is a device for measuring or maintaining orientation, based on the principles of conservation of angular momentum.[1] A mechanical gyroscope is essentially a spinning wheel or disk whose axle is free to take any orientation. This orientation changes much less in response to a given external torque than it would without the large angular momentum associated with the gyroscope's high rate of spin. Since external torque is minimized by mounting the device in gimbals, its orientation remains nearly fixed, regardless of any motion of the platform on which it is mounted.

Gyroscopes based on other operating principles also exist, such as the electronic, microchip-packaged MEMS gyroscope devices found in consumer electronic devices, solid state ring lasers, fibre optic gyroscopes and the extremely sensitive quantum gyroscope.

Applications of gyroscopes include navigation (INS) when magnetic compasses do not work (as in the Hubble telescope) or are not precise enough (as in ICBMs) or for the stabilization of flying vehicles like radio-controlled helicopters or UAVs. Due to higher precision, gyroscopes are also used to maintain direction in tunnel mining.[2]

Contents

Description and diagram

Within mechanical systems or devices, a conventional gyroscope is a mechanism comprising a rotor journalled to spin about one axis, the journals of the rotor being mounted in an inner gimbal or ring, the inner gimbal is journalled for oscillation in an outer gimbal which is journalled in another gimbal. So basically there are three gimbals.

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