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What is Gyroscope – History, Three Degrees of Freedom, Basic Properties

Gyroscope is one of the ‘must be’ navigational equipment that any floating vessel needs for finding direction. Every mariner knows its importance. Not limited to this, it also finds it uses in Smart watches, Smartphones, Gaming Industry and Cameras too. This post will discuss what is Gyroscope, its history, three Degrees of freedom in gyroscope and basic properties ‘Rigidity in Space’ & ‘Rule of Precision’.

History of Gyroscope

The word Gyro-scope was initially termed in 1852 by Mr. Foucault. Mr Foucault was a french scientist. ‘Gyroscope’ is the combination of two greek words ‘Gyro’ and ‘Scopien’. Gyro in Greek means revolution and skopien means view. It is commonly known as Gyro also.

Introduction to Gyroscope

Fig. 1 – Introduction to Gyroscope

The existence of Gyro lies on this earth from the time when the first ever electron started to spin on its axis. There are many examples of natural gyroscopes in the real world.  The electrons around us spin at a very high speed and possess all the properties of a Gyro.

Our Earth, in fact, is also an example of the natural gyro. Why ?? It is because our Earth has got a mass and it rotates at an extremely high speed (1000 miles/hour). It is this rotation which provides the stabilization to the Earth and so our Earth’s north pole always points towards the North Star.

What is a Gyroscope

Any highly spinning object which has a mass  is primarily a Gyro.  for example – a fast spinning wheel, a fired bullet, propeller of a plane’s thrust engine, etc. But if we become a little bit more strict to the fundamentals, we can say that a Gyroscope is a mechanism which has a quite high spinning speed, mass and three degrees of freedom.

Three Degrees of Freedom in Gyroscope

Fig. 2 – Three Degrees of Freedom in Gyro

What are Three Degrees of Freedom in Gyroscope?

“Three degree of freedom” means that the gyro is free to take any position in space. However, in particular the three degrees of freedom can be listed as :

  • It should be able to rotate on its axis. As the name suggests, This axis is commonly referred as Spin axis.
  • It should be able to drift on the Vertical axis.
  • It should be able to tilt on the Horizontal axis.

See the below video to better understand what Three Degrees of Freedom means.

Basic Properties of a Gyroscope

When we discuss about the basic properties of a Gyro, it should follow two foremost properties:

  • Rigidity in Space
  • Rule of PrecisionProperties of Gyroscope
Fig. 3 – Properties of Gyroscope

Rigidity in Space

The property of ‘Rigidity in space’ defines that a highly spinning body always tends to maintain its initial direction until unless an external force is applied to it.

Rule of Precision

The property of ‘Rule of Precision’ defines that when an external force is applied to a highly spinning body, it always  tends to move 90 degree towards the direction of applied force.

Read about Effect of Earth Rotation on Gyro – At Equator and Pole


Also Read:
Path traced by Gyroscope
Undamped Oscillation of Gyro
Settling Period of Gyro
Sahil Mishra
Sahil Mishra
Sahil is a BTech in Marine Electrical. He is also a Reliability Analyst and has specializations in Russian Control Systems, Machinery Control System and Automated Power Management. He has work experience of 18 years. He is an Author, Editor and Partner at Electricalfundablog.


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