It wasn’t long ago that a gyro — or gyroscope — was an exotic piece of electronics gear. Most of us only saw them as children’s toys that would balance on your finger. That’s changed, though, thanks to microelectronics. Now your game controller, your phone, and your drone all probably use little ICs that are actually three-axis gyroscopes. Ever wonder how they work and what they do? [RCModelReviews] has a video that covers three kinds of gyros: old mechanical gyros, modern MEMS gyros, and even an exotic laser-based gyro. (YouTube, embedded below.)
Gyroscopes allow you to detect orientation by detecting linear forces on a rotating element. They are used in everything from spacecraft to submarines. The device has many origins dating back to antiquity. But the modern gyro showed up around 1800 or so. The children’s toy appeared in 1917 and is still made today.
Gyroscopes combined with accelerometers can give you a lot of information about a vehicle’s orientation and motion. Combine it with magnetic field sensors and you can even tell your absolute orientation in the Earth’s magnetic field.
Of course, given the source, the video talks mostly about how gyros have changed flying RC vehicles including quadcopters and helicopters. If you ever wondered how they got a spinning disk into those little MEMS gyros, this video will fill you in.