Gyroscope Walks The Tightrope

Gyroscopes are one of those physics phenomena that are a means to many ends, but can also enjoyed as a fascinating object in their own right. Case and point being [Hyperspace Pirate]’s tightrope-balancing crawler in the video after the break.

Inside the PLA and aluminum shell is a 3D-printed wheel with steel bolts around the edge for added moment of inertia. It is powered by a low-KV brushless motor with a 3:1 GT2 belt-drive and controlled by a simple servo tester, running on a 4 cell LiPo battery. The 3D-printed drive wheel is powered by a geared DC motor hooked directly to the battery. [Hyperspace Pirate] goes over the math of the design, showing that path to stability is a high speed and high moment of inertia flywheel, while staying well within the strength limits of the wheel’s material.

It’s balancing act was first demonstrated on a length of PVC conduit and then on a section of rope, with the characteristic circular wobbling of a gyroscope, known as gyroscopic precession. Without active correction, this the angle of procession will steadily increase until the machine falls over. Even so, it’s still great to watch a small scale version, like the one that inspired this build, would make a pretty cool desk toy.

Gyroscopes are commonly used in attitude indicators and and heading indicators in aircraft, and we’ve also seen them get used for balancing robots. Any ideas for practical uses for a mono-wheel rail/rope walker? Drop them in the comments below.

13 thoughts on “Gyroscope Walks The Tightrope

  1. fun fact: editing your own work is hard. You see what you expect, not what you wrote. Funner fact: not everyone has a ready editor. Funnest fact: the current AI options don’t do a very good job. An even funester fact: autocorrect can do weirder things than you ever imagined without telling you (today, texted with ‘phisoderm’, the soap. Autocorrect changed it to ‘phisodex’, the product that disappeared in the early 1970’s. I proofread before sending and wither didn’t see the change or it was done automagically when I sent, which the Verizon text ap does as a ‘feature’). Sometimes, autocorrect ‘fixes’ something, I try to correct the screw up, and it does it again. and, in the end makes it impossible to do the right thing.

    I stopped worrying about these things a long time ago. You might want to, as well.

    1. It was phisohex and phisoderm that were (in the original concentrations) that were removed from the market (US products so maybe correct elsewhere). It struck me very funny how all your points were proved correct that I just had to be the ‘a’ and point it out lol since typo is my middle name these days (checking for my mistakes…….. :-)
      And yet I do agree with you but you mentioned funny. please forgive me!
      OOps left a space in my own email address..doh

  2. Dammit. I understood all that was being presented. Either my Einsteinian Brain worked overtime too decipher the intent with no exertion, or I’m at the same alleged level of intelligence of the author.
    Some of us are able to design, engineer, and produce not only manuscripts, but objects without using Ng proper spelling, or grammar and others understand perfectly.
    As a kid, my Grandfather brought a gyroscope to me from Germany. I was about 6 at the time. He and my Dad taught me how to use it, and why it acted the way it did. In the past 66 years, I have used it often. Dad made Tops for my siblings and me, as well as the neighbor kids. Working much the same.
    I’ve seen many articles on motorcycles testing gyroscopic balancing so as not to fall over, or the operator to lose balance in curves. I doubt I’ll see it, but having a motorcycle or bicycle you can remain upright on when stopping without putting your feet down at a stop will appear especially with the EV bikes and motorcycles.
    Thanks for the article.

  3. my childhood toy gyroscope had two sides, one had a dimple for balancing on a point, and the other end had a slot for walking a string. The same string it came with, so it was a popular trick to carry the gyroscope on the string and lift it back and forth across it.

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