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GYRO Compass

— It essentially consists of a gyroscope.

— It works on the principle of law of conservation of angular momentum.

— It utilizes two natural phenomena to provide directional reference: earth’s incessant
rotation and the force of gravity.


— A gyroscope consists of a mass in the form of a wheel or rotor which is suspended in such a
way that it is free to spin about an axis passing through its centre of mass and perpendicular
to the plane of the rotor.

— Ideal conditions warrant that the spin axis bearings should be frictionless so that any
rotation imparted to the rotor is maintained.

— With this arrangement gyroscope is not constrained in any way so as to alter the direction of
spin axis.

— It is then said to have three degrees of freedom & is called a Free Gyroscope.

Three degrees of freedom

— Freedom to spin, i.e. rotate about the spin axis.

— Freedom to turn in vertical plane or freedom to turn about horizontal axis. Also described as
freedom to tilt in altitude. Termed as tilting (Tg)

— Freedom to turn in horizontal plane or freedom to turn about vertical axis. Also described as
freedom to drift in azimuth. Termed as drifting (Dg).

Effective gyroscope

— For a gyroscope to be effective and efficient it should have large angular momentum,

Capt Sunil Bhabha Page 1

— This means that it should rotate at high speed and should have large moment of inertia. — This in turn indicates how much force is required to change the direction in which the spin axis points. shape. rotors are designed with a heavier edge and a relatively lighter internal construction sufficient to maintain the strength of the rotor. — It is heavy and well balanced with the equatorial mass corresponding to the plane of a rotor. — I = Kmr2. — For this reason. m = mass of the rotor. — It resists any attempt to change its direction of spin. because: — It is freely suspended in space having no friction and thus having three degrees of freedom. — H depends on ω (angular velocity) & Ι (moment of inertia) and is given by: — H= I ω — Moment of Inertia depends on mass. K = constant. greater will be the Ι and greater will be gyroscopic inertia for any given ω. — This reduces the overall mass while enhancing the I. (equivalent to large moment of inertia) — Earth rotates at considerably high speed about its axis. r = radius of the rotor Precession — This phenomenon is found only in spinning bodies. distribution of mass about the axis and the position and orientation of the axis itself. Earth: A free gyroscope — Earth is the best example of free gyroscope in nature. — This property is called GYROSCOPIC INERTIA or RIGIDITY IN SPACE or DIRECTIONAL STABILITY — The gyroscopic inertia of a rotor can be quantified by its angular momentum (H). — Thus a free gyroscope has high directional stability. (equivalent to spin axis of rotor) Gyroscopic inertia — A freely spinning gyroscope will maintain its axis of spin in the same direction with respect to space irrespective of how its supporting base is turned. — In this case of rotor. Capt Sunil Bhabha Page 2 . Where. It is the movement of the spin axis when a force is applied to the spin axis of gyroscope. greater the proportion of mass which lies towards the circumference of the rotor. size.

— Similarly couple applied about the vertical axis will make the spin axis turn about the horizontal axis in the direction of the spin axis of the wheel.r. — But it will have an apparent change in direction w.t the surface of rotating earth. Capt Sunil Bhabha Page 3 .r. — This property is called PRECESSION — Precession. — Motion of the SA relative to the earth surface can be easily understood by considering the daily motion of the Gyro star. P= T/ (Iω) OR — P = applied torque/ angular momentum — T= torque in Nm — ω = speed in radians/sec. — I = moment of inertia in kgm2 Free Gyroscope on earth — The orientation of the spin axis of a free gyro is constant w. — When a couple is applied about its horizontal axis.t a fixed point in the space. — Therefore it is convenient to consider the SA of a FG as pointing to an imaginary star called the Gyro star. the spin axis will turn at right angles to the applied force in the direction of the spin of the wheel.

Concept of Sidereal time — The earth rotates about its axis through poles in 23h 56m 40. It is given by the formula — Tilting = 15° Sin (Azimuth) Cos (Latitude) / Hour — Az will always be in quadrental form. Tilt — It is the angle of elevation or depression of the SA above or below the Horizontal. — 24 sidereal hours = 23h 56m 04s solar hours = 23. — This period is called sidereal day and may be divided into 24 sidereal hours.9s of solar time. — The direction in which the spin axis points relative to the earth surface is expressed by its Tilt & Azimuth. — Equivalent to true altitude of the Gyro star.934444 solar hours. Capt Sunil Bhabha Page 4 . Tilting — This is the rate of change of Tilt of the SA. — Any reference to time in Gyro is assumed as Sidereal time.

— Drifting is +ve or easterly below the pole & -ve or westerly above the pole. The axis maintains constant tilt and drifts around the horizon @ 15 deg/hour. — The azimuth will remain 090 and after meridian passage it will be 270. (Dg = 15 deg Sin lat / Hour ) — If initially spin axis pointing at zenith i. with tilting now changing @ -15/hour (negative sign to show downward tilt) — Thus Tilting is maximum at equator i. maximum rate of Dg occurs at poles.e.t. Motion of Gyro at Equator — Spin axis is initially pointing E. Drifting — Drifting is the rate of change of Azimuth of the SA. at a tilt of 90. therefore. (like a body at E on rational horizon and zero declination). — At a pole latitude is 90.r. — Hence the tilting formula — Tilting = 15° Sin (Azimuth) Cos (Latitude) / Hour Capt Sunil Bhabha Page 5 . — There will be no drift and tilting will be maximum. Motion of Gyro at Poles — Initially if the spin axis is kept horizontal. — This rate is same as the earth’s rate of rotation (360 deg /24 hours). — It is +ve or upwards east of the meridian & — -ve or downwards west of the meridian Azimuth — The direction in which the SA points w.e. zero latitude and minimum at poles (90 deg lat) Also when pointing East azimuth is maximum = 90. — In respect to the Gyro this is also known as Drift. — At N pole the drift is in clockwise direction and at S pole it is in ACW direction. — It is given by the formula — Drfting = 15° Sin (Latitude) per hour — The formula is only applicable if SA is almost horizontal or the Tilt is close to zero. the true North. — It will continue pointing in the same direction with no tilt and drift. changing at the rate of 15deg per hour.

— It will remain pointing in North direction. — FG of this sort is of no use for direction determination. with drift and tilt both zero. — Here azimuth is zero and Tilting is nil. — Hence the spin axis will also keep on Drifting & Tilting. Motion of the Gyro Star & Gyro Spin Axis COMBINED DRIFT AND TILT Figure 5 [a] Northern Hemisphere P Z W E Q M e r i d Path traced out by i NORTH end of the axle a n Horizon Controlling Free Gyro to make a North Seeking Instrument — The axis of a FG traces a circular path around the pole and keeps changing its position under the influence of Tilting and Drifting. Capt Sunil Bhabha Page 6 . Motion of Gyro at intermediate latitude — As discussed above the Spin Axis will point towards the Imaginary gyro star — As the gyro star crosses the horizon it will be changing its azimuth s well as altitude and tracing a path in the sky centred at the pole. — If the Spin axis is initially pointing N.

— The earth’s rotation will however tilt the spin axis. — Thus a system is required. — This is done in two ways. W S N — When the spin axis is horizontal the COG of the weight passes through the centre of the rotor producing no torque. when viewed from south end Top Heavy Control — The gyroscope is made North Seeking by attaching a weight to the rotor casing above the COG of the rotor. — Top heavy effect requires the rotor to rotate in ACW direction and bottom heavy effect requires CW spin. known as top heavy effect and bottom heavy effect. which can not only sense this movement but also apply a force to control the movement due to Dg and Tg — The force of gravity is used for making gyro North Seeking. — When the gyro axis tilts the COG of the weight does not act through the centre of the rotor and this weight produces a torque about the horizontal axis (or in the vertical plane) Capt Sunil Bhabha Page 7 .

— This precession is called control precession (Pc). Capt Sunil Bhabha Page 8 . W N Precession — This torque will result in Precession in the horizontal plane that tends to take the spin axis towards the meridian.

W W M e N S N r i d i a n Precession HORIZON Path traced out by a free gyro Torque Precession — The direction of spin of the rotor must be in such as to produce a westerly precession of the North end of the spin axis when that end is tilted upwards. — And this direction turns out to be ACW in top heavy type gyros and CW in bottom heavy type gyros Bottom heavy Control Capt Sunil Bhabha Page 9 .

Path traced by Controlled Gyro — Path traced by the N end of the Spin Axis is now elliptical. — While the two vectors resulted in a circular path traced by the spin axis. Tg & Pc). the introduction of the third vector results in an elliptical path. Capt Sunil Bhabha Page 10 . — Because in gravity control gyroscope there are three vectors interacting with each other (Dg. — Note that the ellipse now formed is entirely below the pole. instead of just two(Dg and Tg). centred about pole.

Path traced by Controlled Gyro – North Hemisphere — Blue Arrow – Dg Capt Sunil Bhabha Page 11 .

(Tilting = 15° Sin (Azimuth) Cos (Latitude) / Hour) — Pc vector also changes in magnitude because Pc is proportional to tilt. — but the Tg vector changes because Tg also varies with Sin Az and azimuth is continuously changing. — In this elliptical path it is to be seen that.Tg — Path traced by Controlled Gyro – South Hemisphere Blue Arrow – Dg — Green Arrow – Pc — Red Arrow . — Green Arrow – Pc — Red Arrow . — Drifting is always Eastward as this ellipse is formed below the pole. when Spin Axis is tilted upwards and eastwards when the axis is tilted downwards.Tg Understanding the Ellipse — Control precession (Pc). acts westwards. while the Dg vector remains same in size (15 Sin lat). Capt Sunil Bhabha Page 12 . — Tilting acts upwards when east of meridian and downwards when west of meridian. — In commercial gyros the time period to complete one revolution of the ellipse is usually about 84-85 minutes.

— COG of the ballistic system coincides with that of the rotor.Controlling Gyro by Liquid Ballistic — Practically the gyro is controlled using a liquid ballistic. where the axis will settle and if disturbed from that position will return to it. mercury. — Mercury flows between pots in the north south axis under the influence of gravity when the gyro axis tilts out of the horizontal. — In damping. — — Damping the Ellipse — Gravity controlled gyroscope also cannot be used as a compass because the axis does not point along the meridian. The spin of the gyro axis is anticlockwise viewed from the south. — Thus some form of damping is needed to damp these oscillations and make the axis settle in equilibrium along the meridian. towards the equilibrium position. but oscillates along the ellipse repeatedly. — This is similar to a top-heavy arrangement. the controlled ellipse becomes a spiral inwards. Capt Sunil Bhabha Page 13 .

BUT OFFSET slightly to the WEST.Damping precession (Pd) is towards the horizon . in the plane of the rotor. Capt Sunil Bhabha Page 14 .Damping precession (Pd) is towards the meridian – employed in Bottom Heavy Effect type gyros. — Rotor casing is supported in a vertical ring which surrounds the casing in E-W plane & is connected by East West bearings. Damping in Azimuth . Damping in Tilt .employed in Top Heavy Effect type gyros — Used in Top Heavy Gyros rotating ACW. — The Rotor casing carries a small weight (17 g in Sperry Mark 20) on top. — 2. — — This is achieved by one of the following: — 1.

this downward torque on the Western side produces a downwards precession of the North end when it is tilted upwards & vice versa. — Since the rotor is moving ACW. — But when the Spin Axis tilts. Capt Sunil Bhabha Page 15 . — The Damping Precession generated thus is always directed towards the horizon opposing the Tilt. — — With the spin axis horizontal the damping weight has no effect. damping weight exerts a torque about the Vertical axis.

— — Blue Arrow – Dg — Green Arrow – Pc — Red Arrow – Tg — Yellow .Pd — — Spiral Path Capt Sunil Bhabha Page 16 .

Tg. The easterly Dg ceases here. — Spiral path is traced as a result of interaction of Dg. Capt Sunil Bhabha Page 17 . (Nth Hemisphere) — Immediately Pc and small quantity of Pd will be introduced. where again Pc = Dg and spin axis will move back to E towards meridian under the influence of all four vectors. The rate of tilting will however be reduced by Pd. — Pc and Pd become zero and the spin axis becomes horizontal again. — Then spin axis moves eastwards rapidly under the influence of Dg and Pc and cuts the meridian at lower downward tilt. — After a number of oscillations it is reduced to zero. Consequently with each half cycle the oscillation is damped or amplitude of the oscillation is reduced. Pc reduces Dg and Pd counteracts Tg. — The end immediately acquires a positive tilt due to earth’s rotation. — The movement is vertical at this point under the influence of Tg which is maximum at this point. — Maximum western azimuth is reached at a certain stage. Pc and Pd causing the spin axis to settle in equilibrium position. — As tilt increases so does the Pc and Pd. before the meridian itself. — At a certain stage tilt increases to value where Pc = Dg. — Thus a point comes before the meridian. where Tg = Pd and the maximum tilt is reached at this point and will be reducing westwards. Why Gyro is less effective at Higher Latitudes? — It should be noted that efficacy of top heavy control in causing Pc depends on rate of Tg which decreases away from equator until it is zero at poles. the azimuth must reduce. Here again a point is reached where Tg = Pd. — Initially when spin axis is horizontal. Pc is now greater than Dg and spin axis moves towards meridian — This means the rate of Tg is reducing while the Pd is increasing. — Due to this action of Pd. — It will also drift to E. causing the meridian to be crossed at a lower tilt (than the tilt at meridian in case of ellipse). — Thus each time spin axis comes to settling level (where Dg=Pc). amplitude of oscillation is considerably reduced. — Below horizon Tg is downwards and Pd becomes upwards. there is neither Pc nor Pd. — As the north axis moves west of meridian Tg is now downwards (while tilt is still up) and Pd also acts down pulling spin axis rapidly towards horizon.

Capt Sunil Bhabha Page 18 . — Hence sensitivity and accuracy of GC is greatly reduced in latitudes 70 and above.