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Moments of inertia of different bodies/

Steiner´s theorem with Cobra4 TEP

Related topics
Rigid body, moment of inertia, centre of gravity, axis of rotation, torsional vibration, spring constant, an-
gular restoring force.

Principle
The moment of inertia of a solid body depends on its mass distribution and the axis of rotation. Steiner’s
theorem elucidates this relationship.

Equipment
1 Cobra4 Wireless Manager 12600-00
1 Cobra4 Wireless-Link 12601-00
1 Movement sensor with cable 12004-10
1 Cobra4 Sensor-Unit Timer/Counter 12651-00
1 Angular oscillation apparatus 02415-88
1 Support rod, stainless steel, d = 10 mm, l = 400 mm 02039-00
1 Right angle clamp PHYWE 02040-55
3 Weight holder, 1 g 02407-00
1 Slotted weight, 1 g 03915-00
1 Barrel base -PASS- 02006-55
1 Tripod base -PASS- 02002-55
Portable Balance, OHAUS CS2000 - AC adapter in-
1 48917-93
cluded
1 Flat cell battery, 9 V 07496-10
1 Measuring tape, l = 2 m 09936-00
1 Software measure Cobra4 multi-user licence 14550-61

Additionally required
1 PC with USB interface, Windows XP or higher

Fig. 1: Experimental setup.

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Moments of inertia of different bodies/
TEP Steiner´s theorem with Cobra4

Task
The moments of inertia of different bodies are determined by oscillation measurements. Steiner’s theo-
rem is verified.

Setup and procedure


The experimental set-up is shown in Fig. 1.
Ensure that the thread that connects the axis of rotation with the wheel of the movement sensor is hori-
zontal. Wind the thread approximately 7 times around the rotation axis of the angular oscillation appa-
ratus below the fixing screw.
Set the measuring configuration “movement of inertia of different bodies/ Steiner´s Theorem with Co-
bra4”. Lay the silk thread across the wheel of the movement sensor and adjust the setup in such a man-
ner that the 1-g weight holder hangs freely and is located approximately in the middle of the silk thread.
In any case, the thread must be long enough to not block the oscillation.
Deflect the body that is fitted on the spring by approximately 360°, release it and start recording the
measured values by clicking on the ”Start measurement” icon.
After approximately 10 to 15 s, click on the ”Stop measurement” icon.
The 1-g weight holder tautens the connecting thread between the rotational axis of the angular oscillation
apparatus and the compact light barrier. If the thread bulges too easily during the movement of the body
on the light barrier, load additional 1-g mass pieces onto the weight holder.
Progressively mount the following bodies on the rotary axis: disc without holes, hollow cylinder, solid cyl-
inder, sphere, rod, disc with holes. Fix the masses symmetrically and successively at varying distances
from the rotational axis on the rod. Beginning in the centre, rotate the disc with holes around all bores
which lie on a radius.
After the evaluation, an image similar to Figure 2 appears on the screen. Determine the period T with the
aid of the freely movable cursor lines.

Fig 2: Typical measuring result.

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Moments of inertia of different bodies/
Steiner´s theorem with Cobra4 TEP

Theory and evaluation


For small oscillation amplitudes, the angle of rotation and the corresponding returning momentum are
proportional; one obtains harmonic circular oscillations with the frequency

With known this formula can be used to calculate .

The angular directive force is given through the restoring spring (the spiral spring in our case). The
duration of oscillation

of the circular oscillation is determined through the measurement. The unknown momentum of inertia
can be calculated from the values for the angular directive force and the period of oscillation by
means of the following equation;

Theoretical considerations yield the following relations for the moments of inertia J of the used test bod-
ies:

Circular disk:
The moment of inertia of a circular disk depends on its mass and its radius according to

Massive and hollow cylinder:


The moment of inertia Jv of a massive cylinder depends on its mass mv and its radius r. The following re-
lation is valid:

For a hollow cylinder of comparable mass and exterior radius, the moment of inertia must be larger. It
depends both on the mass mH of the hollow cylinder and on the radii ri and ra:

For a density r and a height h, the mass of the hollow cylinder can be expressed through

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Moments of inertia of different bodies/
TEP Steiner´s theorem with Cobra4

For the moment of inertia JH one obtains the following equation:

Which yields:

This equation expresses that the moment of inertia of the hollow cylinder can be expressed as moment
of inertia of two massive cylinders of the same density. The mass of the larger massive cylinder of radius
ra is:

and the mass of the smaller massive cylinder of radius r1 is:

One thus obtains

Sphere:
The moment of inertia JK of a homogeneous spherical body related to an axis passing through its central
point is:

Thus, the moment of inertia of a cylinder with the same radius r and the same mass m is larger than that
of a comparable sphere.
Next to the dimensions and masses of the test bodies, Table 1 also contains the measured and theoreti-
cally calculated moments of inertia.

Rod with movable masses:


The moment of inertia of a rod with masses which can be shifted depends on the distance between the
masses and the rotating axis. The measured moments of inertia of the rod without masses and with the
masses set at different points are listed in Table 2. The table also gives the calculated moments of iner-
tia of the rod without masses:

The moment of inertia measured every time corresponds to the sum of the single moments of inertia.

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Moments of inertia of different bodies/
Steiner´s theorem with Cobra4 TEP

The following parameters are valid for the measurement examples described here:

Steiner’s theorem:
According to Steiner’s theorem, the total moment of inertia J of a body rotated about an arbitrary axis is
composed of two parts according to

is the moment of inertia related to an axis running parallel to the rotation axis and passing through the
centre of gravity (axis of gravity). The expression is the moment of inertia of the mass of the body
concentrated at the centre of gravity, related to the rotation axis. Table 3 compares the measured mo-
ment of inertia J measured with the sum of the single moments of inertia and shows the validi-
ty of Steiner’s theorem.

Mass Moment of inertia


Body Formula
Radius
0.760
Sphere 14.9
7
0.500
Thin circular disc 56.3
15
0.300
Thick circular disc 18.2
11
0.380
Massive cylinder 4.8
5
0.380
Hollow cylinder 9.4
10 9.6
0.21
Dumbbell 31.5
30
Table 1

- 42.14 - 51.45
5 53.18 10.58 62.03
10 86.28 42.3 93.75
15 144.52 95.18 146.63
20 223.77 169.2 220.65
25 322.75 264.38 315.83
Table 2

0 50.44 - -
3 55.25 4.09 54.53
6 68.91 16.34 66.78
9 106.47 36.77 87.21
12 119.00 65.38 115.82
Table 3

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Moments of inertia of different bodies/
TEP Steiner´s theorem with Cobra4

Place for notes:

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