Development of a Micro Rotating Gyroscope for Aerospace Applications

Interim report – Final Year Project

Tham Jia Yin, Sarah Supervised by Dr. Christopher Shearwood

December 2010

Conventional Gyroscope In this project. The rotor. The momentum is large enough to prevent any changes to its orientation caused by external forces. A conventional gyroscope is shown in the figure below. rolling. and the exponential growth of the industry in recent years has fuelled a need for smaller. the orientation of the host vehicle can then be determined. The concept of the micro gyroscope will be based on stable magnetic levitation. A rotor will be levitated in mid-air and spun at high revolutions. and several experiments will be carried out to determine a configuration that provides the most stability. Figure 1 . Introduction Gyroscopes have been used as navigation aids since the turn of the 20th century. giving it a very large angular momentum. yet high-performance gyroscopes. Using angle pickoffs in the gimbals. I aim to develop a micro rotating gyroscope that is suitable for aerospace applications. gyroscopes are an integral part of navigation systems in aircraft. which is mounted in gimbals as shown. or yawing of its host aircraft. is free to rotate under external torque. and hence is able to maintain its orientation as always being parallel to the surface of the Earth. The rotor is spun at very high speeds. It uses conservation of angular momentum to measure the orientation of its host vehicle with respect to an inertial reference frame. In aerospace.1. . such as the pitching. This project focuses on the stability of the levitation.

it was proven mathematically that stable levitation i n a magnetic field was possible. there are loopholes to this theorem as they only apply to stationary Ferro magnets. This is due to the use of diamagnetic materials. Imagine a diamagnetic disc being placed on top of an array of magnets. It is a general phenomenon found weakly in almost all materials. This behaviour is in accordance with Lenz’s Law.2. and will be repelled by both poles of a magnet. a diamagnetic material can be said to be a material with the absence of other magnetic properties. Levitation Levitation is the suspension of a body in mid-air by a physical force. Diamagnetism Diamagnetism is a material property best described as being anti-magnetic. orbital currents are generated in the molecules of the material that will repel the approaching magnet. but is often overpowered by other forms of magnetism displayed by the materials (such as ferromagnetism and paramagnetism). and even applications all over the world. which proved that it was not possible to achieve any stable form of levitation using only ferrous magnets. It has been shown in experiments. In 1842. physicist Samuel Earnshaw discovered Earnshaw’s Theorem. With diamagnetic materials. rotational stabilization such as that seen in the popular Levitron toy. Hence. that stable magnetic levitation is possible. which states that the current induced by a change in magnetic field will itself create a magnetic field that opposes the change. and in some cases. When a magnet is brought toward a diamagnetic material. If the magnet is sufficiently strong.1. and the disc will levitate above the array. One of the most developed forms of levitation is magnetic levitation. 2. If the disc . However. the repulsion force created by the disc will be large enough to support its own weight.

450 .2.8. and are strong enough to levitate small pieces of pyrolytic graphite. which is necessary for this project. which behave as ideal diamagnets due to their property of zero resistance that allow induced currents.0 .106 In this project. The diamagnetic strength of materials is measured by its volume susceptibility χ. the diamagnet of choice is Pyrolytic graphite. hence creating a stable levitation. the emphasis of this project is on the stability of the levitation.wobbles. For diamagnetic materials. is a negative number. and as such. In this project. it is one of the most strongly diamagnetic materials available. The χ values of some common materials are found in the table below. susceptibility lies between -1 and 0. Superconductors. Table 1 . and this stability will be configured through a series of subsequent experiments with various magnetic arrays.170 .34 . . have a susceptibility of -1. strong magnets are also necessary in order to induce a strong enough diamagnetic effect in the pyrolytic graphite for levitation. As seen from the table. These magnets have a residual flux density of up to 14.χ values of some diamagnetic materials Material Vacuum Water Gold Bismuth Graphite Rod Pyrolytic graphite Superconductor Susceptibility χ (x 10-6) . 2. a type of rare-earth magnets which are currently the strongest permanent magnets available. I employ grade N50 neodymium magnets.8 . the repulsive force created by the diamagnet will respond in such a way as to restore the system to equilibrium.160 .5 kilograms-second. As previously mentioned. χ is the opposite of magnetic permeability. Rare Earth Magnets For stable magnetic levitation.

The magnetic fields created by the individual magnets behave like a force well that centralizes the diamagnetic graphite disc over the array. S N Figure 2 . and the setup will be scaled down in size at a later stage of the project.2 by 2 magnet configuration. the magnetic field of the array in that particular direction will provide a repulsive force (due to the diamagnetism of the disc) that pushes the graphite back to its original position. Cube magnets have a north and south pole face each as shown in the figure below. The larger size makes the configurations easier to handle.3. For the purposes of research and testing. This is how stable levitation is achieved. When displaced in any direction. I begin with 12mm cube magnets. Figure 3 .Neodynium cube magnet The most basic configuration for stable levitation of a piece of graphite is a two-by-two configuration as shown below. the magnets employed in this project are neodymium cube magnets. top view and side view . Studies As mentioned. and the remaining four faces of the cube do not produce any flux.

Magnetic field density of 2-by-2 array It can be seen from the plot that there is a strong magnetic region at the side of each magnet. which are equal in magnitude.Stacked 2 by 2 magnetic array. Translating this information into 3D. Using material information from the manufacturer. we can deduce that the smaller magnetic field is what supports the weight of the graphite disc.To better understand the behaviour of the graphite. In order to increase the stability of the levitation. Figure 4 . top view and side view . it is necessary to increase the strength of the stabilizing magnetic field. I obtained the following flux density plot. a magnetic field simulation software. are the stabilizing forces that keep the graphite centralized. I simulate the magnetic field generated by the array using ViziMag. and a smaller region in between the two magnets. and the fields at the sides of the magnets. One way of increasing the strength of the magnetic field is to stack the magnets as shown. Figure 5 .

we can conclude that theoretically. Having deduced earlier that these magnetic fields are what keep the graphite stable in the centre of the array. This is a side view of the configuration corresponding to that shown in the illustration above. From the plots. a stacked array will provide a higher level of lateral stability to the levitation due to the stronger repulsive forces acting on the disc. it can be clearly seen that the flux generated by the stacked array at the ends of the magnets are higher than then single array.Again. Figure 7 .Magnetic flux density of 2-by-2 array (left) and stacked 2-by-2array (right) . I simulate the magnetic flux generated by the array. Figure 6 .Magnetic field density of the stacked 2 by 2 array The graphs below plot the magnitude of the magnetic flux across the top of the respective magnetic arrays where the graphite will be levitated.

top and side view The magnetic flux generated by this array is shown in the picture below. Because of the 3by-3 configuration. Figure 8 . Higher levitation is also important in the project because payload may be added to the disc in the later stages of the project for the purposes of rotation and measurement. there are two magnetic fields in the middle of the array. The arrangement is illustrated in the figure below. The disc should sufficiently cover the size of one magnet for stable levitation. Visualizing it in 3D. Here it is important to note that the levitated disc here is larger than that used by the 2-by-2 configuration due to the increased size of the array. or allows a heavier mass to be levitated. we can imagine that there are more magnetic fields present to support the weight of the levitated graphite. which is necessary in this case because the disc is now larger. Figure 9 . This allows the graphite to levitate higher.3-by-3 magnet configuration.The next configuration I study is a 3-by-3 arrangement.Magnetic field density of the 3-by-3 array .

and the results obtained were similar to that obtained from studying a stacked 2-by-2 array. Figure 10 – Magnetic flux density of a 3-by-3 array A stacked 3-by-3 array was also studied. compared to 4 in a 2-by-2) that provides more magnetic fields to centralize the disc. . Notice that the magnitude of the flux regions in the centre of the array is much higher than that of the 2-by-2 configuration. At this point in the project.The graph below plots the magnitude of the flux density across the top of the array. However. it is noteworthy that the magnetic field at the ends of the magnet are of similar magnitude compared to the 2-by-2 array. the levitation by the 3-by-3 array demonstrated a higher lateral stability. as mentioned. in the experiments. The magnetic fields at the ends of the array were found to be stronger and hence could provide more lateral stability. This provides a stronger lifting force on the diamagnet. a stacked 3-by-3 magnetic array was found to be the most stable configuration. Also. This is due to the increase in number of magnets surrounding the graphite (8 in a 3-by-3 array.

The results from the experiments will be summarized here. The systems were placed on a vibration plate.5cm amplitude.97 No useful conclusion could be drawn from these results about the effects of the various arrays on the vertical stability of the graphite. of the disc was measured over a period of one minute in a still room with minimum air current disturbances. I attempted to find the first natural frequency of the system.64 3. which was set to vibrate horizontally at 0.18 2. The frequency at which sustained vibrations caused the disc to fall off from the array was determined to be the natural frequency. it is important to note these values as background noise to be accounted for in the later stages of the project. The amplitudes of the noises are listed in the table below.5Hz. . Using a fibre optic measuring probe.1. Lateral Stability To determine the lateral stability of the levitation. and the magnitude of that frequency can be taken as representative of the system’s lateral stability. 4. and slowly increased the frequency.2.4. Experimental findings Some experiments were conducted to verify the results in stability as hypothesized by the theories in the previous section. However. known as background noise. Vertical Stability Reflective tape was applied to one side of the levitated disc which was then levitated over each array. Table 2 . the vertical displacement. I started with a low vibration frequency of 0.Vertical noise of the levitated disc for various arrays Array 2x2 2 x 2 stacked 3x3 3 x 3 stacked Amplitude of vibration (x 10-4) m 2. 4.11 3.

8 2. A stacked array is more stable than a single array.In the table below.First natural frequency of the various arrays Array 2x2 2 x 2 stacked 3x3 3 x 3 stacked Natural Frequency (Hz) 1.9 . We can see that the results are in accordance to the theoretical hypothesis. Table 3 .7 2. and a 3x3 array is more stable than a 2x2 array. the first natural frequency of each array is summarized.1 2.

even that array does not provide sufficient stability to the levitation for real-world applications. I will also begin to work on the spinning of the levitat ed graphite disc by means of electrostatic forces or other methods. work has been done in studying the magnetic fields of the individual cube magnets. I will also study the effects that the spinning disc has on the stability of its levitation. After a satisfactory configuration has been set up. it has been determined that a stacked 3-by-3 magnet array provides the most lateral stability for a levitated piece of pyrolytic graphite. I will continue to study the magnetic field densities of various magnetic configurations and seek to improve both the horizontal and lateral stability of the levitation. Further work At this current point in the project.5. and more importantly. the fields generated when the magnets are assembled in various arrays. Simultaneously. Through theoretical studies and experiments. In the next stage of the project. I will begin to scale down the size of the system in accordance with the theme of the project – to develop a micro rotating gyroscope. . It is my wish that I will eventually be able to present a working model of such a device at the end of the project to show for the amount of research and work put in. However.

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