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Name: ___________________________________

Partner(s): ________________________________
1114 section: _______
Desk # _____________
Date: _________________

Forces and Equilibrium

Purpose

To use scale diagrams to verify the equilibrium condition:


1) using the component method,
2) graphically using the head-to-tail method.

Introduction and Theory

When an object is in static equilibrium, Newton’s First Law states that the vector sum (or
r
resultant) of all the external forces acting on the object must add up to zero: ΣF = 0 . In
this lab, we will study the vector sum of three forces acting on a single point in static
r
equilibrium. One of these forces Fg is provided by a 2.00N weight suspended from a
r r
vertical string. The other two forces are the tensions in the strings T1 and T2 hanging
from spring scales attached to a backboard. The magnitudes of the forces are measured
using the spring scales.

A vector can be expressed graphically by an arrow, or numerically by its x and y


components. In Problem 1, we will verify that the resultant force has zero components in
both x and y directions: ΣFx = 0, ΣFy = 0 by drawing a scale diagram and measuring the
components. In Problem 2, we will use a scale diagram to graphically add the vectors
using the head to tail method and verify that the resultant force is a vector with zero
length, or that the length is less than the uncertainty.

Up until now, you have likely broken up vectors into components using angles and
trigonometry. This lab, on the other hand, will show how these components can be
measured directly by carefully drawn and constructed scale diagrams: You will be using
PICTURES to learn Physics!

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Fig 1

Preliminary questions: From the earlier description of this lab (and read through
Problem 1) and your current knowledge of vectors, answer the following.

1) If you are reading a vector diagram (like Fig 1), what information gives you the
magnitude of your vectors? How do you find these numbers?

2) In this experiment (see Fig 2), what numbers - that you are going to find - represent
the magnitudes of your three vectors?

3) In this experiment, how are you going to get the directions of the vectors drawn
correctly on your scale diagram?

4) How will you then draw the vectors to the correct magnitude?

1114 Circuits (Handout) - 2 Saved: 1/11/11, printed: 1/11/11


Problem 1 Verify the equilibrium condition by measuring the components on a
scale diagram

Apparatus

backboard

r
T2
string
r
T1
knot
paper string

r
Fg
2.00 N

Fig 2
Data

• Set up the equipment as in Fig 2. The string for T1 should be horizontal.


• Draw a dot/circle at the location of the string’s knot, and trace lines representing the
directions of your 3 forces/vectors from your strings.
• Remove the paper from the backboard, and make a scale drawing of the forces as
vectors. Extend or shorten the length of the traced lines, as necessary, to represent
them as the correct magnitude. Use a scale of 1 cm = 0.2N.
• Each partner must hand in his/her own diagram, stapled to this worksheet.
• Record raw data for forces in Table 1 and convert to cm in Table 2.

Table 1: Magnitudes of the Forces on the Knot


T1 (N) T2 (N) Fg (N)
Uncertainty
Zero Reading -------------
Reading
Corrected Reading -------------
Note: The corrected reading is not needed if the zero reading is zero.

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Table 2: Vector magnitudes represented with a scale of 1 cm for 0.2 N
Magnitude T1 T2 Fg
Length (cm)

• Now find the x and y components of the forces, by measuring them directly on your
scale diagram paper. (Do NOT use trigonometry). Label all lengths in cm on the
r
diagram. As an example, Figure 3 shows the components of T2 .
y
r
T2 T2 x

10.5cm

0.2N => 1cm

T2 y

Fig 3

• Convert the components into Newtons, to get T2 x and T2 y , and record the values in
Table 3.

Table 3: Components of the Forces


r r r
Vector T1 (N) T2 (N) Fg (N)
x - component
y - component

Calculate the sum of the x - components of the three forces ΣFx =_________________

Calculate the sum of the y - components of the three forces ΣFy =___________________

1) Do your results satisfy the equilibrium condition? (Hint: see the Introduction and
Theory)
YES NO

2) Why do you say so?

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Problem 2 Verify the equilibrium condition using a scale diagram to graphically
add the forces

Apparatus

backboard
r
T2

string
r
paper T1
knot
string

r
Fg 2.00 N

Fig 4

Preliminary questions: What makes a vector a vector? Read through the


instructions on the next pages and answer the following.

1) If we change the vector’s length on our drawing is it still the same vector?

YES NO

2) If we change the vector’s direction is it still the same vector?

YES NO

3) If we move a vector to a different starting point, but keep the direction and length the
same, is it still the same vector?

YES NO
r r
4) State how you will ensure that your moved vectors ( T2 and Fg ) have the same

magnitude. (The answer is very simple!)

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5) State how you will know that your moved vectors have the same direction as your
original ones. (i.e. What can you say about the relationship between the original vector
and the moved one?)

This will all be useless unless you do it carefully – exactness (preciseness) matters!
“Good enough” is not acceptable in the laboratory. This probably means you must take
more time and care to draw what appears to be a simple diagram, than you normally
would.

Data

• Set up the apparatus as shown in Fig 4, with positions for the two spring scales
different from Part 1 of the experiment.
• Each partner is to include such a page attached to this worksheet.
• Draw a dot/circle at the location of the string’s knot, and trace lines representing the
directions of your 3 forces/vectors from your strings.
• Make your scale diagram, again on the paper from under the apparatus. Do not erase
any vectors for the next part.
• Draw an equivalent vector representing one of your force vectors at the head of
another vector. Do this again for the 3rd force vector. You should end up with a
diagram similar to Fig 5.

r
T2 r
r T1
∑F
r
Fg

Fig. 5

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Table 4: Magnitudes of the Forces on the Knot – based on Fig 4
T1 (N) T2 (N) Fg (N)
Uncertainty
Zero Reading -------------
Reading
Corrected Reading -------------

Table 5: Force Magnitudes in centimetres:


Magnitude T1 T2 Fg
Length (cm)

6) What on your diagram represents the sum of the three forces?

7) What is the magnitude of the sum of the three forces? _________________________

8) Does this satisfy the equilibrium condition? YES NO

9) Why do you say so?

10) Is it possible to obtain an answer exactly the same as what is required by the theory?
Explain why or why not. (Hint: Uncertainty lab.)

11) Can the uncertainties in the raw data tell you anything about the uncertainty in your
final result? (Hint: Your measurements have uncertainty. We don’t calculate uncertainty
in the final result, but do you think it also has uncertainty?)

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