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# BLD

Activity 15

Make and market a seismometer
Activity
Make and test a simple seismometer as shown in Figure A15.1. When you have made and tested your instrument, imagine that you represent a company that markets seismometers. Prepare a sales presentation to convince a client that your instrument has features that will make it work well.

Introduction
In this activity you are going to investigate what happens when a mass–spring seismometer is driven from the outside and forced to vibrate at a frequency which is generally other than its natural frequency. The apparatus is shown in Figure A15.1.

Scale Pointer

Clamped vibrator

Signal generator

m Fixed mass

Figure A15.1 Simple seismometer

Experimental procedure
Your task is to demonstrate what happens when a seismometer is driven at or near its natural frequency. First determine the natural frequency, f0, by timing free vibrations. You might need to adjust the overall vertical length (including string) so that any pendulum oscillations don’t confuse what is happening: there can be some spectacular effects, but rather complicated to analyse. f0 is likely to be around 1 Hz. Set the signal generator to a frequency significantly below f0 and wait for the motion of the mass to settle down. It probably will not have a very big amplitude and you will probably find that the amplitude itself rises and falls (known as a beat) – this is a feature of this forced oscillation (you will need to allow for the beat when you take measurements). Gradually increase the driving frequency and observe the behaviour of the mass. Allow some settling down time between each frequency adjustment. Study qualitatively the pattern of the beat and the size of the maximum amplitude.
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