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• Level: GCSE
• Subject: Maths
• Word count: 1473

Is It Possible To Measure Height With a Rotary Potentiometer?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

IS IT POSSIBLE TO MEASURE HEIGHT WITH A ROTARY POTENTIOMETER

APPARATUS (decided upon after trial and improvement as recounted below)

BATTERY PACK

ROTARY POTENTIOMETER
VOLTMETER

LASER POINTER

MEASURING TAPE

SAFETY

1) The laser pointer must never be shone directly into anybody’s eyes.

2) The experiment must be carried out with utmost caution and care must be taken to avoid injury to anyone.

3) The experiment must be carried out carefully in an organised manner.

4) Care must be taken with leads and the positioning of the equipment so as to avoid tripping people.

AIM

The aim of this project was to design and build a sensor that would measure the height of buildings, pillars etc. I used a rotary potentiometer set up in a circuit with a voltmeter and a power source.

BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO THE MAIN COMPONENT

PRELEMINARY EXPERIMENT

I connected the rotary potentiometer to a battery pack as shown below and increased the angle of rotation. I immediately noticed a trend; the increase in potential difference was directly proportional to the increase in angle of rotation. To confirm my findings I consulted various physics textbooks and confirmed my observation.

Conclusion

The resistance of a rotary potentiometer changes with the angle that it is turned through. As this occurs the potential difference changes. Hence it is possible to measure a certain distance using this principle.

PLAN

Middle

SIDE VIEW OF THE SENSOR

LASER ROTATED (MAX 90 °) IN THIS

DIRECTION TO POINT TO TOP OF BUILDING.

LASER POINTER

WOODEN HOLDER ATTACHED TO AXLE

ROTARY POTENTIOMETER

SPIRIT GAUGE

The height has to be measured from a distance perpendicular to the building and with minimum elevation therefore the sensor is placed at ground level at 10m as and the axle of the rotary potentiometer turned through an angle so that the focus of the laser would be at the top of the building.

Hence a change in voltage is indicated on the voltmeter.

FOCUS OF LASER AT TOP OF BUILDING

SENSOR

In the first trial I used a normal rotary potentiometer from a perpendicular distance of 10m, however the potentiometer proved far too unstable and hence caused inaccuracies. Later the thought occurred to me that a potentiometer with an in built spring would be ideal. To this potentiometer I had to attach the laser pointer, so I had to carve out a wooden holder for the laser pointer to be attached to the potentiometer, this required great determination, skill and dexterity. A diagram of the solution I came up with is shown below.

I then attempted the experiment once more however I encountered a challenging situation, how to tell if the ground was level? At this point a vague recollection of a rustic device in an episode of the Flintstones proved to be a source of inspiration.

Conclusion

APPLICATION OF THE SENSOR

Architects, civil engineers, surveyors, safety inspectors, and even football and rugby officials to determine the height of poles, posts, buildings, pillars etc to ensure that they are the correct height would use the sensor in real life. The sensor would enable civil engineers to approximate a cost for a particular structure by measuring the height of the support framework, tell if the height is correct etc., architects to determine if the work on the building is going according to plan, rugby and football officials would be able to determine if the heights of the posts are correct, in addition safety inspectors would find it easy to check if the building’s height has changed which might be an indication of instability of the foundations, earth movements, instability in the structure etc. Those were just a few of the uses for with humans being as creative as they are I am sure many more will be found. It is evident that this device would indeed be a success in the commercial market especially if it were to be tweaked such that it had an ergonomic design, a programmable interface, a graphical display   and such like features. The sensor clearly has applications in a vast range of areas in life.

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Height and Weight of Pupils and other Mayfield High School investigations section.

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