The Model Satellite

The model satellite consists of a gimbaled system constructed entirely from aluminum containing three concentric rings. The outermost ring is bolted to the frame while the middle and innermost rings are connected to the outermost and middle ring respectively via ball bearings. An aluminum platform is mounted through the innermost ring on which the three orthogonal gyroscopes are mounted. The gyroscopes consist of three DC motors with 6 cm diameter brass rings attached to them. The motors are powered by three power sources (available in the Outreach Lab). Loosely coiled wires were run from the motors to connections secured on the base of the gimbals. From these connections the wires could be connected to the power sources.
The acceleration of the motors causes a change in angular momentum due to the change in angular velocity of the spinning brass wheels. This change induces a torque and will rotate the model satellite. With the gimbaled system the model is free to rotate in any direction and can do so with the three orthogonal motors. When the three motors are spun at high angular velocities, the high angular momentum will resist the tilting of the model, stabilizing it and allowing it to hold its orientation.

Full detailed building plans available here.

      The Model Satellite                                                                                       The Wire Connections
      model    wires

      The Motorized Gyroscopes