Linear Airtrack/Frictionless Runway Recommendations

Discussion in 'Supporting Physics' started by NMSTech, Nov 13, 2017.

  1. We currently have quite an old linear airtrack (not sure of make) and blower, which seem to work quite well. However, the gliders are on their last legs, plus we struggle with the pulley set-up for the Acceleration GCSE required practical. I use a lab jack and G-clamp to position a pulley at the end of the airtrack, and we've had problems with clearance over the end of the bench etc., and I feel it's time to invest in new equipment which is fit for purpose.

    What set-ups do you use? Can anyone recommend anything? We use Data Harvest Light Gates.

    Any advice would be much appreciated!!
  2. which board is this and KS4 or 5?
  3. It's AQA, KS4
  4. Here is a picture of a setup I have used:


    The digitimers measure time at A, time between A and B and time at B

    The running surface is a wooden board with rails to stop the trolley falling off the side. It sometimes misses the second light gate but that's half the fun! Foam on the floor to cushion the masses. It is important that the trolley passes through the second gate before the masses hit the ground.
  5. Thanks Alice - such a good idea to raise the whole lot using the stools. I will try this because part of the issue has been insufficient drop for the masses.

    I think we're leaning towards a frictionless runway rather than air track, so hopefully I can find one with a pulley attachment.

    Thanks for sharing your set-up :)
  6. we use ramps too as well as airtracks, but I don't see the need to run them so high.The benches are a metre high that's enough travel for the trolleys.
  7. We use Frederiksen 1950.00 air tracks. They work very well and have a good set of accessories including a neat pulley attachment. This set up uses 2 light gates and 3 scaler timers. Similar to Alice's. I'd probably just use a data logger now.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Echo Alice's point that the interrupt card (missing from picture) must pass through the second gate before the masses land! If you keep the light gates fairly close together, then you can do it OK from bench height.

    For a class practical investigating Newton's Second Law we use this set up


    The ramp is friction compensated using lab jacks. Rulers blu tacked to the ramp help to guide the trolley, and ensure the interrupt card passes through the second gate rather than crashing into it. Masses are transferred between the hanger and a the bottom of a 2L milk bottle blu tacked to the trolley. (Is there anything more useful in Physics than blu tack?). Sorry that the pictures are a bit big!
    Louis-Aeron Turner likes this.
  8. I am so glad you posted that @Mark

    I have been faffing about attaching a bench pulley. After seeing your picture and noticing it looks the spit of ours, I have investigated and found the pulley attachment in the accessories box :rolleyes:
  9. That's the most useful thing I've done all day then :)
    Leanne likes this.
  10. I once built a rather massive version that ran along a shelf at eye-level and had a pneumatic shock absorber on the front. Great bangs and crashes as the trolley hit the stop, the string jumped off the pulley and the masses hit the floor. But there was only one lab where it could be used.

    I then built a set of six using plastic trolleys and smaller masses (50 g to 300 g). The trolley ran along the bench with its plunger out and the pulley was fixed to a wooden block which clamped to the end of the bench. The trolley now trundled along the bench until the plunger was compressed against the wooden block which coincided with the masses touching the floor and the string jumping off the pulley and everything coming to a controlled standstill.

    This set-up gave very good results and the friction can be accounted for on the final graph. I have since made a more permanent set.

    I have seen this experiment done with a little toy car, a tape measure, and a mobile phone - so the apparatus does not need to be big and heavy. DSC02750.JPG DSC03140.JPG

    Attached Files:

    Louis-Aeron Turner, Mark and Jamie like this.
  11. Thanks everyone, this has been so helpful to see all the variations on a theme. I really appreciate all your advice. :)
  12. We have some edulab tracks and trolleys for GCSE, and use data harvest light gates.
    Similar to the below (ours was purchased on special order when our school opened so didnt buy in actual kits such as in link below)

    For A Level Physics, we have the data harvest set-up (again, we brought on special order when school first opened)

    They are very expensive though, :(

    However, previous schools used similar to Alans set-up (we ran trolley in-between 2 meter rules stuck to bench-top as a guide/track to keep trolley nice and straight). Always got just as good results.:)

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