Design A Pendulum Oscillator

The Foucault pendulum is an oscillator that shows the rotation of the Earth.

Oscillation is the repetitive variation in time of some factor around a central point. In the case of mechanical oscillations, a mass moves back and forth in, around or past a central point. These sorts of motions are a major focus of mechanics — the branch of physics that deals with the movements and interactions of masses — due to both the frequency with which such phenomena appear in nature and the ease with which they can be mathematically analyzed. A pendulum is a simple mechanical oscillator that can be constructed with easily available materials and is useful for instructing students in some of the fundamentals of physics.


1. Screw the upright post of the lab stand firmly into the base and stand it up. Unscrew the clamp of the ring-stand extension until it can fit around the upright of the land stand and hold it in that position about 20 inches off your working surface. Screw the clamp back down until it grips the upright tightly and you cannot push it one way or the other independent of the upright.

2. Tie one end of the string around the ring of the ring-stand extension so that the attachment point is as far from the lab stand as vertical as possible. Cut the other end of the string so that it hangs no less than four inches above the base of the lab stand

3. Thread the free hanging end of the string through the eye, loop, or hook at the top of the fishing weight so that two to three inches of it hangs out the other side. Use this extra string to tie the fishing weight to the string, making sure that the bottom of the weight doesn’t hit the base of the stand when it hangs free.

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4. The pendulum oscillator is now complete. You can measure its period with a stopwatch or chronometer by hitting the start button/stud when you let go of the weight (from a raised and extended position) and then stopping the count when it reaches that spot again. The frequency is determined by dividing one by the period (measured in seconds).