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What is the Difference Between a Gyroscope and a Gimbal?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 08 November 2016
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While there is a connection between a gyroscope and a gimbal, the fact is that the two devices are not identical. In fact, the gimbal is an integral part of the gyroscope. Without the use of the gimbal, the gyroscope would be much less effective.

The best way to understand the difference between a gimbal and a gyroscope is to define the nature and structure of both devices. Essentially, a gimbal is some type or base or ring that is mounted on an axis. The gimbal allows an object that is mounted on the base to move freely in any direction, so that the object remains in a horizontal position regardless of the angle of the base. This freedom of movement makes the gimbal an essential element in many devices that are used to measure momentum and directional orientation.

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A gyroscope is one of the objects that makes efficient usage of the gimbal. Gyroscopes are composed of a rotor that is configured to spin around a single axis. Surrounding the rotor are one or more gimbals that help the device to maintain proper pitch and thus help to maintain inertia. This means that the gyroscope will often employ the use of both an inner and an outer gimbal in order to function properly. The outer ring of the gimbal configuration pivots around the axis and helps to maintain the level of force. The inner gimbal is mounted within the outer gimbal and pivots on an axis that maintains a consistent perpendicular relationship with the axis of the outer gimbal.

The function of the gyroscope would not be possible without the presence of a gimbal. One excellent example is with aviation. Because the gyroscopes are used to monitor or adjust the roll, pitch, and yaw of angles during flight, the devices are essential to maintaining the force and directional control needed to successfully fly from one location to another. Without the balance created by the gimbal, the gyroscope would not provide this type of data and would serve no useful purpose.

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