Ballistic Pendulum Virtual Lab Simulation | PraxiLabs

Ballistic Pendulum Virtual Lab Simulation

Physics | Mechanics

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General Aim

Determine the initial velocity of the projectile ball in three ranges (short, medium, and long-range).


Inelastic collision and conversion of kinetic energy to potential energy.

Learning Objectives (ILO’s)

  • Understand the types of collisions.

  • Study the conservation of momentum and energy principals.

  • Calculate the initial velocity of the projectile ball in three ranges (short, medium, and long ranges).

Theoretical Background/Context

The collision has two types which are elastic collision and inelastic collision. An elastic collision is a collision in which there is no net loss in kinetic energy in the system as a result of the collision. Both momentum and kinetic energy are conserved quantities. An inelastic collision is a collision in which there is a loss of kinetic energy. While the momentum of the system is conserved in an inelastic collision, kinetic energy is not. This is because some kinetic energy had been transferred to something else. Thermal energy, sound energy…..etc. The ballistic pendulum is a classic example of an inelastic collision in which conservation of momentum can be used for analysis, but conservation of energy during the collision cannot be invoked because the energy goes into inaccessible forms such as internal energy.

Principle of Work

In a perfectly inelastic collision, a ball is fired with velocity ဎ0 into the stationary pendulum, which captures the ball and absorbs its energy. The stationary pendulum now moves with a new velocity ဎ just after the collision. By measuring the angle of deflection, we can calculate the height of the pendulum's swing h. Because the momentum of the system is conserved, we can calculate the initial velocity as a function of compound (pendulum and ball) velocity. Using conservation of energy to get the initial velocity as a function of the angle of deflection.  

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