A flying gyroscope is an object (such as a football or a Frisbee) that exhibits the characteristics of a gyroscope as it moves through the air. The focus of this study is the X-Zylo, a lightweight, plastic tube that can fly as far as 600 ft. It is widely believed that the spin of the toy produces gyroscopic precession, which allows it to maintain a stable flight. This research investigates these claims in an attempt to better understand the flight of these unique toys. High speed camera tests have shown that the toy does undergo gyroscopic precession, and from this information a formula relating the rate of precession to linear and angular velocity was derived. Wind tunnel tests are being conducted to collect lift and drag coefficients at various angles, which are being used in a Matlab code that will predict the trajectory of the toy. A launcher is also being built to standardize the launch angle, spin rate, and linear velocity of the toy. Once it is complete it will be used with a glow-in-the-dark version of the toy that will allow us to capture the actual path of the X-Zylo.
Katheryn Yoder is a senior mechanical engineering student at Lafayette College. Her first research experience was during sophomore year, when she worked with the Civil Engineering department to investigate the importance of panel zone rotation in steel moment frames under seismic conditions. In addition to completing an honors thesis, Katheryn is funded by Minteq in Easton, PA to study high conductivity materials in electronics cooling. She is also a consistent Deanís List student and a member of the Tau Beta Pi engineering fraternity.