Dot Physics

Arduino Physics

This is so awesome – an arduino controlled fan cart.


If you are not familiar with the arduino, basically it is just a very simple and cheap programmable chip. I have been meaning to play around with one of these, but really I am afraid. Afraid I will like it just a little too much.

In this fan cart (made by Eric Ayars – who was at NC State when I was there), the arduino tells the fan when to turn on and off by sensing magnets on the track. Who cares? I care. This allows you to do some cool demos and activities with non-constant forces.

Some other things I can think of:

  • You could make two and use it for two fans on one cart. I have always had problem putting equal strength fans on the same cart. It would be cool if you could rapidly turn one on and off to adjust the strength.
  • Or, you could have two fans that turn on at different ends of the track. This way you could make the fan ‘oscillate’ from one end to the other.
  • I wonder if you could time it so that it simulates an increasing (non-constant force). Students tend to think you need an increasing force would be needed for constant acceleration.

I, for one, welcome our arduino-powered overlords.


  1. #1 Roland
    June 30, 2010

    Use the Arduino as a general-purpose measurement and control unit via linux. Install SimpleMessageSystem from or my website, then use my shellscript package. AD is scaled to mV and formatted for import to spreadsheets. 100 AD readings x6chans in <40secs. Fully scriptable, see included examples. Use as proof-of-concept for your project.

  2. #2 Roland
    June 30, 2010

    This blog truncated my post at less-than. Should say “100 AD readings x6chans in less than 40secs.” Fully scriptable, with examples. See for the code packages.

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