School of Physics Lecture Demonstration Manual

Mi-4 Gyroscope in a Suitcase

Published: Thursday 09 March 2006 - Updated: Thursday 24 March 2011


A fun filled demonstration of the gyroscopic characteristics of a rotating wheel.



Click on pictures to enlarge.

Suitcase Gyro Pic

Suitcase Gyro pic 1


The suitcase contains a 12 inch wheel that may be spun via an electric motor. Power is supplied via two metal electrodes attached to the suitcase that mates with equivalent plates on a power supply housing box.

The wheel is placed (note the arrow on the case) on the supporting box and after a minute or two full speed is available and the demonstration may proceed. The suitcase may then be handled by the lecturer or student. Normal demonstrations include attempting to turn the suitcase through 90 degrees and experience the inclination of the suitcase to resist this change of direction and move perpendicularly to the applied torque. Aternatively the suitcase may be stood on end and given a tip-over push which results in chaotic motion of the suitcase.

Safety notes

Electrical safety 


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