3. Inertia of gimbals. Energy is lost whenever a gimbal rotates because of the inertia of the gimbal.
The greater the mass of the gimbal, the greater the drift from this source.
The complete elimination of mechanical drift in gyros appears to be an impossibility. However, by
proper design it has been kept to a minimum. Any error that still exists can be corrected for.
Q-13. A universally mounted gyro has how many degrees of freedom?
Q-14. If a free gyro is placed at the equator at 1200 in a vertical position; in what position should it be
Q-15. What are the three causes of mechanical drift in a gyro?
Establishing and Maintaining a Fixed Position
You now know that a free gyro maintains a fixed position in space. Because of this property, a free
gyro can be used to establish a stable, unchanging reference, in any plane (horizontal, vertical, or any
specific position in between). The gyro-erecting system has the function of positioning the gyro to the
desired position and helping to keep it there.
Any gyro-erecting system must meet the following requirements:
1. The system must provide torques (forces) of sufficient magnitude and direction to precess the
gyro so that its spin axis is brought to the desired position after the rotor is spinning at its
2. The system must provide torques to precess the gyro back to the required position at the proper
rate and direction to cancel the effects of apparent and mechanical drift.
Erection may be done mechanically or electrically, depending on the type of power available.
Specific erection systems are many and varied. We will briefly discuss only two of them.
Mercury Erecting System
One of the common erection systems used for vertical gyros uses mercury as the element for sensing
gyro position with respect to vertical. Mercury also provides the force to precess the gyro toward vertical
when the gyro drifts.
This system consists of two tanks of mercury fastened to opposite sides of the gyro case and
connected by a small mercury tube as shown in figure 3-12. A small air tube is also connected between
the tanks to prevent a vacuum from forming. If the spin axis tilts away from the vertical, as shown, the
mercury will flow from one tank to the other. The added weight in the left tank provides a torque which
causes the gyro to precess. At this point, if you were to apply the rule for precession, you would see that
the precession would be 90º away from the desired direction.