Roller Coasters and Their Theory


In operation, the cars are carried up a steep incline by a linked chain.

When the cars reach the top of the incline, they roll free of the chain and are propelled downward due to gravity through a series of drops, rises, and turns. Finally the cars are braked to a stop at the starting point, where the passengers get out and new passengers get on. Roller coasters are considered by many to be the most exciting ride in any amusement park. TABLE OF CONTENTS Task Pages Abstract 3 Introduction 5 Objectives & Methodology6 Background Information Design of a Roller Coaster 7-13 * Working of a Roller Coaster 14-15 * Energy Transformations 16 Methodology 17 Main Body 18 * Brief History of Roller a Coaster * Types of Roller Coasters Reference and Appendix 19 INTRODUCTION This project is based on the operations and the energy conversions of a roller coaster and it is designed to make an understanding of how a roller coaster works.

A roller coaster ride is a thrilling experience which involves a wealth of physics. Part of the physics of a roller coaster is the physics of work and energy.

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The ride often begins as a chain and motor, or other mechanical device which exerts a force on the train of cars to lift the train to the top of track. Once the cars are lifted to the top of the track, gravity takes over and the remainder of the ride is an experience in energy transformation. OBJECTIVES The objectives of this project include: 1) Describing the equipment design and operation of Roller Coasters. 2) Investigating the sources of energy and stating whether the energy is harnessed naturally or if it is renewable. 3) Energy conversion and the losses incurred during the conversion process. ) Identifying the environmental impacts of using such energy. Methodology Different data collection methods were used to collect information of the roller coaster. The most used was the use of the internet. A lot of the information was gathered from different sites and was restructured in one’s own words. Also watching videos from the internet (YouTube) was widely used in gathering of the information. Another method was through reading of text books and encyclopedia based on the roller coaster and once again the information was put together in one’s own words.

The following steps were taken when researching the topic. First planning was done on how to do the research and who had to do what in the research. Different members had to do different types of research. Some did through the internet and some researched by reading of text books and encyclopedia. The data was then analyze, then the study of the design of the structure of the roller coaster. Implementation of the information and restructure of the information was then carried out by all members of the group. BACKGROUND INFORMATION Design of a Roller Coaster

The design of a roller coaster ride is the first and most important part of the manufacturing process. Because each roller coaster is unique, every detail must be designed literally from the ground up. In order to design a roller coaster, designers must consider what kind of riders will use the coaster. If the coaster is designed for small children, the hills and curves will be gentle, and the cars’ speed will be relatively slow. Families usually want a somewhat faster ride with plenty of turns and moderate forces. Ultimate thrill seekers want extreme heights and speeds.

Next, the designers must consider the space available for the coaster, because roller coasters not only take a lot of ground space, but also a lot of air space. Designers look at the general terrain, other surrounding rides, power lines, access roads, lakes, trees, and other obstacles. Some amusement parks have added so many rides that a new roller coaster has to be designed to thread its way through existing rides and walkways. The next objective for the designers is to achieve a unique “feel” for the coaster. Designers can draw on a number of techniques to provide a memorable ride.

The initial incline can be made steeper or the speed of the lift chain can be made slower to heighten the apprehension of the passengers. Once up the incline, the first drop is usually designed to be the steepest, and therefore the fastest and scariest. Other drops can be designed with a brief flattened section in the middle, and are called double dips. Drops with very abrupt transitions to a flat or upturned section are called slammers because they slam the passengers down into their seats. Letting the cars run close to the ground, in what is called a gully coaster, gives the illusion of increased speed.

The advent of steel construction for coasters has allowed a number of variations on the basic roller coaster ride. In some modern coasters, the passengers sit suspended below the tracks rather than riding on top of them. In others, the passengers ride standing up rather than sitting down. Most of the actual design and layout of a roller coaster is done on a computer. The height of the first incline must be calculated to give the cars enough energy to propel them all the way through the ride and back to the station.

The horizontal and vertical forces that the loaded cars exert on the track must be calculated at every point to ensure that the support structure is adequate. Because each coaster usually incorporates one or more new and untried features, a working prototype of the new features may be built for testing and evaluation. The prototype is erected at the manufacturer’s facility, and weighted test cars outfitted with instrumentation are propelled through the test section at the desired speed. Based on these tests, the designers may alter their original design before building the final product.

When the calculations, design, and testing are complete, a computer-aided drafting (CAD) program is used to prepare detailed drawings for each of the thousands of parts that will be used to build the new coaster. The Manufacturing Process of a Roller Coaster The actual physical construction of a roller coaster may take place in a factory or on the amusement park site depending on the type and size of the coaster. Most steel coasters are built in sections in a factory, then trucked to the site and erected. Most wooden coasters are built piece-by-piece on the site.

Here is the typical sequence of operations for manufacturing both modern steel coasters and classic wooden coasters: Preparing the Site: 1) Before the roller coaster can be installed, the area where it is to be located needs to be cleared and prepared. 2)  If there are existing structures, vegetation, or utilities that need to be moved or demolished, this work is done first. If any of the surrounding terrain needs to be filled or excavated, that work is also done at this time. 3) Holes for the support structure foundations are surveyed and drilled or dug. Sturdy wooden forms are then constructed to hold the concrete for each foundation point.

In some areas where the soil is very sandy, large wooden piles may be driven into the ground as foundations rather than using poured concrete. If concrete is used, it is brought to the site in mixer trucks and pumped into place by a concrete pump with a long, articulating arm that can reach each foundation form. Connector plates are imbedded into the concrete on top of each foundation to allow attachment of the supports. Erecting the Main Support Structure: 4) When the foundation is in place, work begins on the main support structure. All the parts for steel coasters are made in a factory and shipped to the job site in sections on trucks.

In the factory, the pieces for each support are cut and welded into the required shape using fixtures to hold them in the proper orientation to each other. If a complex three-dimensional bend is required, this may be done in a hydraulic tube bender that is controlled by information from the computer. On wooden coasters, the material for the supports is usually shipped to the site as unfinished lumber and the individual pieces are cut and assembled on site. In either case, the lower portions of the main supports are lifted by a crane and are attached to the connector plates protruding from the foundation points. ) Once the lower supports are in place, they may be temporarily braced while the upper sections are lifted into place and connected. This work continues until the main support structure is complete. Installing the Track: 6) With the main support structure in place, the track is installed. On steel coasters, sections of track are fabricated in the factory with the stanchions and tubular tracks welded to the track supports. After the sections are brought to the site, they are lifted into place, and the track ends are slid together. The sections are then bolted to the main support structure and to each other.

On wooden coasters, wood tie beams are installed across the top of the main support structure along the entire length of the ride. Six to eight layers of flat wood boards are installed lengthways on top of the tie beams in two rows to form a laminated base for the rails. The rails themselves are formed from long, flat strips of steel screwed into the wood base. 7) On steel coasters, walkways and handrails are welded in place along the outside of the track to allow maintenance access and emergency evacuation of passengers. On wooden coasters, the portions of the tie beams outside of the track are used as walkways, and handrails are installed. ) The lift chain and anti-rollback mechanisms are installed on the lift hill, and the braking device is installed on the final approach to the station. Fabricating the Cars: 9) The individual cars for the coaster are fabricated in the factory. The sub frame pieces are cut and welded. The bodies are stamped from aluminum or molded in fiberglass, then fastened to the sub frame. Seat cushions may be cut from foam, mounted on a base, and covered with upholstery. Running wheels and guide wheels are bolted in place with locking fasteners. Brake fins, anti-rollback dogs, and other safety components are installed. Finishing the Ride: 0) When the main construction is completed, electrical wiring is installed for the lighting, and the entire ride may be painted. The boarding station is constructed, signs are installed, and the landscaping is put in place. Working of a Roller Coaster The roller coasters work on the principle of conversion of potential energy into kinetic energy. The cars attached to the roller coaster do not have self-powered motor. Instead they are pulled by one chained with the other to the first peak of the roller coaster track. On reaching the top of the first peak the kinetic energy with which the cars are pulled becomes the potential energy.

With that the cars of the roller coaster system not only slide down but also move up the second peak. This process is repeated in the subsequent peaks and finally the cars are brought to a stop with the application of brake run. A well designed roller coaster will have enough energy to complete the entire course of the track and will come to an end on the application of brake run at the end. Modern roller coasters have launch mechanisms, which starts off the ride with a high amount of acceleration by means of one or series of Linear Induction Motors and Linear synchronous Motors, powered by hydraulic or pneumatic force.

Roll back occurs when a launched train does not have enough potential energy to ascend the top of the first peak. Under the roll back the train comes back to the original launching place for re-launch. In the case of continuous circuit roller coasters, when the kinetic energy is not enough for the train to complete the travel after descending from its highest peak point , it moves forward and backward along the track until all the kinetic energy is released. After that it comes to a stop. Energy Transformations in a Roller Coaster

A roller coaster ride also illustrates the work and energy relationship. The work done by external forces is capable of changing the total amount of mechanical energy from an initial value to some final value. The amount of work done by the external forces upon the object is equal to the amount of change in the total mechanical energy of the object. The relationship is often stated in the form of the following mathematical equation. KEinitial + PEinitial + Wexternal = KEfinal + PEfinal

The left side of the equation includes the total mechanical energy (KEinitial + PEinitial) for the initial state of the object plus the work done on the object by external forces (Wexternal) while the right side of the equation includes the total mechanical energy (KEfinal + PEfinal) for the final state of the object. Once a roller coaster has reached its initial summit and begins its descent through loops, turns and smaller hills, the only forces acting upon the coaster cars are the force of gravity, the normal force and dissipative forces such as air resistance.

The force of gravity is an internal force and thus any work done by it does not change the total mechanical energy of the train of cars. The normal force of the track pushing up on the cars is an external force. However, it is at all times directed perpendicular to the motion of the cars and thus is incapable of doing any work upon the train of cars. Finally, the air resistance force is capable of doing work upon the cars and thus draining a small amount of energy from the total mechanical energy which the cars possess.

However, due to the complexity of this force and its small contribution to the large quantity of energy possessed by the cars, it is often neglected. By neglecting the influence of air resistance, it can be said that the total mechanical energy of the train of cars is conserved during the ride. That is to say, the total amount of mechanical energy (kinetic plus potential) possessed by the cars is the same throughout the ride. Energy is neither gained nor lost, only transformed from kinetic energy to potential energy and vice versa. Energy Transformations in a Roller Coaster

Methodology Different data collection methods were used to collect information of the roller coaster. The most used was the use of the internet. A lot of the information was gathered from different sites and was restructured in one’s own words. Also watching videos from the internet (YouTube) was widely used in gathering of the information. Another method was through reading of text books and encyclopedia based on the roller coaster and once again the information was put together in one’s own words. The following steps were taken when researching the topic.

First planning was done on how to do the research and who had to do what in the research. Different members had to do different types of research. Some did through the internet and some researched by reading of text books and encyclopedia. The data was then analyze, then the study of the design of the structure of the roller coaster. Implementation of the information and restructure of the information was then carried out by all members of the group. Main Body Brief History of a Roller Coaster: A roller coaster train going downhill represents merely a complex case as a body is descending an inclined plane.

Newton’s first two laws relate force and acceleration, which are key concepts in roller coaster physics. At amusement parks, Newton’s laws can be applied to every ride. These rides range from ‘The Swings’ to The ‘Hammer’. Newton was also one of the developers of calculus which is essential to analyzing falling bodies constrained on more complex paths than inclined planes. A roller coaster ride is in a gravitational field except with the Principle of Equivalence. An important thing to consider is that the carts on a conventional modern day roller coaster are not self-powered.

The movement is generated exclusively by gravitational, inertial and centripetal forces. Although the tracks are getting more and more complex and the speed is ever increasing, the basic principles of physics at work are simple and can be easily understood. Still, the actual task of designing a roller coaster itself is by no means simple, which is reflected by the many obstacles that need to be overcome before a coaster becomes operational. Given this contrasting perspective, this paper is going to take a look at these underlying physics principles as well as some engineering methods that are involved.

Energy is essentially applied to the carts only as they are pulled up the first hill. This hill is often called the lift hill. Once the coaster reaches the top, the forces applied to it for the remainder of the ride are mainly gravitational and inertial. Therefore, in essence, the fundamental principle behind the coaster’s operation is the ‘conservation of energy,’ which simply states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. The total energy which is consisted of ‘potential’ and ‘kinetic’ parts, is therefore constant.

As the coaster moves up the lift hill, the total energy exerted on the carts is stored in the system as potential energy. This happens since as the height increases, there is a greater chance for the gravity to act on the cart to pull it down. However, it is not desirable to have the carts fall vertically to the ground, and so a good way to think about what is happening here is that the tracks are designed to manipulate this fall. The second physical principle relevant here is Newton’s first law: This states that an object stays in motion (or conversely stays still) if no external forces are applied.

The tendency of objects to do this is referred to as ‘inertia’. Based on this principle, as the cart reaches the second hill (after the lift hill), it continues to rise converting kinetic energy to potential energy. However, some of the energy will be lost due to friction which exists between the tracks and the cart wheels as well as that created by carts moving through the air. Therefore, a few extra hills (which are shorter than the lift hill) are put along the path to ‘recharge’ the cart giving it more potential energy to convert back to kinetic energy. The racks are designed in such a way that at the end of the ride, all potential energy is converted to kinetic energy so there is little need for brakes and the carts essentially stop on their own. Components The world’s tallest and fastest roller coaster, the Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey. At first glance, a roller coaster is something like a passenger train. It consists of a series of connected cars that move on tracks. But unlike a passenger train, a roller coaster has no engine or power source of its own. For most of the ride, the train is moved by gravity and momentum.

To build up this momentum, you need to get the train to the top of the first hill (the lift hill) or give it a powerful launch. Chain Lift The traditional lifting mechanism is a long length of chain (or chains) running up the hill under the track. The chain is fastened in a loop, which is wound around a gear at the top of the hill and another one at the bottom of the hill. The gear at the bottom of the hill is turned by a simple motor. This turns the chain loop so that it continually moves up the hill like a long conveyer belt. The coaster cars grip onto the chain with several chain dogs, sturdy hinged hooks.

When the train rolls to the bottom of the hill, the dogs catches onto the chain links. Once the chain dog is hooked, the chain simply pulls the train to the top of the hill. At the summit, the chain dog is released and the train starts its descent down the hill. Catapult-launch In some newer coaster designs, a catapult launch sets the train in motion. There are several sorts of catapult launches, but they all basically do the same thing. Instead of dragging the train up a hill to build up potential energy, these systems start the train off by building up a good amount of kinetic energy in a short amount of time.

One popular catapult system is the linear-induction motor. A linear-induction motor uses electromagnets to build two magnetic fields one on the track and one on the bottom of the train that are attracted to each other. The motor moves the magnetic field on the track, pulling the train along behind it at a high rate of speed. The main advantages of this system are its speed, efficiency, durability, precision and controllability. Another popular system uses dozens of rotating wheels to launch the train up the lift hill. The wheels are arranged in two adjacent rows along the track.

The wheels grip the bottom (or top) of the train between them, pushing the train forward. The Breaks Like any train, a roller coaster needs a brake system so it can stop precisely at the end of the ride or in an emergency. In roller coasters, the brakes aren’t built into the train itself; they’re built into the track. This system is very simple. A series of clamps is positioned at the end of the track and at a few other braking points. A central computer operates a hydraulic system that closes these clamps when the train needs to stop.

The clamps close in on vertical metal fins running under the train, and this friction gradually slows the train down. Types of Roller Coasters: There are many different designs for Roller Coasters but the following are the most popular: * Wooden Roller Coaster * Steel Roller Coaster Wooden Roller Coaster – Wooden coasters use massive wooden trestle-style structures to support the track above the ground. Steel plates are used to reinforce critical joints. Steel Roller Coaster – These may use thin, trestle-style structures to support the track, or they may use thick tubular supports.

The track is usually formed in sections from a pair of welded round steel tubes held in position by steel stanchions attached to rectangular box girder or thick round tubular track supports. All exposed steel surfaces are painted. Reference and Appendix http://cec. chebucto. org/Co-Phys. html http://library. thinkquest. org/2745/data/ke. htm http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Centripetal_force http://www. teachersdomain. org/resource/hew06. sci. phys. maf. rollercoaster http://www. thehumorwriter. com/Kids_Corner_Original_Storie/Roller_Coasters/roller_coasters www. google. tt http://www. buzzle. com/articles/physics-of-roller-coasters. html

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Roller Coasters and Their Theory. (2017, Dec 08). Retrieved from

Roller Coasters and Their Theory
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