Designing a seismometer

Seismometer modelling kit set up in a 'pendulum' arrangement.

You are going to use what you learned from detecting vibrations to make a more robust and realistic model seismometer. Real seismometers would include a relatively large mass as well as the coil and magnet. (Why? You may need to research some seismometer designs before you begin designing your own version). A good seismometer will respond to the source vibration then come to rest quickly: it shouldn't keep oscillating.

The strong forces produced by supermagnets can cause injury or damage to other equipment or to the magnets themselves. You must follow any additional safety information provided by your teacher before you begin this activity.

Seismometer modelling kit: attaching the magnet, a slotted mass and the coil.
Seismometer modelling kit: attaching the magnet, a slotted mass and the coil.
Seismometer modelling kit: attaching the magnet, a slotted mass and the coil.
Seismometer modelling kit: attaching the magnet, a slotted mass and the coil.
Seismometer modelling kit: attaching the magnet, a slotted mass and the coil.

Seismometer modelling kit:  different ways of arranging the hinge.
Seismometer modelling kit:  different ways of arranging the hinge.
Seismometer modelling kit:  different ways of arranging the hinge.
Seismometer modelling kit:  different ways of arranging the hinge.

Seismometer modelling kit:  ways of suspending the seismometer boom.
Seismometer modelling kit:  ways of suspending the seismometer boom.

  1. Use the SEP seismometer modelling kit, plus any clamps and stand you need and build your own model seismometer, and connect it to the computer as you did before. The diagrams show how you can attach the magnet and a 100g mass to the plastic boom, and two ways of positioning the coil. (Resource sheet R1 shows some ways of attaching the plastic boom to a clamp and stand).
  2. Find and load the sound-editing software: when you are ready to start, you should be able to see a single input channel on the screen.
  3. Test out your seismometer.
  4. What vibrations can it detect? (Does it respond to vertical movements, or horizontal movements, or both?)
  5. Does it oscillate for a long time after you create a vibration, or does it settle quickly?
  6. What range of frequencies is it sensitive to?
  7. If other groups have used a different design, which design seems to work better? Why do you think this is?
  8. What are the differences between your model seismometer and a real seismometer?

Teachers' notes

Designing a seismometerDesigning a seismometer

Students use a seismometer modelling kit to design and build a more realistic model seismometer.