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HILLS AND DIPS

One of the most basic parts of a ride is going from the top of a hill to the bottom. There are two basics ways designs transport riders to the bottom of a hill. The first is called the "Speed Run."

SPEED RUN DROPS

 

A speed run is designed to give the rider the feeling of accelerating faster and faster without the feeling of weightlessness. It simulates being in a powerful car with the accelerator held down to the floor. It is a straight piece of track that connects a high point to a low point.
The increase in velocity of the car comes from lost gravitational potential energy being converted into kinetic energy. Next to a horizontal straight piece, the speed run is the easiest piece of the track to design and analyze.

When coasting up to a new height the calculations are the same as the example shown above. The shape of the hill does not matter. See the Intro to Design section, step 7, for an example of these up hill calculations.

FREE FALL DROPS
One of the biggest thrills on a roller coaster is the free fall as a rider travels over a hill. The easiest way to experience free fall is to hang from a tall height and drop to the ground. As a person falls he experiences weightlessness. As long as a person travels in the air like a projectile he will feel weightless.
Suppose a ball traveled off a table, horizontally, at 10 m/s. The ball’s path would look like the path shown below.
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Now suppose the ball traveled off the table top on a shallow angled ramp. It would look like the one below.








A straight, "speed run" drop does not match the fall of a rider over a hill.


To give riding more of a thrill, the designer needs to design the shape of the hill to match the falling ball.



The only problem with curve above is the impact with the floor. To alleviate this problem another curve scoops the balls as they descend. This makes the ride smooth and survivable for the rider.


The speed at the bottom of a free fall drop is calculated the same way as the speed at the bottom of a speed run drop. The only difference is the shape of the hill from the top to the bottom.


If you use or find this page useful or have any comments, please contact the author so maybe he'll do more. Author: Tony Wayne
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