Postprint version. Published in The Physics Teacher, Volume 38, Issue 8, November 1, 2000, pages 489-492.
Copyright © 2000 American Association of Physics Teachers. This article may be downloaded for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and the American Association of Physics Teachers. The following article appeared in The Physics Teacher and may be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1119/1.1329093.
Student understanding of the superposition of perpendicular harmonic oscillators can be enhanced using a spark generator to record position-versus-time data for smallamplitude pendulum motion in two dimensions. Our students have used this arrangement to analyze the motion of a spherical pendulum and a “Y-suspended” (Blackburn) pendulum that has two effective lengths.