The Ride:

Montazooma's Revenge at Knott's Berry Farm  is perhaps the quintessential looping roller coaster.  The starting house (A) is at the lowest point on the track. The car is initially accelerated by a catapult system.  The car then proceeds through a loop (B).  After exiting the loop the car travels up a nearly vertical incline (C) momentarily coming to rest at the top.  The car then plunges down the incline and through the loop backwards.  Still traveling backwards, it then passes through the starting house and up a second incline (D).  The car then accelerates down the second incline and then is immediately slowed by a powerful breaking system before entering the starting house.

Montazooma's Revenge and other similar shuttle rides have characteristics that allow for in depth analysis without requiring mathematics and techniques beyond the reach of students.  The motion is essentially confined to a single plane. This allows the ride to be analyzed completely in two dimensions.  The initial conditions are easy to establish and the interesting potion of the ride occurs near the beginning of the ride.  In the case of Montazooma's Revenge the car has accelerated from rest and traveled through the loop within ~10 sec.

Data Collection:

Acceleration measurements were taken using a Vernier 3-axis accelerometer. The accelerometer was attached to a metal bracket which was then braced by hand against the car.  A small bubble level was used initially used to orient the setup.  The accelerometer was situated such that the z-axis was perpendicular to the track and the x-axis was parallel to the track.  The data was logged using a Casio EA-100 calculator based lab interface.  Programing and data transfer was accomplished using a verity of Casio graphing calculators.  The setup allowed for the measurement of accelerations between + and - 5g (limits of accelerometer) at a sampling rate of  one data point roughly every 0.6 sec.

Accelerometer Data:


Montazooma's Revenge
Accelerometer Measurements
X , & Z Direction (Relative to Car)

[Data Set]