Photogates are a staple of every physics lab, used to teach students fundamental concepts about measuring time intervals and calculating speed and acceleration from their measurements. Physics teachers prefer photogates over traditional stopwatches due to their increased accuracy.
Photogates are a timing device that measure times of the changes in state of an infrared beam that is blocked by a flag of known length, as well as the times the beam is unblocked. Using the flag length, and the blocked time, students can calculate speed. The smaller the flag length, the more “instantaneous” the measurement becomes. Using a “Picket Fence” (a card with multiple flags), students can calculate acceleration.
Photogates can also measure the rotation of a pulley with wide enough spokes that act as “flags” to block the photogate’s infrared beam.
- Determining g, acceleration due to gravity
- Speed and Acceleration
- Projectile Motion
- Atwood’s Machine
- Impulse and Momentum
- Conservation of Momentum
- Kinetic Energy
- Simple Pendulum
- Centripetal Acceleration
The Smart Gate
PASCO’s newest smart gate, the Wireless Smart Gate has the same features as the PASPORT Smart Gate but does not require an interface. Instead, it connects directly to your computers, Chromebooks, tablets or smartphones either through Bluetooth 4 or via USB.
Smart Gates are an advancement in the design of the traditional photogate. Both the PASPORT Smart Gate and the Wireless Smart Gate can be configured for all the traditional uses of a standard photogate, and with their new features, experiments that a standard photogate cannot do.
Smart Gates contain two photogates spaced 1.5 cm apart which gives them a more accurate measurement of speed over any traditional photogate. The rise and fall times of Smart Gate measurements are faster than any other photogate, which results in more accurate timing. Smart Gates also include an auxiliary port for daisy chaining an extra Photogate Head or a Time of Flight Accessory. Use the built in photogate tape guide to use our Mylar Photogate Tape for measuring the speed and acceleration of fast moving objects that are too large to pass through the Smart Gates.
Smart Gates also include a laser switch which enables a simple laser pointer to be used as the beam. This is useful for measuring timing of objects that are very large, or when you need a very long beam spacing.
Smart Gates have the same mounting footprint as our traditional photogate head, and are compatible with all of PASCO’s photogate compatible apparatus.
Wireless and PASPORT Smart Gate Features
- Two Photogates Spaced 1.5 cm
- Photogate Tape Guide
- Laser Switch
- Auxiliary Port
- Includes Mounting Rod
Smart Gate Compatibility
The PASPORT Smart Gate is directly compatible with PASPORT interfaces (except the Xplorer GLX and SPARK Science Learning System). The Wireless Smart Gate is compatible with devices that natively support Bluetooth 4 or that use our USB Bluetooth Adapter. See wireless compatibility details. It can also connect directly to devices with a standard USB port.
The Photogate Head
Originally designed as part of PASCO’s original line of ScienceWorkshop sensors, the Photogate Heads are compatible with the 550 and 850 Universal Interfaces, legacy ScienceWorkshop interfaces, and require the Digital Adapter to connect to PASPORT interfaces such as the AirLink. See interface comparisons. The Photogate head can also be daisy chained to a Smart Gate.
If you don’t plan to use PASCO software or would just prefer an independent system, the Digital Photogate Timer Systems and Smart Timer Systems are available.
The Digital Timer System is a complete system that is simple and reliable with high resolution. It has simple onboard memory to record two times.
The Smart Timer System is a standalone timer that can control one or two of our photogate heads. It is available separately (with included picket fences) or as a complete system.
The Smart Timer has simple setup buttons for all the most common uses of a photogate including picket fences, pendulums, collisions, dual gates pulleys and more.
Smart Gate and Photogate Accessories
Apparatus Commonly Used With Smart Gates / Photogate Heads
If you have additional questions regarding our equipment or software, contact PASCO Technical Support. We're here to help.