5 easy steps for solving circular motion questions:
- Draw a free body diagram showing all the forces acting on the body. (Note: the centripetal force should not be drawn in unless asked for, since it is a resultant of the other forces acting on the body).
- Determine the centre of the circular path.
- Resolve the forces along the two axis:
- i) in the direction of the centre of the circle and
- ii) in a direction perpendicular to the direction in i).
- Write down an expression for the net force (towards the centre of the circular path). This is the force that causes the centripetal acceleration.
- Apply Newton’s 2nd law along each axis.