A planimeter also called as a platometer which is a measuring instrument used to determine the area of an arbitrary two-dimensional shape. This is used for both surveying, construction etc.

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Detailed Description for Planimeter

A planimeter, also known as a platometer, is a measuring instrument used to determine the area of an arbitrary two-dimensional shape.


There are several kinds of planimeters, but all operate in a similar way. The precise way in which they are constructed varies, with the main types of mechanical planimeter being polar, linear and Prytz or "hatchet" planimeters. The Swiss mathematician Jakob Amsler-Laffon built the first modern planimeter in 1854, the concept having been pioneered by Johann Martin Hermann in 1814. Many developments followed Amsler's famous planimeter, including electronic versions.

The Amsler (polar) type consists of a two-bar linkage. At the end of one link is a pointer, used to trace around the boundary of the shape to be measured. The other end of the linkage pivots freely on a weight that keeps it from moving. Near the junction of the two links is a measuring wheel of calibrated diameter, with a scale to show fine rotation, and worm gearing for an auxiliary turns counter scale. As the area outline is traced, this wheel rolls on the surface of the drawing. The operator sets the wheel and turns counter to zero if they're not, already, then traces the pointer around the perimeter of the shape. When the tracing is complete, the scales at the measuring wheel show the shape's area.

When the planimeter's measuring wheel moves perpendicular to its axis, it rolls, and this movement is recorded. When the measuring wheel moves parallel to its axis, the wheel skids without rolling, so this movement is ignored. That means the planimeter measures the distance that its measuring wheel travels, projected perpendicularly to the measuring wheel's axis of rotation. The area of the shape is proportional to the number of turns, and fractions thereof, through which the measuring wheel rotates when the tracing is complete,

The polar planimeter is restricted by design to measuring areas within limits determined by its size and geometry. However, the linear type has no restriction in one dimension, because it can roll. Its wheels must not slip, because the movement must be constrained to a straight line.

Developments of the planimeter can establish the position of the first moment of area (center of mass), and even the second moment of area.

Principle of Linear Planimeter:-

The working of the linear planimeter may be explained by measuring the area of a rectangle ABCD (see image). Moving with the pointer from A to B the arm EM moves through the yellow parallelogram, with area equal to PQ×EM. This area is also equal to the area of the parallelogram A"ABB". The measuring wheel measures the distance PQ (perpendicular to EM). Moving from C to D the arm EM moves through the green parallelogram, with area equal to the area of the rectangle D"DCC". The measuring wheel now moves in the opposite direction, subtracting this reading from the former. The net result is the measuring of the difference of the yellow and green areas, which is the area of ABCD. There are of course the movements along BC and DA, but as they are the same but opposite, they cancel each other on the reading of the wheel.


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