I'm very new to using sensor components and I have a 3-axis digital accelerometer I can use, but I don't know if I can use one to measure rotational acceleration in a football helmet? Is the sensor even suitable for that purpose, and if it is, can I do it with just one or do I need multiple?

I looked at a few posts discussing how someone could use an accelerometer to measure rotation but they were limited to one axis or involved some kind of bearing to measure two. Will a 3-axis accelerometer be able to measure rotation in every direction?

Thank you very much in advance! Here's a datasheet for the accelerometer, just in case: http://www.nxp.com/assets/documents/data/en/data-sheets/MMA8451Q.pdf


1 Answer 1


In general, linear accelerometers are specifically designed to be insensitive to rotation. However, if you mount an accelerometer away from the axis of rotation, it will provide an indication. You can convert this indication into an angular acceleration measurement only if you know the exact geometry of the rotation. In a sports helmet application, this seems unlikely.

If you combine the accelerometer with a 3-axis rate gyro, you'll be able to combine the measurements in order to come up with a complete picture of the motion of the helmet, in terms of both translation and attitude (rotation). From this model, you will be able to determine both the angular acceleration(s) AND where the center of rotation is.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.