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FORCES IN EQUILIBRIUM A. Equilibrium 1. Forces in equilibrium happen if the net force is zero. This means the resultant force acting on the object is zero. 2. When the forces are in equilibrium, the object will either stay at rest or move with uniform velocity. 3. Example:

a). Object at rest (i) Tension, T (ii) normal reaction,R

Weight, W W+T=0

Weight, W W+R=0

b). Object moves with uniform velocity

Uniform velocity (acceleration = 0 )

Friction,P P P + F= 0 F

B. Newtons Third Law of motion. 1. This law states that for every acting force, there is an equal acting force from the opposite direction.

2. Example:

Weight of book exerted on the table. The table reacts with the same magnitude but from the opposite direction, which is acting upwards.

C. Resultant Force 1. A resultant force is a single force that represents the combined effect of two or more forces in magnitude and direction. i) Two forces that act along the same direction.
F1 = 8 N F = 11 N

Is the same as
F2 = 3 N

Resultant force, F = F1 + F2 ii) Two forces that act in opposite directions.

F2 = 3 N F1 = 8N F= 5N

Is the same as The resultance force is found by determining the differences in the magnitudes of the two forces. Two forces with magnitudes 8 N and 3 N acting respectively in opposite direction Resultant force, F = F1 + (- F2)


Two forces acting at a point at an angle to each other. According to the parallelogram law, resultant force F for force F1 and F2 acting at an angle, are represented by diagonal which passes through that point of parallelogram.

Steps in constructing a scaled drawing of the parallelogram of forces to determine the resultant of two forces :

1. Using a ruler and protractor, draw the two forces, F1 and F2 from a point . Consider the two forces to be the adjacent sides of a parallelogram.

2. With the aid of a pair of compasses, complete the parallelogram.

3. Draw the diagonal of the parallelogram. The diagonal represents the resultant force, F in magnitude and direction

D. Resolution of Forces.

1. Force resolving is a separation process of a single force into two perpendicular forces (90 to each other ) F1 F F

F2 (a) One force (b)Two effective components

2. The magnitudes of F1 and F2 can be calculated by using trigonometry. F1 = sin F2 F F F2 = F cos F1 = F sin Worked Example The figure shows a groundsman pushing a concrete roller along a field with a force of 120 N. Calculate the horizontal and vertical components of the force.What is the function of each component ?.


F 120

= cos 40


Fx = 120 x cos 40 = 91.9 N

F y = sin 40 120 Fy = 120 x sin 40 = 77.1 N

40 Fy

The horizontal component of 91.9 N pushes the roller forward while the vertical component of 77.1 N helps to press the roller onto the ground. E. Analysing Forces in Equilibrium. 1. The addition and resolution of forces can help us analyse forces in equilibrium. 2.

The above figure shows the forces acting on the box on the inclined plank and is considered in equilibrium. The resultant of the normal reaction,R and the friction, F must be a force acting vertically upwards and having a magnitude equal to the weight,W so that the resultant of all the three forces is zero. The normal reaction can be resolved into i) horizontal component, R sin ii) vertical component, R cos


ACTIVITY ( 50 minutes)


The figure shows a load of mass 3 kg pulled by a horizontal force 52 N and tension T. When the system is in equilibrium, what is the value of T?


52 N

3 kg


A frame picture is suspended by strings as shown in the figure. What is the weight of the framed picture?

8N string 30

8N string



A football is kicked simultaneously by two players with forces 140 N and 200 N respectively, as shown in Figure 1.Calculate the magnitude of the resultant force.

140 N 90

200 N

Two forces with magnitudes 13 N and 6 N act along a straight line. With the aid of diagrams, determine (a) the maximum possible value and (b) the minimum possible value of the resultant force.


Using a parallelogram diagram with suitable scale, find the resultant force of each of the following: (a)

8 N

60 8N 10 N


A small aeroplane flies horizontally at a constant speed. The forward force due to the thrust of the engines is 60 kN. A strong wind exerts a force of 30 kN on the aeroplane as shown in Figure 2. By drawing a parallelogram of forces according to the scale , determine the resultant of these two forces and the direction of the flight of the aeroplane.

30 kN 50 60 kN



The figure shows two forces 12 N and 5 N acting perpendicularly to each other at a point. Find the resultant force F and its direction by calculation.

12 N


ASSESSMENT ( 40 minutes) 1. Three forces of 3 N, 4N and 5 N act at a point O.Which of the following figures shows the three forces in a state of equilibrium? A.

5N 4N

4N 3N 3N

5N 3N


4N 4N 3N



12 N


The above figure shows four forces acting in different directions. What is the resultant force? A. B. 0N 5N C. D. 10 N 14 N


Two forces with magnitudes 7 N and 15 N act on a point such that the angle between the forces can change from 0 to 180 . Which of the following values of force is not a possible value of the resultant force? A. B. C. D. E. 9N 13 N 17 N 21 N 25 N


Which of the following diagrams represents the three forces in the above figure? A.







The figure below shows a ball with weight W, is hung by an elastic light string. A force F acts on the ball pulling it away until it makes an angle of with the vertical line.


The tension of the string is A. T = W cos B T= W sin C. T = F cos D. T = F cos



The above figure shows a student pushing a lawn mower of 50 kg mass on a smooth surface. He pushes the machine with the force of 200 N and at angle of 30 from the surface. (a)What is the weight of the machine?

( 1 mark)

(b)Calculate the component of the students force (i)perpendicular to the surface, F1

( 2 marks)

(ii) parallel to the surface, F2

( 2 marks)


(c)Calculate the resultant force acting on the machine to move it along the surface.

( 1 mark)


The figure below shows a weight of 5 N that is attached to strings hanging between two walls. Determine the forces T and F by using parallelogram drawing according to scale 1 cm : 5 N

T 30 F


( 4 marks)


8.(a) (i)What is meant by resultant force? ________________________________________________________________ ( 1 mark)


8N 10 N O 30

Explain how the resultant force for the forces that act on the object O in the above figure can be obtained. State the magnitude and direction of the resultant force.

( 3 marks)



Answer Scheme

T 30 T cos 30

T sin 30 T cos 30 52 N

T cos 30 = 52 . (1) T sin 30 = 30 ..(2) Dividing equation (2) by equation (1) T sin 30 = 30 T cos 30 52 T tan 30 = 0.576 T = 1.0 N 2. 8 N is resolved into two components 8 sin 30 30 8 cos 30 30 8 cos 30

8 sin 30

x component : 8 cos 30 + (- 8 cos 30) =0N y component : 8 sin 30 + 8 sin 30 = 8 (0.5) + 8 (0.5) =8N Therefore weight = 8 N


3. magnitude =

[ ( 140)2 + (200) 2] 1/2

= (19600 + 40000)1/2 = 244.13 N

4.(a) maximum resultant force = 13 + 6 = 19 N (b) minimum resultant force = 13 + (- 6) =7N

5. Using a scale (a) 6N 37 8N 6. Using a scale 10 N (b) 8N 26 10 N 15.6 N

82.5 k N 16 7. F = (122 + 52) 1/2 = ( 144 + 25 ) 1/2 = 13 N Tan = 12 5 = 67.38



Answer Scheme
1. D 2. C 3. E 4. A 5. A 6. (a) weight = 50(10) = 500 N (b) (i)F2 = F cos 60 = F sin 30 = 200 (0.5) = 100 N (c)F =F2 = 173 N 7. Using scale 1 cm : 1 N F 5N 5N

(ii) F2 = F sin 60 = F cos 30 = 200 (0.866) = 173 N


F 8 (a) (i) The resultant force is the net force that acts on an object when two on more forces act on it. (ii) The resultant of the forces shown can be obtained by drawing to scale a parallelogram of forces using tip to tail method as shown below.


F = 5 N , = 52 0