Gravity is up?

What's the first thing we'll do?

Perform a sanity check!

The starter code prints the X, Y and Z components of the acceleration measured by the accelerometer. The values have already been "scaled" and have units of gs. Where 1 g is equal to the acceleration of the gravity, about 9.8 meters per second squared.


use aux16::{entry, iprint, iprintln, prelude::*, I16x3, Sensitivity};

fn main() -> ! {
    let (mut lsm303dlhc, mut delay, _mono_timer, mut itm) = aux16::init();

    // extend sensing range to `[-12g, +12g]`
    loop {
        const SENSITIVITY: f32 = 12. / (1 << 14) as f32;

        let I16x3 { x, y, z } = lsm303dlhc.accel().unwrap();

        let x = f32::from(x) * SENSITIVITY;
        let y = f32::from(y) * SENSITIVITY;
        let z = f32::from(z) * SENSITIVITY;

        iprintln!(&mut itm.stim[0], "{:?}", (x, y, z));


The output of this program with the board sitting still will be something like:

$ # itmdump console
(0.0, 0.0, 1.078125)
(0.0, 0.0, 1.078125)
(0.0, 0.0, 1.171875)
(0.0, 0.0, 1.03125)
(0.0, 0.0, 1.078125)

Which is weird because the board is not moving yet its acceleration is non-zero. What's going on? This must be related to the gravity, right? Because the acceleration of gravity is 1 g. But the gravity pulls objects downwards so the acceleration along the Z axis should be negative not positive ...

Did the program get the Z axis backwards? Nope, you can test rotating the board to align the gravity to the X or Y axis but the acceleration measured by the accelerometer is always pointing up.

What happens here is that the accelerometer is measuring the proper acceleration of the board not the acceleration you are observing. This proper acceleration is the acceleration of the board as seen from a observer that's in free fall. An observer that's in free fall is moving toward the center of the the Earth with an acceleration of 1g; from its point of view the board is actually moving upwards (away from the center of the Earth) with an acceleration of 1g. And that's why the proper acceleration is pointing up. This also means that if the board was in free fall, the accelerometer would report a proper acceleration of zero. Please, don't try that at home.

Yes, physics is hard. Let's move on.