What are some Key Parts of a Setup Diagram?

Your setup diagram should include some key parts. Let’s take a look at some of these.

Equipment and Their Labels

A good diagram labels the equipment used and gives an idea how different parts of the equipment are located relative to each other.

Make sure to label each piece of equipment with a word or two. Include arrows when they will help with the clarity of the diagram.

Try to draw things at least approximately to scale. You can use simple shapes for each component.

Use different line thicknesses and color to help ad clarity to your diagram.

A setup diagram showing the important pieces of equipment.  Each piece is labeled.
A sample diagram with important key parts labeled.

After you’ve drawn in your equipment, add a bit more information.

Lengths and Distances

Two dotted lines show the height of y-naught, the unstretched position and y, the stretched position.  A double-arrowed line shows the length delta y.
The important distances in the stretching experiment.

Include important lengths or distances denoted by their variables.  These can be denoted by a specific number and unit (1.0 meter) and/or a variable.

For example, if you are measuring the stretch of a spring, you would show where that stretch is measured to and from. For a measurement that is changing, use a variable. In this diagram, I denoted the stretch by Δy For fixed lengths, put in the value along with its unit.

In addition to lengths, you should also mark out important positions.  Notice that y₀ and y are two “fixed’ points, as opposed to the stretch itself, Δy.

Note that the diagram in your report should have both the equipment and the key distances in the same picture.

The full picture showing all of the key parts of the diagram.
The full picture showing all of the key parts of the diagram.

If your experiment has multiple parts, be sure to include a separate setup diagram for each configuration of your experimental equipment.