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How should I approach this? I have no idea where to start

here we have to compute the acceleration of the object #1

|dw:1434562306655:dw|

|dw:1434562777709:dw|
where \tau is the tension of the string connecting objects #1 and #3

hmm. how do I solve for a1 then? :/

Do you have numerical values for M1, M2 and M3?

no

I have to state the answer in terms of M1 M2 M3 and g

what do you mean by constraining m3 in the vertical plane?

almost. you have to divide the right hand side of your last equation by m1

How can I then get rid of a3 so the answer is only in terms of masses and gravity?

not sure if you're still here, but that should be everything you need :)

yes im still am. im writing them down cuz i cant really see it in text form lol

if so, thank you! :)

will do :)

so from that, I solved for A and got:
\[A = \frac{ m _{1}m _{3}g }{ m _{2} (m _{1}+m _{3})}\]

hmmm. two different answers....

and i see what you mean now @IrishBoy123

that looks more like it!
this is what i scribbled out. looks messy and not much fun to finish but the starting equations/conditions should be in right ball park.
doing this using forces is totally wrong way IMHO. look at energy.

so the answer from yahoo answer is right?

@LifeEngineer
"inconspicuous mess of a problem"
how beautifully put!!!

Hmmm. I can somehow understand it, but I would have to write it out myself to fully understand it

yeah. mkay

@Michele_Laino yes, pulley's mass and inertia is to be ignored, agree.