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Animation Software For Upper Level Dynamics And Vibrations Courses

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

What's New in Dynamics?

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

12.244.1 - 12.244.8



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Paper Authors


L. Glenn Kraige Virginia Tech

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Glenn Kraige is Professor of Engineering Science and Mechanics at Virginia Tech and an ASEE Fellow. His interests include dynamics, vibrations, spacecraft attitude dynamics and optimal control, and engineering education.

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Imran Akhtar Virginia Tech

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Imran Akhtar is a doctoral student in the Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics at Virginia Tech. He served as the Matlab programmer for the rigid-body dynamics module presented in this paper.

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Saurabh Bisht Virginia Tech

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Saurabh Bisht is a doctoral student in the Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics at Virginia Tech. He served as the Visual Basic programmer for the three vibrations modules presented in this paper.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Animation Software for Upper-Level Dynamics and Vibrations Courses


Four software modules for upper-undergraduate/first-graduate-level dynamics and vibrations courses are presented. The modules treat (1) single-degree-of-freedom spring-mass-damper systems, (2) up to three-degree-of-freedom systems, (3) transverse vibration of uniform beams, and (4) three-dimensional rigid-body attitude dynamics. The first three modules use the Visual Basic platform and have been used as supplementary material in a senior-level vibrations course. The fourth module uses Matlab. Student feedback is included.


The advent of student-owned personal computers in the early 1980’s sparked an interest in motion simulation software. The simple notion is that if students are able to see an animation of the systems that they are studying, especially for their choice of conditions, then they are much more likely to understand the material. A number of investigators1-5 have worked in this area. The history of the motion-simulation modules presented in this paper dates back to the early 1980’s when personal computers were first required for undergraduate engineering students at Virginia Tech. The first efforts by the senior author toward animation of dynamic systems were DOS-based6. A later generation was based on the Authorware Platform7. The most recent efforts directed toward sophomore-level mechanics courses are written in Flash8.

The present vibrations modules were prepared for use in the senior course in vibrations which is required as part of the B.S. in Engineering Science and Mechanics at Virginia Tech. The rigid- body module was prepared for use in any dynamics course which treats three-dimensional rigid- body kinematics and kinetics.

Description of the Software

1. Single-Degree-of-Freedom Vibrations Module This module gives the user the ability to enter all conditions and then view the resulting motion of single-degree-of-freedom spring-mass-damper systems. Figure 1 shows the popup input menu. In the main animation mode (Figure 2), the motion is shown in near real time. As the simulation of the system occurs at the left of the screen, a time-history of the motion is generated at the lower right. Note that a scaled red arrow indicates the force magnitude and direction, and a black pointer attached to the mass serves as an indicator of the instantaneous displacement. If the system is forced, plots of the magnification factor and the phase angle, both as functions of the nondimensionalized driving frequency ratio, are shown in the upper part of the screen, with red dots indicating the present conditions. Various items of interest, such as the natural frequency, the critical damping value, the amplitude of the steady-state solution, etc., are always immediately available. In addition to a brief set of instructions on using the software, a comprehensive set of prepared tutorials with judiciously chosen conditions is available.

Kraige, L. G., & Akhtar, I., & Bisht, S. (2007, June), Animation Software For Upper Level Dynamics And Vibrations Courses Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2026

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