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Mechanical Vibrations Modal Analysis Project with Arduinos

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

CoED Mechanical Engineering Topics

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

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Paper Authors


Joseph Michael Mahoney Penn State Berks Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Joseph Mahoney is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Penn State Berks. He received both his BS (with Honors) and MS in Mechanical Engineering from Penn State. He received his Ph.D. in Engineering Science and Mechanics also from Penn State. His research is broadly in the area of Biomechanics. His teaching is in Statics, System Dynamics, Vibrations and Video Game Design. He is a member of ASB has reviewed for International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, Ergonomics, and Safety and Health at Work.

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Rungun Nathan Pennsylvania State University, Berks Campus Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Rungun Nathan is an associate professor and program coordinator for the mechanical engineering in the division of engineering at Penn State Berks. He got his BS from University of Mysore, DIISc from Indian Institute of Science, MS from Louisiana State University and PhD from Drexel University. He has worked in the area of Electronic Packaging in C-DOT (India) and then as a Scientific Assistant in the Robotics laboratory at Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India. He worked as a post-doc at University of Pennsylvania in the area of Haptics and Virtual Reality. His research interests are in the areas of unmanned vehicles particularly flapping flight, mechatronics, robotics, MEMS, virtual reality and haptics, and teaching with technology. He has ongoing research in flapping flight, Frisbee flight dynamics, lift in porous material and brain injury He is an active member of ASEE and ASME and reviewer for several ASME, IEEE and ASEE, FIE conferences and journals.

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This vibrations course is traditionally entirely theoretical with simulated results being plotted. Students do not directly see the connection between the plots on paper and how systems behave in reality. There is no lab associated with the course, so students have a disconnect between what they are solving for and its application.

A testing apparatus was set up in a lab room. A 3’-long solid Aluminum 6061 beam with 3” x 2” cross section was suspended from a ladder with free-free end conditions. An ADXL-335 analog accelerometer was affixed to the bottom of the beam and aligned to the axis of the beam. Students built an Arduino (model of their choice) circuit to collect the accelerometer and time data and relay it to a computer over USB serial connection. The Arduino collects at a non-uniform rate but on average, it sampled at 1800 Hz: over twice the frequency of the first four natural frequencies of the beam.

This paper will detail the introduction of a new laboratory experience in a senior-level Mechanical Engineering Vibrations course. Students are to determine the first four natural frequencies of a 6061 Aluminum free-free beam in a laboratory using three methods. First, they use the idealized theoretical continuous beam model. Second, they use Finite Element Analysis (FEA). Finally, they determine the frequencies experimentally.

Using student survey data, it is shown that the project bolstered the following skills: (1) use of measurement equipment to acquire and transmit real-world data, (2) performing a Discrete Fourier Transform (DFT) and creating the Power Spectral Density (PSD) plot of empirical data, (3) creating and modifying FEA code in MATLAB to find natural frequencies and test for convergence of results and (4) connecting the distinct topics of the course together.

Mahoney, J. M., & Nathan, R. (2017, June), Mechanical Vibrations Modal Analysis Project with Arduinos Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28660

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