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# EPICYCLIC GEARING

OBJECTIVE
The objectives of this experiment are to become more familiar with the methods of analysis of epicyclic
gearing systems and to verify the methods with a physical model.

DISCUSSION
Analysis of planetary gearing systems (which include epicyclic and differential gearing systems) is often
not understood very well by engineering students due to a lack of understanding of how an epicyclic gear
system works. This experiment allows the analysis and then the physical verification of each term of the
analysis thus permitting a more comprehensive understanding.

THEORY
Planetary gearing systems are distinguished by the fact that some of the gears in the system have an axis of
rotation that rotates about a central axis during operation. Simple and compound gear trains have gears
that have stationary axes of rotation. As shown in Figure 1, planetary gearing systems have four major
types of elements: sun gears, planet gears, ring gears, and an arm. Sun and planet gears are external
gears and the ring gear is an internal gear. All of
Ring Gear
these elements are rotating about a central axis; in
Planet Gear
Arm
arm. The rotation of the planet gears about an axis
Sun Gear
on an arm that rotates about the central axis is the
unique feature of this type of gearing system, hence
the name: planetary gearing system. Inputs and
Bearing
Supports
outputs to this gear system can be through any of the
elements except the planet gears.
Central
Axis
Planetary gearing consists of two subcategories:
epicyclic gearing and differential gearing.
(a) Front View
(b) Side View
Differential gearing systems have two degrees of
freedom which means that the rotations of two of the
Figure 1. Planetary Gearing System
elements must be specified to completely define the
motion of the gear system. This means that the differential
Ring #1
Ring #2
Arm
gearing system will have three input/outputs (i.e., two inputs and
one output, or one input and two outputs), two of which must be
Planet #1
Planet #2
specified to determine the third. Epicyclic gearing is a special
Sun #1
Sun #2
case of the differential system in which one of the sun or ring
gears is fixed and cannot rotate (thus defining its rotation rate as
zero). With this specification, and epicyclic system has a single
Bearing
Bearing
Supports
Supports
degree of freedom that requires only one rotation to be specified
Central
to completely specify the system rotations. Usually and epicyclic
Axis
system will have only a single input and a single output.
Figure 2. General Planetary System

Figure 1 shows both the front view and side view of a planetary
gearing system. Typically only the side view is given since all

## Epicyclic Gearing Experiment

the information is provided in this view. This is the best type of view since the arm may have a planet gear
cluster on it (consisting of two planet gears which are attached). As shown in Figure 2, a complete
planetary gearing system could consist of two sun gears, two planet gears, two ring gears, and an arm (one
maximum). A planetary system must contain an arm and one or more planet gears. It will also contain
some combination of sun and ring gears.

## Epicyclic Gear System Analysis

Epicyclic gearing systems are analyzed by superimposing two separate motions into the actual motion.
First, the entire system is considered to move through a rigid body rotation about the central axis. Since no
relative motion is permitted between the elements, they will all rotate the same amount. Secondly, the fixed
gear is rotated back to its original position while holding the arm fixed. This permits the analysis of the
relative rotation between the elements to be accomplished using standard techniques used for simple and
compound gear systems.
A (60 T)

## The analysis technique is demonstrated using the epicyclic system

shown in Figure 3 as an example. Notice that there is one input
(C), one output (E), and one fixed gear (A). All of the gears in the
system can be identified as either a sun gear (C and E), a planet
gear (B and D), or a ring gear (A). The analysis is most easily
accomplished using a table with each of the epicyclic gear elements
as columns, and the motions to be superimposed as rows. It is
important to fill out the top of this table carefully since it will aid in
the filling out of the rest of the table (therfore analyzing the system).
The table for use with this example problem (along with the
essential header information is given in Table 1:

Arm

B (15 T)

D (36 T)

C (30 T)

E (24 T)

in
500 rpm

out
Is output direction
shown correctly?

Fixed

Input

Output

30

24

+1

+1

GEAR:

60

+1

-1

## Total relative motion:

+1

B, D
15

36
+1

Arm
+1

The header information contains three types of data. First, on line , the designation is given for each
system element which has a separate rotation. The planet gears, B and D, are connected together and
therefore must rotate together so they are located in the same column. Second, on line , the number of
teeth on each gear is identified from the problem statement. Finally, on line , an indication is made as to
which of the elements is the input, which is the output, and which gear is fixed.
The analysis of the total relative motion consists of two parts: rigid body motion and relative motion with
the arm fixed. The rigid body motion is easy since all of the elements rotate exactly the same amount; this
is indicated in row of the table as a rotation of +1 for each element. The relative rotation with the arm
fixed specifies two entries in row . First, since the arm is fixed in this step, a 0 (representing no rotation)
is put in the column labeled Arm. Second, since the net rotation of the fixed gear must be 0, the relative
rotation in row must be -1 so that the sum of the two motions will equal 0. These entries are shown in

## Table 1 along with the sum, or resultant total rotation, in row .

Row is completed using the fundamental law of gearing (the relative rotation of two meshing gears is
inversely proportional to the number of teeth on the gears) and the facts that two meshing external gears
rotate in opposite directions and a meshing internal and external gear rotate in the same direction. Note
that signs (+ and -) are used to indicate rotation directions in the table. Each position in row may be
completed once the position for a meshing gear has been completed.
Three pieces of information will be put in each position: a sign (indicating rotation direction), a gear ratio,
and the rotation magnitude of the meshing gear. The only gear for which the rotation is initially known is
the "fixed" gear (it has a rotation of -1). In the example problem this is gear A. Since A meshes with gear
B, the "B" column position may be completed. Since the gears form an internal/external pair, the rotation
directions must be the same so the signs in the two columns will be the same (both -). The gear ratio of B
to A is NA/NB where NA and NB are the number of teeth on A and B respectively. Note that the number of
teeth are conviently located in row of the appropriate columns. Also note that the number of teeth of the
gear whose rotation is being determined (B in this case) is always in the denominator of the ratio. The
magnitude of the previous rotation is the absolute value of the quantity in row of the column of the gear
with the known rotation (A in this case). In summary, the entry for row , column B,D is determined as:
Sign: - (same as column A since gears are internal/external)
Ratio: 60/15 (gear ratio of NA/NB)
Previous magnitude: 1 (absolute value of -1, |-1| = 1)
Now the value for the position in column C may be determined since gear B meshes with gear C and the
table is now completed in column B,D. The results:
Sign: + (opposite of column B since gears are external/external)
Ratio: 15/30 (gear ratio of NB/NC)
Previous magnitude: 60/15 (absolute value of +60/15, |+60/15| = 60/15)
Finally the value for the position in column E may be determined since gear D meshes with gear E and the
table is completed in column B,D. The results:
Sign: + (opposite of column D since gears are external/external)
Ratio: 36/24 (gear ratio of ND/NE)
Previous magnitude: 60/15 (absolute value of +60/15, |+60/15| = 60/15)
The total relative rotation, row , is determined by summing rows and . The completed table is
shown as Table 2.
Table 2. Example Problem #1 Solution

Fixed

60

+1

-1

B, D
15

36

+1

FG 60IJ b1g
H 15 K
-3

Input

Output

30

24

+1

+1

+1

FG 36 IJ FG 60 IJ
H 24 K H 15 K

+7

+1

FG 15 IJ FG 60 IJ
H 30 K H 15 K
+3

Arm

## Epicyclic Gearing Experiment

The solution to the system is determined by taking the ratio of the output to the input and multiplying by
the input speed:

out =

out
+7
in =
500 rpm = +1170 rpm
in
+3

The + sign indicates that the input and output shafts are rotating in the sane direction. Referring to Figure
3, the output rotation therefore is shown correctly.

PROCEDURE
(1) Analyze theoretically the relative rotations of each of the eight epicyclic systems shown on the next
page.
(2) Assemble the epicyclic gear kit in the configuration which corresponds to each of the eight systems
shown.
(3) For each revolution of the input link, determine the number of revolutions of the other links and record
in a table.
All of the experiments are to be performed on the epicyclic gearing system apparatus.

REPORT
(1)

(a)
(b)
(c)
(d)

## Show the theoretical analysis

Indicate the ratio of output rotation to input rotation
Include the experimental results
Discuss any discrepancy

(2)

Discuss the use of epicyclic gearing systems (i.e. why are they used?).

(3)

A differential gearing system is a system with two inputs and one output (or two outputs and one
input). Their analysis consists of analyzing two epicyclic systems (first with one input fixed and
then the other input fixed) and then superimposing the results. That is, if out = 21 (input 2
fixed), out = -32 (input 1 fixed), then the output of the differential gearing system is out = 21
- 32. Determine the output speed of the differential gearing system shown below.
D (63 T)
B (20 T)
A (21 T)

C
(21 T)

Input #1
100 rpm

Input #2
200 rpm
Output Shaft

## Epicyclic Gearing Experiment

Stop Post

Stop Post

C 63T
B 21T

F 63T

C 63T
Small Spacers
(3 required)

B 21T

Small Spacers
(3 required)

E 20T

2 Aluminum Bars
1 Sleeved Steel Bar

Small Circular
Disk

A 21T

Small Circular
Disk

D 21T

## Drive Knob and

Indicator (Input)

## Drive Knob and

Indicator (Input)

Planetary
Unit #1

Planetary
Unit #2

System 1

System 1

Input
A

Fixed
C

Stop Post

Small Spacers
(3 required)

Large Spacers
(3 required)

P1

System 2
System 3
System 4

Input
D
D
D

## Large Circular Disk

C 63T
B 21T

F 63T
E 20T

Planetary
Unit #1

Systems 2, 3, and 4

Output
P

Small Spacers
(3 required)

A 21T

Output
P
F
C

Small Spacers
(3 required)

Fixed
C
C
F

Stop Post

C 63T
B 21T

F 63T
E 20T

Small Spacers
(3 required)

Large Spacers
(3 required)

## 1 Slotted Steel Bar

(connects plates)

P2
Small Circular
Disk

D 21T

A 21T

## Drive Knob and

Indicator (Input)

Small Circular
Disks

D 21T

A 21T

## Drive Knob and

Indicator (Input)
Planetary
Unit #1

Planetary
Unit #2

Input
D
D

Output
P2
P2

Planetary
Unit #1

Planetary
Unit #2

Systems 5 and 6

System 5
System 6

P1

Systems 5 and 6

Fixed
C
F

System 7
System 8

Input
D
D

Output
P
P

Fixed
F
C