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ME 6590 Multibody Dynamics

Coordinate Transformation (Rotation) Matrices

Relationships Between Unit Vectors in Different Reference Frames

The unit vectors of two different mutually perpendicular unit vector sets
(e1, e2 , e3 ) and (n1, n2 , n3 ) can be related using transformation matrices. To do this,
we note that we can write

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ei   (ei  n j )n j for i  1,2,3 .
j 1

Or, in matrix form,

 e1   (e1  n1 ) (e1  n2 ) (e1  n3 )   n1   C11 C12 C13   n1 
     
{e}  e2   (e2  n1 ) (e2  n2 ) (e2  n3 )  n2   C21 C22 C23  n2   [C ]{n}
   
 e   (e  n ) (e  n ) (e  n )   n   C   n3 
 3  3 1 3 2 3 3  3  31 C32 C33 

where Cij  ei  n j  cos(ei , n j ) represents the cosine of the angle between the unit
vectors ei and n j . The matrix [C ] is called the direction cosine matrix. It can be
shown that the matrix [C ] is orthogonal, so its inverse is equal to its transpose.
Using this last result, we can write {e}  [C ]{n} and {n}  [C ]T {e} .

Relationships Between Vector Components in Different Reference Frames

Given the representations of a vector a in two different reference frames

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a   ai ei   aini ,
i 1 i 1

the components ai (i  1,2,3) can be related to the ai (i  1,2,3) using
transformation matrices as follows. Writing the above equation in matrix form, we
have

{a}T {e}  {a}T {n}  {a}T [C ]T {e}

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Comparing both sides of the equation.    a2 a1 0  2/2 . we conclude also that {a}  [C ]T {a} . we conclude {a}T  {a}T [C ]T or {a}  [C ]{a} Finally. Dot and Cross Products Revisited We can also use transformation matrices to take the dot or cross products of two vectors expressed in two different reference frames as follows a  b  {a}T {b}  {a}T [C ]{b} a  b  [a]{b}  [a][C ]{b}  0 a3 a2  Recall that [a]   a3 0 a1  . using the fact that [C ] is orthogonal.