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Scott Tedesco
Advisor: Dr. Gene Hou
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Old Dominion University

Using MSCs Adams software, a multi-body dynamic model was created to represent a Six Degrees of
Freedom (Six DOF) Machine, located at the Old Dominion University Dynamic Environment Simulation
Laboratory (DES Lab). This rigid body model will be verified and validated for single axis impact using
two methods: a mathematical model of a multi-body dynamic system of rigid bodies, and experimental
test data from the Six DOF Machine for various impact accelerations. Due to the large number of
unknowns in the physical Six DOF Machine, the design sensitivity of several parameters will be
evaluated and optimized in order to maximize the model accuracy. Once the Six DOF Machine model
has been fully validated, any testing fixture may be input into the model and analyzed in the early design


DES Lab & Six DOF Machine

A Six DOF Machine located at the Old

Dominion University DES Lab, seen in Figure 1,
will be used to simulate a desired motion (input).
This motion will then be transferred to an elastic
body testing mount located on top of the platform
and accelerations will be measured (output). The 6
DOF machine consists of six legs which are
independently controlled. These six legs are joined
by a triangular platform, of which serves as the
testing platform. Testing fixtures may be mounted
to this platform for simulation of any motion. Each
leg of the machine is a multi-body system itself,
consisting of a leg housing, magnetic rod,
electromagnetic thrust tubes, and an aluminum rod
which connects to the platform. The platform is
another body, and each leg is joined to the
platform to complete the multi-body system.

Figure 1: Six DOF Machine

Currently, efforts are being made to bring the

Six DOF Machine up to full operational
capabilities. Over the past year and a half, major
progress has been made in machine hardware,
control system, and data acquisition upgrades.

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Although programmable six degree of freedom magnetometer, and temperature sensor was added
motion is not yet capable, vertical impact testing as well.
has begun. It is this testing which the Adams Six
DOF Machine model and scope of this research is Finally, signal conditioning / processing
centered around. capabilities were upgraded, drastically reducing
signal noise and aliasing of the analog signal from
Adams the accelerometers. Currently, the data acquisition
system can support up to twelve channels of
Adams is a multi-body dynamics and motion sensor data.
analysis software. It allows for calculation of
forces, displacements, velocities, and accelerations Test Setup & Execution
over the entire range of motion of a given system.
Adams simulation works by simultaneously The Six DOF Machine has been configured to
solving equations for kinematics, statics, quasi- simulate a "single axis" impact. Although vertical
statics, and dynamics (MSC.Software 2011). The impact is the desired result, the complexity of the
Six DOF Machine itself will be modeled and machine and non-ideal conditions, such as friction
simulations of the machine can be done. Also, test and non-linear damping, create a multi-axis
fixtures can also be imported into Adams and impact.
"placed" on the 6 DOF Machine Model and
simulated. For impact testing, impact forces and A tri-axial accelerometer was mounted at each
accelerations can be found at any point on the corner of the platform with each corresponding
machine or on the test fixture. The goal of this is axes aligned (all x axes were in the same direction,
to verify and validate the model with actual etc.). Additionally, a single axis accelerometer
experimental data. Once this is completed, was mounted at each corner, just inward from the
simulations can be done in ADAMS to determine tri-axial accelerometers (see Figure 2). Since the
test fixture designs or testing setup. vertical axis is the axis of interest, these single axis
accelerometers were aligned in the vertical
Impact Testing with Six DOF Machine direction to provide redundancy.

Data Acquisition

Initially, the data acquisition system for the

Six DOF Machine was not setup to capture high
impacts; rather, it was setup to capture "smooth"
motion. The accelerometers used were DC
response type accelerometers, designed to capture
low frequency response of a system. Also, due to
lack of signal conditioning, system noise was
extremely high and usable results were very
difficult to obtain.

Upgrades were made allowing for proper data

collection. Three high frequency piezoelectric tri-
axial accelerometers and three high frequency
piezoelectric single axis accelerometers were
added to the data acquisition system to allow for
capture of high frequency motion, such as
vibration or impact. An inertial measurement unit
(IMU) consisting of a tri-axial angular rate sensor,
tri-axial accelerometer (low frequency),
Figure 2: Accelerometer Placement

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Each leg on the machine was given a number
1 through 6, counting in a clockwise direction (top
perspective). Legs 1 and 2 connect to one corner
of the platform, legs 3 and 4 to another, and legs 5
and 6 to the last. If an accelerometer is located at
the corner where legs 1 and 2 connect, this will be
labeled "Leg 1-2" accelerometer. This notation
will be used throughout the paper.

Each electromagnetic thruster was raised

equally (see Figure 3), causing the platform to rise
vertically. After the platform had stabilized, data
acquisition started and the thrusters were powered
off. Each leg travelled 11.25in along their
respective line of action prior to first impact. This
test was repeated five times.

Figure 4: Pre / Post Processed Data

To ensure no data was lost in the filtering

process, both the raw acceleration data and filtered
acceleration data were numerically integrated
using MATLAB to obtain velocity. Figure 5
shows that the velocity results are identical; thus,
there was no loss of data due to filtering.

Figure 3: Impact Height

Data Processing

Although measures are in place to limit the

signal noise as much as possible, it cannot be fully
eliminated; high frequency signal noise was
present in the data. The data was filtered using a
Butterworth Low-Pass Filter at 250Hz and
processed using MATLAB (Stensby, 2005).
Figure 4 shows the data for single z-axis pre and Figure 5: Velocity from Acceleration
post filtering. The filtered data resembles a typical
impact with a large acceleration followed by an The best data was gathered from Test 1, and
immediate rebound and damping to zero Figure 6 shows the maximum accelerations from
acceleration. that test. It is of particular note that the z-axis data

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from the tri-axial
axial accelerometer and the single axis machine as accurately
rately as possible. Once each part
accelerometer data (oriented in the zz-direction) was imported into Adams View, they were
have similar magnitudes. This provides quality constrained together to form a single leg assembly.
data validation when considering the effects signal This assembly included the upper leg housing,
housing the
noise. sliding rod, two springs and the rubber
spring/damper assembly,, and all contact

The springs and rubber are modeled slightly

different than how they actually are on the
physical machine. Adams requires a spring and/or
Figure 6: Test 1 Filtered Data
damper to be constantly connected to two bodies.
To satisfy this requirement, two thin plates were
Another important note is the x--axis and y- connected to one end of the springs and one end of
axis accelerations. The friction on each leg is the rubber, with the other end of each connected to
different, and it is particularly higher on legs 1 and the leg housing. The weight of the plates were set
2. This causes the platform to fall unevenly, to that of the springs and rubber, and each center
resulting in legs 3, 4, 5, and 6 to impact before of mass placed properly as to act as the mass of
legs 1 and 2 (see Figure 7). ). Since the the spring and rubber. This can be seen in Figure
accelerometers are mounted onto the platform, 8.
they are in the local coordinate system; when the
platform falls at an angle, the initial impact has
components of acceleration in x, y, and z
directions. Also, the rotation
tion of the platform
results in significantly higher impact accelerations
in the x, y, and z directions compared to a
uniform, strictly vertical impact.

Figure 8: Spring-Damper Assembly

The leg assembly was then duplicated for each

leg and mounted to the top frame and the platform.
Figure 9 shows the full Six DOF Machine model.
Figure 7: Time of Impact

Adams Six DOF Machine Impact Simulation

Model Creation

The Six DOF Machine model was created by

building each part individually in SolidWorks and
then imported into Adams View as a parasolid file
(MSC.Software 2008).. This allowed for more
detailed parts to be created, representing the

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Figure 9: Six DOF Machine Model

Model Simulation and Data Collection

Figure 10: Adams Simulation Results
Acceleration "measures" were placed on the
platform in the same locations and axis As seen in the previous figure, the frictional
orientations as in experimental testing.
ing. The model coefficients for legs 1 and 2 were higher than the
was simulated for 0.45 seconds; long enough for rest. It was visually recognizable during testing
impact, rebound, and settling. Data was collected that the platform fell at an angle due to a slower
from the three tri-axial
axial accelerometer "measures". fall rate of legs 1 and 2. This observation has been
verified through video recording and the graphed
Several simulations were completed, each acceleration
eleration data shows impact of leg 1-2
1 occurred
with slightly different parameters. All simulat
simulations last. By increasing the friction of these two legs, a
were representative of the physical setup of the comparable situation was created and the results
experiments, for example freefall distance to were more similar to the actual experimental data.
impact, but factors such as frictional coefficients Figure 11 shows the simulated impact acceleration
and damping were modified. These are just two of of leg 1-2 and leg 5-6. Note the initial increase in
many unknown factors of the machine, but acceleration of leg 1-22 around t = 0.25 seconds;
conceptually their role is significant. Currently
Currently, this is when the other legs first impact.
these are the selected test variables;; future
research will be done to determine the design
sensitivity of these variables compared to others,
such as losses through spherical joints. Figure 10
shows the maximum accelerations for certain
cases, including no frictional losses or damping,
damping, and combined damping and frictional

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to be an accurate simulator of the physical Six
DOF Machine.

Figure 11: Simulation Data

Adams & Experimental Results Comparison

Figure 13: Z-axis Comparison



Impact accelerations obtained from the Adams

simulation were correlated to the experimental
accelerations. Upon further inspection and
comparison of the main axis of interest (vertical z-
axis), the results proved to be highly related.
Verification of the Six DOF Machine model for
the vertical axis under the prescribed initial
conditions has been achieved. Further study of the
effects of damping and frictional losses will be
Figure 12: Data Comparison necessary for verification of the x and y axes.
Additional testing with different initial conditions
It can be seen from Figure 12 above that the must be completed and the model verified for each
Adams Simulation results closely correlated with case. Upon satisfaction of this requirement, the
the actual experimental data from Test 1. After Six DOF Machine model created in Adams will be
shifting the time of the simulation results to match validated as an accurate simulator of the physical
that of the experimental data, the z-axis Six DOF Machine.
acceleration data was reviewed (see Figure 13).
The impact accelerations are strongly related; thus
leading to an initial conclusion that the Six DOF
Machine model created in Adams has the potential

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Future Research

In addition to the investigation of design

sensitivity to damping and frictional losses, other
design parameters, such as losses through
spherical connecting joints, will be tested to
determine the machine's sensitivity to these

A numerical model based upon the theory of

multi-body dynamics for rigid and flexible bodies
will be created and simulated using MATLAB.
Utilizing the Principle of Virtual Work, the
dynamic equations of motion can be found for
each body. The use of Lagrange Multipliers will
be used to constrain equations together, and the
Differential-Algebraic Equation (DAE) method
will be used to iteratively find a solution (Shabana,
2010). The numerical model results will be
compared to ideal (no friction or damping) Adams
Six DOF Machine model.


Research using the Six DOF Machine located

at the Old Dominion University Dynamic
Environment Simulation Laboratory is supported
by the project advisor, Dr. Gene Hou. Team
members Nick Huynh, Matt Davis, Basim
Matrood, and Mike Stelzer have been instrumental
in support of this research.


MSC.Software Corporation (2008). MD Adams

R3 Basic Full Simulation

MSC.Software Corporation (2011). Adams for

Multibody Dynamics.

Shabana, Ahmed A. (2010). Computational

Dynamics. United Kingdom. Wiley

Stensby, John (2005). The Butterworth Low-Pass


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