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CVP 756

Structures Lab
Damping Ratio and Natural Frequency of Flexible System

Submitted By:
Shivam Rana
Objective: To Find the Natural Frequency and Damping ratio of a Flexible System
using Accelerometer by inducing free vibrations in the system.

Theory: Vibrations in a structure are broadly classified into 1) Natural vibrations

and 2) Forced Vibrations.

The equation of motion is given by:

𝑑2𝑦 𝑑𝑦
𝑚 2
+𝑐 + 𝑘𝑦 = 𝐹𝑜
𝑑𝑡 𝑑𝑡
The former is based on the characteristics of the structure, and the frequency of
vibration, called Natural Frequency, is given by

ω = √𝑚 , where

k = Stiffness of the structure = (for one end fixed and one end free)
= (for both ends fixed)

m = Mass of the structure

The amplitude of vibration decreases with time due to loss of energy as the structure
vibrates, and the structure ultimately comes to rest. The loss can be attributed to
internal friction in the structure, viscous damping, special dampers etc. The
experiment aims at studying the difference between the theoretical and observed
natural frequencies of the given system and their damping, and subsequently
determine the damping ratio of the two systems provided. The ratio is calculated
using the following formula:
2𝜋𝜉 𝑦
δ= = ln 𝑦1
√1−𝜉 2 2

where, δ = Logarithmic decrement in the amplitude of vibrations of the system

𝜉 = Damping Ratio
The value of 'δ' is found from the difference of two consecutive peak accelerations
from the Acceleration vs time plot obtained from the readings of Accelerometer and
hence, the damping ratio is calculated.

SAMPLE Mass (grams) Length Height Thickness

(MM) (MM) (MM)
Sample 1 100 204 12.35 .78

The following are the undamped time period of the two samples based on the formula:
𝑇𝑁 = 2𝜋 √

E I Stiffness TN
(N/mm2) (mm4) (N/m) (sec)
Sample 1 200,000 .488 34.516 .338

Acceleration vs. Time






0.00E+00 1.00E+00 2.00E+00 3.00E+00 4.00E+00 5.00E+00 6.00E+00



For sample 1, the theoretical time period is .338 seconds but from the experiment, it is about
.625 seconds. There is a lot of variation in the time period. The same can be attributed to a
lot of factors viz.
1. The steel strip used to simulate the spring is made of steel and in the theoretical
calculations it is assumed to be massless but it has a certain density and that
mass would also get excited in the experiment, hence the lumped mass
approach or the ideal SDOF system is not fully achieved.
2. The stiffness of the spring was calculated considering it to be cantilever beam,
which is true assumption but the mass was hung from the steel strip and it is
exerting a gravity load on the steel strip. The gravity load would have caused
some amount of stresses in the steel strip and it can affect the stiffness of the
3. The initial displacement that were provided to the system could be higher than
the elastic limit of the steel spring and it might have caused the system to have
a different time period.
4. The accelerometer was not calibrated based on any standard and hence the
readings that we took could have an implicit error.