The aim of the program, based on a mechanism dynamics computer program written by A L Johnson at CUED, is to introduce the students to the idea of the optimisation of design at an early stage in their study of mechanics. The third mechanism used in the MECH1 program shows large accelerations which are dynamically unsatisfactory and the student is asked to optimise the design of the mechanism so that the initial kinematic constraints on stroke and uniformity of speed on the working stroke are maintained but these large accelerations are removed.
The student is shown an animated display of the original mechanism with the velocity versus position graph building up in sequence with the rotation. The values of stroke and maximum acceleration are also displayed. Using a mouse or keyboard input the student is allowed to alter the position of one pivot so as to change the mechanism behaviour. An animation of the mechanism rotating through 360 degrees is displayed followed by a graph of velocity versus position of the cutting tool for the original, current and previous mechanisms allowing the student to judge whether the performance has actually improved.
The program introduces the students to elementary considerations of kinematic design and allows them to achieve an insight into the first steps in the optimisation of a mechanisms performance - a subject that would not be possible using manual graphical methods.