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0 Introduction

Vibration refers to mechanical oscillations about an equilibrium point. The oscillations may be periodic
such as the motion of a pendulum or random such as the movement of a tire on a gravel road. Vibration is
occasionally "desirable". For example the motion of a tuning fork, the reed in a woodwind instrument or
harmonica, or the cone of a loudspeaker is desirable vibration, necessary for the correct functioning of the
various devices. Free vibration occurs when a mechanical system is set off with an initial input and then
allowed to vibrate freely, and the action of forces inherent in the system itself. The mechanical system
will then vibrate at one or more of its "natural frequency" and damp down to zero, which are properties of
the dynamic system established by its mass and stiffness distribution.

The purpose of the experiment was to determine the natural frequency for an un-damped spring mass
system. The experiment was divided into two main parts. For the theoretical value of the experiment,
𝜔𝑛=√𝑘𝑚 was used. Weights were added to the spring and the extensions were noted to find the value of
spring constant, k. This value was then used to find the theoretical value of natural frequency. For the
second part of the experiment, the natural frequency was found by first finding the time period of the
oscillation and then substituting it into 𝜔𝑛=2𝜋𝑇. The time period was found from the vibrating motion vs
time graph.
2.0 Theory

A vibration is the periodic motion of the body or system of connected bodies displaced from a positon of
equilibrium. The simplest type of vibrating motion is undamped free vibration as shown in the figure A.
When the block is in equilibrium, the spring exerts an upward force of 𝐹=𝑊=𝑚𝑔 on the block. Hence,
when the block is displaced downwards from the initial positon, the magnitude of the spring force


Appling equation of motion give:

Σ𝐹=𝑚𝑦̈………………..Equation 1

Hence −𝑊−𝑘𝑦+𝑊=𝑚𝑦̈

−𝑘𝑦=𝑚𝑦̈……………….Equation 2

Since the acceleration of the block is proportional to the block’s displacement, the
motion can be also described in simple harmonic motion. Rearranging the terms
into ‘standard form’ gives

𝑦̈+𝜔2𝑦=0……………..Equation 3

Where the natural frequency of the system is given by; Figure A

𝜔=√𝑘𝑚 ………………….Equation 4
2.0 Objectives

Upon completion of this experiment, students should be able to:

1. Determine the spring constant (k).
2. Determine the natural frequency (f).

3.0 Apparatus
Vibration apparatus which includes:
1. Base
2. Guide columns
3. Carriage
4. Additional masses
5. Guide rollers
6. Damper
7. Helical spring
8. Adjuster
9. Mech. Recorder



Determination of the spring constant (k)
1. The extension of the spring is plotted with a recorder
2. The paper is fit and the pencil is setup
3. The initial length of the spring is measured
4. The adjuster is used to set carriage such that stylus is 40mm line on the chart paper
5. Spring is loaded by placing weights on carriage
6. The recorder is started again after each weight is added
7. The extension values is measured manually

Determination of the natural frequency (f)

1. The graph paper is fit into the mechanical recorder
2. The adjuster is adjusted so that the gap between the carriage is constant and to ensure the
pen is at the centre of the graph paper
3. The carriage is pulled downward to give the initial displacement and been let oscillate
4. The mechanical oscillation of the system is recorded by using mechanical recorder
knowing the velocity is 20mm/s
5. Step 1-4 is repeated by adding more masses
4.0 Results

Spring Constant (k), N/mm

Experimental Theoretical Percentage Error (%)
1.7836 1.71 4.3

Mass (kg) Load (N) Deflection (mm) Extension (mm)

1.25 12.26 0 0
3.25 31.88 31 11
5.25 51.50 42 22
7.25 71.12 53 33
9.25 90.74 64 44
11.25 110.36 75 55

Load vs Spring Extension


Load, N

0 11 22 33 44 55
Extension, mm

Example of calculation when mass is 3.25 kg,

 𝑆𝑝𝑟𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑐𝑜𝑛𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑛𝑡, 𝑘 = 𝐸𝑥𝑡𝑒𝑛𝑠𝑖𝑜𝑛

(110.36 − 12.26) 𝑁
𝑘= = 1.7836 𝑁/𝑚
(55 − 0) 𝑚
𝑃𝑒𝑟𝑐𝑒𝑛𝑡𝑎𝑔𝑒 𝑒𝑟𝑟𝑜𝑟 = 𝑥 100% = 4.3%

𝐿𝑒𝑛𝑔𝑡ℎ 𝑏𝑒𝑡𝑤𝑒𝑒𝑛 5 𝑐𝑜𝑚𝑝𝑙𝑒𝑡𝑒 𝑐𝑦𝑐𝑙𝑒

 𝑃𝑒𝑟𝑖𝑜𝑑, 𝑇 = 20𝑚𝑚
𝑅𝑒𝑐𝑜𝑟𝑑𝑒𝑟 𝑠𝑝𝑒𝑒𝑑 ( )
𝑇= = 1.4 𝑠

 𝑁𝑎𝑡𝑢𝑟𝑎𝑙 𝑓𝑟𝑒𝑞𝑢𝑒𝑛𝑐𝑦 (𝑒𝑥𝑝𝑒𝑟𝑖𝑚𝑒𝑛𝑡𝑎𝑙) =

𝑁. 𝑓 (exp) = = 0.71 𝐻𝑧

1 𝑘
 𝑁𝑎𝑡𝑢𝑟𝑎𝑙 𝑓𝑟𝑒𝑞𝑢𝑒𝑛𝑐𝑦 (𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑜𝑟𝑖𝑐𝑎𝑙) = 2𝜋 √𝑚
1 1.783
𝑁. 𝑓 (𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑜𝑟𝑦) = √ = 1.16 𝐻𝑧
2𝜋 3.25

𝑁.𝑓 (𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑜𝑟𝑦)−𝑁.𝑓 (𝑒𝑥𝑝𝑒𝑟𝑖𝑚𝑒𝑛𝑡)

 𝑁𝑎𝑡𝑢𝑟𝑎𝑙 𝑓𝑟𝑒𝑞𝑢𝑒𝑛𝑐𝑦 𝑝𝑒𝑟𝑐𝑒𝑛𝑡𝑎𝑔𝑒 𝑒𝑟𝑟𝑜𝑟 = 𝑥 100%
𝑁.𝑓 (𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑜𝑟𝑦)

1.16 − 0.71
𝑁. 𝐹 (𝑒𝑟𝑟𝑜𝑟) = 𝑥 100% = 38.79 %

N.F percentage
Mass, kg Length, mm Period, s N.F (exp), Hz N.F (theory), Hz
error (%)

1.25 18 0.9 1.11 1.88 40.96

3.25 28 1.4 0.71 1.16 38.79
5.25 36 1.8 0.56 0.91 38.46
7.25 42 2.1 0.48 0.79 39.24
9.25 48 2.4 0.42 0.69 39.13
11.25 54 2.7 0.37 0.63 41.27
5.0 Discussion

I. Based on the experimented conducted, the value of spring constant, k and the natural frequency, f
is determined by using Hooke’s law. It state that the restoring force of a spring is directly
proportional to a small displacement

II. Natural frequency is determined by allow each mass on the spring to vibrate and obtain a
sinusoidal graph. The length of five oscillation is recorded to obtain the time of five oscillation by
dividing the length with the velocity of the mechanical recorder

III. The percentage error should be considered and analysed. This may cause by several factors and
errors such as disturbances during experiment and the stiffness of the spring will be change
because it has been used regularly

IV. The percentage error between the experimental and theoretical values of natural frequency, f of
the spring are only minor and can be considered as insignificant difference

V. The spring constant, k is specific for each spring. For this experiment, the value of k is
1783.64 N/m. It is observed that the value of experimental and theoretical spring constant, k is
slightly different that carried small number of error. Therefore it can be assume to be ignored

VI. The relation between force, F and spring elongation, X is proportional. As the force acting on the
spring increases, the elongation of the spring also increases.
6.0 Conclusion

Based on the experiment below, we can conclude that in Hooke’s law the restoring force of a spring is
directly proportional to a small displacement. The natural frequency, f is depend on the spring
constant, k and mass attached to the spring, m. the percentage errors between the natural frequency, f
of other additional mass are very small and considered to be insignificant.

7.0 References

 Engineering Mechanics 8th edition written by Meriam, James L., Kraige

 Mechanics for engineers – Dynamics 13th edition written by Hibbeler, Russel C, Yap, Kai Beng