Many structures are subjected to varying forces, moving boundaries, and other dynamic conditions. Whether part of a vehicle, building, or active energy mitigation device, data on such changes can represent useful knowledge, but also presents challenges in its collection and analysis. In systems where changes occur rapidly, assessment of the system’s state within a useful time span is required to enable an appropriate response before the system’s state changes further. Rapid state estimation is especially important but poses unique difficulties.

In determining the state of a structural system subjected to high-rate dynamic changes, measuring the frequency response is one method that can be used to draw inferences, provided the system is adequately understood and defined. The work presented here is the result of an investigation into methods to determine the frequency response, and thus state, of a structure subjected to high-rate boundary changes in real-time.

In order to facilitate development, the Air Force Research Laboratory created the DROPBEAR, a testbed with an oscillating beam subjected to a continuously variable boundary condition. One end of the beam is held by a stationary fixed support, while a pinned support is able to move along the beam’s length. The free end of the beam structure is instrumented with acceleration, velocity, and position sensors measuring the beam’s vertical axis. Direct position measurement of the pin location is also taken to provide a reference for comparison with numerical models.

This work presents a numerical investigation into methods for extracting the frequency response of a structure in real-time. An FFT based method with a rolling window is used to track the frequency of a data set generated to represent the range of the DROPBEAR, and is run with multiple window lengths. The frequency precision and latency of the FFT method is analyzed in each configuration. A specialized frequency extraction technique, Delayed Comparison Error Minimization, is implemented with parameters optimized for the frequency range of interest. The performance metrics of latency and precision are analyzed and compared to the baseline rolling FFT method results, and applicability is discussed.

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