MAE 183: Computer Aided Mechanism Design


This class presents the theory and practice of the design of planar and spherical four-bar linkages. The task is defined as a set of planar positions or spatial orientations of the floating link. Geometric constraint equaitons are solved to determine the hinges of the system.


J. M. McCarthy, Geometric Design of Linkages, Springer-Verlag, 2000.

Goal: This class presents the theory and practice of the design of planar, spherical, and spatial four bar linkages. The task is prescribed in terms of positions of the floating link. Geometric constraints lead to linear equations for the fixed pivots. Analysis of the resulting linkage defines is performance.

Workload: The class focuses on the use of graphical and algebraic methods for the design of planar linkages, and on algebraic and computer techniques for the design of spherical linkages. The algebraic design of spatial linkages will be discussed in the final week of class.

There will be two midterm exams on the design and analysis of planar and spherical mechanisms, which will make up approximately 50% of the grade. There will be 4 homework assignments for approximately 25% of the grade. They consist of the design, analysis and construction of:

  1. a model planar linkage (eg. cardboard),
  2. a prototype planar linkage (eg. foamcore, wood, or aluminum),
  3. a model spherical linkage (eg, balsa),
  4. a prototype spherical linkage (eg. wood, Sphinx Kit).

A Final Spherical Linkage Design Project, developed by two-student teams, is required for the final 25% of the grade. Five minute team presentations will form the final exam. The design should accomplish an interesting task and incorporate a spherical linkage. The grade will be based on quality and performance of the resulting linkage or linkage system.

Computer Lab: The computer software SphinxPC 97 (developed at UCI) will be used to design the spherical linkages. The software runs under Windows95 or WindowsNT with OpenGL. The scheduled lab hours are T, Th 1:00-2:00 in ECT 123.

Woodshop: Woodworking equipment in ET 115 131 is available by appointment for the construction of planar and spherical linkages, as well as for the final project.

The Sphinx Kit: This is a collection of wood arcs, base, pedestal, coupler attachment and joint hardware designed to simplify the construction of a prototype spherical linkage. It is available as a convenience through the UCI Bookstore for $24.00. It is not required that your spherical linkage be built with this kit.

Week Topics Reading
Planar linkage analysis Chapt 1, 2
Graphical linkage synthesis Chap. 3
Planar kinematics Chap. 4
Algebraic linkage synthesis Chap. 5
Spherical linkage analysis Chap. 6
Spherical kinematics Chap. 7
Spherical linkage synthesis Chap. 8
Spatial linkages Chap. 9