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Theory on Measuring Orientation with MEMS Accelerometers in a Centrifuge


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Beemer, RD 
Murali, M 
Biscontin, Giovanna  ORCID logo
Aubeny, C 


Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) sensors have become a common part of everyday life and can be found in a number of consumer electronics. Specifically, MEMS accelerometers have become widespread because of their low cost, due to mass production techniques, and ability to sense constant acceleration. This ability allows devices, such as cellular phones, to measure their rotation relative to Earth's gravity. These properties also make MEMS accelerometers an option for measuring the rotation of geo-structures, such as foundations, in the field or in scale model geotechnical centrifuge tests. MEMS accelerometers appear to be especially beneficial for measuring orientation in centrifuge experiments because they are not limited by the design constraints of traditional tilt sensors: a single constant acceleration vector (Earth's gravity). This paper presents the theory behind using single-axis MEMS accelerometers to measure the orientation of an object on a plane of reactive centrifugal acceleration and Earth's gravity within a geotechnical centrifuge. The paper specifically addresses cross-axis sensitivity which can significantly impact measurements and is typically excluded from simpler theories.



4005 Civil Engineering, 40 Engineering

Journal Title

Geotechnical Special Publication

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IFCEE 2015

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American Society of Civil Engineers
The authors acknowledge the National Science Foundation, the Network of Earthquake Engineering Simulations (NEES), and the project Capacity and Performance of Foundations for Offshore Wind Towers, Award Number: 1041604. Additionally, we would like to acknowledge the NEES site at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.