I have forgotten
my Password

Or login with:

  • Facebookhttp://facebook.com/
  • Googlehttps://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id
  • Yahoohttps://me.yahoo.com

Velocity and Acceleration

The analysis of velocity and acceleration in a range of mechanisms including Klein's Construction for piston acceleration.
+ View other versions (5)


The Theory of Machines is concerned with the Motion of parts of machines and the forces which act on those parts. In most cases these forces are not constant and their calculation demands that we know the velocities and accelerations which occur in the various components.


The concept of Instantaneous Centres of Velocity was covered in the section on Mechanisms. In this section the Analysis of Velocity and Acceleration are considered with particular reference to Cranks and Pistons. Klien's Construction for Piston Acceleration is introduced and a description of the Coriolis Component is given.

Analysis Of Velocity And Accelerations Components


In the diagram the point P moves in the plane XOY. The length OP = r and the \displaystyle\angle POX = \theta.

Velocity is the measurement of the rate and direction of change in the position of an object. It is a vector physical quantity; both magnitude and direction are required to define it.


x = r\cos\theta
y = r\sin\theta

Differentiating with respect to time :


The radial component of Velocity v ( i.e. in the direction of OP) is given by:

And using equations (2) and (3)

\displaystyle v = \dot{r} Which is the rate of increase of OP

The tangential component of velocity (i.e. Perpendicular to OP in the direction of \displaystyle \theta increasing)

= \dot{y}\cos\theta  - \dot{x}\sin\theta \;.\;\dot{\theta }= r\dot{\theta } = r\omega

Where \displaystyle \omega  =  \dot{\theta }= angular velocity of OP


Acceleration is the time rate of change of velocity with respect to magnitude or direction; the derivative of velocity with respect to time.

Differentiating (2) and (3)

\ddot{x} = \ddot{r}\cos\theta  - \dot{r}\sin\theta \;.\;\dot{\theta } - \dot{r}\sin\theta \;.\;\dot{\theta } - r\cos\theta \;.\;\dot{\theta }^2 - r\sin\theta \;.\;\ddot{\theta }

\ddot{y} = \ddot{r}\sin\theta  + \dot{r}\cos\theta \;.\;\dot{\theta } + \dot{r}\cos\theta \;.\;\dot{\theta } - r\sin\theta \;.\;\dot{\theta }^2 + r\cos\theta \;.\;\ddot{\theta }

The Radial components of acceleration

= \ddot{x}\cos\theta  + \ddot{y}\sin\theta  = \ddot{r} - r\;\dot{\theta }^2

And from equation (4)

The Tangential component of acceleration = \ddot{y}\cos\theta  - \ddot{x}\sin\theta

By substitution:

(Note \displaystyle \alpha  = \ddot{\theta } = Angular acceleration of OP )

Of these four terms in equations (5) and (6)

  • \displaystyle \dot{v} is the rate of change of radial velocity
  • \displaystyle r\;\omega ^2 is the centripetal acceleration due to the rotation of OP
  • \displaystyle r\;\alpha is due to the change in angular velocity.
  • \displaystyle 2\;v\;\omegais called the compound supplementary acceleration or Coriolis Component. Notice that the direction of this is the same as \displaystyle r\;\omega when v is radially outwards.

The Velocity And Acceleration Of A Piston By Analysis

In the following analysis \displaystyle \omega is the uniform angular velocity of the crank. The positive direction of velocity and acceleration is away from the crankshaft.


x = r\cos\theta  + l\cos\phi


r\sin\theta  = l\sin\phi

\therefore \;\;\;\;\;\;\cos\phi  = \sqrt{1 - \frac{\sin^2\theta }{n^2}}\;\;\;\;\;\;\;\,\;\;\;\;n = \frac{l}{r}

From the above three equations:

x = r\,\left (\cos\theta  + \sqrt{n^2 - \sin^2\theta } \right )

Thus Piston velocity,

And Piston acceleration,

Normally \displaystyle \sin^2\theta can be neglected in comparison with \displaystyle n^2 and equations (7) and (8) can be reduced as follows:

\dot{x}\;= - r\,\omega \left (\sin\theta  + \frac{\sin2\theta }{2n} \right )

\ddot{x}\;= - r\,\omega^2 \left (\cos\theta  + \frac{\cos2\theta }{n} \right )

Instantaneous Centre Method For Velocities.

This has been covered in the section on Mechanisms.

The Vector Method For Velocity And Acceleration

The Law of addition of velocities states that:

Velocity of B = Velocity of A + Velocity of B relative to A

\underset{OB}{\displaystyle\rightarrow} = \underset{OA}{\rightarrow} + \underset{AB}{\rightarrow}

Absolute velocities (or accelerations) are given from O to the corresponding point on the diagram.

For Velocities

  • The relative velocity between two points A and B on the same link of a mechanism must be perpendicular to the line joining the points and is equal to \displaystyle AB\;\omega (Equation (3))since r is constant and \displaystyle \dot{r} is zero.
  • The relative velocity for two points sliding over one another is along the common tangents of their paths and represents the component \displaystyle \dot{r}, \displaystyle r\;\omega is zero since \displaystyle r = 0
For Acceleration

The relationships for acceleration are similar to those given for velocity:

  • Acceleration of B = Acceleration of A + Acceleration of B relative to A
  • Equations (5) and (6) are the general expressions for the radial and tangential components of relative acceleration.
  • For two points on the same link \displaystyle v = \dot{v} = 0 leaving centripetal component \displaystyle - r\,\omega ^2 (which can be calculated when the velocities are determined) and the tangential component \displaystyle r\;\alpha
  • For a uniformly rotating Crank \displaystyle \alpha  = 0 leaving the centripetal as the only term.
  • The Coriolis component arises when a point on one link is sliding along another link which is itself rotating.

If A,B,C, are three points on the same link of a mechanism and a,b,c, are the corresponding points on the velocity (or acceleration) diagram, it can be shown that the triangles ABC and abc are similar. abc is called the Velocity (or acceleration) image of the link.

Klein's Construction For Piston Acceleration


The above is a diagramatic sketch of a piston, connecting rod, and crank assembly where,

  • PC is the connecting rod with C the Crank Pin.
  • OC is the crank.
  • OP is the line of stroke.
  • P is the gudgeon pin

The Construction is as follows:

  • Extend PC to meet the line through O perpendicular to the line of stroke. Let the point of intersection be N.
  • Draw a circle centre C and radius CN.
  • Draw a circle with CP as diameter.
  • Let the common cord cut the line CP at L and the line of stroke PO at M.

Then the quadrilateral OCLM represents, to a certain scale, the acceleration diagram for OCP. It can be shown that this scale is \displaystyle \omega ^2.

  • The Centripetal acceleration of the crank pin is \displaystyle C\;O\;\times \omega ^2
  • The piston acceleration is \displaystyle M\;O\;\times \omega ^2
  • CL is the Centripetal component and LM the Tangential component of the acceleration of P relative to C, so that CM is the acceleration image of CP.
  • For any point Q on CP draw a line parallel to OP cutting CM in q. The acceleration of Q is q\;O\times\omega ^2 in magnitude and direction.

Example - Example 1
An aeroplane A flying at 180 m.p.h. in a direction \displaystyle 30^{0} North of West sights another B due North of A. After 30 seconds flying B is seen to be in a North-Easterly direction from A and after a further 45 seconds B is directly astern of A. If B is flying at a constant speed in a direction due South, find:
  • a) The speed of B
  • b) For how long B is within 2 miles of A
In the following diagram the Paths of A and B are shown. Their three particular positions are \displaystyle a_1\,,\,a_2\,,\,a_3 and b_1\,,\,b_2\,,\,b_3 respectively.

a_1\;a_2 = 1.5\;miles (30 seconds flying)


By scaling or by calculation \displaystyle b_2\;b_3 = 2.05\;miles and occupies 45 seconds of flying time.

Hence, Speed of B = \displaystyle\frac{2.05}{45}\times 3600 = 164\;m.p.h.

Relative displacement of B to A = displacement of B - displacement of A

i.e. b_1\;{b_{1}}^{'} = b_1\;b_2 + b_2\;{b_{1}}^{'}

In the first 30 seconds \displaystyle b_2\;{b_{1}}^{'}\;= - a_1\;a_2

Assuming that A is at rest at \displaystyle a_1 , the relative path of B is \displaystyle b_1\;{b_{1}}^{'} produced and a circle centre \displaystyle a_1 and of radius 2 miles cuts this path at 1 and m. Between 1 and m, B lies within 2 miles of A.

1\;m = 1.85\;miles

But b_1\;{b_{1}}^{'} = 2.47\;miles

This represents 30 seconds of relative displacement

But, Time corresponding to 1 mile = \displaystyle\frac{1.85}{2.47}\times 30 = 22.5\;seconds
  • a) The speed of B is 164\;m.p.h.
  • b) 22.5\;seconds.