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Computer Program for Housing Foundations & Earthquakes

Postby 244e0d481e984f41a807f551b7899a1b » Fri Oct 13, 2017 8:12 pm

Hello!

I'm an 8th grader, and I've been having some difficulty on my science fair procedure. This year, because California is expecting an earthquake and because so many other states are susceptible to the perils of one, I'm conducting an experiment to test which foundations are the most effective in housing against earthquakes up to a magnitude of 8.5 to prevent damage. I know that I may test rubber foundations and ViBa barriers on houses, but I want most of my experiment to be completed on a computer program that I can use to design the foundations of houses and test them against simulated earthquakes, which I can't find. It would be convenient if there was a free one, but minimal costs are fine. I would also like it to be advanced, but not too advanced for my understanding, and I'd like to complete this project by the end of October. I would also really like to win my school science fair this year, so any pointers? Are there any computer programs that I can use to test the foundations of houses against simulated earthquakes that is mildly advanced? Thanks for your time.

-Grace X.

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Re: Computer Program for Housing Foundations & Earthquakes

Postby cumulonimbus » Sat Oct 14, 2017 9:13 am

Hi Grace,

I haven't been able to find any software that can perform the functions you requested, but I did find some directions to build an earthquake simulator table: https://www.discovere.org/sites/default ... 090716.pdf
This design is also possible, although it is more complicated:
https://education.jlab.org/workbench/ea ... hquake.pdf

I'm not sure of these designs will work for what you have in mind, but maybe you can give one of them a try or find a different one online. Depending on your budget, there are also some earthquake simulators available for purchase online if you don't want to build one. I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any more questions!

Elena

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Re: Computer Program for Housing Foundations & Earthquakes

Postby 244e0d481e984f41a807f551b7899a1b » Sat Oct 14, 2017 10:56 am

Hi Elena,

Thanks for the advice. However, I'd still like to see the earthquake simulators you suggested instead of building a physical one. Can you send the link or the name? Thanks!


Grace

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Re: Computer Program for Housing Foundations & Earthquakes

Postby cumulonimbus » Sat Oct 14, 2017 11:52 am

Hi Grace,

Sorry for the confusion! I was referring to already-constructed earthquake simulators that you can find on Amazon or other online shopping websites: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss ... +simulator
However, I just found a possible software that you can use: https://www.buildx4opensees.eu/
It seems a bit complicated, but the website includes tutorials, and you can download it for free. Hopefully this helps! :)

Elena

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Re: Computer Program for Housing Foundations & Earthquakes

Postby 244e0d481e984f41a807f551b7899a1b » Sat Oct 14, 2017 4:43 pm

Hi Elena,

Thank you so much for finding this software! It looks promising and I'll definitely start using it. I might have more questions in the future, though. Thanks for your time!

Grace

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Re: Computer Program for Housing Foundations & Earthquakes

Postby bfinio » Mon Oct 16, 2017 2:26 pm

Hi Grace,

To add on to Elena's response, a couple more options:

One option might be to try and contact the engineering department at a university in your area to see if they have software they'll let you use. Many times the type of professional engineering software you're looking for is very complicated and expensive (thousands of dollars) so not feasible for individuals to purchase for personal use, but big universities and companies will have the software. Here's an example - the Pacific Earthquake Earthquake Engineering Research Center at UC Berkeley: http://peer.berkeley.edu/. This could be a bit of a stretch (working with university research labs is something usually done by advanced high school students), but it certainly doesn't hurt to ask.

Another option - look into Computer Aided Design (CAD) programs that have free or heavily discounted student versions. CAD programs let you design 3D models of objects and engineers use them to design everything from cars to buildings to circuit boards. Many CAD programs have "add-on" packages that let you simulate various things from physics - how does a bridge bend from the weight of a bunch of cars, how will a building sway in the wind, what happens to a computer when it gets hot, etc. So, even if one of these add-ons is not specifically branded as an "earthquake simulator," you might be able to use it to simulate the ground moving or shaking (e.g. design a 3D model of a building sitting on top of a big, flat plate that you call the "ground," and then make that plate shake back and forth in the simulation). The two CAD programs I'm most familiar with are Solidworks and Autodesk Inventor:

https://www.solidworks.com/sw/industrie ... dition.htm

https://www.autodesk.com/education/free ... ofessional

Learning this software can be complicated if you don't have any prior experience with it (it's usually a full semester-long college engineering course), so doing this by the end of October might not be realistic, but I hope that at least points you in the right direction if you remain interested in this topic in the future.

Hope that helps!

Ben

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Re: Computer Program for Housing Foundations & Earthquakes

Postby 244e0d481e984f41a807f551b7899a1b » Sun Oct 22, 2017 12:03 pm

Hi Ben,

Thank you so much for the information! It sounds advanced, but I will definitely check it out and may do something with it in the future. This really helped, and I'm just sad that I didn't check Science Buddies earlier to see this response, since I might've been able to look at these options more closely.

Thanks!
-Grace

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Re: Computer Program for Housing Foundations & Earthquakes

Postby bfinio » Mon Oct 23, 2017 5:09 am

Hi Grace - no problem! As Elena suggested originally, for your grade level it might be more realistic to build an "earthquake table" and test physical models of houses that you build, instead of trying to do this in software. There's nothing wrong with that, as engineers test scale models like that all the time. If you start looking into the more advanced software now, maybe you could plan ahead to incorporate it into next year's science fair.

Good luck!

Ben

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Re: Computer Program for Housing Foundations & Earthquakes

Postby 244e0d481e984f41a807f551b7899a1b » Mon Oct 23, 2017 3:40 pm

Hi Ben,

Yeah, that's what I've been thinking too. The programs and softwares do look really advanced, so I've decided to just create physical models of houses with different foundations or designs, but I'm not sure how to simulate the earthquakes without human error and know what intensity it would be on the scale. Do you know if there's an app or program that can determine the intensity of shaking compared to actual earthquakes? I might use an app called the Vibrometer, but I'm not sure how useful it is.

Thanks for your time!

Grace

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Re: Computer Program for Housing Foundations & Earthquakes

Postby bfinio » Mon Oct 23, 2017 4:20 pm

Hi Grace - it's perfect you asked as I was JUST about to mention this! There is a free app called Google Science Journal that you can download for your phone, that lets you record data with a bunch of sensors built in to your phone. We recently added instructions to use Science Journal to a bunch of our projects - you can find them by searching for it on our site:

https://www.sciencebuddies.org/search?v ... ce+journal

you will probably be particularly interested in this project:

https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science- ... lest-tower

It shows you how to build a homemade shake table using rubber bands - this allows you to minimize human error and standardize the shaking somewhat, by always stretching the rubber bands by the same amount to start*. It also shows how you can mount a phone to your shake table and use Science Journal to measure the table's shaking using the phone's accelerometer**. The project uses LEGO towers as an example, but you could adapt the whole thing to your idea of buildings with different foundations.

* Another option, like Elena originally mentioned, is to build or purchase a motorized shake table. Building your own can be a big undertaking in its own right, sort of a whole project all on its own. So, if you want to focus on the building foundation part for now and not spend a lot of time/money, you could go for the simpler rubber-band design.
** Not sure what you have learned in science class yet - an accelerometer measures acceleration in meters per second squared (m/s^2). If you don't know what that means and you haven't learned about position, velocity, and acceleration yet, you might want to ask your science teacher for help, or I can type more of an explanation and provide some helpful links here. Ultimately this will let you compare the movement of your model to ground movement during "real" earthquakes, but realize that you won't expect these numbers to be the same (real buildings are much larger than your scale model buildings, so the forces acting on them are different).

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Re: Computer Program for Housing Foundations & Earthquakes

Postby cumulonimbus » Sat Oct 28, 2017 8:57 am

Hi Grace,

I hope your project is going well! As Ben said, it might be beneficial to build an actual shake table. In that case, here are a few other designs in addition to the ones Ben posted and the ones I posted earlier.
http://pbskids.org/designsquad/build/seismic-shake-up/
http://www.juicygeography.co.uk/shaker.htm
http://www.raftbayarea.org/readpdf?isid=374
I believe they're all similar in principle to the one Ben proposed, but depending on the availability of your materials, you might want to choose one of these designs or combine a couple different ones. I hope this helps!

Elena


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