Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Mechanical Engineering


Mechanical Engineering


Dr. Peter Schuster


This thesis sets out to derive an analytical model for a center of gravity (CG) measuring platform and examines its validity through experimental testing and Finite Element Modeling. The method uses a two-stage platform tilting process to first locate the planar CG coordinates and then find the third CG coordinate normal to the platform. An uncertainty model of the measuring platform was also developed, both CG and uncertainty models were implemented in the form of a MATLAB code. A load cell sizing task was also added to the code to assist the Integration Engineers at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in selecting load cells to design their own version of the CG Platform. The constructed CG Platform for this project used an array of six strain gauges, four C2A-06-062LT-120 Tee Rosettes and two C2A-06-031WW-120 Stacked Rosettes. They were bonded onto the legs of three truss shaped bipods. Results from the Platform Tilting Tests could not be used to validate the CG model as the measured CG and weight values found from the experimental tests contained a considerable amount of error. The errors in the Platform Tilting Tests are believed to stem from the initial errors observed during the bipod rod and strain gauge calibration tests. As an alternative, an FE model of the CG measuring platform was created as another means of validation. The math model of the CG measuring platform was successfully validated by showing that there was less than a 0.01% different between the bipod loads predicted from the MATLAB code and the FE model. Using the FEM generated loads as inputs into the CG code to calculate a CG matched the initial point mass or CG created in the FE model within a 0.01% difference. To validate the CG model even further, another test should be performed using a CG Platform prototype instrumented with load cells to generate new experimental data and compare them with the results from the FE model.