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Shock and Vibration
Volume 15 (2008), Issue 6, Pages 619-629

Lessons Learned in Applying Accelerometers to Nuclear Effects Testing

Patrick L. Walter

PCB Piezotronics, Inc. and Texas Christian University, Box 298640, Fort Worth, TX 76129, USA

Received 25 May 2004; Revised 13 April 2007

Copyright © 2008 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Exoatmospheric nuclear effects, such as those that would be encounter by reentry bodies, provide instantaneous (near zero-duration), impulsive loading of structures. Endoatmospheric nuclear effects possess an impulse that is finite in duration, but whose rise time is still instantaneous. The commonality of these loadings is that they initiate waves propagating through structures, resulting in extremely short duration accelerations to free surfaces where accelerometers are mounted. Over the years, attempts have been made to measure free surface accelerations using ceramic, quartz, and piezoresistive accelerometers. This paper describes the lessons learned, and looks to the future. It also provides a history of shock accelerometer development.