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Shock and Vibration
Volume 2015, Article ID 506430, 14 pages
Research Article

Online Structural Health Monitoring and Parameter Estimation for Vibrating Active Cantilever Beams Using Low-Priced Microcontrollers

Institute of Automation, Measurement and Applied Informatics, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava, Nám Slobody 17, 812 31 Bratislava 1, Slovakia

Received 28 November 2014; Accepted 23 April 2015

Academic Editor: Xinjie Zhang

Copyright © 2015 Gergely Takács et al. 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.


This paper presents a structural health monitoring and parameter estimation system for vibrating active cantilever beams using low-cost embedded computing hardware. The actuator input and the measured position are used in an augmented nonlinear model to observe the dynamic states and parameters of the beam by the continuous-discrete extended Kalman filter (EKF). The presence of undesirable structural change is detected by variations of the first resonance estimate computed from the observed equivalent mass, stiffness, damping, and voltage-force conversion coefficients. A fault signal is generated upon its departure from a predetermined nominal tolerance band. The algorithm is implemented using automatically generated and deployed machine code on an electronics prototyping platform, featuring an economically feasible 8-bit microcontroller unit (MCU). The validation experiments demonstrate the viability of the proposed system to detect sudden or gradual mechanical changes in real-time, while the functionality on low-cost miniaturized hardware suggests a strong potential for mass-production and structural integration. The modest computing power of the microcontroller and automated code generation designates the proposed system only for very flexible structures, with a first dominant resonant frequency under 4 Hz; however, a code-optimized version certainly allows much stiffer structures or more complicated models on the same hardware.