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From: Personal Storage Product Marketing

Date: September 2000


Number: TP-371

Guidelines for Chassis Shock Isolation


Abstract

This paper discusses the effects of isolators during a chassis shock event and provides definitions,
examples and guidelines to effectively incorporate elastomer isolators into a chassis-mount design.

The use of isolators can also have a negative impact on chassis-level shock performance. An improperly
designed isolation system can amplify an input shock, exposing the drive to higher G levels and possible
internal component-to-component contact. In addition, an isolated mount can degrade drive performance
by increasing average seek arrival times.

Background

A
E

A shock is described as a transient condition that disrupts the state of a mechanical system by rapidly
transferring energy to the system. The reaction of the system to the shock is termed the shock response
of the system. This shock response can result in a significant increase in the stress, velocity, acceleration
or displacement within the system.

S
M
O
R
F

T E C H N O L O G Y

P A P E R

Seagate has investigated the effects of isolators used to mount hard disc drives (HDD) in an effort to
attenuate chassis-level shocks transmitted to the HDD. Tests indicate that the use of a properly designed
isolation system can increase the overall chassis shock performance at the drive level. This increases the
drives durability during nonoperational shock events and reduces errors during operational shock events.

The amount of time in which the energy transfer takes place is usually related to the natural frequency
of the system. A shock will often excite many of the natural frequencies within a complex structure,
potentially causing many type of failures. These failures include fractures or permanent deformation due
to high stresses, loosened hardware and internal structure due to high acceleration levels, and component-to-component impacts due to large displacements.
Isolation systems are often used to protect sensitive equipment in severe shock environments. Because
shock-analysis techniques can be very complex, simplified approximations are used. Three of the most
popular methods to describe the shock environment are:

Pulse shock
Velocity shock
Shock response spectrum

Pulse shock represents accelerations or displacements in the form of well-known shapes such as half-sine
wave, square wave and various triangular waves. Velocity shock deals with systems that experience a sudden change in velocity such as a falling object striking the ground. The shock response spectrum deals
with how a system responds to a shock event, instead of describing the shock event itself.
Pulse shocks are widely used to represent shock events because they are easily measured with an
accelerometer. This allows the pulse to be defined in terms of acceleration and time. The half-sine shock
pulse is the most common shape used because it is easy to generate, analyze and evaluate. As a note, the
half-sine pulse is used to represent an unpacked shock event versus a shock event where the system is packaged in a shipping container. In this paper, the half-sine shock pulse is used for the design calculations.

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Design Criteria
To help protect the HDD from a chassis shock event, a properly designed isolation system can be used to mount
the drive. There are several parameters that are specified to determine proper isolation performance1.

Max deflection
Max transmitted force
Max expected velocity step
Frequency content of shock input

The max deflection is determined by the type of isolator, the bracket design, the mounting location used on the
drive, and the amplitude of the shock input. The displacement, or deflection, refers to the distance the drive
moves and is typically greatest during the primary shock event. The isolator design affects the displacement in
two ways. First, the stiffness determines the displacement per unit force (F=kx). Second, the isolator size and
shape determine the amount of compression allowed for linear stiffness. Once the drive moves beyond the normal
range of compression, the stiffness increases greatly, transmitting more of the shock energy to the drive.
During a shock event, the isolators compress and the drive experiences a linear and rotational translation. To
avoid component-to-component impacts, adequate sway space must be provided for the drive. Sway space is the
distance a drive can move before contact is made with another surface inside the chassis. The mounting bracket
design and the location of the isolators on the drive affect the amount of required sway space. By using the
widest possible stance to mount the drive (side mounts near the corners), the rotational translation of the drive
is reduced during a shock event. This minimizes the amount of required sway space around the drive.
In addition to drive deflection, other objects in the chassis with flexible mounts, such as power supplies or
CD ROMs, must be considered. These objects can impact other components or the drive, creating secondary
shock events. Typically, these secondary shock events involve metal-on-metal impacts, generating high-G,
short-duration events.
The max transmitted force is the amount of energy amplified or attenuated by the isolator/chassis design.
Ideally, the chassis design should have a natural frequency at least two times more than the natural frequency
of the isolated drive. This allows the isolators to attenuate most of the shock energy while reducing the amount
of coupling between the natural frequencies of the chassis and the isolated drive.
The max velocity step is essentially the change in velocity upon impact. This value is related to both the kinetic
and potential energy of the system (mgh = 1/2 mv2). The greater the drop height, the greater the velocity change.
The frequency content of the shock input is related to the inverse of the time duration of the primary shock
pulse. Ideally, the shock-pulse frequency should be well above the natural frequency of the isolation system.
The frequency content of an input shock is primarily dependent on the stiffness of the contact surfaces (the
chassis cover and the contact surface). If the surfaces have a lower stiffness, the energy content is spread out
over a long duration and a lower G level is the result. The stiffness of the surfaces can vary from sheet metal to
a rubberized coating on the chassis to a concrete or carpeted floor. An isolation system typically amplifies lower
frequencies and attenuates higher frequencies. A highly damped isolator reduces both the amplification and the
attenuation of the shock input.
The chassis design affects the response of the hard drive. If the chassis has a rigid structure, then a shock is
directly transmitted. However, if the chassis structure is flexible, then the response at the chassis level is composed of amplified lower-frequency content energy, which can be amplified by the lower natural frequency of
the isolated drive assembly. The actual shock input to the isolators is the shock response of the chassis.
1. Harris, Cyril M., Shock and Vibration Handbook, Fourth Edition, McGraw-Hill, 1996

Chassis-Level Shock-Pulse Duration Testing


To characterize typical chassis shock response, shock testing was performed at the chassis level and the pulse
durations at the HDD were measured. The example test data used is based on a free-fall test. The data was
taken from two different chassis. In both cases the drive was hard-mounted in the chassis.
The two histograms below show the distribution of the primary shock duration for both chassis in the free-fall
drop. The shock measurement is the response of the drive in the normal (hard-mounted) configuration. The
maximum pulse recorded is in the same axis as the drop axis. The data includes drops from several heights
and indicates that all of the primary pulses are less than 6 msec. The histogram shows pulse-duration groupings
at 1.5 msec for Chassis B and groupings at 3.5 msec for Chassis A. The Chassis B had a more rigid mountingbracket and therefore produced a shorter-duration shock response and higher natural frequencies.

Occurrence

Chassis A
Free-Fall Pulse-Duration Histogram
6
4
2
0
1.5

2.5

3.5

4.5

Pulse Duration (msec)

Occurrence

Chassis B
Free-Fall Pulse-Duration Histogram
10
8
6
4
2
0

1.5

2.5

3.5

4.5

Pulse Duration (msec)


Shock Isolation Design Example
To better understand the benefits of using isolators to meet shock requirements, lets study a chassis system
with an isolated HDD. The isolated drive system is modeled with a natural frequency of fn =100 Hz and the
chassis is exposed to a drop of 3.28 ft (100 cm). The isolators are modeled with a damping ratio of Rc = 0.17.
This value is similar to that of a highly damped silicone material. Initially, assume that the chassis transmits the
input shock completely to the drive assembly.

When the chassis is exposed to a drop test, it experiences a shock pulse. The shock-pulse acceleration curve
varies with amplitude and shape, depending on the drop height and the surface of impact (pulse duration). The
velocity change for a drop test can be related as follows2:
V = C 2gH
Where:
V = velocity change, ft/s
C = coefficient of rebound, 1 to 2 (1 for zero rebound, 2 for full rebound)
g = acceleration of gravity, 32.2 ft/s2
H = drop height, ft
Assuming zero rebound, the velocity change from a 3.28 ft drop is:
V = C 2*32.2*3.28 = 14.5 ft/s
The area under the pulse acceleration curve represents the velocity change. If we assume a half-sine shock pulse
and integrated the area under the acceleration curve for a zero-rebound drop, the velocity change is:
V=

2* A *t

Where:

AO = peak acceleration, ft/s2


t = pulse duration, s

Combining the previous two equations and solving for AO, we have:
22.8
*14.5
*V
=
=
A =
2*t
2*t
t

By inputting various pulse-duration values, ranging from 2 msec to 10 msec, we get the following G-level inputs
generated by the drop test.
Pulse Duration (t)

Peak Acceleration (AO)

G level (G = AO /32.2)

0.002 s

11,400 ft/s2

354 g

3,800

ft/s2

118 g

0.008 s

2,850

ft/s2

86 g

0.010 s

2,280 ft/s2

71 g

0.006 s

Again, assuming that the chassis transmits the shock input completely to the drive assembly, these shock levels
can be used to evaluate the isolated drive system to find peak response shock levels and maximum displacement.
To find the shock amplification factor of the isolation system, we need to find the shock-pulse frequency for
each pulse duration using the following formula:
1
p =
2*t
This, along with the damping ratio of the isolators (Rc = 0.17), can be used in the following graph to find the
amplification factor (A) of the isolation system for each shock-pulse frequency.
Note. This graph is valid for half-sine shock pulses.

2. Steinberg, Dave S., Vibration Analysis For Electronic Equipment, Second Edition, Wiley Interscience, 1988

The peak shock response at the drive level is calculated by multiplying the input shock by the amplification
factor. The response displacement of the drive is calculated from the following equation:

d=

9.8 *G *A
n2

The results are summarized in the table below:


Pulse Duration (t)

Ginput

Frequency ratio
(fn /fp)

0.002 s

354 g

0.4

0.73

258 g

0.25 in

0.006 s

118 g

1.2

1.3

142 g

0.14 in

0.008 s

86 g

1.6

1.4

120 g

0.12 in

0.010 s

71 g

1.38

98 g

0.10 in

Gresponse
(Ginput*A)

Displacement

The above calculations were made by modeling a single degree-of-freedom. In reality, the chassis with the isolated
drive is a two (at minimum) degree-of-freedom system. Because of this, the magnitude of acceleration levels
transmitted to the drive assembly are controlled, to a large extent, by the frequency ratio of the isolated drives
natural frequency to the chassis natural frequency. By separating the resonant frequencies by at least one octave,
the magnification levels of the drive assembly are reduced, and therefore the response acceleration levels are
reduced. This is known as The Octave Rule. When the natural frequency of the chassis is two or more times
the natural frequency of the drive assembly (or visa-versa), severe dynamic coupling is reduced and reliability
is increased.
The shock amplification of a two degree-of-freedom system with light damping is shown in the graph below. The
PCB designates the isolated drive assembly and the Box designates the chassis. The graph shows that when the
frequency ratio is <0.5 or >2.0, the amplification is reduced. If the frequency ratio falls in the Dangerous area,
the isolated system can greatly amplify the input shock.

In this example, it is desirable to design the chassis with stiff drive-mounting brackets so that the natural frequency of the chassis is at least 200 to 250 Hz. This provides a frequency ration R <0.5 (amplification factor
A<1) and reduce the acceleration levels at the drive.
Although the calculations for the 100-Hz isolated system show an attenuation of the input for the 2-msec shock,
the rest of the shocks indicate some amplification due to the violation of The Octave Rule. More importantly,
calculations indicate that a minimum of 0.10 inch of sway space is required even for the 10 msec pulse. This
amount can be excessive for typical small elastomer isolators. When exposed to higher shock levels, these small
isolators can exceed their displacement limits, causing the isolator to snub. This snubbing of the isolators
reduces the amount of attenuation and could possible amplify the response G levels.

Isolator Impact on Drive Performance


Isolators can also have a negative impact on drive performance by allowing additional rotational motion of the
drives baseplate. This rotational motion can cause an offtrack condition of the servo during seeks, increasing
the amount of time for the actuator to settle ontrack. Hard drives are especially sensitive to baseplate rotational
motion about the motor spin axis. Poorly designed isolation mounts can amplify this issue.
Seagate conducted Winbench99 testing to quantify the drive performance degradation due to isolation mounts.
The results indicate a 1 to 2 percent drop in business scores with improper mounts. Additional information on
Winbench99 testing and isolator impacts on drive performance can be found in Seagates technology paper
TP-298, The Effects of Using Isolators for Mounting Disc Drives in PC systems.

Design Guideline Summary


A properly designed isolated drive mount increases a chassis shock performance. The following is a list a guidelines to consider when designing the chassis and isolated drive mount.

Wide stance mountBy using the widest possible stance to mount the drive (side mounts near the corners),
the amount of rotational translation of the drive during a shock event is reduced. This reduces the amount
of required sway space needed around the drive to avoid component-to-component impacts. In addition,
by reducing the rotational translation of the drive, softer isolators can be used to provide a lower natural
frequency during linear translation.

Symmetrical mountA symmetrical mount on the drive will also reduce the amount of rotational translation
during a linear shock event by positioning the drives center of gravity as close as possible to the geometric
center of the mount.

Sufficient sway spaceSufficient sway space is required to avoid secondary shock events due to the drive
making contact with other components within the chassis.

Rigid mount for isolatorsBy providing a rigid mount for the isolated drive, severe dynamic coupling is
reduced between the lower natural frequency of the isolated drive and the natural frequency of the chassis
structure.

Proper preload on isolatorsWhen using isolators to mount a drive, be careful to ensure proper preload on
the isolators. If the drive is allowed movement prior to making contact with the isolators, shock inputs can
be amplified.

Conclusion
For isolators to improve shock performance, a properly designed isolation system must be used. Softer isolators
(lower stiffness, higher dampening) with larger displacement capabilities can be used to meet the higher shock
inputs. In addition, softer isolators lower the natural frequency of the isolated drive system and increase the
frequency ratio between the chassis natural frequency and the isolated drive natural frequency. This reduces
the possibility of shock amplification at the drive level.
Be careful when using isolators to mount hard drives in chassis. An improper isolation design may have a negative impact of the drive performance by increasing average seek arrival times due to unnecessary rotational
motion of the drive base plate. In addition, an improper isolation design can lead to shock input amplification
and possibly component-to-component impacts within the chassis.