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NEES Instructional Shake Table

By Sean Brophy

Purdue University

Published on


The NEES Instructional Shake Table (IST) can engage learners in engineering and scientific thinking associate with earthquakes and other dynamic conditions. The IST provides a low frequency force input to a physical model mounted to its platform. The ITS can be used to provide repeatable tests of models students design to meet specific design requirements. Or it can be used for demonstrations of fundimental physical properties associated with force and motion. One of the major goals NEES has for this ITS is to increase learners awareness of the breadth of earthquake engineering and to link it with standards for natural and physical sciences.

This site provides a short list of resources to support using the shake table for outreach and education learning experiences.



The NEES ITS shake table began with the a request from the NEES equipment sites for a low cost shake table they could use for education and outreach activities at local area schools. In past the sites have used an expensive, high grade shake table to accomplish their instructional needs. However, a trained operator is needed when using the device. NEES sponsored an undergraduate team involved in Purdue's Engineering Projects In Community Service (EPICS) to develop an alternative. A team of engineering and education experts with NEES are transforming a collection of curriculum that can use the ITS as part of teaching engineering, science, mathematics and technology. Many of these existing curriculum are already posted as a resource on Now the team is modifying the curriculum to explicitly reference the use of this table and its potential for managing learning and instruction.

Links and Resources

Getting Started Quick start guide to setting up and operating the shake table in manual (Harmonic motion) mode /resources/7626/download/Shake_Table_Quick_Start.pdf

User Manual (Draft 3/5/2014) for the ITS 100 (manual) Windows PC Interface Software for running the ITS in different modes including -
  • Manual Harmonic Mode
  • Historical Earthquake Mode
  • MYOE mode
  • Impact mode (controlled acceleration)

Software Updates

Interface Software

Mac version updated and ReadMe File March 28, 2014

Windows Version updated March 28, 2014

Installing updates software for the control box -

  1. Download the Arduino IDE for Windows located on the Arduino download page
  2. Install the Arduino development system using the directions provided by the developers
  3. Download the control box software for the Arduino ShaketableDriver_cb3_v1003 (updated March 17, 2014).
  4. Place the unzipped folder into the Arduino folder on the My Documents folder.
  5. Open the Arduino IDE.
  6. Open the code ShaketableDriver_cb3_v1003.ino using the File/Open menu item. The file may be found in sub-folder of the Arduino folder.
  7. Make sure the control box is connected to the computer using the USB cable.
  8. Use the Tools/Boards menu to select the appropriate Arduino UNO board.
  9. Use the File/Upload menu item to upload the Control Box. A message in the lower text box of the Arduino IDE will indicated when the upload is complete and if there were errors during the upload process.
  10. Reset the control box by disconnecting the USB cable from the PC and the AC/DC power supply.


Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Sean Brophy (2014), "NEES Instructional Shake Table,"

    BibTex | EndNote