FREE BODY DIAGRAM CONSTRUCTION BASICS AND TUTORIALS

TIP ON HOW TO CONSTRUCT FREE BODY DIAGRAM
Construction of Free-Body Diagrams Tutorials

The full procedure for drawing a free-body diagram which isolates a body or system consists of the following steps.

Step 1. Decide which system to isolate. The system chosen should usually involve one or more of the desired unknown quantities.

Step 2. Next isolate the chosen system by drawing a diagram which represents its complete external boundary. This boundary defines the isolation of the system from all other attracting or contacting bodies, which are considered removed. 

This step is often the most crucial of all. Make certain that you have completely isolated the system before proceeding with the next step.

Step 3. Identify all forces which act on the isolated system as applied by the removed contacting and attracting bodies, and represent them in their proper positions on the diagram of the isolated system. Make a systematic traverse of the entire boundary to identify all contact forces. 

Include body forces such as weights, where appreciable. Represent all known forces by vector arrows, each with its proper magnitude, direction, and sense indicated. Each unknown force should be represented by a vector arrow with the unknown magnitude or direction indicated by symbol. 

If the sense of the vector is also unknown, you must arbitrarily assign a sense. The subsequent calculations with the equilibrium equations will yield a positive quantity if the correct sense was assumed and a negative quantity if the incorrect sense was assumed. 

It is necessary to be consistent with the assigned characteristics of unknown forces throughout all of the calculations. If you are consistent, the solution of the equilibrium equations will reveal the correct senses.

Step 4. Show the choice of coordinate axes directly on the diagram. Pertinent dimensions may also be represented for convenience. 

Note, however, that the free-body diagram serves the purpose of focusing attention on the action of the external forces, and therefore the diagram should not be cluttered with excessive extraneous information. 

Clearly distinguish force arrows from arrows representing quantities other than forces. For this purpose a colored pencil may be used.

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