The spectrograph is a signal processing tool often used for the frequency domain analysis of time-varying signals. When the signal to be analyzed is a function of time, the spectrograph represents the frequency content of the signal as a sequence of power spectra that change with time. In this paper, the usefulness of the technique is demonstrated in its application to the analysis of the time history response of a nonlinear aeroelastic system. The aeroelastic system is modeled analytically as a two-dimensional, rigid airfoil section free to move in both the bending and pitching directions and possessing a rigid flap. The airfoil is mounted by torsional and translational springs attached at the elastic axis, and the flap is used to provide the forcing input to the system. The nonlinear system is obtained by introducing a freeplay type of nonlinearity in the pitch degree-of-freedom restoring moment. The airfoil is immersed in an aerodynamic flow environment, modeled using incompressible thin airfoil theory for unsteady oscillatory motion. The equations of motion are solved using a fourth-order Runge-Kutta numerical integration technique to provide time-history solutions of the response of the airfoil in the pitch and plunge directions. Time-histories are obtained for the nonlinear responses of the linear and nonlinear aeroelastic systems to a sine-sweep input. The time-histories are analyzed using the spectrographic technique, and the frequency content of the response is plotted directly as a function of the input frequency. Results show that the combination of the sine-sweep input with the spectrographic analysis permits a unique insight into the behaviour of the nonlinear system with a minimum of testing. It is shown that the frequency of the nonlinear system response is a function of the input frequency and one other characteristic frequency that can be associated with the limit cycle oscillations of the same nonlinear system subject to a transient input.

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