CRANKS is a Java application that uses the Swing toolkit to provide an interactive environment for the animation and kinematic synthesis of four-bar mechanisms created through a series of geometrical constructions. CRANKS is an acronym for Computational Resource for Animation 'N' Kinematic Synthesis.
CRANKS was written in order to address the lack of a robust software that enables a user to perform the animation and synthesis of mechanisms. Normally, mechanical engineers attack the issue of designing mechanisms through the traditional pen-paper route. Mechanisms are optimized using geometric construction procedures that yield the solutions to specific motion/path/function generation problems. This process is very cumbersome as it involves repeated geometric constructions in order to decide upon the optimum design. Even after the design has been optimized, it is not possible to animate the mechanism without actually building it. Hence, there is a need for automating this process using the computer and thereby save the time and effort spent in designing mechanisms.
By abstracting the geometrical constructions (like drawing lines, circles, etc or finding intersections between geometrical objects) through a CAD-like interface, CRANKS provides a way of performing the entire synthesis of the mechanism on the computer. Once the mechanism has been synthesized, it can be animated so as to obtain the required trace of the coupler point. The entire synthesis process can also be redone in order to change intermediate parameters, thereby yielding a different mechanism.
The program is currently at version 1.0 and is distributed under the GNU General Public License. It is hoped that it will gain popularity among those in the scientific community and thereby motivate users to come forward with suggestions for improvement and offers for collaboration in developing the existing code.