Introduction: Mathcad Basics

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Mathcad is a computer program used to solve both complex and simple math problems; it can be thought of as a calculator on steroids. Used around the world to compute complex equations in seconds, Mathcad is a powerful tool in the hands of an experienced user. This tutorial will teach you the basics of Mathcad by walking you through a variety of physics problems. Upon completion of this tutorial you will understand how to use Mathcad to solve basic equations. Most importantly you will understand the fundamentals of how Mathcad works, allowing you to explore more of the program’s features as you work to become a Mathcad master.

Step 1: Setting Up Basic Equations

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To complete this tutorial you will need access to a copy of the Mathcad program. This tutorial was created using version 15 and therefore these instructions will work best with version 15; however, it is possible to use other versions of the program with this tutorial.

You will also need to understand the basic keystrokes required to operate Mathcad. The top picture in this step is a list of the most basic keystrokes used in Mathcad.

1. To begin left click in the upper left hand corner of the workspace and type Mass:10kg

2. Left click beneath Mass and type Acceleration:9.8m/s^2

3. Left click beneath Acceleration and type Force:Mass*Acceleration=

Caution: It is imperative to put equations, such as the force equation we just made, beneath the variables contained within the equation. Mathcad reads information just like you and I, left to right, top to bottom. Therefore, it is important that Mathcad know the values of the variables in equations before it tries to solve those equations.

Step 2: Editing and Observing

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1. Double Left click on the 10 of the Mass=10kg highlighting it, type 5*10^2

2. Double Left click on the 9.8 of the Acceleration=9.8m/s^2 highlighting it, type 4

Note: Note how the force value changes from 98 N to 2 x 10^3 N automatically. This makes Mathcad extremely powerful in that complex computations can be setup once and repeated for different values by simply changing the variables in question.

Step 3: Compounding Computations

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1. Left click beneath the Force equation and type Displacement:.25m

2. Left click beneath Displacement and type Work:Displacement*Force=

Note: The equation for force is now acting as a variable in the equation for work; force is acting as both an input and an output of the program. Again, this enables users to simply adjust the values of changing variables and have the changes take effect throughout the entire document, through the use of cascading computations.

Step 4: Assumed Units

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1. Left click beneath Work and type Radius:.1m

2. Left click beneath Radius and type qCtrl+g:30

3. Left click beneath Radius and type Torque:Radius*Force*sin(qCtrl+g)=

4. Left click so that your cursor is just to the right of 30 in θ=30 and type deg

Note: The difference in torque before and after adding deg. This is due to the fact that, computations are in radians by default. When a formula includes a trigonometric function you must specify the unit "deg." Mathcad has a default unit for almost everything so it’s good practice to make sure that the unit Mathcad assigns is actually the unit you intend.

Step 5: Solving for Non-isolated Variables.

Picture of Solving for Non-isolated Variables.

1. Left click beneath the torque equation and type Velosity:2m/s

2. Left click beneath Velocity and type Energy.Kinetic:.5*Mass*Velosity^2=

3. Left click beneath the kinetic energy equation and type Energy.Total:3000J

4. Left click beneath total energy and type Energy.TotalCtrl=Energy.Kinetic+Energy.PotentialCtrl+Shift+.

Note: The ability to solve for a non-isolated variable using this form of Boolean logic. This feature of Mathcad can save users hours of algebra that would normally be spent isolating variables.

Now that you have created your first Mathcad document you should be able to solve any basic math problem using Mathcad. You also now have a base of knowledge, giving you the ability to further explore the program. As you explore, and your capabilities grow, you will become an experienced and competent Mathcad user. You will also begin to see more and more applications for the Mathcad program, which will only give you more experience. Who knows, maybe you could be the one writing a Mathcad tutorial someday!

Comments

tomatoskins (author)2015-03-25

I've never done anything with Mathcad before. It looks like it makes it super easy to write equations on the computer!

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