Early fault information of rolling bearings is weak and often submerged by background noise, easily leading to misdiagnosis or missed diagnosis. In order to solve this issue, the present paper puts forward a fault diagnosis method on the basis of adaptive frequency window (AFW) and sparse coding shrinkage (SCS). The proposed method is based on the idea of determining the resonance frequency band, extracting the narrowband signal, and envelope demodulating the extracted signal. Firstly, the paper introduces frequency window, which can slip on the frequency axis and extract the frequency band. Secondly, the double time domain feature entropy is proposed to evaluate the strength of periodic components in signal. The location of the optimal frequency window covering the resonance band caused by bearing fault is determined adaptively by this entropy index and the shifting/expanding frequency window. Thirdly, the signal corresponding to the optimal frequency window is reconstructed, and it is further filtered by the sparse coding shrinkage algorithm to highlight the impact feature and reduce the residue noise. Fourthly, the de-noised signal is demodulated by envelope operation, and the corresponding envelope spectrum is calculated. Finally, the bearing failure type can be judged by comparing the frequency corresponding to the spectral lines with larger amplitude in the envelope spectrum and the fault characteristic frequency. Two bearing vibration signals are applied to validate the proposed method. The analysis results illustrate that this method can extract more failure information and highlight the early failure feature. The data files of Case Western Reserve University for different operation conditions are used, and the proposed approach achieves a diagnostic success rate of 83.3%, superior to that of the AFW method, SCS method, and Fast Kurtogram method. The method presented in this paper can be used as a supplement to the early fault diagnosis method of rolling bearings.
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