How to Calculate Catenary

By Allan Robinson, eHow Contributor

Catenaries with different scaling factors Wikimedia Commons A catenary is the shape that a cable assumes when it's supported at its ends and only acted on by its own weight. It is used extensively in construction, especially for suspension bridges, and an upside-down catenary has been used since antiquity to build arches. The curve of the catenary is the hyperbolic cosine function which has a U shape similar to that of a parabola. The specific shape of a catenary may be determined by its scaling factor. Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Instructions Things You'll Need:
• Calculator with scientific functions Calculating Catenary 1. 1 Calculate the standard catenary function y = a cosh(x/a) where y is the y Cartesian coordinate, x is the x Cartesian coordinate, cosh is the hyperbolic cosine function and a is the scaling factor. 2. 2 Observe the effect of the scaling factor on the catenary's shape. The scaling factor may be though of as the ratio between the horizontal tension on the cable and the weight of the cable per unit length. A low scaling factor will therefore result in a deeper curve. 3. 3 Calculate the catenary function with an alternate equation. The equation y = a cosh(x/a) can be shown to be mathematically equivalent to y = a/2 (e^(x/a) + e^(-x/a)) where e is the base of the natural logarithm and is approximately 2.71828. 4. 4 Calculate the function for an elastic catenary as y = yo/(1 + et) where yo is the initial mass per unit length, e is the spring constant and t is time. This equation describes a bouncing spring instead of a hanging cable. 5. 5 Calculate a real-world example of a catenary. The function y = -127.7 cosh(x/127.7) + 757.7 describes the St. Louis Arch where the measurements are in units of feet. Eagle Line

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation, search This article is about the mathematical curve. For other uses, see Catenary (disambiguation). "Chainette" redirects here. For the wine grape also known as Chainette, see Cinsaut.

A hanging chain forms a catenary.

The silk on a spider's web forming multiple elastic catenaries.

In physics and geometry, the catenary is the curve that an idealised hanging chain or cable assumes when supported at its ends and acted on only by its own weight. The curve is the graph of the hyperbolic cosine function, and has a U-like shape, superficially similar in appearance to a parabola (though mathematically quite different). Its surface of revolution, the catenoid, is a minimal surface and is the shape assumed by a soap film bounded by two parallel circular rings.

[hide] • • • • • 1 History 2 The inverted catenary arch 3 Simple suspension bridges 4 Anchoring of marine objects 5 Mathematical description ○ ○ ○ 5.1 Equation 5.2 Other properties 5.3 Analysis   • 6 Variations ○ ○ ○ • • • • • • 6.1 Elastic catenary 6.2 Equal resistance catenary 6.3 Towed cables 5.3.1 Alternative 1 5.3.2 Alternative 2

7 Alternative analysis 8 Alternative analysis "towed cables" 9 See also 10 References 11 Bibliography 12 External links

[edit] History
The word catenary is derived from the Latin word catena, which means "chain". Huygens first used the term catenaria in a letter to Leibniz in 1690. However, Thomas Jefferson is usually credited with the English word catenary.[1] The curve is also called the "alysoid", "chainette",[2] or, particularly in the material sciences, "funicular".[3] It is often stated[4] that Galileo thought that the curve followed by a hanging chain is a parabola. A careful reading of his book Two new sciences[5] shows this to be an oversimplification. Galileo discusses the catenary in two places; in the dialog of the Second Day he states that a hanging chain resembles a parabola. But later, in the dialog of the Fourth Day, he gives more details, and states that a hanging cord is approximated by a parabola, correctly observing that this approximation improves as the curvature gets smaller and is almost exact when the elevation is less than 45o. That the curve followed by a chain is not a parabola was proven by Joachim Jungius (1587–1657) and published posthumously in 1669.[6][7] The application of the catenary to the construction of arches is due to Robert Hooke, who discovered it in the context of the rebuilding of St Paul's Cathedral,[8] possibly having seen Huygens' work on the catenary. (Some much older arches are also approximate catenaries.)

Arches under the roof of Gaudí's Casa Milà. . Hooke announced to the Royal Society that he had solved the problem of the optimal shape of an arch." In 1691 Gottfried Leibniz. and Johann Bernoulli derived the equation in response to a challenge by Jakob Bernoulli. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. gives the surface of minimum surface area (the catenoid) for the given bounding circle.In 1671. meaning "As hangs a flexible cable so. but in 1705 his executor provided it as Ut pendet continuum flexile.[2] [edit] The inverted catenary arch This section does not cite any references or sources. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources." He did not publish the solution of this anagram[11] in his lifetime. Christiaan Huygens. when rotated about the x-axis.[7] Euler proved in 1744 that the catenary is the curve which.[10] where he wrote that he had found "a true mathematical and mechanical form of all manner of Arches for Building. David Gregory wrote a treatise on the catenary in 1697. (November 2009) Arch of Taq-i Kisra in Ctesiphon as seen today is roughly but not exactly a catenary. and in 1675 published an encrypted solution as a Latin anagram[9] in an appendix to his Description of Helioscopes. sic stabit contiguum rigidum inversum. Barcelona. stand the touching pieces of an arch. Spain that are close to catenaries. inverted.

the arch endures almost pure compression.[13][14] However the conditions for a catenary to be the ideal arch are almost never fulfilled: arches usually support more than their own weight. the shape of a hanging chain of the desired dimensions is transferred to a form which is then used as a guide for the placement of bricks or other building material.[12] Catenary arches are often used in the construction of kilns. inverted) catenary. When the centerline of an arch is made to follow the curve of an up-side-down (i. in which no significant bending moment occurs inside the material.Gaudi's catenary model at Casa Milà Hooke discovered that the catenary is the ideal curve for an arch of uniform density and thickness which supports only its own weight.[citation needed] .e. In this construction technique. and on the rare occasions when they are freestanding they are sometimes not of uniform thickness.[citation needed] The Sheffield Winter Garden is enclosed by a series of catenary arches.

The Gateway Arch (looking East) is a flattened catenary. United States is sometimes said to be an (inverted) catenary.[15] It is close to a more general curve called a flattened catenary. with equation y=Acosh(Bx). Catenary arch kiln under construction over temporary form The Gateway Arch in St. (A catenary would have AB=1. having lighter links in the middle. According to the U. would form. Louis. Missouri.) While a catenary is the ideal shape for a freestanding arch of constant thickness. Its shape corresponds to the shape that a weighted chain. the Gateway Arch is narrower near the top. but this is incorrect. National Historic Landmark nomination for the arch.[16] [edit] Simple suspension bridges .S. it is a "weighted catenary" instead.

[edit] Mathematical description . [edit] Anchoring of marine objects The catenary form given by gravity is taken advantage of in its presence in heavy anchor rodes. as in a suspension bridge. as in a simple suspension bridge. wind turbines and other marine assets which must be anchored to the seabed. the result is a catenary. where the weight runs parallel to the cables. as the seabed obviously affects its shape while it supports the chain or cable. With smaller vessels and in shallow water it is less effective. There is also typically a section of rode above the water and thus unaffected by buoyancy. An anchor rode (or anchor line) usually consists of chain and/or cable. In most cases the weight of the cable is negligible compared with the weight being supported. the suspension cables initially sag as the catenary curve.In simple suspension bridges such as the Capilano Suspension Bridge.[citation needed] When the force exerted is uniform with respect to horizontal distance. and then gradually assume a parabolic curve as additional connecting cables are tied to connect the main suspension cables with the bridge deck below. Free-hanging chains follow the catenary curve. This assists the performance of the anchor and raises the level of force it will resist before dragging. before being tied to the deck below. When the force exerted is uniform with respect to the length of the chain. the cables follow a catenary curve. California. the result is a parabola. oilrigs. Most suspension bridge cables follow a parabolic.[citation needed] Golden Gate Bridge. Anchor rodes are used by ships. Particularly with larger vessels. creating a slightly more complicated curve.[18] The catenary curve in this context is only fully present in the anchoring system when the rode has been lifted clear of the seabed by the vessel's pull. the catenary curve given by the weight of the rode presents a lower angle of pull on the anchor or mooring device. but suspension bridge chains or cables do not hang freely since they support the weight of the bridge.[17] When suspension bridges are constructed. San Francisco. docks. not catenary curve.

where cosh is the hyperbolic cosine function. The Whewell equation for the catenary is . but the catenary must have parameters corresponding to the shape and dimensions of the wheels. The wheels can be any regular polygon except a triangle.[20] A parabola rolled along a straight line traces out a catenary (see roulette) with its focus.[edit] Equation Catenaries for different values of a The equation of a catenary in Cartesian coordinates has the form[19] . Changing the parameter a is equivalent to a uniform scaling of the curve. [edit] Other properties All catenary curves are similar to each other.[21] .[2] Square wheels can roll perfectly smoothly if the road has evenly spaced bumps in the shape of a series of inverted catenary curves. Differentiating gives and eliminating gives the Cesàro equation: .

The catenary is the only plane curve other than a horizontal line with this property.[citation needed] The surface of revolution with fixed radii at either end that has minimum surface area is a catenary revolved about the x-axis. The forces acting on the segment of the chain between s and s + Δs are the force of tension one end of the segment. The derivation of the curve for an optimal arch is similar except that the forces of tension become forces of compression and everything is inverted. . This is the natural parameterization and has the property that is the unit tangent vector.A charge in a uniform electric field moves along a catenary (which tends to a parabola if the charge velocity is much less than the speed of light c).b]. a positive scalar function of s. Also. Over any horizontal interval [a. This is done by a careful inspection of the various forces acting on a small segment of the chain and using the fact that these forces must be in balance if the chain is in static equilibrium. chain. These forces must balance so . and the external force acting on the . Divide by Δs and take the limit as to obtain . the ratio of the area under the caternary to its length equals a. be the external force per unit length acting on a small segment of a chain as a function at of s. the geometric centroid of the area under a stretch of catenary is the midpoint of the perpendicular segment connecting the centroid of the curve itself and the x-axis. where T is the magnitude of Second. First. let be the force of tension as a function of s. In other words. . independent of the interval selected. Since tension is defined as the force that the chain exerts on itself.[22] [edit] Analysis We assume that the path followed by the chain is given parametrically by where s represents arc length and is the position vector. The chain is flexible so it can only exert a force must be parallel to the parallel to itself. the nearly opposite force segment which is approximately at the other end. let . It is now possible to derive two equations which together define the shape of the curve and the tension of the chain at each point.

Note that at the minimum the curve is horizontal and c is the tension of the chain at its lowest point this point occurs at s = − d / λg. The equation becomes . The next step is to put in the specific expression for In this case. where the chain has constant mass per unit length λ and the only external force . parametric equations can be obtained from a Whewell equation by integrating: .Note that. we can continue the derivation in two ways. The point from which s is measured is arbitrary. so pick this point to be the minimum. So Note that the horizontal component of the tension is a constant. no assumptions have been made regarding the force . From here. so equations (1) and (2) can be used as the starting point in the analysis of a flexible chain acting under any external force. So we have acting on the chain is that of a uniform gravitational field . Write to combine constants and obtain the Whewell equation for the curve. up till now. and solve the resulting equations. Integrating we get. . giving d = 0. . [edit] Alternative 1 If is the tangential angle of the curve then is parallel to so . . In general.

To find these integrals. Then and . make the substitution function). The integrals of the right hand sides of these equations can be found using standard techniques giving . along with a. [edit] Alternative 2 From . by the boundary conditions of the problem. We can eliminate u to obtain where α and β are constants to be determined. . Then and (or where gd is the Gudermannian . . Usually these conditions include two points from which the chain is being suspended and the length of the chain. where same as before.

Using the substitution gives or .Isolating s in the first equation and using the result to substitute s in the second equation gives as before. the mass per unit length is no longer constant but can be given as where λ0 is the mass per unit length for the chain in its relaxed state and ε is the spring constant. by the boundary conditions of the problem. which is exact the same result as that obtained with Alternative 1. In this case. the cable replaced by a spring and is no longer assumed to be of fixed density. or. is a constant c. As in the earlier derivation. but is allowed to stretch in accordance with Hooke's Law. [edit] Variations [edit] Elastic catenary In an elastic catenary. α and β are constants to be determined. Putting this into the equation for density produces . . Then the equation for the vertical component of is . . So the horizontal component of . along with a. combining constants.

the mass per unit length can be given as λ = λrT where λr is the mass per unit length per unit of tension force required for the chain to resist breaking. Assuming that the strength of the cable is proportional to its density. this is simply the catenary. . or . . or. Putting this into the equation for density produces Then the equation for the vertical component of is . When a = 0. When a and b are both >0 then the curve is intermediate between a catenary and a parabola. When b = 0. As in the earlier derivation. is a constant c. Parametric equations can be obtained by integrating: . corresponding to a completely inelastic cable. [edit] Equal resistance catenary In an equal resistance catenary.. so its resistance to breaking is constant along its length. corresponding to the case there the cable essentially has length 0 in its relaxed state. So the horizontal component of . . cable is strengthened according to the magnitude of the tension at each point. this is a parabola. similar to a Slinky. combining constants.

then . [edit] Towed cables Instead of gravity. Another integration produces . Multiplying both sides by ds / dx gives .. (Velocity is assumed to be vertical here to preserve similarities with the gravitational case. The cable is assumed to be smooth so the force on the cable due to be negligible. If denotes the unit normal vector. The velocity relative to the cable is assumed to be a constant . write where and respectively are the components parallel is taken to to and orthogonal to the cable. the diameter of the cable. The force acting on the cable.) To compute the force due to drag. following the Drag equation is where c is a constant depending on the density of the fluid. From equations (1) and (2) above.g. So . This can be reduced to a differential equation of degree one using separation of variables to obtain or . and the Drag coefficient. . we assume we have a cylindrical cable that is acted on by drag forces due to the movement of some surrounding fluid (e. air or water).

the force of gravity and additional terms in the force due to drag may be added to the expression for force. Setting the coefficients of and equal produces . The vector sum of the forces acting on the segment from the two extremities and from the gravitational force must be zero. This is a case where a different expression for the force acting on the chain/cable produce the same curve but a different expression for tension. So T is a constant in this case and combining constants in the second equation gives which is one of the equations for the catenary given above. As the gravitational force is directed downwards the horizontal components of the forces acting on the extremes must have the same magnitude. Denoting this constant with f one gets that the vertical component of the force at the left extreme x1 is and at the right extreme x2 is representing a function y(x) with x varying from x1 to x2 is The path length of the curve . As this is true for any segment of the catenary this is a fixed constant for the whole of the catenary. [edit] Alternative analysis Figure 1: The forces acting on the two extremes of a segment of a catenary decomposed into horizontal and vertical components The forces acting on a segment of catenary curve are shown in the figure at right. In applications.. yielding equations that must be solved numerically.

If g is the gravitational constant and ρ is the mass per length unit of the chain the gravitational force acting on the arc from x1 to x2 is This force must be compensated by the vertical components of the forces acting on the two extremes of the arc. with respect to x2.e. (1 ) Denoting the constant ratio with a and taking the derivative of equation (1) with respect to the upper limit of the integral. i. one gets Denoting with z this equation takes the form what means that for the inverse function x(z) one has which is integrate to where x0 is the constant of integration or equivalently Again integrating with respect to x one gets (2 ) where y0 is the second constant of integration The lowest point of this curve has the coordinates The length of the curve given by (2) from x = x1 to x = x2 is .e. i.

in the case that the two attachment points are at the same heigth. i. .(3 ) This family of solutions is parametrized with the 3 parameters . In a typical case the form of a chain having a given length l and being attached in two fixed point with the coordinates coordinate system should be computed. This means that have to be determined such that (4 ) and relative a vertical (5 ) (6 ) Setting subtracting (4) from (5) and then dividing with a one gets (7 ) For any given values one can determine from (7) When has been determined is computed by solving a quadratic equation.e. For any concrete case these 3 parameters must be computed to fit the boundary value conditions. one has that x0 = xm and that the length is With x0 known (4) or (5) can subsequently be used to determine y0. In case y1 = y2.

But the resulting curve can still be determined with arbitrary accuracy by the numerical integration of the differential equations Given any initial values for y(x1) and z(x1) and any value for the parameter f these differential equations can be propagated to x = x2 with ρ specified as any function of the state variable z. They can for example be adjusted iteratively such . Figure 2:The red line corresponds to parameters X_0 and Y_0 + a determined with the algorithm described above for different values of a From figure 1 it is further clear that the tension of the chain at any point where force component is is the magnitude of the constant horizontal If the mass density ρ is not constant but varies depending on some law the resulting differential equation will in most cases not have a closed form analytic solution. The free parameters to be iteratively adjusted to fit the boundary constraints are now z(x1) and f. With an iterative algorithm the a value that corresponds to a certain curve length l can finally be derived.Having determined x0 with the algorithm just described the curve length l corresponding to the selected a value can be computed from (6).

where ρ0 is the density at the lowest point Setting the differential equations now take the form what means that for the inverse function x(z) one has which is integrate to where x0 is the constant of integration or equivalently . An example is the "elastic catenary" for which the force stretches the material with a factor where ε is an elasticity coefficient and that therefore the mass density (mass per unit length) is where ρ0 is the mass density of the material in the absence of stress. i. A case where a closed form mathematical solution is possible is the case of "the equal resistance catenary" where the mass density (mass per unit length) is proportional to the force .e. This leaves an additional degree of freedom for the two parameters that can be used to get the correct length of the curve.that y(x2) = y2 where is the second attachment point.

To compute the force due to drag. The force acting on the cable. The medium causing the drag is moving downwards. The forces acting on a cable subject to drag.where x is constraint to an interval Again integrating with respect to x one gets where y0 is the second constant of integration. where and . as a must be larger then for any x between x1 and x2 the positions of the two attachment points and the density ρ0 at the lowest point impose a lower limit for the fixed horizontal force component f [edit] Alternative analysis "towed cables" The following figure illustrates a segment of a cable that is fixed in both ends and exposed to drag. per unit length. As when for any constant C it follows from (6) that by making a catenary that is fixed at two points sufficiently long the constant horizontal force component f can be made arbitrarily small. following the Drag equation is therefore . i. write respectively are the components parallel to and orthogonal to the cable. The drag force is orthogonal to the cable and the forces acting on the two extremities of the segment compensate the net drag force on the segment The velocity relative to the cable is assumed to be constant and the coordinate system is selected such that this velocity is in the -y direction.e. For this generalized "catenary of equal resistance" this is no more true. The cable is assumed to be smooth so the force on the cable due to is taken to be negligible.

with (1 ) where c is a constant depending on the density of the fluid. and the Drag coefficient and denotes the unit normal vector. the diameter of the cable.(5) and (6) that . For any curve y(x) the tangent (unit vector) is (2 ) and the normal (unit vector) is (3 ) From (1) and (3) follows that (4 ) From (3) and (4) follows that the x-component of the total force on the segment of the curve from x = x1 to x = x2 is (5 ) and the component in the y-direction is (6 ) If now one has that and from (2).

p. ^ a b c MathWorld 3. Retrieved 2010-11-17. 22. (2004). ^ For example Lockwood elliptic/hyperbolic catenary Troposkein . 124 .html#catenary. Prentice Hall. 1995-11-21.(7 ) (8 ) If the now the force in the cable is the force at the right extreme of the cable segment is and at the left extreme From (7) and (8) follows that the vector sum of these forces is precisely the force needed to counter act the forces on the segment caused by the drag [edit] See also • • • Overhead lines Roulette (curve) .net/arithme8. OCLC 148137330. http://www. 2. Daniel L.g.pballew. Pballew. Structures (5th ed.). ISBN 9780130488794.: Shodek.the shape of a spun rope [edit] References 1. ^ ""Catenary" at Math Words". ^ e.

36.htm.^ "Catenary".^ Faauvel. Ron. 124 8. pp. 2007. p.^ Jan (2003). ^ Galileo Galilei (1914). (1961).lindahall.nps. p. and Catenary .. 15. 2009. ^ cf. ISBN 1843309106.128-9 7.^ "Arch Design". Wood-fired Ceramics: Contemporary Practices.^ Calculus. p. Retrieved 2010-11-17. 13.html. 2002-10-28.^ The original anagram was "abcccddeeeeefggiiiiiiiillmmmmnnnnnooprrsssttttttuuuuuuuux": the letters of the Latin phrase. from 1975PDF (578 KB) 17. ISBN 1856693546.H. http://pdfhost. 21.php. National Park Service. Eric W. http://xahlee.^ Paul Kunkel (June 30. or "The Arch". Bruce id=SPhnaiERbWcC. Dialogues concerning two new 20. Peterson. http://www. Wolfram Demonstrations Project. MAA ISBN 0-88385-703-0. ^ "Monuments and Microscopes: Scientific Thinking on a Grand Scale in the Early Royal Society" by Lisa Jardine 9. Lindahall.archive. California: Brooks/Cole. retrieved 2009-06-21 and Accompanying one photo. Laurence King. Planning and Building a Conservatory. Bekken. 149. http://whistleralley. (2010). 290. http://www. Paul (2005). http://www.5. 18. which appeared in the next paragraph.^ Minogue. Sanderson. E. 6. 11.petersmith. http://www.pdf. Susan. Henry Crew & Alfonso de Salvio.shtml. Whistler Alley Mathematics. 42. Mathematics Magazine 83: 63-64 [edit] Bibliography • • Lockwood. p.^ Parker. "Catenary" from MathWorld. aerial. Rope. 2006). A Book of Curves. 10. New Holland. University of Pennsylvania.^ "Roulette: A Comfortable Ride on an n-gon Bicycle" by Borut Levart. Notices of the American Mathematical Society 57 (2): 220–229.ams. Robert (2000). "Learn from the Masters. 224.html^ Laura Soullière Harrison (1985) (PDF). ISBN 0812235142. National Register of Historic Places InventoryNomination: Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Gateway Arch / Gateway Arch. Weisstein. "Chapter 13: The Tractrix and Catenary". Robert (2010).net.focus. ISSN 0002-9920. ^ a b Lockwood p. Macmillan. ISBN 0-547-16702-4. "Hanging With Galileo". Trans. 12. the anagram for Hooke's law. . alphabetized. 393. Edward (2010). Coll. Retrieved 201011-17.^ "Chain. Xahlee. "A Property Characterizing the Catenary". ^ Swetz. 2003-05-28. 19. 22.Anchor Systems For Small Boats". The Craft and Art of Clay: A Complete Potter's Handbook. "Mathematics of the Gateway Arch".google. Petersmith. Retrieved Cengage Learning. pp. Retrieved March 27." 1997.^ Peterson.

An easy way to demonstrate the Mathematical properties of a cosh using the hanging cable effect. "Chaînette" at Encyclopédie des Formes Mathématiques Remarquables "Chaînette élastique" at Encyclopédie des Formes Mathématiques Remarquables "Courbe de la corde à sauter" at Encyclopédie des Formes Mathématiques Remarquables • • • [edit] External links Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Catenary Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Catenary.Calculates the deviation from a straight line of a catenary curve and provides derivation of the calculator and references. interactive graphical demo of parabolic" Categories: Curves | Differential equations | Exponentials | Analytic geometry Hidden categories: Articles needing additional references from November 2009 | All articles needing additional references | All articles with unsourced statements | Articles with unsourced statements from November 2010 | Articles with unsourced statements from December 2010 | Articles with unsourced statements from August 2009 Personal tools • • • Log in / create account Article Discussion Namespaces Variants . Edmund F. http://www-history. "Catenary".standrews. plus examples of a chain hanging between 2 points of unequal height. an article about creating catenary domes Dynamic as well as static cetenary curve equations derived .wikipedia.Diagrams of different horizontal conveyor layouts showing options for the catenary section both supported and unsupported Catenary curve derived . MacTutor History of Mathematics archive.The equations governing the shape (static case) as well as dynamics (dynamic case) of a centenary is derived.. including C program to calculate the curve. Retrieved from "http://en. Hexagonal Geodesic Domes .mcs.The shape of a catenary is derived. Solution to the equations discussed.• O' Devised by Jonathan Lansey Horizontal Conveyor Arrangement .uk/Curves/Catenary. • • • • • • • • • "Catenary of equal resistance" at Encyclopédie des Formes Mathématiques Remarquables "Catenary" at Visual Dictionary of Special Plane Curves Hanging With Galileo . John J. Cable Sag Error Calculator . Robertson. hyperbolic suspensions.mathematical derivation of formula for suspended and free-hanging chains.Catenary Domes. Catenary Demonstration Experiment . University of St Andrews.html .

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. Then f(-s) = f(s) = 100 so we have c + a cosh(s/a) = 100. Inc. The minimum value of f occurs when x = 0 and the minimum value of f at x = 0 is 50 so c + a = 50 (2) (1) . How far apart must the poles be spaced so that at its lowest point the cable is 50 feet off the ground? We obtain the system of equations: Let f(x) = c + a cosh(x/a). Example 1.A Graphing Calculator Approach to the Examples We provide a graphing calculator approach to the solutions of the example problems in the catenary demo. Contact us • The Utility of Catenaries to Electric Utilities . See Terms of Use for details. A flexible cable with length 150 feet is to be suspended between two poles with height 100 ft. Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation.. a non-profit organization.• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Deutsch Español Français Galego Italiano ‫עברית‬ Magyar മലയാളം Nederlands 日本語 Piemontèis Polski Português Русский Suomi Svenska Українська 中文 This page was last modified on 9 January 2011 at 18:31.. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. We illustrate the solutions using the TI-83 but most other graphing calculators have similar built-in features. additional terms may apply.

c.a. In the context of the catenary function. we obtain cosh(s/a) = (50+a)/a sinh(s/a) = 75/a Each equation can be solved for s (in terms of a) by using inverse functions: We can now use a crossing graphs approach which will require that we use the intersect function on the TI-83 . we can interpret the length of the wire as the arc length of the graph of f from x = -s to x = s. This gives a third equation.The length of the wire is 150 feet. and s. (3) A bit of work gives the following: which simplifies to . The system of three equations can be reduced to a system of two equations by setting c = 50 . The integral can be evaluated directly Thus. our problem is to solve a system of three equations in three unknowns: c + a cosh(s/a) = 100 a + c = 50 2a sinh(s/a) = 150 for a. With some rearrangement.

Step 1: Associate a with x and s with y. Step 5: Enter the second curve. You may need to experiment with the graphing window. . xmin = 0. Step 5: Enter the first curve. select intersect. In this graph. xmax = 35 ymin = 45. Define the functions. xmax = 50 ymin = 0. ymax = 55 Step 4: From the CALC menu. In this graph. ymax = 100 Step 3: Adjust the window so that the intersection can be clearly seen. Step 2: Graph the functions. xmin = 25.

14 = 0 we put the equation into a form so that we can use the zero function. Coordinates of intersection displayed. we require that f(-170) = f(170) = 34 and f(0) = 20. (5) We can use a crossing graphs approach (the intersect function) of the calculator to obtain a numerical approximation for the value of a. We will assume that the distance between poles is 340 feet and that we want the minimum clearance to be 20 feet. Problem: Find a and c so that f(x) = c + a cosh(x/a) models this situation. Step 7. and state routes is 13 feet and 6 inches. national. (5) below: a cosh(170/a) .a) + a cosh(170/a) = 34 or a cosh(170/a) . the distance between the poles is about 100. These two conditions give the equations c + a cosh(170/a) = 34 c + a = 20 which can be reduced to the single equation (20 . Enter the guess. Excelsior Electric Membership Corp. But by rewriting Eq.a . easements. However. (3) (4) .Step 6. Excelsior EMC prefers that the distance from its lines to the ground is greater than 18' 6 '' at all times. due to terrain. With these restrictions in mind. (Excelsior EMC) in Metter. Example 2.6 feet. etc. the average distance between utility poles ranges from 325 to 340 feet. Proceeding as in the previous example. special permits may be granted by the DOT for heights up to 18 feet. According to our electric utility.. Excelsior EMC maintains a minimum clearance of 20 feet under those lines it installs during cooler months because expansion causes lines to sag during warmer months. For the obvious reason.a = 14. GA [2]. Thus. The Georgia Department of Transportation (DOT) [3] states that the maximum height of a truck using interstates.

Step 6. Enter a guess. Step 2. Enter left bound. . ymax = 5 Step 3. The window dimensions here were xmin =900. xmax = 1100 ymin = -5. Associate the variable a with x and enter the left hand side as y1.Step 1. Step 5. Adjust the scale as necessary so that you can see the x-intercept. Select zero from the CALC menu. Enter right bound. Plot the function. Step 4.

With this information we can obtain the length of the wire between the poles by computing the arc length integral.Step 7. Step 3.a.4678. xmax = 170 ymin = -5. The x-coordinate of the intersection gives the value of a = 1034. Step 1. The intersection is shown. Enter the function to be integrated: Step 2. Here the limits were xmin = -170. . huh? We'll look at this later. Select the integration function. so for this example c = -1014. We can compute c directly: c = 20 . Graph the function.4678. ymax = 3 Interesting. Step 4. Select lower limit of integration.

Note that the area under the curve is shaded.Step 5. . Since the integrand is a hyperbolic function. The length of wire is about 341. Students should wonder why the graph in Step 2 appears to be linear. the arc length integral is equivalent to This formulation of the integral still does not directly explain the flatness of the graph. Step 6. Our original graph only showed the relatively flat area of the hyperbolic cosine function. By changing the xmin and xmax dimensions of the graphing window to be of the same order as the denominator. we see that the graph of the integrand does have the typical shape of a hyperbolic cosine function. The value of the definite integral is shown.53 feet. the bending of the graph is obscured. This graphical approach to the integration leads to an interesting discussion about the hyperbolic functions and their graphs. we do. A closer look yields the following: Thus. Select upper limit of integration. shouldn't we expect to have a curve? In fact. Because the scale of the limits of integration relative to the denominator.

For cable section 1-2 to be at rest and equilibrium with the rest of cable.LFR 12/31/2003 Deriving the Catenary Curve Equation A catenary curve describes the shape the displacement cable takes when subjected to a uniform force such as gravity. forces acting on this section need to balance each other. Let dx and dy be projections of section 1-2 length to X and Y axes respectively. Let the distance between point 1 and 2 be so small. we will examine two points on the cable: points 1 and 2. Let the tightening force at point 1 be N and that at point 2 be N+dN. where dN is a small addition due to difference of coordinates. Displacement Cable Idealized As A Catenary Curve The equation of a catenary curve can be derived by examining a very small part of a cable and all forces acting on it (see Figure 2) Figure 2 . The sum of these forces need to equal to zero. that cable segment 1-2 is linear. Formula Explanation .Forces Acting on a Part of Cable (Section 1-2) Here h is the sag the cable gets under the action of gravitational force. The equation was obtained by Leibniz and Bernoulli in 1691 in response to a challenge by Bernoulli and Jacob. Let α be the angle between the X axis and cable section 1-2. To simplify. parallel to Y axis. It is directed at a tangent to cable curve and depends only on the coordinates of cable point. Weight is directed downwards. A tightening force is acting at every point of cable. Let P be the weight of cable section 1-2. This curve is the shape of a perfectly flexible chain suspended by its ends and acted on by gravity.

For cable length. we get the final equation for cable form (formula 8). where l is the straightline distance between the position transducer and the application (Figure 1). At the same time. we can see that first derivative of projecting of tightening force to Y axis can be showed by the differential of arc (formula 6). These equations give us the value for cable weight P (formula 2). We will solve this equation using substitution (formula 9). where C1 and C2 are coefficients that are defined by point of origin in concerned system. we will use the formula for the length of the catenary curve (formula 13). Hence the equation of cable form looks like formula 11. Finally we get (formula 10). If we differentiate this ratio by x. We see from Figure 2 that the ratio of tighting force projections (N) is found to be a slope ratio of the force N (see formula 3). we get second derivative of ratio (formula 4). . then C1 = 0 and C2 = 1.Projections of sum of all forces acting at section 1-2 to X and Y axes should look like formula 1. This formula is wide-known as that for the catenary curve. If we state formula 7. cable weight P is cable weight per unit length (q) mutliplied by differential of arc (dS) (formula 5). Cable sag (h) is value of cable form equation for point l/2 (formula 12). We assume this point to be the lowest point of cable. Here Nx and Ny are projections of tighting force N to X an Y axes correspondingly. Using formula 2.

00006705237348283 384 0. The word catenary is derived from the Latin word for "chain. Additional information on the catenary curve can be found at: . cable sag does not produce any significant error unless the cable length is exceptionally long (over 60 feet (18. Other catenary facts: • • • Jungius disproved Galileo's claim that the curve of a chain hanging under gravity would be a parabola in 1669.00065617 Default value m/s^2 9. The cable sag error is minor compared to other error sources (generally less than ± 0.50000002397877673 999 Cable sag h (12) Cable length (14) S Because the mass of the cable per unit length is so small and the cable tension is relatively high. The input data we have is: Field Cable tension Straightline distance Cable mass per unit length Force perpendicular to cable length (acceleration of gravity) g Sybmol Units Nx l N m kg/m 3 0." The curve is also called the Alysoid and Chainette.0025%).28 meters)).81 For these default inputs. The calculator displays the cable sag in absolute units as well as a percentage of total cable length ("measurement error"). we can use formulas 7-14 to calculate the cable sag and cable length: Variable q a Formula Cable mass per unit length * Force perpendicular to cable length (7) Value 0.053610426439519 593 0. Table 1: Derivation of the Catenary Curve Equation Proving the Calculator Now some test to prove our calculator above.0064370277 466.The length of the cable is the catenary length from point -l/2 to point l/2 (formula 14). The easy-to-use calculator above shows how displacement cable sag affects the accuracy of our position transducers.5 0. There is virtually no cable sag error when the displacement cable has no appreciable "side loads" on it such as what exists in a space environment or when the cable is oriented parallel to the direction of gravity.

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