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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.)

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

in which no significant bending moment occurs inside the material. the arch endures almost pure compression. and on the rare occasions when they are freestanding they are sometimes not of uniform thickness.[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. In this construction technique.[citation needed] . 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.[citation needed] The Sheffield Winter Garden is enclosed by a series of catenary arches.[12] Catenary arches are often used in the construction of kilns.e. inverted) catenary. When the centerline of an arch is made to follow the curve of an up-side-down (i.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.

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

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

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

b].[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. chain. The catenary is the only plane curve other than a horizontal line with this property. First.[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 nearly opposite force segment which is approximately at the other end. Over any horizontal interval [a. Since tension is defined as the force that the chain exerts on itself. This is the natural parameterization and has the property that is the unit tangent vector. let be the force of tension as a function of s. 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. . be the external force per unit length acting on a small segment of a chain as a function at of s. Also. These forces must balance so . 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.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). Divide by Δs and take the limit as to obtain . let . 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. 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. and the external force acting on the . The chain is flexible so it can only exert a force must be parallel to the parallel to itself. a positive scalar function of s. In other words. where T is the magnitude of Second. independent of the interval selected. the ratio of the area under the caternary to its length equals a.

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

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

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

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

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

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. As the gravitational force is directed downwards the horizontal components of the forces acting on the extremes must have the same magnitude.. 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 this is true for any segment of the catenary this is a fixed constant for the whole of the catenary. yielding equations that must be solved numerically. In applications. 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. [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. 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 . the force of gravity and additional terms in the force due to drag may be added to the expression for force.

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 . i.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.e.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.

In case y1 = y2. 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 the case that the two attachment points are at the same heigth.(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. . i.

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). They can for example be adjusted iteratively such . 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. The free parameters to be iteratively adjusted to fit the boundary constraints are now z(x1) and f. 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.

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 .that y(x2) = y2 where is the second attachment point. 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. 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. i.

per unit length. 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. following the Drag equation is therefore .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 . The forces acting on a cable subject to drag.e. write respectively are the components parallel to and orthogonal to the cable. 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. 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. To compute the force due to drag. i. The force acting on the cable. The medium causing the drag is moving downwards. 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.

and the Drag coefficient and denotes the unit normal vector.(5) and (6) that . the diameter of the cable. 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).with (1 ) where c is a constant depending on the density of the fluid.

(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. ISBN 9780130488794. http://www. (2004).pballew. Retrieved 2010-11-17. 1995-11-21. ^ a b c MathWorld 3.: Shodek. ^ e. ^ ""Catenary" at Math Words". 124 . Pballew. Daniel L. ^ For example Lockwood p.the shape of a spun rope [edit] References 1. p.). 4. OCLC 148137330. Prentice Hall. Structures (5th elliptic/hyperbolic catenary Troposkein . 22.

"Mathematics of the Gateway Arch". Edwards. which appeared in the next paragraph. Eric W. National Register of Historic Places InventoryNomination: Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Gateway Arch / Gateway Arch. 2009. Notices of the American Mathematical Society 57 (2): 220–229. and Catenary . University of Pennsylvania. MAA ISBN 0-88385-703-0. http://www. retrieved 2009-06-21 and Accompanying one Faauvel. alphabetized.htm.^ The original anagram was "abcccddeeeeefggiiiiiiiillmmmmnnnnnooprrsssttttttuuuuuuuux": the letters of the Latin Systems For Small Boats". the anagram for Hooke's law.ams. ^ Swetz.shtml. Coll. 21. ISSN 0002-9920. http://books. California: Brooks/Cole. ^ cf. or "The Arch" A Book of Curves. 19. Petersmith. "Chapter 13: The Tractrix and Catenary". Whistler Alley Mathematics.^ Osserman.^ Minogue. Robert (2010).net. Susan.128-9 7. "Learn from the Masters. ISBN 0-547-16702-4.^ Hymers. Wood-fired Ceramics: Contemporary Practices.. p. id=SPhnaiERbWcC.^ "Arch Design". 11. 149. National Park Service. http://www. ^ Galileo Galilei (1914)." 1997. 42. http://whistleralley.H.^ Laura Soullière Harrison (1985) (PDF). Edward (2010). 13.lindahall. Belmont.5. Retrieved 2010-1117. E. 6. p.^ Paul Kunkel (June 30. Rope.focus.^ Larson.^ Peterson. Cambridge. http://xahlee. ISBN 0812235142. 18. ISBN 1843309106. Cengage Learning.nps. Henry Crew & Alfonso de Salvio. . Calculus. Peterson. 20.php. "A Property Characterizing the Catenary". Laurence King. Macmillan. 15. 14. p. The Craft and Art of Clay: A Complete Potter's Handbook. 2007. Planning and Building a Conservatory. Bruce H.html.pdf. 2006). ^ a b Lockwood Dialogues concerning two new sciences. Jan (2003).petersmith. Retrieved 2010-11-17. from 1975PDF (578 KB) 17. Wolfram Demonstrations Project. Weisstein.^ "Roulette: A Comfortable Ride on an n-gon Bicycle" by Borut Levart.^ "Chain. Lindahall. "Catenary" from MathWorld. Paul (2005). 10. Ron. ISBN 1856693546. Sanderson. Retrieved 201011-17. Retrieved March 27. 2002-10-28. http://www.^ Parker. New Holland. 224. ^ "Monuments and Microscopes: Scientific Thinking on a Grand Scale in the Early Royal Society" by Lisa Jardine 9. Xahlee. aerial. 393. pp. 12. http://www. (1961). (2010).html 16. 124 p. 36. Trans. "Hanging With Galileo". 2003-05-28.^ "Catenary".org. pp.archive. Mathematics Magazine 83: 63-64 [edit] Bibliography • • Lockwood. Robert (2000).

Devised by Jonathan Lansey Horizontal Conveyor Arrangement .Catenary Domes. Solution to the equations discussed. Edmund F.• O'Connor.wikipedia. hyperbolic suspensions.Diagrams of different horizontal conveyor layouts showing options for the catenary section both supported and unsupported Catenary curve derived .mathematical derivation of formula for suspended and free-hanging chains.The equations governing the shape (static case) as well as dynamics (dynamic case) of a centenary is derived. plus examples of a chain hanging between 2 points of unequal height.standrews. "Catenary". Robertson. http://www-history. 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 .. • • • • • • • • • "Catenary of equal resistance" at Encyclopédie des Formes Mathématiques Remarquables "Catenary" at Visual Dictionary of Special Plane Curves Hanging With Galileo . an article about creating catenary domes Dynamic as well as static cetenary curve equations derived . "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 Cable Sag Error Calculator .ac.html . Catenary Demonstration Experiment .mcs.The shape of a catenary is derived.. Retrieved from "http://en. including C program to calculate the curve. MacTutor History of Mathematics archive. Hexagonal Geodesic Domes . John J. University of St Andrews.An easy way to demonstrate the Mathematical properties of a cosh using the hanging cable effect.Calculates the deviation from a straight line of a catenary curve and provides derivation of the calculator and references.

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. 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) . A flexible cable with length 150 feet is to be suspended between two poles with height 100 ft. We illustrate the solutions using the TI-83 but most other graphing calculators have similar built-in features. See Terms of Use for details. a non-profit organization. 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.. additional terms may apply. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License..• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 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. Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation. Then f(-s) = f(s) = 100 so we have c + a cosh(s/a) = 100. Contact us • The Utility of Catenaries to Electric Utilities . 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).

c.a. The integral can be evaluated directly Thus. This gives a third equation. 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.The length of the wire is 150 feet. With some rearrangement. we can interpret the length of the wire as the arc length of the graph of f from x = -s to x = s. 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 . In the context of the catenary function. The system of three equations can be reduced to a system of two equations by setting c = 50 . (3) A bit of work gives the following: which simplifies to . and s.

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

easements. (5) We can use a crossing graphs approach (the intersect function) of the calculator to obtain a numerical approximation for the value of a. Thus. the average distance between utility poles ranges from 325 to 340 feet. GA [2]. These two conditions give the equations c + a cosh(170/a) = 34 c + a = 20 which can be reduced to the single equation (20 . 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.Step 6. special permits may be granted by the DOT for heights up to 18 feet. national. Excelsior EMC prefers that the distance from its lines to the ground is greater than 18' 6 '' at all times.14 = 0 we put the equation into a form so that we can use the zero function. 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. However.a = 14.. According to our electric utility. Enter the guess. With these restrictions in mind. Excelsior Electric Membership Corp. (3) (4) . etc. the distance between the poles is about 100. Coordinates of intersection displayed.a . Proceeding as in the previous example.a) + a cosh(170/a) = 34 or a cosh(170/a) . we require that f(-170) = f(170) = 34 and f(0) = 20. Example 2. (5) below: a cosh(170/a) . and state routes is 13 feet and 6 inches. But by rewriting Eq. The Georgia Department of Transportation (DOT) [3] states that the maximum height of a truck using interstates. (Excelsior EMC) in Metter. due to terrain. Step 7.6 feet.

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

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

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

This curve is the shape of a perfectly flexible chain suspended by its ends and acted on by gravity.Forces Acting on a Part of Cable (Section 1-2) Here h is the sag the cable gets under the action of gravitational force. 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 . Formula Explanation . A tightening force is acting at every point of cable. It is directed at a tangent to cable curve and depends only on the coordinates of cable point. Let the distance between point 1 and 2 be so small. To simplify.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. that cable segment 1-2 is linear. Let the tightening force at point 1 be N and that at point 2 be N+dN. The sum of these forces need to equal to zero. 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. 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 P be the weight of cable section 1-2. For cable section 1-2 to be at rest and equilibrium with the rest of cable. parallel to Y axis. where dN is a small addition due to difference of coordinates. we will examine two points on the cable: points 1 and 2. Weight is directed downwards.

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

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. 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 word catenary is derived from the Latin word for "chain.0025%). The easy-to-use calculator above shows how displacement cable sag affects the accuracy of our position transducers.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 calculator displays the cable sag in absolute units as well as a percentage of total cable length ("measurement error").28 meters)).053610426439519 593 0.00065617 Default value m/s^2 9. 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. The cable sag error is minor compared to other error sources (generally less than ± 0.5 0.00006705237348283 384 0. Additional information on the catenary curve can be found at: .0064370277 466. cable sag does not produce any significant error unless the cable length is exceptionally long (over 60 feet (18. Table 1: Derivation of the Catenary Curve Equation Proving the Calculator Now some test to prove our calculator above." The curve is also called the Alysoid and Chainette.81 For these default inputs. Other catenary facts: • • • Jungius disproved Galileo's claim that the curve of a chain hanging under gravity would be a parabola in 1669.The length of the cable is the catenary length from point -l/2 to point l/2 (formula 14).

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