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 Toolswww.eaglelinetools.com

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References
Read more: How to Calculate Catenary | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/how_5164332_calculatecatenary.html#ixzz1CncIFaTi
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.

Contents
[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.)

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

and on the rare occasions when they are freestanding they are sometimes not of uniform thickness.e. 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.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.[12] Catenary arches are often used in the construction of kilns. the arch endures almost pure compression.[citation needed] The Sheffield Winter Garden is enclosed by a series of catenary arches. inverted) catenary.[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.[citation needed] . 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. In this construction technique.

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

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

where cosh is the hyperbolic cosine function.[21] . 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.[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 wheels can be any regular polygon except a triangle. [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] . The Whewell equation for the catenary is . but the catenary must have parameters corresponding to the shape and dimensions of the wheels.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

e. with respect to x2. i. 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 .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.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. 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. . 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. in the case that the two attachment points are at the same heigth.(3 ) This family of solutions is parametrized with the 3 parameters . For any concrete case these 3 parameters must be computed to fit the boundary value conditions.

With an iterative algorithm the a value that corresponds to a certain curve length l can finally be derived. They can for example be adjusted iteratively such . 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. 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.Having determined x0 with the algorithm just described the curve length l corresponding to the selected a value can be computed from (6).

This leaves an additional degree of freedom for the two parameters that can be used to get the correct length of the curve. 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.e. 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 .that y(x2) = y2 where is the second attachment point. 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 .

i. 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.where x is constraint to an interval Again integrating with respect to x one gets where y0 is the second constant of integration. The force acting on the cable. The cable is assumed to be smooth so the force on the cable due to is taken to be negligible. To compute the force due to drag. For this generalized "catenary of equal resistance" this is no more true.e. following the Drag equation is therefore . 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. The forces acting on a cable subject to drag. per unit length. 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. where and . write respectively are the components parallel to and orthogonal to the cable. The medium causing the drag is moving downwards.

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

Daniel L. Prentice Hall.pballew. Pballew.net.(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) . ISBN 9780130488794.net/arithme8. OCLC 148137330. 2. 124 . ^ e. 4. p.). 1995-11-21. Retrieved 2010-11-17. ^ For example Lockwood p.g.the shape of a spun rope [edit] References 1. 22. http://www. (2004).html#catenary. ^ ""Catenary" at Math Words". ^ a b c MathWorld 3.: Shodek. Structures (5th ed.an elliptic/hyperbolic catenary Troposkein .

^ The original anagram was "abcccddeeeeefggiiiiiiiillmmmmnnnnnooprrsssttttttuuuuuuuux": the letters of the Latin phrase. New Holland. p. pp. Trans.pdf.^ "Arch Design".org/notices/201002/index. Faauvel. ISBN 0812235142. Retrieved 201011-17. 2003-05-28. (2010). 18. alphabetized.^ "Roulette: A Comfortable Ride on an n-gon Bicycle" by Borut Levart.petersmith.focus.gov/docs/NHLS/Text/87001423. which appeared in the next paragraph.^ "Catenary".org. Cambridge.org/SpecialPlaneCurves_dir/Catenary_dir/catenary. Belmont.^ Larson. Mathematics Magazine 83: 63-64 [edit] Bibliography • • Lockwood. ^ cf.archive.^ Peterson. "Mathematics of the Gateway Arch". ISBN 0-547-16702-4. ^ "Monuments and Microscopes: Scientific Thinking on a Grand Scale in the Early Royal Society" by Lisa Jardine 9. Coll.com/books? id=SPhnaiERbWcC. and Catenary .^ Minogue. Robert (2000). 21. retrieved 2009-06-21 and Accompanying one photo. Retrieved 2010-1117. Jan (2003). 36. "Learn from the Masters. Paul (2005). Wood-fired Ceramics: Contemporary Practices. p. Rope. "A Property Characterizing the Catenary". ^ Swetz. Susan. University of Pennsylvania. 290. MAA ISBN 0-88385-703-0." 1997. Planning and Building a Conservatory. National Register of Historic Places InventoryNomination: Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Gateway Arch / Gateway Arch. http://www. http://www. "Catenary" from MathWorld.5.lindahall. Wolfram Demonstrations Project. 149.php.H.Anchor Systems For Small Boats". 14.128-9 7. 19. http://books.net. 224. p.^ Hymers. http://xahlee. ^ a b Lockwood p.google. http://pdfhost. 6. 15. 10. 13. Peterson. Notices of the American Mathematical Society 57 (2): 220–229. ISBN 1843309106. Ron.html 16. 11.org/details/bookofcurves006299mbp. Weisstein. Cengage Learning. Bruce H.^ Laura Soullière Harrison (1985) (PDF). Xahlee. Edward (2010). ISSN 0002-9920. .org/events_exhib/exhibit/exhibits/civil/design. Dialogues concerning two new sciences. 22. p. National Park Service. Calculus. 124 8. 20.nz/boat-anchors/catenary. Lindahall. 2007. http://www. Eric W. from 1975PDF (578 KB) 17. Petersmith. 393. A Book of Curves. or "The Arch". the anagram for Hooke's law. 2009. aerial. http://whistleralley. Macmillan. 42. Whistler Alley Mathematics. E.net.htm. Edwards. http://www.org.shtml.^ Parker.com/hanging/hanging. Retrieved March 27.^ Paul Kunkel (June 30. "Hanging With Galileo". Laurence King. California: Brooks/Cole. 2002-10-28. (1961).nps.html. "Chapter 13: The Tractrix and Catenary". 12. Robert (2010). Henry Crew & Alfonso de Salvio.nz. The Craft and Art of Clay: A Complete Potter's Handbook. 2006).^ "Chain.. Bekken.^ Osserman. ^ Galileo Galilei (1914). Retrieved 2010-11-17.ams. ISBN 1856693546. pp. Sanderson.

• O'Connor. interactive graphical demo of parabolic vs. University of St Andrews. MacTutor History of Mathematics archive. Robertson.uk/Curves/Catenary.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. http://www-history.. "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.html .The shape of a catenary is derived.An easy way to demonstrate the Mathematical properties of a cosh using the hanging cable effect.org/wiki/Catenary" 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 . hyperbolic suspensions.wikipedia.Catenary Domes. Retrieved from "http://en. including C program to calculate the curve. Hexagonal Geodesic Domes . Solution to the equations discussed.Diagrams of different horizontal conveyor layouts showing options for the catenary section both supported and unsupported Catenary curve derived . Devised by Jonathan Lansey Horizontal Conveyor Arrangement . Edmund F. John J.standrews. Cable Sag Error Calculator .mcs.ac.. plus examples of a chain hanging between 2 points of unequal height. "Catenary".Calculates the deviation from a straight line of a catenary curve and provides derivation of the calculator and references. an article about creating catenary domes Dynamic as well as static cetenary curve equations derived . Catenary Demonstration Experiment .

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. Then f(-s) = f(s) = 100 so we have c + a cosh(s/a) = 100. 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). Inc. See Terms of Use for details.. additional terms may apply. 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) . Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation.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 . Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. a non-profit organization.. Example 1.• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 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. 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.

The integral can be evaluated directly Thus. In the context of the catenary function. c. With some rearrangement. 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 .a. we can interpret the length of the wire as the arc length of the graph of f from x = -s to x = s. 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. 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 . and s.The length of the wire is 150 feet. This gives a third equation.

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

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

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

The intersection is shown. Step 1. Step 3. Select lower limit of integration. Step 4. The x-coordinate of the intersection gives the value of a = 1034.Step 7. huh? We'll look at this later. Here the limits were xmin = -170. With this information we can obtain the length of the wire between the poles by computing the arc length integral. We can compute c directly: c = 20 . Enter the function to be integrated: Step 2.4678. so for this example c = -1014. . Select the integration function. xmax = 170 ymin = -5.a. ymax = 3 Interesting. Graph the function.4678.

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

It is directed at a tangent to cable curve and depends only on the coordinates of cable point. parallel to Y axis. 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. Let P be the weight of cable section 1-2. Let the distance between point 1 and 2 be so small. that cable segment 1-2 is linear. Weight is directed downwards. This curve is the shape of a perfectly flexible chain suspended by its ends and acted on by gravity. The sum of these forces need to equal to zero. A tightening force is acting at every point of cable. Let dx and dy be projections of section 1-2 length to X and Y axes respectively. To simplify. Formula Explanation . 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 . 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. The equation was obtained by Leibniz and Bernoulli in 1691 in response to a challenge by Bernoulli and Jacob. we will examine two points on the cable: points 1 and 2. forces acting on this section need to balance each other.Forces Acting on a Part of Cable (Section 1-2) Here h is the sag the cable gets under the action of gravitational force. Let α be the angle between the X axis and cable section 1-2.

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

The calculator displays the cable sag in absolute units as well as a percentage of total cable length ("measurement error").28 meters)).0064370277 466.81 For these default inputs. 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.0025%). cable sag does not produce any significant error unless the cable length is exceptionally long (over 60 feet (18." The curve is also called the Alysoid and Chainette. Other catenary facts: • • • Jungius disproved Galileo's claim that the curve of a chain hanging under gravity would be a parabola in 1669.00006705237348283 384 0. The word catenary is derived from the Latin word for "chain. 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 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 0.00065617 Default value m/s^2 9.The length of the cable is the catenary length from point -l/2 to point l/2 (formula 14). Table 1: Derivation of the Catenary Curve Equation Proving the Calculator Now some test to prove our calculator above.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.053610426439519 593 0.5 0. Additional information on the catenary curve can be found at: . The cable sag error is minor compared to other error sources (generally less than ± 0. The easy-to-use calculator above shows how displacement cable sag affects the accuracy of our position transducers.

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