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.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The integrals of the right hand sides of these equations can be found using standard techniques giving . Then and . Then and (or where gd is the Gudermannian . . . We can eliminate u to obtain where α and β are constants to be determined. 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. make the substitution function). along with a. [edit] Alternative 2 From . where same as before.To find these integrals.

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

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

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

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

e. with respect to x2. (1 ) Denoting the constant ratio with a and taking the derivative of equation (1) with respect to the upper limit of the integral.e. i.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. 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 .

one has that x0 = xm and that the length is With x0 known (4) or (5) can subsequently be used to determine y0. 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. In case y1 = y2. 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 . 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. For any concrete case these 3 parameters must be computed to fit the boundary value conditions. .e.

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. With an iterative algorithm the a value that corresponds to a certain curve length l can finally be derived. 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). They can for example be adjusted iteratively such .

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

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.e. For this generalized "catenary of equal resistance" this is no more true. 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. To compute the force due to drag. 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. The forces acting on a cable subject to drag. where and . per unit length. The cable is assumed to be smooth so the force on the cable due to is taken to be negligible. The force acting on the cable. The medium causing the drag is moving downwards. following the Drag equation is therefore . write respectively are the components parallel to and orthogonal to the cable. i.

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 . 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).

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

lindahall. p. University of Pennsylvania.^ Parker. Weisstein. Retrieved March Cengage Learning. ISSN 0002-9920. 42. Belmont. Susan. "Chapter 13: The Tractrix and Catenary". Wolfram Demonstrations Project. Retrieved 201011-17.Anchor Systems For Small Boats". Lindahall. which appeared in the next paragraph. ISBN 0-547-16702-4. ISBN 1843309106. (1961).^ Paul Kunkel (June 30.^ Osserman. Jan (2003).org/SpecialPlaneCurves_dir/Catenary_dir/catenary. . 2003-05-28. 13. 6. Peterson.^ Larson. Robert (2000) http://whistleralley. p. ^ cf. Edward (2010).com/books? "A Property Characterizing the Catenary".org/details/bookofcurves006299mbp. A Book of 224.^ Planning and Building a Conservatory. from 1975PDF (578 KB) 17. 2006).focus. the anagram for Hooke's law. 10. "Mathematics of the Gateway Arch".org. pp. 11. http://www. Henry Crew & Alfonso de Salvio.htm. 12.^ "Chain.nps. The Craft and Art of Clay: A Complete Potter's Handbook.128-9 7. Trans. 149. alphabetized. retrieved 2009-06-21 and Accompanying one photo. Bekken. http://www. Dialogues concerning two new sciences. "Catenary" from MathWorld. Eric W. http://books.shtml. "Learn from the Masters. 14.5. pp. (2010).^ Peterson.ams.archive. Wood-fired Ceramics: Contemporary Practices. 393. 18. 21.^ "Arch Design". New Holland. Retrieved 2010-11-17. ^ Swetz. Robert (2010). Macmillan. Retrieved 2010-1117. Mathematics Magazine 83: 63-64 [edit] Bibliography • • Lockwood. National Park Service.petersmith. p. Ron. 2002-10-28. aerial. Laurence King. MAA ISBN 0-88385-703-0. California: Brooks/Cole. or "The Arch". ^ "Monuments and Microscopes: Scientific Thinking on a Grand Scale in the Early Royal Society" by Lisa Jardine 9. 22. Petersmith. ^ a b Lockwood p. Faauvel. http://www.^ Minogue. "Hanging With Galileo". and Catenary .html. Coll. Whistler Alley Mathematics.." 1997.^ "Roulette: A Comfortable Ride on an n-gon Bicycle" by Borut Levart. E. ISBN Calculus. http://xahlee. p. ^ Galileo Galilei (1914).^ The original anagram was "abcccddeeeeefggiiiiiiiillmmmmnnnnnooprrsssttttttuuuuuuuux": the letters of the Latin Rope. 2007. ISBN 1856693546. Cambridge. 124 8. National Register of Historic Places InventoryNomination: Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Gateway Arch / Gateway Arch.^ "Catenary". Bruce H.^ Laura Soullière Harrison (1985) (PDF). Sanderson. 20. 19. 36. Edwards. http://www.pdf. Paul (2005). Notices of the American Mathematical Society 57 (2): 220–229. 2009.html 16. Xahlee.

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

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Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Example 1. a non-profit organization. See Terms of Use for details. 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) .. additional terms may apply. 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).A Graphing Calculator Approach to the Examples We provide a graphing calculator approach to the solutions of the example problems in the catenary demo. Inc. Contact us • The Utility of Catenaries to Electric Utilities . We illustrate the solutions using the TI-83 but most other graphing calculators have similar built-in features..• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 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. A flexible cable with length 150 feet is to be suspended between two poles with height 100 ft. Then f(-s) = f(s) = 100 so we have c + a cosh(s/a) = 100.

With some rearrangement. The system of three equations can be reduced to a system of two equations by setting c = 50 . 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 . (3) A bit of work gives the following: which simplifies to . In the context of the catenary function. c. 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. 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. The integral can be evaluated directly Thus. and s.a.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

28 meters)). 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 (18.0064370277 466.5 0.81 For these default inputs." The curve is also called the Alysoid and Chainette. 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.053610426439519 593 0. The cable sag error is minor compared to other error sources (generally less than ± 0. The calculator displays the cable sag in absolute units as well as a percentage of total cable length ("measurement error"). The word catenary is derived from the Latin word for "chain. 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 0.50000002397877673 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 length of the cable is the catenary length from point -l/2 to point l/2 (formula 14). Other catenary facts: • • • Jungius disproved Galileo's claim that the curve of a chain hanging under gravity would be a parabola in 1669.0025%). 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. Table 1: Derivation of the Catenary Curve Equation Proving the Calculator Now some test to prove our calculator above. The easy-to-use calculator above shows how displacement cable sag affects the accuracy of our position transducers.00065617 Default value m/s^2 9.00006705237348283 384 0.

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