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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 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

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

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

[citation needed] .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.[13][14] However the conditions for a catenary to be the ideal arch are almost never fulfilled: arches usually support more than their own weight. the arch endures almost pure compression.[12] Catenary arches are often used in the construction of kilns. in which no significant bending moment occurs inside the material. 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. When the centerline of an arch is made to follow the curve of an up-side-down (i. inverted) catenary. In this construction technique.[citation needed] The Sheffield Winter Garden is enclosed by a series of catenary arches. and on the rare occasions when they are freestanding they are sometimes not of uniform thickness.e.

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

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

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

Divide by Δs and take the limit as to obtain . 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. be the external force per unit length acting on a small segment of a chain as a function at of s. and the external force acting on the . These forces must balance so . The chain is flexible so it can only exert a force must be parallel to the parallel to itself. let be the force of tension as a function of s. . First. Also. . 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. This is the natural parameterization and has the property that is the unit tangent vector. independent of the interval selected. a positive scalar function of s.b]. chain. let . the ratio of the area under the caternary to its length equals a. the nearly opposite force segment which is approximately at the other end. 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.[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. Over any horizontal interval [a. Since tension is defined as the force that the chain exerts on itself.[22]  Analysis We assume that the path followed by the chain is given parametrically by where s represents arc length and is the position vector. 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. In other words. The catenary is the only plane curve other than a horizontal line with this property.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). where T is the magnitude of Second. The forces acting on the segment of the chain between s and s + Δs are the force of tension one end of the segment.

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

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

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

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

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

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. The vector sum of the forces acting on the segment from the two extremities and from the gravitational force must be zero. In applications. As the gravitational force is directed downwards the horizontal components of the forces acting on the extremes must have the same magnitude. 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.  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. 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. 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 . yielding equations that must be solved numerically. Setting the coefficients of and equal produces ..

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

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. 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. one has that x0 = xm and that the length is With x0 known (4) or (5) can subsequently be used to determine y0. i. In case y1 = y2.e.

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. 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). 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. They can for example be adjusted iteratively such .

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

The forces acting on a cable subject to drag. following the Drag equation is therefore . write respectively are the components parallel to and orthogonal to the cable. The force acting on the cable.where x is constraint to an interval Again integrating with respect to x one gets where y0 is the second constant of integration. per unit length. The cable is assumed to be smooth so the force on the cable due to is taken to be negligible. 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. For this generalized "catenary of equal resistance" this is no more true. The drag force is orthogonal to the cable and the forces acting on the two extremities of the segment compensate the net drag force on the segment The velocity relative to the cable is assumed to be constant and the coordinate system is selected such that this velocity is in the -y direction.e. where and . To compute the force due to drag. 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  Alternative analysis "towed cables" The following figure illustrates a segment of a cable that is fixed in both ends and exposed to drag. The medium causing the drag is moving downwards. i.

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

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

gov/docs/NHLS/Text/87001423. ISSN 0002-9920. National Register of Historic Places InventoryNomination: Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Gateway Arch / Gateway Arch. E.htm. Ron. Bruce H. p. (2010). 11.shtml. National Park Service.google.128-9 7.^ Peterson. 19. (1961). Calculus. http://books. 15. Retrieved 2010-1117." 1997. 21.lindahall. . Dialogues concerning two new sciences. 124 8.^ "Chain. and Catenary . Robert (2010). p. Jan (2003). Laurence King. Lindahall. Trans. http://www. 2009. ISBN 1843309106. the anagram for Hooke's law. http://xahlee. Robert (2000). 18.. ^ cf.nz. "A Property Characterizing the Catenary". California: Brooks/Cole. 393. Petersmith. ^ a b Lockwood p. pp. 12. 2002-10-28. Whistler Alley Mathematics. 42. Retrieved March 27.^ "Roulette: A Comfortable Ride on an n-gon Bicycle" by Borut Levart.org.com/hanging/hanging.com/books? id=SPhnaiERbWcC.org. pp.5.^ Parker. http://www.H. Sanderson.net. Cambridge. 10. "Hanging With Galileo". "Chapter 13: The Tractrix and Catenary".org/notices/201002/index.pdf. Faauvel. ^ "Monuments and Microscopes: Scientific Thinking on a Grand Scale in the Early Royal Society" by Lisa Jardine 9. 20.^ "Arch Design". Wood-fired Ceramics: Contemporary Practices. Rope. Planning and Building a Conservatory. http://whistleralley. Paul (2005). which appeared in the next paragraph. http://www. A Book of Curves.^ Larson.archive. Henry Crew & Alfonso de Salvio. "Catenary" from MathWorld. University of Pennsylvania. Belmont.focus. 13. http://pdfhost. or "The Arch".^ "Catenary". 14.^ Paul Kunkel (June 30. retrieved 2009-06-21 and Accompanying one photo.^ The original anagram was "abcccddeeeeefggiiiiiiiillmmmmnnnnnooprrsssttttttuuuuuuuux": the letters of the Latin phrase.ams. 2007. Mathematics Magazine 83: 63-64  Bibliography • • Lockwood. Notices of the American Mathematical Society 57 (2): 220–229. 2003-05-28.petersmith.Anchor Systems For Small Boats".org/events_exhib/exhibit/exhibits/civil/design.nps.html. Cengage Learning. "Mathematics of the Gateway Arch". Coll. aerial. 22. Retrieved 2010-11-17. http://www. 2006). MAA ISBN 0-88385-703-0.^ Osserman. Retrieved 201011-17. Edward (2010). Wolfram Demonstrations Project. Eric W. ^ Galileo Galilei (1914).net. New Holland.^ Minogue. Macmillan.^ Hymers.php. ^ Swetz. p. 290.org/SpecialPlaneCurves_dir/Catenary_dir/catenary. ISBN 0-547-16702-4. 149. Weisstein. 6.html 16. Susan. The Craft and Art of Clay: A Complete Potter's Handbook. Peterson.org/details/bookofcurves006299mbp. ISBN 1856693546. from 1975PDF (578 KB) 17. "Learn from the Masters. Edwards. p. 36. Xahlee. ISBN 0812235142. 224. alphabetized.nz/boat-anchors/catenary.^ Laura Soullière Harrison (1985) (PDF). Bekken.

. MacTutor History of Mathematics archive. an article about creating catenary domes Dynamic as well as static cetenary curve equations derived .. Retrieved from "http://en. Edmund F.html . plus examples of a chain hanging between 2 points of unequal height. "Catenary".Diagrams of different horizontal conveyor layouts showing options for the catenary section both supported and unsupported Catenary curve derived . http://www-history. John J.• O'Connor.The shape of a catenary is derived.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 . including C program to calculate the curve. • • • • • • • • • "Catenary of equal resistance" at Encyclopédie des Formes Mathématiques Remarquables "Catenary" at Visual Dictionary of Special Plane Curves Hanging With Galileo . University of St Andrews.standrews. Catenary Demonstration Experiment . Cable Sag Error Calculator .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. Solution to the equations discussed.ac.The equations governing the shape (static case) as well as dynamics (dynamic case) of a centenary is derived.Catenary Domes. "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 • • •  External links Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Catenary Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Catenary.mcs.wikipedia.mathematical derivation of formula for suspended and free-hanging chains. Robertson. Devised by Jonathan Lansey Horizontal Conveyor Arrangement . interactive graphical demo of parabolic vs. Hexagonal Geodesic Domes . hyperbolic suspensions.uk/Curves/Catenary.

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

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

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

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

The intersection is shown. Step 1. 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. Step 3. ymax = 3 Interesting. Graph the function. We can compute c directly: c = 20 .a. Select the integration function. The x-coordinate of the intersection gives the value of a = 1034.4678. Step 4. . Select lower limit of integration.4678.Step 7. xmax = 170 ymin = -5. so for this example c = -1014. Enter the function to be integrated: Step 2.

This graphical approach to the integration leads to an interesting discussion about the hyperbolic functions and their graphs. Select upper limit of integration. Because the scale of the limits of integration relative to the denominator.Step 5.53 feet. the arc length integral is equivalent to This formulation of the integral still does not directly explain the flatness of the graph. Step 6. A closer look yields the following: Thus. Students should wonder why the graph in Step 2 appears to be linear. we do. . The value of the definite integral is shown. Note that the area under the curve is shaded. Since the integrand is a hyperbolic function. By changing the xmin and xmax dimensions of the graphing window to be of the same order as the denominator. The length of wire is about 341. shouldn't we expect to have a curve? In fact. 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. Our original graph only showed the relatively flat area of the hyperbolic cosine function.

For cable section 1-2 to be at rest and equilibrium with the rest 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. Weight is directed downwards. forces acting on this section need to balance each other. we will examine two points on the cable: points 1 and 2. parallel to Y axis.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. Let P be the weight of cable section 1-2. where dN is a small addition due to difference of coordinates. that cable segment 1-2 is linear. To simplify. The equation was obtained by Leibniz and Bernoulli in 1691 in response to a challenge by Bernoulli and Jacob.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. 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 . 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. Let dx and dy be projections of section 1-2 length to X and Y axes respectively. A tightening force is acting at every point of cable. Let the tightening force at point 1 be N and that at point 2 be N+dN.

At the same time. We assume this point to be the lowest point of cable. If we differentiate this ratio by x. 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. 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). cable weight P is cable weight per unit length (q) mutliplied by differential of arc (dS) (formula 5). Using formula 2. Finally we get (formula 10). we get the final equation for cable form (formula 8). Cable sag (h) is value of cable form equation for point l/2 (formula 12). we get second derivative of ratio (formula 4). where l is the straightline distance between the position transducer and the application (Figure 1). Hence the equation of cable form looks like formula 11. This formula is wide-known as that for the catenary curve. Here Nx and Ny are projections of tighting force N to X an Y axes correspondingly. we will use the formula for the length of the catenary curve (formula 13). If we state formula 7. We will solve this equation using substitution (formula 9). These equations give us the value for cable weight P (formula 2). 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). For cable length.

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 calculator displays the cable sag in absolute units as well as a percentage of total cable length ("measurement error"). Additional information on the catenary curve can be found at: .The length of the cable is the catenary length from point -l/2 to point l/2 (formula 14). The cable sag error is minor compared to other error sources (generally less than ± 0. Table 1: Derivation of the Catenary Curve Equation Proving the Calculator Now some test to prove our calculator above. 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. 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 0.0025%).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. Other catenary facts: • • • Jungius disproved Galileo's claim that the curve of a chain hanging under gravity would be a parabola in 1669.5 0.00065617 Default value m/s^2 9." The curve is also called the Alysoid and Chainette.053610426439519 593 0. The easy-to-use calculator above shows how displacement cable sag affects the accuracy of our position transducers. The word catenary is derived from the Latin word for "chain.0064370277 466. cable sag does not produce any significant error unless the cable length is exceptionally long (over 60 feet (18.00006705237348283 384 0.81 For these default inputs.28 meters)).

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