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Experiment NO 2: Portal Frames

The objective of this laboratory experiment is to study the behavior of a portal frame under
different end conditions.
Equipment and Apparatus
Portal Frame Apparatus (Pasco Advanced Structure Set- Force platform structure bracket,
members of size 4 and 5, screws, gusset plates)
Load cells
Pulley system (wheel, string, connections, rods)
Load cells
PASCO 850 Universal Interface
Portal frames are generally low-rise structures, comprising columns and horizontal or pitched
rafters, connected by moment-resisting connections. The connections between the columns and
the rafters are designed to be moment-resistant, i.e. they can carry bending forces. Portal frames
are frequently used over the entrance of a bridge and as a main stiffness element in building
design in order to transfer horizontal forces applied at the top of the frame to the foundation. On
bridges, these frames resist the forces caused by wind, earthquake, and unbalanced traffic
loading on the bridge deck. Portals can be pin supported, fixed supported, or supported by partial
fixity. The approximate analysis of each case will now be discussed for a simple three-member
portal. Resistance to lateral and vertical actions is provided by the rigidity of the connections and
the bending stiffness of the members, which is increased by a suitable haunch or deepening of
the rafter sections. This form of continuous frame structure is stable in its plane and provides a
clear span that is unobstructed by bracing. The shear force diagram shows how shear stresses
develop along the beam as a result of the applied load. If we know all the externally applied
loads and the corresponding reaction forces, obtaining the shear force diagram should be quite
straight-forward for a number of simple structural configurations. The shear force is one of the
ways by which the applied load is transmitted through the beam and is dissipated at the supports.
These are the internal shear stresses developing in order to keep adjacent cross-sections from
sliding past each other.

Figure 1: showing example of Reactions of Loaded Portal Frame

Figure 2: showing example of Shear Force Diagrams and Bending Moment Diagrams for each
1- Select the end conditions of the portal frame.
2- Select the point where loading is to be applied (first horizontal than vertical
3- Now apply the load at the point selected for loading.
4- Get the readings from the capstone software
5- Unload the frame and shift the load cell to another leg and repeat the above (4), (5).
6- Again unload the frame and shift the load cell to the beam of the frame and repeated
(4), (5). (6).
7- Tabulate the observed reading and sketch the moment and shear diagrams as well as
the deflected shape for each member of the portal frame.
Lab Report Format:
Cover page
Equipment and materials
Theory (expand on given Introduction)
Data collected
Discussion (comparison of experimental data to theoretical data)
Sources of error