# 6.

7 Cables: Catenaries

6.7 Cables: Catenaries Example 1, page 1 of 4
1. An electric power line of length 140 m and mass per
unit length of 3 kg/m is to be suspended between two
towers 120 m apart and of the same height. Determine
the sag and maximum tension in the power line.

120 m
A B

6.7 Cables: Catenaries Example 1, page 2 of 4
1 Many problems involving catenary cables can be
solved using the following formulas:

s = c sinh (x/c) (1)

y2 s2 = c2 (2)

W = ws (3)

y = c cosh (x/c) (4)

To = wc (5)
y
T tension
T = wy (6)
in cable
where s (x, y) To horizontal
component
w = weight of cable per unit length of cable, of tension
and c
W = weight of length of cable from low x
point to a point a distance s along
the cable.

Other quantities are defined in the figure to the
right.

6.7 Cables: Catenaries Example 1, page 3 of 4
sB (140 m)/2 2 The sag, h, can be found from Eq. 2, provided that we
70 m can determine the distance, c:
A y B
yB2 sB2 = c2 (Eq. 2 evaluated at point B)
Sag h
or,

xB (120 m)/2 (h + c)2 (70 m)2 = c2 (7)
yB
60 m
c The distance, c, can be determined from Eq. 1:

sB = c sinh (xB/c) (Eq. 1 evaluated at point B)
x
or,

120 m 70 m = c sinh (60 m/c) (8)

This equation must be solved numerically for c. An initial
estimate for c, when the solver on a calculator is to be
used, could be

c = sB = 70 m

The solution to Eq. 8 is

c = 61.45 m

Another possible solution is c = 61.45 m, but this has no
physical meaning.

page 4 of 4 3 Substituting c = 61. 6 evaluated at point B) w is given. 7 gives 4 The maximum tension. x 5 The maximum tension can be calculated from Eq. point B ( or point A).70 m + 61.81 m/s2) (31.7 Cables: Catenaries Example 1.45 m) = 2740 N = 2. 6: Tmax = wyB (Eq. Tmax. . c 61.74 kN Ans.45 m)2 (70 m)2 = (61.45 m)2 Tension T A y B B max Solving gives the sag h = 154. 7 repeated) (h + 61.6 m h 31.6.45 m into Eq.45 m The negative root has no physical meaning.70 m Ans. = (3 kg/m)(9.70 m and yB h = 31. occurs where the cable has its steepest slope. (h + c)2 (70 m) = c2 (Eq.

determine the length of the cable and the tension at the low point. C.7 Cables: Catenaries Example 2. If the sag is 40 ft and the weight per unit length of the cable is 4 lb/ft. 400 ft 40 ft A B C . page 1 of 4 2. A cable is supported at two points 400 ft apart and at the same elevation.6.

y) To horizontal component w = weight of cable per unit length of cable. Other quantities are defined in the figure to the right. of tension and c W = weight of length of cable from low x point to a point a distance s along the cable. .7 Cables: Catenaries Example 2. page 2 of 4 1 Many problems involving catenary cables can be solved using the following formulas: s = c sinh (x/c) (1) y2 s2 = c2 (2) W = ws (3) y = c cosh (x/c) (4) To = wc (5) y T = wy (6) T tension in cable where s (x.6.

An initial 400 ft estimate for c. 4 evaluated at point B) sB = c sinh (xB/c) (Eq. 200 ft Sag 40 ft A y B c xB 200 ft yB c x x . could be A sB B xB (400 ft)/2 c = sag = 40 ft. provided that we can determine the distance c: yB = c cosh (xB/c) (Eq. sB. 1 evaluated at point B) or. page 3 of 4 2 The length of cable.6. when the solver on a calculator is to be y used.7 Cables: Catenaries Example 2. = c sinh (200 ft/c) (7) c + 40 ft = c cosh (200 ft/c) (8) This equation must be solved numerically. from the low point to point B can be 3 The distance c can be determined from Eq. 4: found from Eq. 1.

it can be found from Eq. = (4 lb/ft)(506.53 ft) = 205.53 ft Using this value of c in Eq.237 ft By symmetry. Because the tension at the low point of the cable is horizontal. 7 repeated) = (506. 7 gives sB = c sinh (200 ft/c) (Eq.025 lb Ans.237 ft = 410 ft Ans. the total length of cable is twice sB: sTotal = 2 205.7 Cables: Catenaries Example 2.53 ft) sinh (200 ft/506. 5 repeated) w is given. page 4 of 4 4 The solution to Eq. . 5: To = wc (Eq.6. 8 is c = 506.53 ft) = 2.

If the total mass of the chain 45 kg. A 20-m chain is suspended between two points at the same elevation and with a sag of 6 m as shown. page 1 of 4 3.7 Cables: Catenaries Example 3. determine the distance between the supports. A B 6m .6. Also determine the maximum tension.

of tension and c W = weight of length of cable from low x point to a point a distance s along the cable. Other quantities are defined in the figure to the right.7 Cables: Catenaries Example 3. page 2 of 4 1 Many problems involving catenary cables can be solved using the following formulas: s = c sinh (x/c) (1) y2 s2 = c2 (2) W = ws (3) y = c cosh (x/c) (4) To = wc (5) y T tension T = wy (6) in cable where s (x. y) To horizontal component w = weight of cable per unit length of cable. .6.

and xB can be found from Eq. 3 The distance. 1 evaluated at point B) yB2 sB2 = c2 (Eq. page 3 of 4 A y B sB 10 m A y B sB (20 m)/2 10 m Sag 6m xB yB c x c 2 The distance between the supports is 2xB. 2 evaluated at point B) 10 m or This equation can be solved explicitly for xB by (6 m + c)2 (10 m)2 = c2 rearranging it as or sinh (xB/c) = 10 m/c 36 + 12 c + c2 100 = c2 which implies The c2 terms cancel and the resulting linear equation xB/c = sinh-1(10 m/c) has the solution so c = 5. c. can be determined from Eq. 1.7 Cables: Catenaries Example 3. 2: sB = c sinh (xB/c) (Eq. provided that we can determine the x distance c.6.333 m xB = c sinh-1(10 m/c) (7) .

7 repeated) = (5.333 m) 20 m x = 250 N Ans.6. can be found: 2xB = 2(7. Eq. . 2xB.333 m) = 7. 7 gives xB = c sinh-1(10 m/c) (Eq.333 m) sinh-1(10 m/5. The maximum tension occurs where the slope of the cable is a T Tmax maximum. at end B (or at A).7 Cables: Catenaries Example 3.393 m) = 14. 6 evaluated at point B) Sag 6m Total weight of the cable yB = y Total length of the cable B (45 kg)(9.81 m/s2) c 5.393 m Thus the distance between supports.786 m Ans.333 m = (6 m + 5. 6 gives A y B Tmax = wyB (Eq. page 4 of 4 4 Substituting this value of c into Eq.

A certain cable will break if the maximum tension exceeds 500 N. Also determine the sag.7 Cables: Catenaries Example 4. page 1 of 6 4. determine the greatest span possible. A B Supports A and B are at the same elevation. If the cable is 50-m long and has a mass of 50 kg. .6.

6. . y) To horizontal w = weight of cable per unit length of cable. component and of tension c W = weight of length of cable from low x point to a point a distance s along the cable. page 2 of 6 1 Many problems involving catenary cables can be solved using the following formulas: s = c sinh (x/c) (1) y2 s2 = c2 (2) W = ws (3) y = c cosh (x/c) (4) To = wc (5) y T = wy (6) T tension in cable where s (x. Other quantities are defined in the figure to the right.7 Cables: Catenaries Example 4.

Eq.6. so a good place to start our solution is to see how we can use the fact that Tmax = 500 N. to the y coordinate of a point on the curve: T = wy (Eq.97 m (7) . 6 repeated) Since Tmax occurs where the curve has its steepest slope. T. Eq. we can compute yB: T Tmax A y yB = Tmax B w Tmax = Total weight of the cable yB Total length of the cable 500 N = (50 kg)(9. 6 evaluated at point B) 3 Thus because we know the maximum tension. page 3 of 6 2 The maximum tension has been specified (500 N).7 Cables: Catenaries Example 4. 6 gives Tmax at point B: Tmax = wyB (Eq.81 m/s2) x Given 50 m = 50. 6 relates the tension.

7 Cables: Catenaries Example 4. provided that we can determine c: yB = c cosh (xB/c) (Eq. 4. so we need to use the value of yB to determine xB. xB = c cosh-1(yB/c) (8) x . This can be done by using Eq. page 4 of 6 4 The distance between supports is 2xB. 4 evaluated at point B) 2 xB We can solve this equation explicitly for xB by rewriting it as (By symmetry) A B y cosh (xB/c) = yB/c so xB/c = cosh-1(yB/c) xB yB c or.6.

7 m Ans. can be calculated from Eq.97 m)2 (25 m)2 = c2 The solution is c = 44.42 m yB 50. 2 evaluated at point B) sB (50 m)/2 25 m or. c Substituting c = 44.97 m in Eq.42 m and yB = 50. 2xB. . 8 repeated) x -1 = (44. 2: yB2 sB2 = c2 (Eq. is known: 2xB = 2(23. page 5 of 6 5 The distance. 8 gives xB = c cosh-1(yB/c) (Eq.97 m The negative root has no physical meaning.7 Cables: Catenaries Example 4. A y B (50.836 m) = 47.836 m So the distance between supports.42 m) = 23. c.97 m/44.6.42 m) cosh (50.

7 Cables: Catenaries Example 4.97 m c 44.42 m x . page 6 of 6 6 Since c and yB are known. the sag h can be computed: h = yB c = (50.97 m) (44.42 m) = 6.55 m Ans.6. A y B Sag h yB 50.

page 1 of 4 5. A B F (force) .6.7 Cables: Catenaries Example 5. determine the force F holding the moveable support in place. The cable is attached to a fixed support at A and a moveable support at B. and spans 50 ft. If the cable is 80-ft long. Also determine the sag. weighs 0.3 lb/ft.

6. page 2 of 4 1 Many problems involving catenary cables can be solved using the following formulas: s = c sinh (x/c) (1) y2 s2 = c2 (2) W = ws (3) y = c cosh (x/c) (4) To = wc (5) y T tension T = wy (6) in cable where s (x. y) To horizontal component w = weight of cable per unit length of cable. .7 Cables: Catenaries Example 5. of tension and c W = weight of length of cable from low x point to a point a distance s along the cable. Other quantities are defined in the figure to the right.

5 repeated) Given A B = (0.3 lb/ft)c (7) sB (80 ft)/2 40 ft The distance. c: y T = wc (Eq. of tension in the cable. An initial 50 ft 25 ft estimate for c could be c = xB = 25 m. c.6. The solution to Eq. x 40 ft = c sinh (25 ft/c) (8) xB (50 ft)/2 This equation must be solved numerically. . provided that we can determine the distance. 8 is c = 14. Eq. when finding c with the use of the solver on a calculator. T .229 ft The negative root has no physical meaning. 1 evaluated at point B) c or. 1: sB = c sinh (xB/c) (Eq. 5 can be used to calculate T . can be calculated from Eq. page 3 of 4 2 The force F acting on the moveable support at B equals the horizontal component. F = T .7 Cables: Catenaries Example 5.

4 Sag h yB = c cosh (xB/c) c c 14. 4 and the known y xB 25 ft value of c: A B h = yB c By Eq.27 lb Since F = T .229 ft) 14. The sag.3 lb/ft)(14.3 lb/ft)c (Eq.229 ft = (14. page 4 of 4 3 Using c = 14.229 ft) = 4.229 ft x = 28. can be calculated from Eq.229 ft in Eq. 7 repeated) = (0.229 ft) cosh (25 ft/14.27 lb Ans.2 ft Ans. h. we have F = 4.6.7 Cables: Catenaries Example 5. 7 gives T = (0. .

7 Cables: Catenaries Example 6.4 kg/m. The cable is attached to a fixed support at A and a moveable support B.6. determine the span and sag. page 1 of 4 6. If the cable is 40-m long and has a mass of 0. A B 50 N .

Other quantities are defined in the figure to the right. of tension and c x W = weight of length of cable from low point to a point a distance s along the cable.6. .7 Cables: Catenaries Example 6. y) To horizontal component w = weight of cable per unit length of cable. page 2 of 4 1 Many problems involving catenary cables can be solved using the following formulas: s = c sinh (x/c) (1) y2 s2 = c2 (2) W = ws (3) y = c cosh (x/c) (4) To = wc (5) y T tension T = wy (6) in cable where s (x.

1 evaluated at point B) This equation can be rewritten to give xB explicitly: sinh (xB/c) = sB/c 2 xB so (by symmetry) A y B xB/c = sinh-1 (sB/c) or sB (40 m)/2 20 m xB = c sinh-1 (sB/c) xB c = c sinh-1 (20 m/c) (7) x . can be found from Eq. xB. The coordinate. 1.6. page 3 of 4 2 The span is 2xB.7 Cables: Catenaries Example 6. provided that the distance c can be found: sB = c sinh (xB/c) (Eq.

7 Cables: Catenaries Example 6. Eq. 7 gives xB = c sinh-1 (20 m/c) (Eq. 5 with T = 50 N can be used to solve for c: T = wc (Eq.4 kg/m)(9. page 4 of 4 3 Because the 50-N force acting on the moveable support equals the horizontal component. of the tension in the cable. 7 repeated) = (12.472 m) = 15.708 m) = 31.81 m/s2) c Solving gives c = 12.6.4 m Ans.742 m Using this value of c in Eq. 5 repeated) or 50 N = (0.472 m) sinh-1 (20 m/12. .708 m So the span is Span = 2xB = 2(15. T .

B 5m A m P (horizontal) 10 m . page 1 of 4 7.3 kg/m. If the cable has a mass per length of 0. A cable goes over a frictionless pulley at B and supports a block of mass m. The other end of the cable is pulled by a horizontal force P.6.7 Cables: Catenaries Example 7. determine values of P and m that will maintain the cable in the position shown.

6. . Other quantities are defined in the figure to the right. page 2 of 4 1 Many problems involving catenary cables can be solved using the following formulas: s = c sinh (x/c) (1) y2 s2 = c2 (2) W = ws (3) y = c cosh (x/c) (4) To = wc (5) y T tension T = wy (6) in cable where s (x. y) To horizontal component w = weight of cable per unit length of cable. of tension and c W = weight of length of cable from low x point to a point a distance s along the cable.7 Cables: Catenaries Example 7.

.617 N Ans. 7 can be found from Eq. 3 Using this value of c in Eq.943 N/m (8) c The value of c in Eq. 5 repeated) B so. 7 gives 5 m + c = c cosh (10 m/c) P = wc (Eq.943 N/m)(10.7 Cables: Catenaries Example 7.743 m) = 31.81 m/s ) = 2. A yB 2 P w = (0. 4 repeated) or. 5: xB = 10 m T = wc (Eq.743 m = (2. 4: x yB = c cosh (xB/c) (Eq.3 kg/m)(9. page 3 of 4 2 The force P equals T . 8 c = 10. with T = P 5m P = wc (7) Here. 7 repeated) Solving numerically gives by Eq. the horizontal component of y the cable tension given by Eq.6.

P A yB c 10.743 m x . 8 = (2.6. 6 TB mg y = wyB/g B by Eq.943 N/m)(5 m + 10. mg: Pulley B TB = mg TB Thus the mass is m = TB/g mg by Eq.72 kg Ans.7 Cables: Catenaries Example 7.81 N/m2 5m = 4. page 4 of 4 4 The cable tension at B must equal the weight.743 m) /9.

page 1 of 5 8. Also determine the tension at support A. A chain makes angles of 30° and 60° at its supports as shown. B 30° A C 20 m . Determine the location of the low point C of the chain relative to A.6.6 kg/m.7 Cables: Catenaries Example 8. if the cable has a mass per length of 0. Supports A and B 60° are at different elevation.

of tension and c W = weight of length of cable from low x point to a point a distance s along the cable. . page 2 of 5 1 Many problems involving catenary cables can be solved using the following formulas: s = c sinh (x/c) (1) y2 s2 = c2 (2) W = ws (3) y = c cosh (x/c) (4) To = wc (5) y T tension T = wy (6) in cable where s (x. y) To horizontal component w = weight of cable per unit length of cable.6. Other quantities are defined in the figure to the right.7 Cables: Catenaries Example 8.

B (xB. 4 c d = dx c cosh (x/c) A x = sinh (xA/c) 20 m Solving for xA gives A dx 30° dy (Slope is negative) xA = c sinh-1( tan 30°) (7) Similarly at point B.6. We can get an equation for xA by using the fact that the slope is known at A: 30° dy A (xA. page 3 of 5 2 The geometric data are shown in the figure.7 Cables: Catenaries Example 8. yB) we need to determine the coordinates xA and yA. we have xB = c sinh-1(tan 60°) (8) . To y 60° determine the location of the low point C relative to A. yA) tan 30° = C dx A by Eq.

717 m) = 12. Eq. yA) C by Eq. it is easily solved to give c = 10.887 m Ans.887 m/10.7 Cables: Catenaries Example 8. 4: yA = c cosh (xA/c) (Eq. page 4 of 5 3 The coordinates xA and xB are related to the 20-m span y through the equation 60° B (xB. 7 c sinh-1(tan 60°) c sinh-1( tan 30°) = 20 c Since this equation is linear in c. 30° A (xA.6. The y coordinate of point A can now be calculated from Eq.717 m. 7 repeated) 20 m = (10.375 m (9) .717 m) cosh ( 5.717 m) sinh-1( tan 30°) = 5. 4 evaluated at point A) = (10. 7 then gives x xA = c sinh-1( tan 30°) (Eq. yB) xB xA = 20 m or. 8 by Eq.

. 9 d A = 12.717 m C = 1.717 m The tension at A is given by Eq.658 m Ans. yA c = 10.6.8 N Ans.375 m 10.6 kg/m)(9. 6 evaluated at point A) x (w given) by Eq.375 m) = 72. 9 = (0. page 5 of 5 4 The vertical distance between support A and the low point C is given by y 5. 6: TA = wyA (Eq.887 m B d = yA c by Eq.81 m/s2) (12.7 Cables: Catenaries Example 8.

determine the tension in the wire at C.6. page 1 of 4 9. Supports A and B are at different elevations. Determine the location of the low point C of the wire relative to support B.7 Cables: Catenaries Example 9.2 lb/ft is attached to a moveable support at A and makes an angle of 55° at a fixed support at B. A wire weighing 0. A 8 lb B 55° C . Also.

y) To horizontal s component w = weight of cable per unit length of cable. of tension and c W = weight of length of cable from low x point to a point a distance s along the cable. . page 2 of 4 1 Many problems involving catenary cables can be solved using the following formulas: s = c sinh (x/c) (1) y2 s2 = c2 (2) W = ws (3) y = c cosh (x/c) (4) To = wc (5) y T tension T = wy (6) in cable where (x.6.7 Cables: Catenaries Example 9. Other quantities are defined in the figure to the right.

2 lb/ft 8 lb 0. 4 dx d C = dx c cosh (x/c) B c = sinh (xB/c) x Thus xB = c sinh-1( tan 55°) (7) The value of c occurring in Eq. we need to determine the coordinates xB A and yB. 5 gives B T = wc (Eq. To 8 lb the horizontal component of tension at A.6. C. page 3 of 4 2 To determine the location of the low point. relative to y the support at B. We can get an equation for xB by using the fact that the slope is known at B: dy 55° tan 55° = 55° dy B (xB. 5 repeated) w 0. 7 can be found by A observing that the 8-lb force acting at support A equals T .2 lb/ft Solving gives C c = 40 ft (8) . yB) dx B B by Eq. so Eq.7 Cables: Catenaries Example 9.

the tension there is horizontal and so must equal the horizontal A component of tension at A which is known to be 8 lb. d The vertical distance between B and C is C yB d = yB c c = 40 ft by Eq. in Eq.7 ft Ans.6. Free body diagram of portion AC of cable Since point C is the low point of the cable. Weight of portion TC = 8 lb Ans. 8 lb That is. 7 gives y A xB = c sinh-1(tan 55°) (Eq.169 ft Ans.169 ft/40 ft) 40 ft = 29.169 ft -1 = (40 ft) sinh (tan 55°) B = 46. page 4 of 4 3 Using this result.7 Cables: Catenaries Example 9. c = 40 ft. 4 x = c cosh (xB/c) c = (40 ft) cosh (46. 7 repeated) xB 46. AC of cable Vertical force acting on support TC C .

if the mass of the cable per unit length is 1 kg/m. page 1 of 6 10. A 2m B 1m C 10 m .6. Determine the location of the low point C relative to the support at A. Also determine the tension at C.7 Cables: Catenaries Example 10.

7 Cables: Catenaries Example 10. . Other quantities are defined in the figure to the right. y) To horizontal component w = weight of cable per unit length of cable. page 2 of 6 1 Many problems involving catenary cables can be solved using the following formulas: s = c sinh (x/c) (1) y2 s2 = c2 (2) W = ws (3) y = c cosh (x/c) (4) To = wc (5) y T tension T = wy (6) in cable where s (x. of tension and c W = weight of length of cable from low x point to a point a distance s along the cable.6.

A(xA. page 3 of 6 2 The geometric data are shown in the figure. relative to support A.6. 4 evaluated at point A) And this can be solved for xA to give c -1 xA = c cosh (yA/c) (7) The minus sign must be inserted here to make xA x negative because we will consider "cosh-1 " to be the principal value of the inverse cosh function.7 Cables: Catenaries Example 10. we must determine the coordinate xA. and the 10 m principal value is always positive. 4: 2m+1m 3m C 1m yA = c cosh (xA/c) (Eq. We know that xA is B(xB. cosh u cosh-1 v (principal value) 1 Branch of cosh function corresponding to the principal value of the inverse function u v 1 Note that cosh-1 v is not defined for v < 1 . yB) related to yA through Eq. yA) y To locate the low point. C.

during the solution procedure. 7 can be written for point B: xB = c cosh-1(yB/c) (8) Here no minus sign has to be inserted. an attempt is made to evaluate cosh-1 (u) for u 1. A y The figure shows that 3m B C 1m xB xA = 10 m By Eq. . as a result. 8 By Eq. It can be difficult to solve with the solver on a calculator because the cosh-1 (u) function is undefined for u 1. 7 yA yB -1 -1 c c cosh (yB/c) c cosh (yA/c) = 10 m or 1m+c x c cosh-1( ) c 10 m + c cosh-1( 3 mc + c ) 10 m = 0 (9) This equation must be solved numerically for c.6. the solver may fail if.7 Cables: Catenaries Example 10. because xB is positive. and. page 4 of 6 3 An equation analogous to Eq.

we might try c = 10 m. 7 repeated) yA = c cosh ( 3 + c ) c c = 7. since the span was given as 10 m.044 m ) 7. The solution to Eq. 9. page 5 of 6 4 One approach to finding the solution of Eq. 7 then gives 3m B C xA = c cosh (yA/c) (Eq. 1+z f(z) z cosh-1 ( z ) + z cosh-1 ( 3 +z z ) 10 And then use the calculator to plot f(z) versus z.044 m Eq. 9 is to define the left-hand side of the equation as a function. 100 m as successive initial estimates. The point z = zr where the f(z) curve crosses the z axis is the approximate root of Eq. where f(zr) = 0.044 m = (7. 9 is A y c = 7.044 m) cosh ( 3 + 7. x .7 Cables: Catenaries Example 10. 50 m. that is. For example. Another approach to finding the solution of Eq.044 m = 15.6.5 m Ans. 9 is simply to experiment with initial estimates for c while using the solver on a calculator.

7 Cables: Catenaries Example 10. page 6 of 6 5 At the low point of the cable.1 N Ans. the tension is horizontal. 5: B To = wc (Eq. x .044 m) c 7. 5 repeated) C To Given = [(1 kg/m)(9.6. so A y it can be calculated from Eq.044 m = 69.81 m/s2)](7.