Design of Mechanical Drives for a Parabolic Radio Antenna

DOI : 10.17577/IJERTV4IS120348

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Design of Mechanical Drives for a Parabolic Radio Antenna

Akshaya Kulkarni1, Kunal Bhandari1, Pranoti Panchwagp Department of Mechanical Engineering,VIIT, Savitribai Phule Pune University, Ganeshkhind,

Pune-7, Maharashtra, India.

Abstract-The paper proposes mechanical drive systems for rotating a radio antenna having dish diameter 5 meters, in the azimuth and elevation axes. The antenna dish is parabolic in shape and is estimated to have a maximum weight of 350 kilograms. Conventional drive systems comprise of a gear pair mechanism for turning the dish through the requisite angle of rotation. These systems are precise and highly efficient, thereby facilitating an extremely high margin of accuracy of the observed data. However, the most significant drawback of a gear-pair drive system is its high initial investment and subsequently, high maintenance cost. To overcome this limitation, a rope and pulley drive system is considered, which reduces the cost exponentially without affecting the accuracy of the data to a large extent.

Keywords – Rope drives, azim uth drive sys tem , elevation drive s yst em , wind torque.


    Radio telescope antennas are an important tool in radio astronomy, which relies heavily on observational data. The radio telescope for which the drive system has been designed is used to track celestial bodies and is therefore, required to turn through a maximum rotation of

    ±270° in the azimuth axis and through 0°to 90° in the elevation axis in a continuous, uninterrupted and smooth manner.

    The most important consideration that has to be taken into account while designing the drive is the combined torque exerted by the wind on the dish and that due to the mass moment of inertia of the dish itself. The schematic models of the drive assemblies are specified as follows.


      Power is supplied by a hand driven winch to the driving pulley, which then transmits the same to the driven pulley. The driven pulley is connected by a shaft to the top flange on which the hub of the dish rests. Rotational motion is thus imparted to the parabolic dish antenna.


    The general procedure to be followed while designing the drive is as follows:

    1. Total torque exerted on the parabolic dish and hence, the azimuth drive, including the wind torque and the torque due to the mass moment of inertia of the dish, is calculated.

    2. This torque is used to find the actual and design power required to turn the dish through the requisite degree of rotation.

    3. The power calculated gives the belt tensions exerted on the driving shaft, which in turn is used to determine shaft diameter.

    4. Furthermore, the dimensions of other supplementary components such as bearings, flanges, bolts, etc. can be found out.

    The design process is largely iterative, varying according to the material used and the factor of safety required by individual requirement. The material usedfor this particular design process is M.S. (Sut = 400N/mm2) and the factor of safety is assumed to be 1.5.


    1. Calculating wind torque on dish:


      Where,1=porosity/solidity ratio=0.31

      2= factor taking into account inclination of wind w.r.t. antenna

      P=Pressure on dish A=Area of dish P=1/2**vw2

      = air density (1.123 kg/m3) vw = wind velocity (80kmph)

      P = 277.228 Pa

      For perpendicular attack of wind,

      Distribution of Wind Load in Perpendicular Direction

      2= 1

      d=depth of antenna + height of hub= 1.055 m

      Let,O be the point about which moment is to be calculated.

      A be the center of the dish

      be the angle subtended by differential element at O

      be the angle subtended by elemental strip at center of circular cross-section A

      dA= -2R2sin2d dF= ½ **vw2*1*dA

      tan0 = R/d= 67. 12°

      dup= dFsin * r (Since r=d/cos)

      = dF*tan*d

      dup= 85.94*(-2R2) *sin2d*tan*d*d

      = -1074.25*sin2d*tand Integrating over limits 0 to up


      up dup = -1074.25


      sin2d tan d


      Solving, up= 826.225 Nm – Wind torque for upper half of dish

      Assuming same torque on lower half, total torque due to wind = 1652.45 Nm.

    2. Torque due to rotation of dish

      = I*

      Mass moment of inertia of dish I = 2

      dm/dA = surface density () = M/A Hence, dm = dA= *dx*(H-ax2)

      Calculating limits for x, for vertical parabola, y=ax2


      for y=H i.e. maximum depth of dishand a=8 from general equation of parabola

      x=±0.655/8 = ±2.5


      2.5 0

      I = +2.5 2( 2) = 2 +2.5 2( 2)

      Solving for I, I =0.04585 kg-m2 Maximum rotation speed = 1 rpm = 0.104719 rad/s

      Angular acceleration, = 2/2 = 270°

      =0.01111 rad/s2

      Hence calculating torque, = I*=5.094*10-4 N-m

      Total torque exerted on drive = Wind Torque + Torque due to dish

      = 1652.45 N-m.

      Hence, power required to drive the parabolic dish (P) ,

      P = 2 = 173.044 W


    3. Design of Crossed Belt Drive

      The torque exerted on the driven pulley is thesummation of the torque due to wind and that due to the mass moment of inertia of the dish.Given that,

      Torque on driven pulley (T1) = 1652.45 N-m.

      Power required to drive the pulley (P1) = 173.044 W Speed of driven pulley (N1) = 1 rpm

      Velocity of belt v = r*= 0.0131 m/s

      Let, Driven pulley diameter (D1) = 250 mm. Driving pulley diameter (D2) = 50 mm.

      Center to center distance (C) = 1000 mm.Since velocity of the driving and driven pulleys is the same,

      Design Power = Service Factor(cs) * Required Power Hence, Pdes = 1.5*173.044= 259.566 W



      (P1 P2)*v = Power (W) P1 P2 = 19814.2

      Coefficient of friction () = 0.2 For a crossed belt drive,

      = sin1 ( 1+2) = 8.627°


      Angle of lap,

      1 = 2 = 180° + 2 = 3.4427 rad

      P1 = 2.92


      Calculating belt tensions P1 and P2 P1 = 22877.95 N ;P2 = 3063.75 N

      Calculated Rope Length =

      L0= (1+2 ) + 2 + ( 12)=2.4713 m

      2 4

      Shortening the belt length by 1%, L0 = 2446.58 mm

    4. Shaft Diameter Calculation for Axial load. Let weight of dish = 350 kg = 3433.5 N

      Dead weight of flanges= 12 kg = 117.72 N Total load on shaft= 3551.22 N

      Area of dish = 19.256 m2 Material: M.S. Plain Carbon Steel

      Syt = 380N/mm2; Sut= 680 N/mm2 FOS= 2

      Max shear stress = 0.5Sut/FOS= 95N/mm2 = F/A

      A = 37.38mm2 =d2 */4

    5. Shaft Diameter Calculation for Bending load

      Total bending load on shaft = F1 + F2= 25941.7 N Minimum distance between bearings = 200 mm and shaft length = 1000 mm

      Calculating reactions at bearings:

      R1 = R2 = (F1 + F2)/2= 12970.85 N Mt = (P1 P2)*r= 2476775 N-mm

      Mb = R1*100 = 1297085 N-mm

      The material selected for the shaft is M.S.

      Sut =400 N/mm2 FOS = 1.5

      = 0.5*Sut/FOS =133.33N/mm2

      = 16()2+()2


      Where, Fatigue factor () = 1; Shock factor () = 1.5


      d = 49.366 mm 50 mm

    6. Design of Rigid Flange Coupling

      Outer Diameter of hub (dh) = 2*d = 100 mm Length of hub (lh) = 1.5*d = 75 mm

      PCD of bolts (Db) = 3*d = 150 mm Thickness of flange (t) = 0.5*d = 25 mm

      Protecting rim Thickness (t1) = 0.25*d = 12.5 mm Spigot recess Diameter (dr)= 1.5*d =75 m

      Outer diameter of flange (D) = (4*d + 2*t1) = 225 mm.

    7. Design of Bolts

      As the shaft diameter is 50 mm,

      Number of bolts (N) = 4 (standard value) c permissible = 200Mpa

      Bolt diameter (d1)2 = 8Mt


      Thus, d1 = 8.37 mm = 10 mm. c = 2*Mt/(N*t1*t*D)

      = 22.0157 Mpa < 200 Mpa

    8. Design of Bearings

    The vertical shaft is subjected to both radial and axial loads. Hence, taper roller bearings are preferred as compared to ball bearings. The main advantage of using taper roller bearings is that they are able to withstand combined axial and radial loads since the line of action of the resultant reaction on the bearing can be resolved into separate axial and radial components.

    Bore of the bearing = 100 mm.

    The antenna is to be operated continuously i.e. 24 hrs per day, hence the life of bearing is assumed to be 40,000 hrs. L10h = 40,000 hrs

    Consequently, L10 = 60*n*L10h


    Where, L10 = Rated bearing life (in million revolutions) n= speed of rotation (rpm)

    Hence, d=6.8988 mm = 10 mm

    L10= 60*1*40,000


    = 2.4 million revolutions

    For taper roller bearings, P = Fr if e

    P = (0.4*Fr) + (Y*Fa) if > e

    Where, P = Equivalent dynamic load (N) Fr = Radial load (N)

    Fa = Axial or thrust load (N)

    These equations are based on the assumptions that, for taper roller bearings,

    i. The both bearings are exactly identical and bearings are adjusted against each other to give zero clearance in operation without pre-loading.

    Now, Fr = (P1 + P2)/2= 12970.85 N


    Mt = 5199833.38 N-mm. P = 2NT= 544W


    1. Wind torque for dish at 60o Mt= 3700532.75 N-mm.

      P =2NT= 387.51W


    2. Wind torque for dish at 90o

      Mt=1652450 N-mm. P =2NT= 173.044W


      From the above values, it is clearly seen that the maximum power required is when the dish is inclined at an angle of30o w.r.t. horizon.


      = 4988.788 N


      Assumptions for design

      Fa = 0.3846


      The bearing selected is Taper roller bearing no. 32020X from the bearing catalogue,

      Bearing specifications:

      Inner diameter of bearing (d) = 100 mm Outer diameter of bearing (D) = 150 mm Axial width of bearing (B)=32 mm Dynamic load capacity (C) = 161,000

      e = 0.46 Y = 1.3


      Weight = 50 Kg; Reduction Ratio = 14:1


    The elevation drive consists of a three-pulley rope drive system that rests on a yoke and is fixed at one end to the parabolic dish. The main consideration while designing the elevation drive system is the wind torque

      1. the uprooting force that acts on the dish. Ideally, the dish is assumed to be turning through 0° to 90°. However, for all practical purposes, a clearance of ±5° is maintained.

        The first pulley is considered of diameter of 300mm since it is available easily in market for its size. Besides, there is a space constraint layout to be followed which limits the size of the first pulley mounted on the base yoke.

        The wire rope used for this drive system is of following specifications taken from IS 2266:2002 manual

        Type: 6×36 (14-7-7-1)

        Wire diameter (dwire):10mm Rope grade: 1960

        Approximate mass: 41.8 kg/100mm Minimum breaking force: 70 KN Type of lay: Right Regular Lay.

        2. Crossed belt drive design:

        1. Stage no.1:

          Where D- diameter of first pulley, N- rpm of firstpulley

          P (W) = (P1-P2)*V

          • Given:

            Diameter of driven pulley (D)= 300 mm Diameter of driving pulley (d)= 150 mm Speed of driven pulley (N)= 1 rpm

            Center to center distance between pulleys(C) = 475 mm

            V=DN=0.0157 m/s


            P (W) = (P1-P2)*V

            P1 = 34649.68 + P2

          • Rope tension ratios: Where, P1 and P2 Rope tensions P1/P2 = ef/sin (/2) = e (2.92*f) Assume, =40o f = 0.2

    = 180 + 2sin-1(D+d )+ 360 = 10.411 rads.


    1. Torque calculations:

    Given:Wind torque = 1652.45e3 N-mm.

    Mt = (Bending moment of dish*9.81) + Wind torque

      1. Wind torque at 30o

        P1 = 437.08 P2

        P2 = 79.47 N; P1 = 34729 N

        Hence the tensions in the rope wound between 1st and 2nd pulley would be 34729 N on tight side and 79.47 N on slack side.

        • Design of Shaft 01:

          Assumption: The length of shaft = 300mm

          Mb = P1 + P2 × 300=3111193.82 N-mm

        • Design of Shaft 02: Assumption:The length of shaft = 300mm.

          Mb = P1 + P2 × 300= 3479980.79 N-mm

          2 2 2 2

          Mt = [P1 – P2] [R] = 5197452 N-mm

          = 16 × M 2 + M 2

          Mt = [P1 – P2][R] = 2598694.5 N-mm

          = 16 × M 2 + M 2

          d3 b t d3 b t

          d = 51.935 mm (55 mm) (8)

        • Bearing selection from the catalogue: Bearing No: 6211

          D: 100mm B: 21mm

          C: 43600 Co:19600

          The antenna is to be operated continuously i.e. 24 hrs per day, hence the life of bearing is assumed to be 50,000 hrs. L10h = 50,000 hrs


          So, d = 46.49mm (50 mm)

        • Bearing selection from the catalogue: Bearing No: 6210; L10h = 50,000 hrs.

          D: 90mm B: 20mm

          C: 35100 Co: 19600

          L10 = 60*n*L10h = 6 million revolutions


        • Design of key:

          Consequently, L10 =


          For a flat key:

          L10= 60*1*50,000= 3 million revolutions


        • Design of key: For a flat key:


    = d = 16.25mm 18 mm


    = d = 10.833mm 12 mm


    = 1.5d for 2.1d = 136.5mm 138 mm

    width () = height () =

    4 = 16.25mm

    d = 10.833mm


    = 2Mt For shear forces


    = 72.07N/mm2< 110

    length () = 1.5d for 2.1d = 136.5mm


    = 2Mt


    For shear forces

    = 4Mt For torsional forces


    = 72.07N/mm2< 110

    < permissible

    = 4Mt For torsional forces


    c = 216.298 N/mm2 < 220

    c < cpermissible

    Hence the key is safe. Dimensions of the key are:

    b = 18mm h = 12mm l = 138mm

    1. Stage no 2:

    Diameter of driven pulley D = 300mm Diameter of driving pulley (d) = 150mm Speed of driven pulley (N) = 2 rpm

    Center to center distance between pulleys(C) = 1212mm

    V = ×150×2 = 0.0157 m/s


    = 180 + 2sin-1( D+d ) =3.3067 radians


    P = (P1-P2)*V

    P1= 34649.68 + P2

    P1/P2 = e (2.92*f)

    P1= 6.6298 P2

    Solving the equations,

    P1 = 40524.5 N ; P2 = 5875.24 N

    c = 216.298 N/mm2< 220

    c < cpermissible

    Hence the key is safe. Dimensions of the key are:

    b = 18mm h = 12mm l = 138mm


    The rope-pulley drive thus designed, is found to be accurate, easy to operate and economically and ergonomically viable. The design is also found to be safe based on analytical calculations performed.


  1. Analytical Model of Wind Disturbance Torque on Servo TrackingAntenna-TusharGolani and Suresh Sabhapathy

  2. Design of Machine Elements – V.B.Bhandari

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