The time is now coming available, because I am only teaching one class this semester. Because carbon fiber composite tubing is pretty darn expensive, I want to make sure that I have the math right. If I order too small a set of tubes, the truss isn't going to be stiff enough; if the tubes are thicker than they need to be, it will be slightly heavier and much more expensive than it needs to be.
I have checked my math several times, but I still do not believe the results that I have getting. Or perhaps carbon fiber composite really is magic!
To calculate deflection caused by a load on a hollow tube, I use the cantilever beam, end load formula:
∆ = PL^3/3EI
where P = force, L = length, E = Young's modulus, and I =area moment of inertia
In this case, the force of the upper cage assembly is 10 pounds, or 4.54 kg. The length of each side of the truss is 62 inches, or 1.575 meters. The area moment of inertia for hollowing tubing is calculated by:
Ix = π (do4 - di4) / 64 (5)
do = cylinder outside diameter
di = cylinder inside diameter
For a piece of tubing that 0.25" ID (.00635 meters) and .378" OD (.01 meters), that gives an area moment of inertia of .256.
There seems to be considerable difference of opinion about the Young's modulus of carbon fiber composite, but I am using 138 gigapascals, because a number of vendors make this claim.
Plugging this in says that a piece of carbon fiber composite tube that is incredibly small will have 0.00000 meters of deflection with a 4.54 kg weight at the end. For anyone who experience with long pieces of small carbon fiber composite tubing -- does this seem even slightly plausible? It seems outside the realm of my experience.
UPDATE: I my formula in the spreadsheet for area moment of inertia wrong, and yes, newtons, not kg. This means that the deflection from a single tube is enormous. The truss calculations I did a while back indicate that I don't need anything this stiff (cumulative benefits of how this stuff works). Does it seem plausible that a truss consisting of six tubes (three triangles) each of 0.553" ID, .0625" OD could be stiff enough to hold ten pounds of weight with deflection measured in thousandths of an inch?
The temptation is strong to build a very small scale model of this, perhaps using carbon fiber tubing, and see how well the math from TDT4WIN mentioned here actually models reality.