Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Balanced/Imbalanced wind loads on Parabolic Dish

  1. Sep 9, 2008 #1

    I have a solid (not mesh) parabolic dish mounted on a 2-axis tracking mechanism. This assembly is often mounted atop buildings or open scapes and is subject to direct and indirect wind loading. I am trying to recall my fluids and aero schooling but am not sure of some assumptions. This piece is physically similar to satellite dishes mounted outdoors if this helps those of the left brain.

    My concern and request for advisory here is on worst case scenarios based on positioning of the unit within winds at about 50mph. The mounted dishes are interchangeable and are roughly 48" and 64".

    1: I envision there being significant loading when the dish is in the park position (pointing straight looking like a bird bath) and the wind loading is side loading the assembly.

    2: Dish pointing 90deg to post and there being
    A: uniform balanced airflow head on
    B: imbalanced force on one side of dish; perhaps possible if mounted nearby structure causes laminar flow and whips airstream only partially loading dish face.

    Ultimately I would like to quantify the rough Torque values on the post where the drive train resides. In order to do so first making sure the assumptions with wind loading are in order. I will gladly elaborate more information regarding this system but do not want to risk disconcerting you with a lengthy first post.

    Best Regards,


    +++by the way is Andy Resnick the Andy Resnick of UNC Ch-Hill Physics Dept?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 9, 2008 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Quick Google gave me this:

    http://ocw.mit.edu/NR/rdonlyres/Civil-and-Environmental-Engineering/1-051Fall2003/B56746CA-BF5C-4E25-AF42-418CF0C59202/0/rec1wind_eqloads.pdf [Broken]

    I guess there are ASCE standards for calculating wind loads. An accurate answer for the load and consequentally the moment applied will be requesite on you getting and accurate loading condition/magnitude.

    As a quick back-of-paper guess, you could just use the drag equation:

    [tex]F_d = \frac{1}{2} c_d \rho v^2 A[/tex]

    A table of drag coefficients in the engineering toolbox:


    Will give you a value somewhere between 1.7 and 1.1. Get a high-low go from there.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  4. Sep 13, 2008 #3
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook