DEPLOYABLE ANTENNA KINEMATICS
USING TENSEGRITY STRUCTURE DESIGN
BYRON FRANKLIN KNIGHT
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
Byron Franklin Knight
For this work I thank Mary, my friend, my partner, and my wife.
This research has been a labor of love, beginning with my first job as a new grad
building deployable antenna tooling in 1982. There have been numerous mentors along
this path who have assisted me to gain the knowledge and drive to attack such a difficult
problem. I thank Gerry Perkins, Doug Worth, and Jerry Cantrell for giving me that first
job and allowing me to indulge my interests. I thank Dr. Bobby Boan and Joe Cabrera for
guiding me through necessary original growth that allowed this knowledge to blossom. I
thank Ian Stem for his enthusiasm, energy, and creativity. Most of all, I thank my
associate, Ms. Geri Robb, for trusting me, guiding me, and protecting me.
I wish to acknowledge my family; we truly are the lowest paid group per degree on
this earth, but we are rich in each other. I thank my parents, George and Mary, and their
brood: Dewey, ML, Ally, Mary, Mo, Karen, Tracy, George M., and Little Byron. I thank
the Kennedys for letting me join their clan.
I thank my committee, Drs. C. Crane, A. Seireg, R. Selfridge, and G. Wiens for their
assistance toward this work. I also thank Dr. Joseph Rooney of the Open University in
England for his generous assistance and extensive knowledge of mathematics. To my
Committee Chairman, Dr. Joseph Duffy, I give my heartfelt thanks. You have taught me
that to grow the developments of the 21st Century we need the wisdom and dedication of
the Renaissance. Sir, you are an English Gentleman, my teacher and my mentor. I shall
not forget this gift you give me. More than teaching me engineering, you taught me the
proper way for a gentleman to toil at his labor of love.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1 BACKGROUND 1
Space Antenna Basis 1
Antenna Requirements 2
Improvement Assumptions 3
2 INTRODUCTION 5
Tensegrity Overview 5
Related Research 7
Related Designs 8
Related Patents 10
3 STUDY REQUIREMENTS 13
Stability Criterion 13
Stowage Approach 13
Deployment Approach 13
Mechanism Issues 15
4 BASIC GEOMETRY FOR THE 6-6 TENSEGRITY APPLICATION 16
Points, Planes, Lines, and Screws 17
The Linear Complex 19
The Hyperboloid of One Sheet 22
Regulus Plticker Coordinates 24
Singularity Condition of the Octahedron 26
Other Forms of Quadric Surfaces 28
5 PARALLEL PLATFORM RESULTS 31
3-3 Solution 31
4-4 Solution 39
6 6-6 DESIGN 42
6-6 Introduction 42
Evaluating the Jacobian 45
Optimization Solution 46
Variable Screw Motion on the Z-Axis 48
Special Tensegrity Motions 55
7 DEPLOYMENT AND MECHANICS 57
Strut Design 57
Strut/Tie Interaction 63
Deployment Scheme 65
Previous Related Work 66
Alabama Deployment Study 68
Deployment Stability Issues 69
8 STOWAGE DESIGN 75
Minimized Strut Length 76
3-3 Optimization 76
4-4 Optimization 84
6-6 Optimization 86
9 CONCLUSIONS 90
Applying Tensegrity Design Principles 91
Antenna Point Design 95
Patent Disclosure 97
Future Work 97
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 103
Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
DEPLOYABLE ANTENNA KINEMATICS USING
TENSEGRITY STRUCTURE DESIGN
Byron Franklin Knight
Chairman: Dr. Joseph Duffy
Major Department: Mechanical Engineering
With vast changes in spacecraft development over the last decade, a new, cheaper
approach was needed for deployable kinematic systems such as parabolic antenna
reflectors. Historically, these mesh-surface reflectors have resembled folded umbrellas,
with incremental redesigns utilized to save packaging size. These systems are typically
over-constrained designs, the assumption being that high reliability necessary for space
operations requires this level of conservatism. But with the rapid commercialization of
space, smaller launch platforms and satellite buses have demanded much higher
efficiency from all space equipment than can be achieved through this incremental
This work applies an approach called tensegrity to deployable antenna development.
Kenneth Snelson, a student of R. Buckminster Fuller, invented tensegrity structures in
1948. Such structures use a minimum number of compression members (struts); stability
is maintained using tension members (ties). The novelty introduced in this work is that
the ties are elastic, allowing the ties to extend or contract, and in this way changing the
surface of the antenna.
Previously, the University of Florida developed an approach to quantify the stability
and motion of parallel manipulators. This approach was applied to deployable, tensegrity,
antenna structures. Based on the kinematic analyses for the 3-3 (octahedron) and 4-4
(square anti-prism) structures, the 6-6 (hexagonal anti-prism) analysis was completed
which establishes usable structural parameters. The primary objective for this work was
to prove the stability of this class of deployable structures, and their potential application
to space structures. The secondary objective is to define special motions for tensegrity
antennas, to meet the subsystem design requirements, such as addressing multiple
This work combines the historical experiences of the artist (Snelson), the
mathematician (Ball), and the space systems engineer (Wertz) to develop a new, practical
design approach. This kinematic analysis of tensegrity structures blends these differences
to provide the design community with a new approach to lightweight, robust, adaptive
structures with the high reliability that space demands. Additionally, by applying Screw
Theory, a tensegrity structure antenna can be commanded to move along a screw axis,
and therefore meeting the requirement to address multiple feed locations.
Space Antenna Basis
The field of deployable space structures has matured significantly in the past decade.
What once was a difficult art form to master has been perfected by numerous companies,
including TRW, Hughes, and Harris. The significance of this maturity has been the
reliable deployment of various antenna systems for spacecraft similar to NASAs
Tracking Data Relay Satellite. In recent years, parabolic, mesh-surface, reflector
development has been joined by phased arrays (flat panel structures with electronically
steered beams). Both of these designs are critical to commercial and defense space
An era has begun where commercial spacecraft production has greatly exceeded
military/civil applications. This new era requires structural systems with the proven
reliability and performance of the past and reduced cost.
This dissertation addresses one new approach to deployable antenna design utilizing a
kinematic approach known as tensegrity, developed by Kenneth Snelson (student of R.
Buckminster Fuller) in 1948 [Connelly and Black, 1998]. The name tensegrity is derived
from the words Tensile and Integrity, and was originally developed for architectural
sculptures. The advantage of this type of design is that there is a minimum of
compression tubes (herein referred to as struts); the stability of the system is created
through the use of tension members (ties). Specifically, this work addresses the new
application for self-deploying structures.
James R. Wertz of Microcosm, Inc., a leading spacecraft designer, defines a system's
requirements through a process of identifying broad objectives, reasonably achievable
goals, and cost constraints [Larson and Wertz, 1992], Space missions vary greatly, and
the requirements, goals, and costs associated with each task also vary greatly, but one
constraint is ever present: space is expensive. The rationale behind this study of new
deployable techniques is related to the potential cost savings to be gained.
The mission objective for a large, deployable space antenna is to provide reliable
radio frequency (RF) energy reflection to an electronic collector (feed) located at the
focus of the parabolic surface. The current state of deployable parabolic space antenna
design is based on a segmented construction, much like an umbrella. Radial ribs are
connected to a central hub with a mechanical advantaged linear actuator to drive the
segments into a locked, over-driven, position. Other approaches have been proposed
utilizing hoop tensioners (TRW) and mechanical memory surface materials (Hughes), but
as of this publication, these alternative approaches have not flown in space.
To meet this objective, an analysis of mathematics and electrical engineering yields
three parameters: defocus, mispointing, and surface roughness. For receiving antennas,
defocus is the error in the reflector surface that makes the energy paint an area, rather
than converge on the focal point. Mispointing is the misplacement of the converged
energy to a position other than the designed focal point. Surface roughness, or the
approximation to a theoretical parabolic surface, defines the reflector's ability to reflect
and collect a given band of RF energy. Higher band reflectors require a more accurate
surface that better approximates the theoretical parabola. Similarly for transmitting
antennas, defocus generates divergent rays of energy (rather than parallel) from the
reflector surface; mispointing directs these waves in the wrong direction. Defocus (focal
area vice point) and mispointing (focus located in the wrong position) are illustrated in
Figure 1-1. Defocus and Mispointing on a Parabolic Antenna
In recent years, numerous Department of Defense organizations have solicited for
new approaches to deployable antenna structures. The Air Force Research Laboratories
(AFRL) are interested in solutions to aid with their Space Based Laser and Radar
programs. Specifically, they have requested new solutions to building precision
deployable structures to support the optical and radar payloads.
The basis for this research is the assumption that the stowed density for deployable
antennas can be greatly increased, while maintaining the reliability that the space
community has enjoyed in the past. Failure of these structures is unacceptable, but if the
stowed volume is reduced (therefore an increase in density for a given weight), launch
services could be applied much more efficiently.
The implementation of multiple vehicle launch platforms (i.e. Iridium built by
Motorola) has presented a new case where the launch efficiency is a function of the
stowed spacecraft package, and not the weight of the electronic bus. For Extremely High
Frequency systems (greater than 20GHz) in low earth orbit (LEO), the antenna aperture
need only be a few meters in diameter. But for an L-band, geosyncronous (GEO) satellite
(i.e. AceS built by Lockheed Martin), the antenna aperture diameter is 15 meters. And to
reach GEO, less weight and payload drag must be achieved to ensure a more efficient
ascent into the orbit. Currently, these systems stow within the rocket launchers much like
folded inverted umbrellas. This greatly limits the stowage efficiency, greatly increasing
the launcher shroud canister height. This research addresses a concept to improve this
Pugh  simplified Snelsons work in tensegrity structures. He began with a basic
description of the attractions and forces in nature that govern everyday life. From there he
described the applications in history of tensile and compressive members in buildings and
ships to achieve a balance between these forces to achieve the necessary structures for
commerce and living. The introduction of Platonic Solids presents the simplicity and art
of tensile/compressive structures. The Tetrahedron in Figure 2-1 is a four-vertex, 6-
member structure. Framing the interior with a strut (tetrapod) system and connecting the
vertices with ties can create the tensegrity. The ties must, of course, always be in tension.
Figure 2-1. A Simple Tetrahedron and Tripod Frame
The Octahedron (6-vertices, 12-members, and 8-faces) is the basis for this research to
apply tensegrity to deployable antenna structures. Figure 2-2 presents the simple structure
and tensegrity application (rotated about the center, with alternate struts replaced by ties).
From this simple structure, we have been able to create a class of deployable structures
using platform kinematic geometry. It is apparent that the tensegrity application
resembles a six-leg parallel platform. It is from this mathematics that the new designs are
Figure 2-2. The Simple, Rotated, and Tensegrity Structure Octahedron
The work of Architect Peter Pearce  studies the nature of structures and the
discovery of the Platonic Solids. Plato was able to determine the nature of structures, and
the structure of nature (a duality), through observing naturally occurring systems such as
spider webs. Building on this work, Pearce was able to document other natural
phenomena (soap bubbles, Dragonfly wings, and cracked mud) to establish energy
minimization during state change. The assumption here is that nature uses the most
energy-efficient method. From these assumptions and an understanding of stress and
strain in structural members (columns and beams), he was able to present a unique
solution for simple, durable, high strength structures. From these conclusions, he
proposes a family of residential, commercial, and industrial structures that are both
esthetically pleasing and functional.
The most comprehensive study of the technology needs for future space systems to be
published in the last decade was released by the International Technology Research
Institute [WTEC, 1998]. This NSF/NASA sponsored research commissioned a panel of
U.S. satellite engineers and scientists to study international satellite R&D projects to
evaluate the long-term presence of the United States in this industry. A prior study was
undertaken in 1992 to establish that there was significant activity in Europe and Asia that
rivaled that of the U.S., and benchmarked this R&D to U.S. capability. The later study
added market, regulatory, and policy issues in addition to the technology developments.
The conclusion was that while the U.S. holds a commanding lead in the space
marketplace, there is continual gaining by both continents. This is evident in space
launch, where Ariane Space has nearly achieved the capabilities of Boeings (Delta)
The significance of this study is that U.S. manufacturers are meeting their goals for
short-term research (achieving program performance), but have greatly neglected the
long-term goals, which has traditionally been funded by the government. The top
candidate technologies include structural elements, materials and structures for electronic
devices, and large deployable antennas (>25 meters diameter). While there have been 14
meter subsystems developed to meet GEO system requirements during the 1990s. the
large deployable requirement has yet to be addressed or developed. This research will
address one possible solution to building such a subsystem.
Tetrobots [Hamlin and Sanderson, 1998] have been developed in the last few years as
a new approach to modular design. This approach utilizes a system of hardware
components, algorithms, and software to build various robotic structures to meet multiple
design needs. These structures are similar to tensegrity in that they are based on Platonic
Solids (tetrahedral and octahedral modules), but all the connections are made with truss
members. Tensegrity utilizes only the necessary struts (compression members) and ties
(tensile members) to maintain stability.
Adaptive trusses have been applied to the field of deployable structures, providing the
greatest stiffness and strength for a given weight of any articulated structure or
mechanism [Tidwell et al. 1990]. The use of the tetrahedron geometry (6-struts and 4-
vertices) is the basis for this approach. From that, the authors propose a series of
octahedral cells (12-struts and 6-vertices) to build the adaptive structure (Figures 2-3 and
2-4). The conclusion is that from well-defined forward analyses (position, velocity and
acceleration), this adaptive truss would be useful for deployed structures to remove
position or motion errors caused by manufacturing, temperature change, stress, or
external force [Wada et al. 1991].
Figure 2-3. Octahedral Truss Notation
Figure 2-4. Long Chain Octahedron VGT
The most complex issue in developing a reliable deployable structure design is the
packaging of a light weight subsystem in as small a volume as possible, while ensuring
that the deployed structure meets the system requirements and mission performance.
Warnaar developed criteria for deployable-foldable truss structures [Warnaar 1992], He
addressed the issues of conceptual design, storage space, structural mass, structural
integrity, and deployment. This work simplifies the concepts related to a stowed two-
dimensional area deploying to a three-dimensional volume. The author also presented a
tutorial series [Wamaar and Chew, 1990 (a & b)]. This series of algorithms presents a
mathematical representation for the folded (three-dimensional volume in a two-
dimensional area) truss. This work aids in determining the various combinations for
folded truss design.
NASA Langley Research Center has extensive experience in developing truss
structures for space. One application, a 14-meter diameter, three-ring optical truss, was
designed for space observation missions (Figure 2-5). A design study was performed [Wu
and Lake, 1996] using the Taguchi methods to define key parameters for a Pareto-optimal
design: maximum structural frequency, minimum mass, and the maximum frequency to
mass ratio. Tetrahedral cells were used for the structure between two precision surfaces.
31 analyses were performed on 19,683 possible designs with an average frequency to
mass ratio between 0.11 and 0.13 Hz/kg. This results in an impressive 22 to 26 Hz for a
The field of deployable space structures has proven to be both technically challenging
and financially lucrative during the last few decades. Such applications as large parabolic
antennas require extensive experience and tooling to develop, but this is a key component
in the growing personal communications market. The patents on deployable space
structures have typically focused on the deployment of general truss network designs,
rather than specific antenna designs. Some of these patents address new approaches that
have not been seen in publication.
Figure 2-5. Three-ring Tetrahedral Truss Platform
The work of Kaplan and Schultz , and, Waters and Waters  specifically
applies strut and tie construction to the problem of deployable antennas, but the majority
of patents address trusses and the issues associated with their deployment and minimal
stowage volume. Nelson  provides a detailed design for a three-dimensional
rectangular volume based on an octahedron. His solution to deployment uses a series of
ties within the truss network. Details of the joints and hinges are also included. When
networked with other octahedral subsets, a compact stow package could be expanded into
a rigid three-dimensional framework.
Other inventors continued work in expandable networks to meet the needs of
International Space Station. Natori  used beams and triangular plates to form a
tetrahedral unit. These units formed a linear truss; his work included both joint and hinge
details and the stowage/deployment kinematics. Kitamura and Yamashiro [ 1990]
presented a design based on triangular plates, hinged cross members, and ties to build
expanding masts from very small packages.
Onoda [1985, 1986, 1987a, 1987b, 1990] patented numerous examples of
collapsible/deployable square truss units using struts and ties. Some suggested
applications included box section, curved frames for building solar reflectors or antennas.
Onoda et al.  published results. Rhodes and Hedgepeth  patented a much
more practical design that used no ties, but employed hinges to build a rectangular box
from a tube stowage volume.
Krishnapillai  and Skelton  most closely approximate the research
presented herein, employing the concepts of radial struts and strut/tie combinations,
respectively. The combination of these approaches could provide the necessary design to
deploy a small package to a radial backup surface, as with a deployable antenna.
The primary assumption for this research is that improved stability will provide a
superior deployable structure. Applying a tensegrity approach, the secondary assumption
is a resultant lower system development cost. The development of this new approach to
antenna systems, assuming these criteria, will provide a usable deployable product with
greatly reduced component count, assembly schedule, and final cost, but with equal
stability and system characteristics to the currently popular radial rib antenna system.
From this assumption, increased stowage density will be realized.
Figure 3-1 shows a deployed and stowed antenna package, utilizing a central hub
design. Most current deployable antenna designs use this approach. For a single fold
system, the height of the stowed package is over one half of the deployed diameter. The
approach taken in this research is to employ Tensegrity Structural Design to increase the
stowed package density.
The deployable approach for this 6-6 system is to manipulate the legs joining the hub
to the antenna, to create a tensegrity structure. Onoda suggests a sliding hinge to achieve
deployment, but such a package still requires a large height for the stowed structure. T his
approach does have excellent merit for deployable arrays, as he presents in the paper.
Figure 3-1. Deployed and Stowed Radial Rib Antenna Model
The tensegrity 6-6 antenna structure would utilize a deployment scheme whereby the
lowest energy state for the structure is in a tensegrity position. Figure 3-2 shows this
position, with the broken lines representing the ties (tension) and the solid lines
representing the struts (compression). Clearly, equilibrium of this structure requires that
the tie forces sum to match the compression forces at the end of each strut.
Figure 3-2. 6-6 Tensegrity Platform
Rooney et al.  developed a concept for deploying struts and ties using a 'reel
design, thereby allowing the ties to stow within the struts. This simple, yet durable
approach solves the problem of variable length ties for special antenna designs, such as
those with multiple feed centers (focal points on the parabolic antenna surface). Figure
3-3 shows this concept, using a deployment mechanism for the ties; spherical joints
would be necessary to ensure that there are only translational constraints.
Elastic Ties Deployed
Figure 3-3. The Struts Are Only Constrained in Translation
BASIC GEOMETRY FOR THE 6-6 TENSEGRITY APPLICATION
The application of tensegrity structures to the field of deployable antenna design is a
significant departure from currently accepted practices. Not only must this new structure
meet the system parameters previously described, but there also must be a process to
validate the performance reliability and repeatability. Figure 4-1 shows the rotation of the
6-6 structures through tensegrity. Tensegrity occurs when all struts are in compression,
and all ties are in tension. When describing a stable structure, the struts cannot be in
tension because they only interface with tensile members (ties).
Figure 4-1. A 6-6 Structure Rotated through Tensegrity
As presented in Chapter 1, the accepted subsystem mechanical requirements applied
to deployable parabolic antennas are defocus, mispointing, and surface roughness.
Defocus, or the cupping of the structure, must be corrected once the subsystem is
deployed to correct any energy spreading which occurs. A correctly shaped parabolic
antenna surface may not direct the radio frequency (RF) energy in the correct direction
(to the right focal point). This is known as mispointing. Practically, antenna design
requires that the theoretical focal point be a plane, due to energy management issues
of RF transmitter/receivers. The surface accuracy is a coupled effect, which is influenced
by the non-linear stiffness (displacement is not linear with respect to the applied force),
structural time constant, and general stability of the backup reflector structure and facing
antenna mesh surface. Positioning and control of this mesh surface defines the antenna's
accuracy. Pellegrino (The University of Cambridge) has developed applicable tools for
calculating the motions of pre-stressed nodes by actuating flexible ties [You, 1997].
In order to address adequately these three design parameters, the stability of this
subsystem must be assured. During his career, Hunt  has addressed line geometry,
the linear dependence of lines, the linear complex, and the hyperboloid. All of these
studies have direct application in the case of tensegrity structures. This linear dependence
relates to the stability of the structure. For this to occur, the two sets of lines on the
tensegrity structure, the struts and ties, must lie on co-axial hyperboloids of one sheet.
This builds the case to explain how such a structure in tensegrity can be stable yet at a
singularity, having instantaneous mobility. To explain this, an introduction into points,
planes, lines, and Screw Theory is presented.
Points, Planes, Lines, and Screws
The vector equation for a point can be expressed in terms of the Cartesian coordinates
r = x i + y j + zk
X Y Z
Referencing Hunt f 19901, these coordinates can be written x = , y = , z = - .
W W W
This expresses the point in terms of the homogeneous coordinates (W;X, Y,Z). A point
X Y Z
is completely specified by the three independent ratios , , and therefore there are
an ooJ points in three space.
Similarly, the equation for a plane can be expressed in the form
D + Ax + By + Cz = 0
or in terms of the homogeneous point coordinates by
Dw + Ax + By + Cz = 0
The homogeneous coordinates for a plane are (D; A,B.C) and a plane is completely
specified by three independent ratios
Therefore, there are an oc> planes in
three space. It is well known that in three space the plane and the point are dual.
Using Grassmanns [Meserve, 1983] determinant principles the six homogeneous
coordinates for a line, which is the join of two points (xj ,yj ,z\) and (x2, y 2 > z2 )> can
be obtained by counting the 2x2 determinants of the 2x4 array.
1 x, yi zx
1 *2 y2 z2
The six homogeneous coordinates (L,M,N;P,Q,R) or (s; Sq ) are superabundant by 2
since they must satisfy the following relationships.
S-S = L2+M2+N2 = d2 (4-6)
where d is the distance between the two points and,
S S0 = LP + MQ + NR = 0 (4-7)
which is the orthogonality condition. Briefly, as mentioned, the vector equation for a line
is given by r x S = Sq Clearly, S and Sq are orthogonal since S-So = S- fxS = O.A
line is completely specified by four independent ratios. Therefore, these are an oo^ lines
in three space.
Ball [1998, p.48] defines a screw by, A screw is a straight line with which a definite
linear magnitude termed the pitch is associated". For a screw, S Sq *= 0, and the pitch
, ~ j, LP + MQ + NR 11 ii 5 -i
is defined by h = It follows that there are an oo screws in three space.
L2 +M2 +N2
By applying Balls Screw Theory, the mathematics are developed to show that this class
of tensegrity structures can follow a screw. This is very applicable in antenna design to
allow a subsystem to direct energy to multiple feed centers.
The Linear Complex
Many models have been developed for the geometry and mobility of octahedral
manipulators. Instant mobility of the deployable, tensegrity, antenna structure is of much
interest within the design community. This instant mobility is caused by the Linear
Dependence of Lines. This occurs when the connecting lines of a structure become
linearly dependent. They can belong to (i) a linear complex (oc' of lines); (ii) a linear
congruence (oo of lines); or (iii) a ruled surface called a cylindroid (oo of lines). The
linear complex has been investigated by, for example, Jessop , Of interest here is
the linear complex described by Hunt , which will be described shortly. Before
proceeding, it is useful to note that the resultant of a pair of forces, which lie on a pair of
skew lines, lies on the cylindroid. The resultant is a wrench, which is simply a line on the
cylindroid with an associated pitch h. The resultant is only a pure force when a pair of
forces intersects in a finite point or at infinity (i.e. they are parallel).
Hunt  describes a linear complex obtained by considering an infinitesimal twist
of a screw with pitch h on the z-axis. For such an infinitesimal twist, a system of oo
coaxial helices of equal pitch is defined. Every point on the body lies on a helix, with the
velocity vector tangential to the helix at that point. Such a system of oo tangents to oo
coaxial helices is called a helicoidal velocity field.
Figure 4-2. Two equal-pitched helices
In Figure 4-2, two helices are defined, one lying on a circular cylinder of radius a,
and the other on a coaxial circular cylinder of radius b. Two points A and B are taken on
the respective radii and both cylinders are on the same z-axis. After one complete
revolution, the points have moved to A and B\ with AA,=BB=27rh. Both advance
along the z-axis a distance h0 for a rotation 0. Now, the instantaneous tangential
velocities are Vta = to x a and Ytb = co x b. Further, Va=hco and Vta=o) x a. The ratio
IYa|/|Yta| = h/a = tan a, or h=a tan a. Similarly, h/b = tan P, or h=b tan p.
Figure 4-3. A Pencil of Lines in the Polar Plane a Through the Pole A
Further, Figure 4-3 (see [Hunt, 1990]) illustrates a pole A through which a helix
passes together with a polar plane a. The pencil of lines in a which pass through A are
normal to the helix (i.e. the vector through A tangent to the helix). The plane a contains a
pencil of lines (oo1) through the pole A. Clearly, as a point A moves on the helix, an oo2
lines is generated. If we now count oo1 concentric helices of pitch h. and consider the
totality of the oo2 lines generated at each polar plane on a single helix, we will generate oo-'
lines, which comprises the linear complex. All such lines are reciprocal to the screw of
pitch h on the z-axis. The result with respect to anti-prism tensegrity structures will be
shown in (4-26) and (4-27) and it is clear by (4-28) that the pitch h is given by -ab/6z.
The Hyperboloid of One Sheet
Snyder and Sisam  developed the mathematics to describe a hyperbola of
rotation, known as the hyperboloid of one sheet (Figure 4-4). The surface is represented
by the equation
2 2 ?
a2 b2 c2
which is a standard three-dimensional geometry equation. This equation can be factored
into the form
( x z V
and can become an alternate form
l b J
1 + J
The equations can be manipulated to form:
Va C J
Figure 4-4. A Ruled Hyperboloid of One Sheet
These formulae describe the intersection of two planes, which is a line. Therefore, for
every value of p there is a pair of plane equations. Every point on the line lies on the
surface of the hyperboloid since the line coordinates satisfy 4-10. Similarly, any point on
the surface, which is generated by the line equation, also satisfies the equations in 4-12 as
they are derived from 4-10. The system of lines, which is described by 4-12, where p is a
parameter, is called a regulus of lines on this hyperboloid. Any individual line of the
regulus is called a generator. A similar set of equations can be created for the value r\
- + -
f y ^
^ x z ^
The lines that correspond to q constitute a second regulus, which is complementary to
the original regulus and also lies on the surface of the hyperboloid.
Regulus PlUcker Coordinates
Using Plcker Coordinates [Bottema and Roth, 1979], three equations describe a line:
S (L, M, N) and S0 (P, Q, R)
Ny Mz = P
Lz- Nx = Q (4-14)
Mx Ly = R
Expanding 4-12, the equations become
p abe bcx + p acy abz = 0
abe p bcx acy + pabz = 0
The Plcker axis coordinates for the line in the p regulus are obtained by counting the
2x2 determinants of the 2x4 arrays, which are built from these equations,
p abc be p ac ab
_ abc -pbc -ac pab_
P = ab2c2
Q = a2bc2
R = a2b2c
= ab2c2(l -p2)
= a2b2c(l + p2)
L = a^ be
M = ab2c
= -a2bc(l p2)
= abc2(l + p2)
This set of coordinates is homogeneous, and we can divide through by the common factor
abc. Further, we have in ray coordinates:
L = -a(l p2) P = bc(l p2)
M = 2bp Q = -2acp
N = c(l + p2) R = ab(l + p2)
By using the same method for developing the Pllicker coordinates and the
homogeneous ray coordinates, the r) equations are developed with 4-13.
pabc -be -pac -ab
_ abc -pbc ac pab
to form the Pliicker coordinates
P = ab2c2
Q = a2bc2
R = a2b2d
L = abc
N = abc?
yielding, after dividing by the common factor abc, the ray coordinates:
L = a(l-r|2) P = bc(l-rf)
M = 2br| Q = 2acr|
N = -c(l + r|2) R = ab(l + rj2)
This series of calculations shows that the lines of the tensegrity structure lie on a
hyperboloid of one sheet, either in the forward (p) or the reverse (q) directions. The
next section addresses the linear dependence inherent in the lines of a hyperboloid of one
sheet and therefore the effect on the stability of the tensegrity structure.
Singularity Condition of the Octahedron
In Chapter 5, a comparison between a 3-3 parallel platform and the octahedron will
be developed. Figure 4-5 is a plan view of the octahedron (3-3 platform) with the upper
platform in a central position for which the quality index, X =
= 1 [Lee et al.
1998]. When the upper platform is rotated through 90 about the normal z-axis the
octahedron is in a singularity. Figure 4-6 illustrates the singularity for (j) = 90 when X 0
since det J I = 0 The rank of Jis therefore 5 or less. It is not immediately obvious from
the figure why the six connecting legs are in a singularity position.
Figure 4-5. Octahedron (3-3) Platform in Central Position
Figure 4-6. Octahedron Rotated 90 into Tensegrity
Flowever, this illustrates a plan view of the octahedron with the moving platform
ABC rotated through ((> = 90 to the position A'B'C'. As defined by Lee et al. ,
the coordinates of A'B'C' are
x'A =rcos(90 + 30)
x'B = rcos(90 + 30)
x'c = rsin(90)
where r = Â¡=
y'A = r sin(90 + 30)
y'B = -r sin(90 + 30)
y'c = rcos(90)
By applying the Grassmann principles presented in (4-4), at (j) = 90, the k components
for the six legs are NÂ¡ = z and Rj = ab where i=l, 2, ...6. The Pliicker coordinates of
all six legs can be expressed in the form
S J =
Li Mi z; Pi Qi
Therefore, a screw of pitch h on the z-axis is reciprocal to all six legs and the coordinates
for this screw are
ST=[0, 0, 1; 0 0 hj (4-27)
For these equations,
, ab ab
hz + = 0 or h = (4-28)
It follows from the previous section that all six legs lie on a linear complex and that the
platform can move instantaneously on a screw of pitch h. This suggests that the tensegrity
structure is in a singularity and therefore has instantaneous mobility.
Other Forms of Quadric Surfaces
The locus of an equation of the second degree in x, y, and z is called a quadric
surface. The family that includes the hyperboloid of one sheet includes the ellipsoid,
described by the equation:
2 "> 2
r H H 1
a2 b2 c2
The surface is symmetrical about the origin because only second powers of the
variables (x, y, and z) appear in the equation. Sections of the ellipsoid can be developed,
as presented by Snyder and Sisam , including imaginary sections where the
coefficients become V-T. If the coefficients are a=b>c then the ellipsoid is a surface of
revolution about the minor axis. If the coefficients are a>b=c then it is a surface of
revolution about the major axis. If a=b=c then the surface is a sphere. If a=b=c=0 the
surface is a point.
Although it is not relevant to this tensegrity structure analysis, the hyperboloid of two
sheets (Figure 4-7) is described by the equation
x2 l l 1
a2 b2 c2
Figure 4-7. Hyperboloid of Two Sheets
Snyder and Sisam  state, It is symmetric as to each of the coordinate planes,
the coordinate axes, and the origin. The plane z-k intersects the surface in the
V c )
l c J
The traverse axis is y = 0, z = k, for all values of k The lengths of the semi-axes are
! k U
1 y jb.
1 + -. They are smallest for k = 0, namely a and b, and increase
without limit as Ik increases. The hyperbola is not composite for any real value of k.
PARALLEL PLATLORM RESULTS
Previous University of Llorida CIMAR research [Lee et al. 1998] on the subject of 3-
3 parallel platforms, Figure 5-1 is the basis work for this research. Their study addressed
the optimal metrics for a stable parallel platform.
The octahedral manipulator is a 3-3 device that is fully in parallel. It has a linear
actuator on each of its six legs. The legs connect an equilateral platform triangle to a
similar base triangle in a zigzag pattern between vertices. Our proposed quality index
takes a maximum value of 1 at a central symmetrical configuration that is shown to
correspond to the maximum value of the determinant of the 6x6 Jacobian matrix of the
manipulator. This matrix is none other than that of the normalized line coordinates of the
six leg-lines; for its determinant to be a maximum, the platform triangle is found to be
half of the size of the base triangle, and the perpendicular distance between the platform
and the base is equal to the side of the platform triangle.
The term in-parallel was first coined by Hunt  to classify platform devices
where all the connectors (legs) have the same kinematic structure. A common kinematic
structure is designated by S-P-S, where S denotes a ball and socket joint, and P denotes a
prismatic, or sliding kinematic pair. The terminology 3-3 is introduced to indicate the
number of connection points in the base and top platforms. Clearly, for a 3-3 device.
there are 3 connecting points in the base, and in the top platforms as shown in Figure 5-1.
A 6-6 device would have 6 connecting points in the top and base platforms.
Figure 5-1. 3-3 Parallel Platform (plan view)
The parameter a defines the side of the platform (the moving surface); parameter b
defines the side of the base; and parameter h defines the vertical (z-axis) distance
between the platform and the base. The assumption that more stable is defined as being
further away from a singularity. For a singularity, the determinant (det J) of the Jacobian
matrix (J), the columns of which are the Pliicker coordinates of the lines connecting the
platform and the base, is zero. The most stable position occurs when det J is a maximum.
These calculations create the quality index (A,), which is defined as the ratio of the J
determinant to the maximum value.
The significance between this 3-3 manipulator research and tensegrity is the
assumption that there is a correlation between the stability of a 6-strut platform and a 3-
strut, 3-tie tensegrity structure. If true, this would greatly improve the stability prediction
possibilities for deployable antennas based on tensegrity. As described in the abstract
paragraph above, the quality index (A,) is the ratio of the determinant of J to the
maximum possible value of the determinant of J. The dimensionless quality index is
In later chapters, this same approach applied here for the J matrix of the 3-3 platform
will be used for calculating that of the 6-6 tensegrity structure. For the later case the lines
of the connecting points are defined by a 6x12 matrix and will require additional
mathematic manipulation. In this case, a 6x6 matrix defines the lines of the 3-3 platform,
and the determinant is easily calculated. The matrix values are normalized through
dividing by the nominal leg length, to remove any specific design biases.
The centroid of the triangle is considered to be the coordinate (0,0). From that basis,
the coordinates for the upper and lower platforms are
The Grassmann method for calculating the Pliicker coordinates is now applied to the
3-3 design, as described in Chapter 4. Briefly, the coordinates for a line that joins a pair
of points can easily be obtained by counting the 2x2 determinants of the 2x4 array
describing the connecting lines.
-b a + b
ah ah ab
2 2V3 h
2V3 2 2V3.
ah ah ab
2V3 2 2V3
ah ah ab
2 2V3 h
2V3 2 2V3
a b a + b ah
b 2a b
ah 0 ab
2V3 V3 2V3
which yields the matrix for this system of
det J =
S, S2 S3 s4 s5 s6
The normalization divisor is the same for each leg (they are the same length),
therefore, l = V L2 + M2 + N2 = ab + b2 + 3h:) and the expansion of the
det J =
f a2 -ab + b2 2
Dividing above and below by yields
det J -
a2 ab + b2
The key to calculating the maximum value for the quality index is to find the maximum
height, h. Differentiating the denominator of the determinant with respect to h, and
equating to zero to obtain a maximum value for det J yields the following expression for
h = hm =Ji(a2-ab + b2
If we now select values for a and b, (5-7) yields the value hm for det J to be a maximum.
321a2 -ab + b2 J2
Further, we now determine the ratio y=b/a to yield a maximum absolute value
det J| Substituting b= ya in Equation 5-7 yields
m 3 3 3
27a y a
32(a^-ya^+yV)2 ^Â¡3 32
vY T 2
To get the absolute maximum value of this determinant, the derivative with respect to y is
taken which yields:
y2 1 ~y)
y = = 2
Substituting this result in (5-8) gives:
This work shows some similarity to the values to be derived for the 6-6 platform. The
original quality index equation reduces to a function of (platform height) / (platform
height at the maximum index).
The resulting quality index plots for this 3-3 structure are found in Figures 5-2
through 5-6. In Figure 5-2, the quality index varies about the geometric center of the
structure, with usable working area (index greater than 0.8) within half of the base
dimension (b). It is interesting to note that these are not circles, but slightly flattened at
the plots 45 locations.
Figure 5-2. Coplanar translation of Platform from Central Location: Contours of Quality
Figure 5-3. Rotation of Platform About Z-axis
Figure 5-4. Rotation of Platform About X-axis
Figure 5-5. Rotation of Platform About Y-axis
As expected, rotations about the z-axis yield values approaching zero, where the
singularity occurs. What is unique is that there are workable quality indices when the
structure is rotated about the x- and y-axes over 20. This could be valuable for antenna
repointing without using an antenna gimbal.
Figure 5-6 presents the change in quality index due to the height of the platform
relative to the maximum value. Obviously, the greatest value (1.0) occurs when these
values are equal. From this it is apparent that a working envelope of 40% (+/-20% about
the maximum) is achievable. Again, this discovery is helpful in the design on working
antenna systems to address multiple feed centers.
Figure 5-6. Quality Index as a Function of the Height Ratio
The 4-4 parallel platform (Figure 5-7) is a square anti-prism. The calculations of the
4-4 quality index are similar to those for the 3-3 platform; however, because the 4-4 line
coordinates yield a 6x8 matrix, the determinant cannot be calculated directly and we
introduce JJ [Knight, 1998], the product of the matrix and its transpose. As with the 3-3
platform, X is defined as the ratio of the Jacobian determinant to the maximized J
Figure 5-7. The 4-4 Parallel Platform (plan view)
det JJ 1
T ? 9 ?
From the Cauchy-Binet theorem, it can be shown that det J J = Af + A? +... + An.
Each A is the determinant of a 6x6 submatrix of the 6x8 matrix. It is clear that (5-14)
reduces to (5-1) for the 6x6 matrix. This method can be used for any 6xn matrix. As with
the 3-3 platform, the determinant is calculated. As shown in the figure, the value for the
side of the platform (moving plane) is a. Similarly; b is the value for the base side. The
distance between the upper surface and the base surface is h. The definition of the line
coordinate endpoints is
( b b ^
(b b >
fb b 'l
( b b ^
l 2 2 J
U 2 J
U 2 J
l 2 2 )
Therefore, the Jacobian matrix is
- yÂ¡2a + b
- V2a + b -
- yfla + b
It follows that yjd
2t JJT S
et J JT =
(a2 -V2ab + b2 +2h2f
By following the same procedure as used for the 3-3 parallel platform, the key to
calculating the maximum value for the quality index is to find the maximum height, h. To
find this expression, the numerator and denominator are both divided by h3, to ensure that
h is only found in the denominator. Differentiating the denominator with respect to h, and
equating this value to zero provides the maximum expression.
h = hm =j^(a2-V2ab + b2) (5-18)
Again, as presented in the 3-3 analysis, this maximum value for h is included in
(5-17) to provide the maximum determinant.
VdetJmjJ,= y (5-19)
(a2-V2ab + b:^
To determine the ratio y=b/a for the maximum expression for (5-19), b=ya is substituted.
The numerator and denominator are also both divided by y3a3.
det Jm Jm
. V2 1
To get the maximum value of this determinant, the derivative with respect to y is taken.
This yields the ratio between a, b, and h.
y = = V2
The 6-6 in-parallel platform (a hexagonal anti-prism) is the basis for this new
deployable antenna design. Using the previously derived mathematics, similar quality
index values are developed. This defines the stability of the structure once it is in an
equilibrium position. As with the 4-4 platform, the Cauchy-Binet theorem is used to
determine the index. Once the mathematics is determined, further attention will be
applied to antenna design.
Figure 6-1 presents the 6-6 in-parallel platform. This is a highly redundant parallel
platform with 12 legs for 6 degrees of freedom, but can also be manipulated to define an
antenna subsystem by applying tensegrity structure design. This approach will be
presented in a later chapter.
Figure 6-1. A 6-6 Parallel Platform (Hexagonal Anti-Prism)
A plan view of the 6-6 parallel (redundant) platform is shown in Figure 6-2. Double
lines depict the base and top platform outlines. Heavy lines depict the connectors. The
base coordinates are Ga through Gf; the platform coordinates are A through F. The first
segment is Si connecting points Ga (base) and A (platform); the last segment is S12
connecting points Ga and F. The base coordinates are all fixed and the x-y-z coordinate
system is located in the base with the x-y plane in the base plane. Hence, the base
Figure 6-2. A Plan View for the 6-6 Parallel Platform (Hexagonal Anti-Prism)
Gc [0 b 0]
Gf[0 -b o]
The coordinates for the top platform vertices at the central position are (6-3) where h
is the height of the top platform above the base.
A [a Oh] B
D[-a 0 h] E
Applying Grassmanns method (see Chapter 4) to obtain the line coordinates yields
the following 12 arrays.
0 b O'
1 0 b 0
1 a V3a ,
S11 [Gf F]:
1 i -
%/3b b o
Counting the 2x2 determinants (see Chapter 4) yields the [L, M, N; P, Q, R] line
coordinates for each of the twelve legs. The normalized line coordinates were found by
dividing the calculated value by the nominal lengths of the legs for the central position.
t = ~.
Evaluating the Jacobian
The J matrix, comprised of the line coordinates for the twelve legs, is a 6x12 array.
-2a + Vib -
2a + Vib
a + Vib
Via + b
- Via + 2b
- Via + 2b
- Via + b
J is, therefore, the transpose (a 12x6 matrix).
-a + V3b
- 2a + V3b
- 2a + V3b
-a + V3b
- V3a + b
-V3a + 2b
-v/3a + 2b
- V3a + b
Lee et al.  developed the optimization method for the 3-3 and 4-4 platforms.
The method for calculating the optimization value for the 6-6 J matrix (non-symmetric) is
an extension of the 4-4 platform solution. The quality index X is given by
y/det Jm Jm
For this example, Vdet JJT is calculated.
et JJT =54
a2-x/3ab + b2+h2f
As with the 4-4 parallel platform calculation, the maximum height (h) must be found. To
find this expression, the numerator and denominator of (6-9) are both divided by h3, to
ensure that h is only found in the denominator. Then, differentiating with respect to h and
equating to zero provides the maximum expression.
h = hm = Va2-V3ab + b2 (6-10)
As with the 4-4 analysis, this maximum value for h is included in (6-9) to provide the
a2-V3ab + b2)2
This yields the k value (quality index) as a function of a and b.
V3ab + b2)2
detJmJm (a2-V3ab + b2+h2)3
This index (k) is a value between zero (0) and one (1), which represents the stability of
As with the 4-4 structure, the ratio y=b/a, which represents the parameter ratio at the
maximum quality index, is determined by substituting for b=ya.
3 3 3
a2 V3aya + (ya)2 j2
Again, the numerator and denominator are both divided by y a
By differentiating the denominator with respect to y, the maximum and minimum values
are determined. This yields the solution for the most stable geometry for the 6-6 platform.
1 V3 1
~T + ~2
The vanishing of the first bracket of the right side of the equation yields imaginary
solution, whilst the second bracket yields
h = -i and b = 2a
Variable Screw Motion on the Z-Axis
Duffy et al.  presented a study of special motions for an octahedron using
screw theory. The moving platform remains parallel to the base and moves on a screw of
variable pitch (p). The screw axis is along the Z direction.
XA = rcos((()z)
Ya = rsin((j>z)
XB = rcos((|)z + 60) = r( cos
Yg = rsin((t)z + 60) = r(sin
Xq = rcos(<|)z +120) = -r(-cos
Xp = rcos((])z + 180) = -rcos(j);
Yd = rsin((|)z +180) = r sin (()z
XÂ£ = rcos((j)z + 240 ) = -r(-cos(j)z sinz)
Yp = r sin(4> z + 240) = -r( sin 4> z + -y cos (j)z)
XF = rcos((j)z +300 ) = r(cos(j)z + sin(|)z)
Yp = rcos((J)z + 300) = r(sin (j)z cos<|)z)
It is important to recognize that simply actuating the struts by giving each the same
incremental increase or decrease in length can produce the motion. Continuity requires
that the sum of the coordinates (about the circle defined) sums to zero.
XA + xb + Xc + Xd + XE + Xp = 0 YA + YB + Yc + YD + YE + Yp = 0 (6-30)
Similar to previous octahedron and square platform papers, the radius from the center of
the structure to the platform coordinates is equal to the length of the platform side
(r = a).
Using the base and platform coordinates previously defined, the Pliicker line
coordinates are calculated using the Grassmann principle by counting the 2 x 2
determinants of each of the 2 x 4 arrays.
S2 [G b A]:
Li XA Ya hj
_1 XB Yb hj
} V3b b
Xc Yc hj
.1 Xc Yc
.1 xD Yd
'1 0 -b 0"
S i o [G F
[l XE Ye hj
1 -b 0
1 Xp Yp h
1 XF Yp h
The Plcker coordinates are defined by the 2x2 determinants of these 2x4 arrays.
Yp + -
[XE (Ye + b) h; -bh
[XF (YF+b) h; -bh
^(V3Ye + Xf)
This yields the transpose of the Jacobian matrix.
'xc + ^
XD + 7
V 1 J
(YE + b)
(YF + b)
_ (V3 Y d + X D)
(V3YF + XF)
The first three of the six Pliicker coordinates define the length of the leg. The odd
numbered legs for this structure are the same length.
Lo + Mo + No
v z ;
Xa ~ V3bXA + + Ya + bYA + ^- + h2
i i 3b ? 2 i* o
r cos (|)z-v3brcos())z + + r sin (|)z + brsincj)z + + h
= r2 + br(sin
= a2 + ab(sin
Similarly, lengths of the even numbered legs are equal.
Lee et al.  used the following notation to describe the screw motion.
M = J*TSD
This notation describes an incremental change in leg length as a product of the
normalized line coordinates (J*T) and the platform incremental change (Ax, A0, etc.). To
normalize the leg coordinates, each value is divided by the instantaneous leg lengths.
A s|c'T' A /N* A
6fÂ¡ =S; 5D = 5D
Calculating the summation of the individual coordinates shows that all the values
are zero except for N and R.
T I I I I I V ^b V3b V3b yflb
Lt + l3 + l5 + L7 + L9 + Lh Xa + XB + Xq + Xd + + Xg + + Xp
- rcosq)z 1- r
v2 2 j
1 i V3 ,
cos(b7 + simp..
1 i V3 ,
+ + r
1 a >/3 .
L. L. L L
Mj + M 3 + M g + M7 + M9 + M|j = Ya + + Yg ~ + Y^ b + Yd + Yp H + Yp + b
1 1 V3 .
COS(pz + -^-SHl y
' b f
1 V3 ,
- b r sin 2
f1 A ^ .
x2 2 j
^ b r
-b + r
1 A ^ .
-cosq)z sin (j)z
+ b = 0
N] + N 3 + N5 + Ny + Ng + N ] j 6h
P| + P7 + P^ + P7 + Pq + Pi 1 1 1- bh H 1bh 0
~ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ V^bll ^bb ^bb ^bb n n /A
Qj + Q3 + Q5 + Q7 + Q9 + Qi 1 b 0 H 1 b 0 0 (6-59)
R|+R3 + R5+R7+R9+Rn = j(V3YA+XA)+^(V3YB-XB)-bXc-b(x/3YD+XD)
(x/s Sin (J)z + COS(()z )+ ~
r R 3
cos(()z + sin 4>z + (V3sinz)
2 2 y 2
^ y3 3 ^
sin <()z + cos
V 2 2 J
1 A Y 3 I
cosq)z sin (pz
cos <))z sin
^ sin 4>z H cos (j)z
= 3br(V3 sin 4>z + cos
The second pair of legs sum similarly.
L2 + L4 + L6 + L8-bLio + Li2 0
M 2 -b M 4 + M ^ + M g + M j Q + M j 2 = 0
?2 + ^4 + ^6 + ^8 + PlO + Pl2 = 0
Q2+Q4+Q6+Q8+Ql0+Ql2 = b
N 2 "b Nj + + Ng + Njq + N12 6h
R2 + R4 + R5 + Rg + R]q + Rj2 = jbr(VV sin (|)z + cos
Adding the first, third, fifth, seventh, ninth, and eleventh rows of the matrix and
substituting the expressions for the coordinates yields the necessary expression. Note that
z replaces h in this calculation.
(N ] + N 3 + N 5 + N 7 + N 9 + N ] j )5z + (R| + R 3 + R 5 + R 7 + Rg + R] 1 )S 2
= 6z5z + 3br(V3 sin Â§z + cos
IqSIq = z8z + ^ V3 sin<|)z + cos(j)z]5(j).
The even leg calculation yields a similar result.
L5L =z8z +
e e 2
J3 sin 4>z cos
Special Tensegrity Motions
Using the assumption that the even numbered legs are struts (2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12
have no longitudinal displacement) then the equation reduces to a function of rotation and
z8z = -
yÂ¡3 sin(()z + cos(j)z 5(j)
The pitch is defined by the ratio of linear z change to rotation about the z-axis.
This yields the pitch equation.
8z br [ r- '
p = = [v3 sin 4>z +cos(pz
The subsequent integration yields the z calculation. This proves that the odd numbered
struts can be commanded to yield a pitch motion (z and 0z motions are coupled).
J z5z = -
V3sin(j)z +cos(j)z 3
= Zq br[V3(cos
Equation (6-70) can be modified (a=r and zo=0) to define the square of the platform
z2 = ab|sin(j)z V3 (cos (})z +l)} (6-71)
Therefore, the platform height (z) is the root of (6-71).
z = Vabjsin(j)z -V3(cos(j>z +l)}2 (6-72)
This result shows that for a given twist about the z-axis (<|>z), there is a corresponding
displacement along the z-axis, defined by a finite screw (p=z/
Figure 6-3. The Pitch Relationship
DEPLOYMENT AND MECHANICS
While this research addresses the theory for a new class of deployable antenna
structures, there remains significant work in defining the mechanics of such a subsystem.
There does appear to be a potential reduction in mechanical component count as
compared to current systems. This chapter addresses a potential deployment scheme, the
mechanics necessary to achieve the motion, and some potential mechanisms to support
Paramount to this design study is the combination of struts and ties. Waters and
Waters  suggested that there should be twelve (12) struts and twelve (12) ties for
his hyperboloidal antenna model. This research suggests that there need only be six struts
to define a six-degree of freedom structure.
First, the struts are defined, including various approaches to deployment. Second, the
strut/tie length and stiffness ratios are addressed. Third, a useful approach to deploying a
semi-precision, mesh reflector is presented.
In order to deploy the struts from a stowed position, the end points of the stowage-to-
deployment plan must be defined. Figure 7-1 presents a nominal 15-meter (tip to tip)
deployed surface with six struts. This first position is considered the starting position
(a=0) according to Kenner (1976). The subsequent sketches show rotation to tensegrity
(a=60). The strut lengths are shown increasing for simplicity, but an actual design would
show the upper surface approaching the lower surface as the struts rotated to the
Figure 7-1. 6-6 Structure Rotated from a=0 to a=60 (Tensegrity)
Figure 7-2. Dimensions for Model Tensegrity Antenna
Based on these design assumptions the structure (Figure 7-2) would have the values
found in Table 7-1.
Table 7-1. Deployable Tensegrity Design Values
Tip to Tip Diameter
Planar Ties (top and bottom)
Tension Ties (upper to lower)
Struts (upper to lower)
Based on this model, it is clear that this structure would require a stowage space
approximately 20 meters in length and an isosceles triangle three times the diameter of
the struts. For a conventional 75 mm tube design, the total stowage volume would be a 20
m. long x 0.25 m. diameter. This is unacceptable for spacecraft design, as the trend in
launch vehicle design is toward smaller systems, with correspondingly smaller fairings.
In Figure 7-3, the nominal dimensions are presented for the Taurus and Delta launch
vehicle. It is obvious from these sketches that a 20m x ,25m antenna could not fit in even
the 7.2m x 2.7m Extended Delta fairing. Design experience shows that the center of
gravity for the spacecraft should be maintained at the centerline of the launch vehicle;
therefore the usable height could be reduced to 5.3m x 2.7m. Clearly, a method for
deploying the struts must be developed. The following examples are suggested for
solving this design issue.
Figure 7-3. Taurus and Delta Launch Vehicle Fairings
Folding Hinge Struts: Numerous antenna systems have been developed in the last
30 years that utilize folding struts. They usually require some drive motion to
deploy, including a latching mechanism at the end of the deployment travel.
Figure 7-4 shows a simple hinge design, which could have an over-center locking
Sliding Coupling Struts: Similar to the folding design, sliding struts could be
used, with a locking mechanism at the end of travel. Typically there is less force
necessary to latch these struts, as it would take significant force to return them to
the sliding configuration. Figure 7-5 shows this configuration, with a large angle
sliding surface to lock the surface into place. Springs could be used to hold the
mechanism in position.
Telescoping Struts: Due to excessive weight and drive force required telescoping
struts have not been applied to deployable space applications. As motor cost and
efficiency increase, this could become a viable option. Figure 7-6 presents this
configuration, which would encourage tapered diameter struts, which improve the
specific stiffness of a complete system.
Inflatable Struts: A very different approach, but one that has been gaining favor
with the space structures design community, is inflatable spars. The leaders in the
field are ILC Dover (DE), LGarde (CA), and SPS (AL). This approach can
minimize the stowed spar volume, but analysis has shown that the size and weight
of the deployment system is comparable to the three mechanical deployment
schemes. The deployment requires a charge of gas energy, which requires a space
qualified pump and tubing. One patented approach uses a UV hardening polymer
that creates a solid structure once the inflatable is deployed. Another uses
humidity evacuation technology to harden the tube. In all cases, structural
integrity on orbit cannot be maintained merely by gas pressure; a solid structure
must be provided.
Figure 7-4. Folding Hinge Design
Figure 7-6. Telescoping Design
The greatest advantage to inflatables is that once the struts are deployed, they are
almost uniform in cross sectional area and material properties. The mechanical
approaches presented above introduce stiffness discontinuities at a minimum, and non
linear load responses as the worst case. A trade study of these approaches is presented
Table 7-2. Strut Deployment Trade Study
Design relevance to other
Moderate deployment forces
Potential stiffness non-
Potential hinge surface galling
Locking hardware required
Minimal deployment forces
Positive locking position
Potential bending stiffness non-
Limited design history
Potential contact surfaces
Minimal stiffness non-
Requires interference fittings at
Potential contact surface galling
Large deployment forces
Very compact packaging
Near homogeneous deployed
Requires deployment pump and
Weight savings limited
The key to maintaining control over the surface once the antenna is deployed, as well
as modifying the surface direction and accuracy, is the strut/tie interaction. Two
approaches have been studied to manage the ties during deployment.
Stowed Ties: By simply folding the ties along the struts (Figure 7-7), they can be
released by force restraints, which are highly sensitive and as the loads reach a
predetermined value, will release the ties. Elastic ties would save the need for a
reel to take up the slack, but the disadvantage is extreme loads in the tension ties
prior to deployment. This could be required for months.
Figure 7-7. Stowed Ties
Reel Ties: Whether or not the ties are elastic, a reel could be used to take up the
slack, changing the forces in the structure (Figure 7-8). This added hardware
(potentially one motor per strut) increases complexity, weight, and therefore cost.
A trade study for these approaches is presented below.
Table 7-3. Strut/Tie Trade Study
Stowed Ties (cord)
Can only be used for
planar ties due to
Stowed Ties (elastic)
Ease of stowage
HIGH STOWAGE LOADS
Reel Ties (cord)
Clean, snag-free design
Reel Ties (elastic)
COMPLEX DESIGN AND
One design issue, which is critical to the mission success of this type of subsystem, is
snag prevention. Since these antennas are deployed remotely, any potential snag could
degrade or destroy the reflector surface. By using elastic ties, which are under prestress,
they are less likely to catch on deploying struts. Similarly, the cord-ties must be stowed to
ensure deployment success. This issue will be addressed further in Chapter 8.
Figure 7-9 presents a potential deployment scheme. The requirements for this
operation are primarily low shock load and continuous motion. Despite the inherent self
deploying nature of tensegrity structures, they cannot be allowed to spring into position
for fear of introducing high shock and vibration loading into the system. Once the system
has deployed, changing tension in the ties, and therefore position of the struts, can alter
Deployment and Surface Adjustment
Figure 7-9. Deployment Scheme
Previous Related Work
During the 1990s, tensegrity structures became increasingly applicable to space
structure design, including space frames, precision mechanisms, and deployables. The
leading names in this new field have been Motro (France), Wang (China), Pellegrino
(England), and Skelton (United States). Motro  edited a special edition of the
International Journal of Space Structures, which was dedicated to tensegrity. Kenneth
Snelson wrote an introductory letter for this edition describing his invention. Fuller's
contribution to its development, and the synergy between art and engineering.
Motros work  has predominantly focused on the stability of tensegrity
structures, including force density, non-linear analysis and morphology. Despite his clear
focus on the engineering aspects of tensegrity, he has an excellent grasp of the artistic
applications for this work. There is a clear development of stable, strut/tie structures from
rectilinear (one dimensional), planar (two dimensional), through to spatial (three
dimensional). The 3-3, octahedron tensegrity is an excellent example of a spatial
structure. He has developed multiple tensegrity structure designs, which solve some of
the toughest curved-surface problems for space structures. This class of structure requires
extremely lightweight with excellent geometric stability and deployability.
Wang [1998 a & b] has performed some of the best work on cable-strut systems as an
extension of tensegrity. Reciprocal prisms (RP) and crystal-cell pyramidal (CP) grids,
which technically exclude tensegrity systems, are the basis for his space frame
applications. He developed a hierarchy of feasible cable-strut systems that include his
new discoveries and tensegrity. Starting with triangular RP and CP simplexes, square,
pentagonal, and hexagonal systems are developed to build cable domes, ring beams
[Wang, 1998c], and double-layer tensegrity grids [Wang and Liu, 1996], His work in the
feasibility of these new applications is very important to space structure development.
Dr. S. Pellegrinos staff at the University of Cambridge has focused on the
application of tensegrity to deployable space structures. Precision is of great concern with
these kinematic systems, and recent system developments have required even higher
precision from much lighter structures. By developing the mathematics for cable-
constrained nodes, You  has been able to very accurately model the position of
mesh antenna surfaces, including proven experimental results. Studies in the analysis of
mechanisms [Calladme and Pellegrino, 1991], folding concepts for flexible but solid
surface reflectors [Tibbalds et al. 1998], and shape control based on stress analysis
[Kawaguchi et al. 1996] have all greatly contributed to the state of the art. Infinitesimal
mechanism analysis has led to prestressing conditions, which are critical to understanding
deployable tensegrity structures. Their work with semi-solid antenna reflectors has solved
some of the fundamental problems associated with deploying these delicate systems.
Launch capacity (size and weight) has continually reduced in recent years, requiring
multiple folding systems to provide larger and larger structures. Obviously, once these
structures are deployed and in operation, the surface must be maintained to meet
performance requirements. Pellegrino has led the community in predictive models for
using stress profiles (and node position control) to ensure reflector surface positioning is
Skelton and Sultan  has seen the control of tensegrity structures as a new class
of smart structures. This work has been applied to deployable telescope design [Sultan et
al. (1999a)], where precision is orders of magnitude tougher than deployable antennas.
He has also been instrumental in the development of integrated design [Sultan and
Skelton, 1997] and reduction of prestress [Sultan et al. (1999b)], which are critical to
solving position correction and dynamic control issues.
Alabama Deployment Study
The University of Alabama provided a deployment study for Harris Aerospace that
suggested some alternative approaches to deployment. One such approach, gas-filled
shock absorbers, would allow a self-deploying system like this tensegrity structure, to
maintain a controlled deployment sequence. This study found that, based on the current
design practices deployable space structures, the highest scoring actuator was the motor
and lead screw combination. This is the most common scheme employed today. Alabama
also suggested that other forms of deployment control should be considered due to the
high cost of space qualification for these subsystems. The viable options presented
included: spiral springs, pneumatic cylinders, and compression springs. Since the
tensegrity design provides the spring energy, a pneumatic design might be of use. The
proportional velocity law governed this passive type design (damper). The energy
equation is first order from stowage to deployment [Equation (1)], suggesting that a
controlled sequence could be determined to ensure safe, low transient force deployment.
Cx + Kx = 0 (7-1)
Deployment Stability Issues
The calculations for the 3-3 design, which were presented in Chapter 3 (Parallel
Platform Results), suggest that there is a singularity at the tensegrity position. Figure 7-10
presents a sequence from the Central Position, through the Aligned Position and the
Tensegrity Position to the Crossover Position, where the struts intersect. The angle <|) is
equal to 0 at the Central Position and increases as the platform rotates counterclockwise.
The angle a is equal to 0 in the aligned position. The former value is consistent with the
CIMAR calculations. The later value is consistent with Kenners works.
For the tensegrity design, the Central and Aligned Positions are not stable, as the ties
are in compression. The Tensegrity Position is a stable critical point. This suggests that
the design has instantaneous mobility, and any minor perturbation to the structure, while
not necessarily causing instability, would provide sufficient energy to oscillate the
antenna enough to degrade antenna performance.
Figure 7-10. Octahedron Configurations
To improve the design and stability of the tensegrity structure, while not affecting the
self-deployability, another set of ties is added between the vertex of the base and the
opposite vertex of the platform (Figure 7-11).
Figure 7-11. Redundant 3-3 Structure
This results in four ties at the end of each strut, versus the three in the original design.
Again, the angles (|) and a represent the works of CIMAR and Kenner, respectively.
Figure 7-12 presents the rotations from the Central Position, through the Aligned and
Tensegrity Positions, to the Crossover Position, where the struts intersect.
Tensegrity Position (singularity)
Crossover Position (interference)
Figure 7-12. Redundant Octahedron Configurations
The mathematics to calculate this 3-3+ structure is similar that for the 4-4 and 6-6
structures, in that the Cauchy-Binet theorem is employed. Because there are now nine (9)
connections between the platform and the base, the resultant J is a 6x9 matrix.
Therefore, J is a 9x6 matrix.
As shown in Chapter 5, the quality index is calculated using the determinant of the
combined matrices (det JJ ). The ratios for a, b, and h, which represent the maximum
quality index ratios, were also calculated. The significance of this design change is shown
in the Figure 7-13. The quality index remains relatively constant as the platform rotates
through 120, varying a total of 25%, from a minimum of .75, to a maximum of 1.0. This
amount of variation is negligible, as compared to the standard 3-3 design, and suggests
that the fourth tie creates redundancy, avoiding the singularity at tensegrity. The structure
is stable and practical. Note that for the standard 3-3 design, A,=0 at a=30, as predicted
by the calculations in Chapter 5.
Further, there is a suggestion here that the articulation of a single strut could provide
necessary antenna surface motions. Since the reflector surface for a deployable antenna is
couple to the ends and midpoints of the struts, extension of these structural members
could alter the surface of the antenna, thereby performing various or simultaneous
mission tasks. If this were true, the same antenna reflector could be used to communicate
with more than one location.
Figure 7-13. Quality Index vs. Rotation About the Vertical Axis
An efficient (minimized) stowage volume is an equally important requirement to the
deployment and antenna functions previously presented. Typically, antennas are designed
with extra folds along the length of the struts to reduce the launch vehicle shroud height
requirement. For a standard hub and spoke' design deployable antenna, an extra fold
can be included at the midpoint of the spar (see section view in Figure 8-1). With this
method, a 15-meter diameter antenna would have a stowed package volume of
approximately 4-meter height and 4-meter diameter. This extra fold along the spar length
greatly increases the material content, complexity of the structure, and touch labor to
assemble the system.
Figure 8-1. Current Deployable Antenna Design
This chapter addresses the final goal for this research: a study of the tensegrity
structure parameters. This approach will increase the efficiency of the stowed package,
by maximizing the use of the spars for the antenna, and not just the structure. In Chapter
6, at the maximum 6-6 quality index (Central Position), the height h was equal to
approximately 0.6 times a. The base dimension b was equal to approximately 1.2 times a.
Modifying the a/b and a/h ratios would reduce the length of the spars. This would
improve the efficiency of the structure by maximizing the deployed structure (tip to tip)
diameter for a minimized strut length.
Minimized Strut Length
As presented in Chapter 7, the typical launch vehicle (Extended Delta Class) shroud
could not accommodate the baseline, 15-meter diameter deployed tensegrity antenna,
wherein the strut length is 19 meters. The following is a mathematical trade analysis
between the size of the base (b) as defined in Chapter 5 (6-6 Design), the diameter of the
deployed surface (2a for the 6-6 design), and the strut length (1). The purpose of this
analysis is to design a stable structure while minimizing the strut length for the 15-meter
antenna. The 6-6 design is the basis for the deployable design. Table 8-1 presents the
geometric relationships for the three candidate structures (3-3, 4-4. and 6-6).
Table 8-1. The Three Tensegrity Structure Designs Considered
# of Struts
# of Ties (total)
The tensegrity position for the 3-3 structure, as defined in Chapter 7, is at (|)=90o and
a=30. Despite any changes in the a. b, or h values, tensegrity structures maintain the
same rotation angle relative to the Central Position (Chapter 7). This characteristic of
tensegrity, related to the static force balance in each strut. This position is uniquely in a
singularity at this equilibrium position. Unfortunately, the quality index approaches zero
at the tensegrity position. This is known as a stable critical point, which means that the
structure has instantaneous mobility (i.e. small forces can produce motion), but because
the energy is at a minimum in this position, the structure is stable. The quality index is
zero because the determinant (det J) becomes zero. To determine this mathematic trade,
the Central Position will be analyzed and the results hypothesized for the tensegrity
For the 3-3 structure, the Central Position is defined as (|)=0o or a=-60. As presented
in Chapter 5, the determinant of the J matrix and the determinant of the maximum of this
matrix (Jm) are |j|
( 2 i i 2 h3
a -ab + b ?
and Jm =
321a2 -ab + b2^
Jm is a simplification of the J matrix with a substitution of the maximum height (hm)
values. This geometry corresponds to the maximized quality index. The value is
l [ 2 2) d
hm = J-\a -ab + b /, found by taking the partial derivative and setting it equal to
zero (a calculus inflection point). Calculating the quality index, X = p-1- yields:
As the lim (A.), which means that the base reduces to a point, the Equation 1 reduces to
Rooney et al.  refers to this design as the tensegrity pyramid'.
As a first-design, the ratio a/h=l is chosen. This further reduces the equation to
which is an acceptable quality index (optimum is A.=T.O). But to define a class of
structures with acceptable Quality Indices, a new value y is introduced. This value, y =
or h = ya represents the ratio of the side of the platform relative to the height of the
structure. This changes the equation to
' 1 '3
and taking the derivative
of the denominator, the maximum values for the quality
index (the denominator equals zero) is found at y =
plot of the quality index (A.) vs. the ratio values (y =
a 0.58. Figure 8-2 presents the
At this value of y, the quality
index has a relative value of 1.0.
Although there appears to be a mathematic benefit to designing a deployable
platform, such as a tensegrity structure, with a base width of zero (hence a point) there
are practical engineering limitations. The most obvious one is that the lines of the ties and
the struts approach each other. This reduces the structures stability to zero. As the ties
that define the base approach zero length (b=0), the ties that define the platform cease to
be in tension. This is due to the connecting ties becoming collinear with the struts, and
therefore ceasing to create an off-axis moment (see Figure 8-3). Additionally, it is
impractical to connect an antenna structure at a point, as moment loads would approach
Figure 8-3. Reduction of the Base to Zero
Based on these observations, a compromised geometry is necessary. To this end, the
base should be minimized, and the y = ratio chosen for the maximized quality index.
Table 8-2 presents the results of three choices of Base Planar Tie length (b) with
maximized quality index. Figures 8-4, 8-5, and 8-6 present the curves for the b= ,
and cases, respectively.
Table 8-2. Quality Index for b= and Cases
2 4 8
y at ^max
1 +h T
- = 0.5a
13 + h '
48h + a2,
f 13 "l
V 48y J
'57 + h V
,192h + a2J
f 57 ^
Figure 8-4. X vs. y
The conclusion drawn by this analysis of the base size is that there is no appreciable
improvement by making the base larger or smaller. That is, by using just the stability of
the structure (quality index) as the decision criterion. Stern  developed a series of
equations to describe the forces in the ties as the platform (a) and base (b) dimensions are
varied. Simply put, the ratio of a/b changes linearly with the force in the ties. In other
words, if the base dimension is reduced by 50%, the force in the base ties increases by
50%. Based on this research, it would be impractical to reduce the base dimension to a/8,
as the forces would increase an order of magnitude. Therefore, the ratio a/4 was chosen
because it reduces the strut lengths, provides a sufficient base dimension to attach the
antenna, and still does not increase the tie forces too greatly.
As presented in Chapter 7, additional ties can be included in the 3-3 design, thereby
improving the quality index. For the 4-4 and 6-6 structures, the index approaches 1.0 for
virtually any position. Figure 8-7 presents the design for the 3-3 structure. In this case,
the A. varies only 25% from 0.75 to 1.0 (as shown in Figure 7-13).
Figure 8-7. Reduction of the Base to Zero (Redundant Octahedron)
a) b0; c) b=0
As presented in Chapter 4, the Jacobian (J) for the 4-4 structure is a 6x8 matrix, and
an understanding of the Cauchy-Binet Theorem aids in obtaining the quality index. As
previously presented, the numerator for the quality index (A.) reduces to
et JJ 1 =
(a2 -V2ab + b2 + 2h2f
- The denominator represents the maximum
possible vale for the numerator was found by using h=0. This value is
(a- 4l ab + b2 ) 2
. The height (h), which is used to find the
denominator, is hm = y-^(a2 V2ab + b ). Again, following the work in Chapter 4, the
quality index is therefore.
(a2-V2ab + b2+2h2f
As the lim (l) this reduces to
= (a2 + 2h2J
By using y = , the equation reduces further to
16^2 h3 16V2 I6V2
a + 2 h
2y + -
l a )
with a maximum X at y =
0.71. Figure 8-8 plots X vs. y.
Figure 8-8. X vs. y
for the Square Anti-prism
3 3 3
Similarly, the equations for b equals - and are presented in Table 8-3. Figure
2 4 8
8-9 presents the first A. vs. y plot. The second and third cases are similar, but it is obvious
that the y value at A.max changes significantly between a/2 and a/8.
Table 8-3. y at b= and
2 4 8
y st Amax
5 1 V2
4 V2 j
,4 V2 ,
2y + -
5 1 V
17 1 >
16 2V2 y
'17 1 ^
'17 1 v
65 1 "
'65 1 N
2y + -
65 1 'j
The 6-6 tensegrity design is the basis for this new class of deployable antenna
structures. The calculations are similar to those for the 4-4 to solve the 6x12 J matrix.
The numerator for X, taken from Chapter 4, is
(a2 --\/3 ab + b2 + h2 J3
denominator, which is found by using h equals zero is
\laei J m J m "
^ x Ilia 11 VulUv la 11 y yd V d dU 1 L/ J
8(a2 -V3ab + b2} 2
quality index is therefore,
A 8h3(a2 V3ab + b2f2
"(a2-V3ab + b2+h2)3
As the lim (A.) this reduces to
(a 2 + h 2 J
By using y = , the equation reduces further to
v a j
3 rn u\3 ( ix3
with a maximum A. at y = 1. Figure 8-10 plots A. vs. y.
Similarly, the equations for b equals and are presented in Table 8-4. Figure
2 4 8
8-11 presents the A, vs. y plot for the case. The second and third cases are similar.
Again, the y at A.max values vary greatly as b is reduced from a/2 to a/8. Keeping the work
of Stern  in mind to minimize the tie forces, b=a/4 is chosen as a compromise.
Using this chosen ratio, h/a=0.79, b/a=0.25, and therefore, b/h=0.32.
Figure 8-10. X vs. y
for the Hexagonal Anti-prism
Quality Index (a/2)
Figure 8-11. X vs. y
for the Hexagonal Anti-prism
Table 8-4. A and y for b= and
2 4 8
y at A-max
v4" 2 J
l4 2 JJ
r 17 vy
[l6 4 /
[l6~ 4 J
,64' 8 ,
,64' 8 J
The requirements process introduced in Chapter 1 comes from a history defined by
predictive engineering and unfortunate system failures. The participating hardware
development companies have been greatly aided over the years by the work of analyst
such as James R. Wertz. This process is based on problem definition and end vision, with
a activity definition to reach the end goals. Space structures in general, and precision
subsystems such as deployable antennas in particular, have become mired in this
predictive process. The critical need for these subsystems has driven the development
process to be extremely conservative, building larger, heavier, and stronger structures
than are necessary to meet the mission requirements.
This work has applied the theories of some of the greatest minds in mathematics
(Ball, Pliicker, etc.) and engineering (Kenner, Hunt, etc.) to the simple and elegant
architectural designs of Snelson and Fuller. The premise for embarking on this work was
that architecture, by definition, leans more toward art than engineering, but combines
form with function. Pearce (1990) accurately presented the theory whereby nature abhors
inefficiency, requiring everything from dragonfly wings to cracked mud to find a
minimal potential energy. It is this confidence in the efficiency of nature and its obvious
tie with architecture which defines this work.
In Chapter 3, a geometrical stability criterion measured by the quality index was
introduced as defining an acceptable design. Within this stability, the structure should
deploy (preferably self deploy) and stow to allow placement in the space environment.
After development of the 3-3, 4-4, and 6-6 parallel structures, this theory was applied to
the tensegrity position. It is most interesting to note that this position happens to occur
when the quality index is zero. This is known as a stable critical point in Chaos Theory.
In this position, the structure has instantaneous mobility, whereby small perturbations can
create small deflections of the antenna. Adding extra connecting ties between the
platform and the base nullifies the instant mobility and provides a very stable
structure. Further analysis proved that the antenna surface of this class of structures can
be commanded to move on a screw whose axis is perpendicular to the surface. This
happens to be a useful function for antenna surfaces, allowing them to address various
feed centers (located at the focal points of the parabola).
Applying Tensegrity Design Principles
The idea for applying tensegrity design to deployable antennas has been suggested
numerous times over the last two decades, but this work has addressed the mathematics
necessary to prove its stability and therefore its applicability. The 6-6 structure has been
chosen to provide enough radial spars on which to hang the reflective surface of the
antenna. Again, possible advantages and disadvantages of the instantaneous mobility
issue at the tensegrity position warrant further investigation.
An improvement was presented for these designs with additional ties above the basic
tensegrity design (two ties from each base vertex). A mathematic analysis of the quality
index for these augmented 3-3 and 4-4 structures showed a marked improvement in the
indices. For the 6-6 design, the basic tensegrity design with 12 platform/base connections
(Figure 9-la) is augmented to a total of 18 (Figure 9-lb), 24 (Figure 9-2a), 30 (Figure 9-
2b), and 36 (Figure 9-3).
Figure 9-1. Hexagonal Anti-prism Designs
(a) Basic Tensegrity Design (12 platform/base connections); (b) Augmented Tensegrity
Figure 9-2. Augmented 6-6 Hexagonal Anti-prism Designs
(a) Augmented Tensegrity Design (24); (b) Augmented Tensegrity Design (30)