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A safety system for ziplines and cable cars

Image credit: ziplinestop.com

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Darko Savic
Darko Savic Aug 30, 2021
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A system that detects damages in steel cables used by ziplines and cable cars.

Why?

To prevent accidents caused by cable breaks.

There are 2 components to this system:

Constant audio monitoring

The cable is basically a string. Attach microphones at both ends and monitor the sound as the cable is being used. The software first determines a "baseline" of what is normal. If any wires in the cable break, the sound would change and an alarm would sound off.

Once per day video inspection

Every day, or whenever an inspection is required, a video trolley runs over the entire cable. 4 slow-motion cameras surround the cable and record the entire length of it. The section where the cameras are located is enclosed and artificially lighted with LEDs. This ensures an uniform lighting that doesn't depend on the outside conditions.

Software then compares the video to all the previous videos and highlights any changes.

In addition to the cameras, there are 4 wheels touching the cable from all sides. The wheels detect any bumps that then get highlighted on the video as well.

The video trolley always has the same weight. During a trolley run over the full cable length, the audio monitor can compare the results to previous trolley runs. The results should be more precise since fewer variables are changing.

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Creative contributions

Additional safety parameter - Electrical resistance

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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni Aug 31, 2021
Great idea, @Darko! Very much needed since damage to the zipline can be life-threatening.

Along with the audio and video inspection that you have suggested, electrical resistance could be measured after every trip to check for damage to the zipline. The measurement of resistance is pretty cheap and super-fast. Every time the bogey reaches the station, resistance could be measured and then the next trip could be initiated. Ohmmeters measure resistance with great sensitivity. Damage to the cable increases electrical resistance. The ohmmeters could be installed at intervals along the cable so that the damage (increase in resistance) could be precisely located. Every reading is compared to the baseline resistance and changes greater than a pre-specified threshold are flagged.
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Darko Savic
Darko Savic3 months ago
That's a great addition. How does having the zipline grounded on both ends affect the measurements? It's not feasible to unhook it. Also, how do air humidity and wet soil after rain affect the resistance. Maybe some minor changes would show up.
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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni3 months ago
Darko Savic A grounded cable should, ideally, have zero resistance. However, the realistic threshold used is about 5 ohms (https://www.fluke.com/en-in/learn/blog/grounding/why-ground). So, anything greater than 5 ohms will be flagged.

Yes, resistance increases with humidity so the algorithm should nullify the effect of humidity and then sound the alarm, if necessary.
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Additional safety parameter - Monitoring vibrations

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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni Aug 31, 2021
Metal cables vibrate due to even minute perturbations and these vibrations travel huge distances along the cable. Vibration sensors could be installed on both ends of the cable and the difference in the time taken for the vibrations to be detected on both ends could help locate the perturbation. These sensors need to be active all the time.

Also, whenever a bogey moves on the line, it will create some vibrations. If there is some damage, the parameters (frequency, amplitude, etc.) of the vibrations may change and these changes could set off an alarm.
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