Development of an automated wireless tension force estimation system for cable-stayed bridges

Soojin Cho, Jerome P. Lynch, Jong Jae Lee, Chung Bang Yun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Cable-supported bridges rely on the use of steel cables to support the bridge deck and load on it. Cable tension forces are monitored during construction to assist the alignment of cables and to ensure no cables are overloaded. Given that the cables are critical load carrying elements, it is prudent to routinely monitor the levels of cable tensions during operation. With current measurement methods being costly and labor-intensive, this article proposes an automated and low-cost wireless sensor system for continuous monitoring of the cable tension based on the vibration signature of the cable. A vibration-based tension force estimation method using a peak picking algorithm is explored by embedding it in the computational core of a wireless sensor. Welch's method to average Fourier spectra from the segments of a long time history signal is employed to remove the non-stationarity of a short-duration acceleration record, which is a limit of the memory-constrained wireless sensor. A series of laboratory tests are conducted on a slender braided steel cable with a variety of cable sags and tension forces. Excellent agreements have been found between the actual tensions and those estimated by the present wireless system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-376
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Intelligent Material Systems and Structures
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2010


  • Cable tension
  • Embedded software
  • Modal analysis
  • Welch's method
  • Wireless sensor


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