Object connections

OrcaFlex model objects can most generally be fixed, anchored, free or connected to some other model object as a child. The model object to which a child is connected is termed the parent. By convention, we describe the child as being connected to the parent, but not the other way around. Each child object has one or more points at which it can be connected to a parent; each of these points is drawn as a small blob on the child object.

Connections to most parent objects are made relatively and with respect to the local axes of that object. Other parent objects permit children to be connected at a choice of frames. For instance, it is possible to connect a child to any node on a line. For turbines, the default connection connects the child to the central hub, but it is also possible to connect objects to specific blades (more precisely, to the node structural frame at the specified arc length along the blade).

Once a connection has been made, the child connection point will be treated as if it were rigidly attached to the chosen point on the parent object.

Fixed and anchored objects remain fixed relative to the global axes at all times; free objects can move independently of other objects in response to wave loads, connected lines etc.; and the motion of a child object is controlled by its parent (with the loads that act on the child influencing the motion of the parent). However, not all of the connection options are available for all model objects:

Some objects can only be children, some can only be parents and some can be both:

Parent objects can have multiple children connected to them. For instance, a 6D buoy may have several child lines.

Connections are normally made by specifying initial position and orientation data, which determine where to place the child object relative to whatever it has been connected to. The initial position data take the form of $x$, $y$ and $z$ connection coordinates; the form of the initial orientation data varies from object to object, but ultimately defines the child's orientation relative to some connection axes. The meaning of the connection coordinates and the definition of the connection axes depends upon the type of connection made:

Notes: If a child object is connected to a parent line, then it is recommended that the parent line includes torsion. A warning will be issued if this is not the case. The reason for including torsion is that the child object might apply moments to the parent line. To be realistic, the motion of the parent line must be able to respond to these moments, but in the without torsion model these moments will be neglected. Similar reasoning applies if the child object is a line that is connected to the parent with a non-zero connection stiffness. Contrast this with the case in which the connection is pinned (zero connection stiffness): in this case no moment is ever applied by the child line to the parent line, so the parent line does not need to include torsion. If you wish to connect two line ends together with non-zero connection stiffness, without including torsion on either of the lines, but still wish to account for the moment transfer, then a workaround is to connect them both as children to an intermediate 6D buoy.
An object with rotational degrees of freedom, such as a 6D buoy, connected to a line that does not include torsion, has its angular velocity and acceleration calculated under the assumption that these quantities depend purely upon the bending properties of the parent line, with the unphysical twist contributions being ignored. Ignoring the twist is purely for reasons of performance. If the rotational properties of the child object are important, then you should model the line with torsion included.

Chaining connections

It is possible to have chains of connections, in which one object is a child to a parent which in turn is child to another parent, and so on. Eventually, the chain will terminate at some ultimate parent with free, fixed or anchored degrees of freedom, from which the position of all the children back down the chain are determined. Whilst the order in which the children are connected does not affect the solution to the equations of motion, chaining the connections to mimic those in the underlying physical system can nevertheless be useful as a way of determining connection forces between the connected objects.

OrcaFlex will not allow chains of connections to contain cycles, in which one object is an indirect child of itself; an error is reported if this is attempted. However, by changing the order of connections, it is always possible to construct an equivalent system that does not contain any such cycles.