Title:
METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR SPACE OUT OF PERMANENTLY DEPLOYED WELL SENSORS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A system and a method for adjusting the length of a cable between downhole sensors. The length adjustment system comprises a housing and at least one deforming member configured to translate relative to the housing. An actuator may be coupled to the deforming member and configured to translate the deforming member. The cable is deformed with one or more arcuate deformations, thereby reducing the length of the cable as measured relative to a straight line.



Inventors:
Howard, Peter (Bellville, TX, US)
Lovell, John (Houston, TX, US)
Nelson, Charles M. (Stafford, TX, US)
Speer, Robert (Spring, TX, US)
Application Number:
12/206818
Publication Date:
03/12/2009
Filing Date:
09/09/2008
Assignee:
SCHLUMBERGER TECHNOLOGY CORPORATION (SUGAR LAND, TX, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
166/64
International Classes:
E21B47/01
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
RO, YONG-SUK
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SCHLUMBERGER ROSHARON CAMPUS (Houston, TX, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A length adjustment system for adjusting a length of a cable comprising: a housing; at least one deforming member configured to translate relative to the housing; at least one actuator respectively coupled to the at least one deforming member and configured to translate the deforming member; wherein translating the deforming member deforms an inserted cable thereby reducing the length of the cable as measured in a straight line.

2. The length adjustment system according to claim 1 further comprising: a guide channel in at least one of a top member or a bottom member of the housing and configured to accommodate the inserted cable.

3. The length adjustment system according to claim 1 wherein the at least one deforming member comprises three or more deforming members and the at least one actuator comprises three or more corresponding actuators.

4. The length adjustment system according to claim 1 wherein the actuator is configured as an externally threaded rod and further comprises an adjustor.

5. The length adjustment system according to claim 1 wherein the actuator is configured as a pressure operated piston.

6. The length adjustment system according to claim 1 wherein the deformable member comprises an arcuate member rotatively coupled to the actuator.

7. A method for adjusting a length of a cable comprising the steps of: providing a length adjustment device configured in an initial position; placing the cable within the length adjustment device; deforming the cable via actuating at least one deforming member, thereby reducing the length of the cable as measured in a substantially straight line.

8. The method according to claim 7, wherein the deforming the cable step comprises: actuating the at least one deforming member to a first position abutting the cable; actuating the at least one deforming members to a second position configured so as to deform the cable; actuating the at least one deforming member to a third position so as to facilitate release of the deformed cable.

9. The method according to claim 7, wherein the actuating of the at least one deforming member is controlled by a processor.

10. The method according to claim 7, wherein deforming the cable further comprises twisting the cable about a longitudinal axis after reducing the length.

11. The method according to claim 7, wherein deforming the cable further comprises providing substantially equal spacing between three or more sensors coupled to the cable.

12. The method according to claim 7, wherein actuating of the at least one deforming member is via a corresponding adjustor.

13. The method according to claim 10, wherein the cable is a hydraulic conduit.

14. A method for adjusting a length of a cable comprising the steps of: providing a length adjustment device configured in an initial position; placing the cable within the length adjustment device; holding one end of the cable in position relative to the length adjustment device; deforming the cable via actuating at least one of a plurality of deforming members, thereby reducing the length of the cable as measured in a substantially straight line.

15. The method according to claim 14, wherein the plurality of deforming members comprises three or more deforming members.

16. The method according to claim 15, wherein deforming the cable is sequentially performed in a single direction from the held end of the cable.

17. The method according to claim 14, wherein deforming the cable further comprises providing substantially equal spacing between three or more sensors coupled to the cable.

18. The method according to claim 14, wherein deforming the cable is performed by a processor controlling pressure operated pistons coupled to each of the plurality of deforming members.

19. The method according to claim 14, wherein deforming the cable is performed by manipulation of adjustors respectively coupled to actuators translating each of the plurality of deforming members.

20. The method according to claim 14, wherein deforming the cable further comprises twisting the cable about a longitudinal axis after length reduction.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/971,121, filed Sep. 10, 2007, the contents of which are herein incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND

1. Field of the Invention

Embodiments of the present invention relate generally to well methods and apparatuses, and more particularly to well methods and apparatuses for taking up cable slack.

2. Description of the Related Art

The following descriptions and examples are not admitted to be prior art by virtue of their inclusion within this section.

When deploying permanent reservoir sensors in a multi-sensor array in an oil or gas well, the sensors must normally be spaced out precisely to match the oilfield tubulars (tubing, casing, screens, liners, etc.) upon which the sensors are mounted. During the normal manufacturing processes of both the tubulars and the sensor array, there will be manufacturing tolerances on length for each that must be accommodated during run in hole procedures in order for the sensor to mount precisely in a correct position upon the tubular string. In other words, the sensor array must be made to precisely match the spacing of the tubulars and the sensor clamps that are normally positioned on or near the couplings joining the tubulars. This is normally done by providing for some consistent small amount of excess cable length between the sensors, which can then be taken up (shortened) in order for the spacing to match.

Several methods have been used in the past to take up cable slack, including wrapping the excess cable around the tubular. While this method can be used to remove several feet of cable slack, wrapping is not capable of removing small length mismatches (e.g., up to 4″) of cable slack. Wrapping can also leave the cable unprotected and subject to damage while running in hole with the tubulars.

Additionally, small, handheld cable bending tools can be used to make small radius 90, or 180 degree bends, but this type of handheld cable bending tool can damage the cable if not handled very carefully, and can also bend the cable in a radius that is smaller than the cable's minimum bend radius (MBR). If a cable is bent beyond a predetermined MBR, the risk of kinking the cable becomes high. This kink can represent a critical weakpoint in the cable. In addition, the use of a hand held cable bending tool is a very manual process and not repeatable. Also, the process is not readily adjustable or predictable for removing small amounts of cable slack.

What is needed is an apparatus and method for performing the length matching operation in a consistent and repeatable fashion, without generating an unpredictable level of risk of damage to the oilfield cable joining the sensors.

SUMMARY

In general, embodiments of the present invention provide a system and method for removing cable slack in a permanent downhole cable. A cable (e.g., conduit, control line, among others) may be placed within a length adjustment system. The length adjustment system may then deform the cable into one or more arcuate sections. The arcuate sections may be adjusted in number and/or depth to control the length of the cable along a well axis.

Another embodiment of the present invention provides a method for reducing the overall length of a cable along a well axis. The method may include steps of providing a length adjustment system, placing the length adjustment system in a first position, and installing a cable in the length adjustment system. Additional steps may include holding the cable in place, deforming the cable to a first amount via movement of a first deforming member, and then moving a second deforming member located proximate to the first deforming member, thereby deforming the cable to a second amount. The second deforming member may be the next in position along the length of the cable away from the holding position of the cable. The next step may involve moving a third deforming member to deform the cable to a third amount. The movements of the deforming members and the number of deforming members may be determined as needed.

The claimed subject matter is not limited to implementations that solve any or all of the noted disadvantages. Further, the summary section is provided to introduce a selection of concepts in a simplified form that are further described below in the detailed description section. The summary section is not intended to identify key features or essential features of the claimed subject matter, nor is it intended to be used to limit the scope of the claimed subject matter.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Certain embodiments of the invention will hereafter be described with reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein like reference numerals denote like elements. It should be understood, however, that the accompanying drawings illustrate only the various implementations described herein and are not meant to limit the scope of various technologies described herein. The drawings are as follows:

FIG. 1 is a front elevation view of a length adjustment system according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIGS. 2A-C are enlarged views of portions of other embodiments of a housing member of a length adjustment system of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a side perspective view of a deforming member used with the length adjustment system of FIG. 1, according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a front elevation view of a length adjustment system in a first position, according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a front elevation view of the length adjustment system of FIG. 4 shown in a second position, according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 6 is a front elevation view and partial schematic of a length adjustment system, according to another embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 7 is a side perspective view of a deforming member of a length adjustment system, according to another embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 8 is an enlarged front view of a conduit restraining device used with a length adjustment system, according to another embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 9 is a top view of a length adjustment system with deforming members configured to deform a cable about a longitudinal axis, according to another embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

As used here, the terms “up” and “down”; “upper” and “lower”; “upwardly” and “downwardly”; “below” and “above”; and other similar terms indicating relative positions above or below a given point or element may be used in connection with some implementations of various technologies described herein. However, when applied to equipment and methods for use in wells that are deviated or horizontal, or when applied to equipment and methods that when arranged in a well are in a deviated or horizontal orientation, such terms may refer to a left to right, right to left, or other relationships as appropriate.

In the following description, numerous details are set forth to provide an understanding of the present invention. However, it will be understood by those of ordinary skill in the art that the present invention may be practiced without these details and that numerous variations or modifications from the described embodiments may be possible.

Referring generally to FIG. 1, one embodiment of a length adjusting system 10 is illustrated as comprising a housing 100. The housing 100 may be generally rectangular in shape and include a left member 108, right member 109, top member 104 and bottom member 106 for example. In some embodiments, the housing 100 may be machined out of a single piece of material. In other embodiments, the housing 100 may be joined together using known conventional methods.

The housing 100 may be separated into sections by a plurality of support members 102A-F. In the illustrative embodiment shown, there are seven sections comprising similar components in each section. More than seven or less than seven sections may be used depending on such factors as cost, portability, effective length adjustment amount and manufacturability of the length adjustment system 10, among others. The plurality of support members 102A-F may be relatively evenly spaced between the top and bottom members 104 and 106. The plurality of support members 102A-F may help to stabilize the left and right members 108 and 109 during a length adjustment of an inserted cable (not shown in this figure).

The cable may also be a conduit, control line, or other downhole component requiring length adjustment. The cable may itself be a measuring device, such as a control line containing an optical fiber, or the cable may have measuring devices disposed along the length of cable. The slack adjustment may be to align components along the cable to specified locations along a downhole tubular, or the adjustment may be to ensure non-alignment of components to specified locations on that tubular. For example, it may be required to align sensors to precise axial positions related to couplings between threaded joints, or it may be required to place the sensors in such a way that they not be lying over a coupling. In a preferred embodiment the slack management of the cable will take place concurrent with the deployment of the tubular into a wellbore. The tubular may have specific indentations or protrusions designed to receive components along the cable.

Top member 104 may include a top guide channel 130 and the bottom member 106 may include a bottom guide channel 135. In some embodiments, the top and bottom guide channels 130, 135 may be relatively straight and slightly wider than the outside diameter of an adjusted cable. However, embodiments of the length adjustment system 10 are not to be limited to this illustrative example. Non-symmetrical, arcuate, or other geometric configurations may be used for the top and bottom guide channels 130, 135. In some cases, the top guide channel 130 may be configured differently than the bottom guide channel 135.

As shown in FIG. 2A, an embodiment of the top and bottom members 104, 106 may further include a positioning device 132 for holding or controlling movement of a cable (not shown in this figure) relative to the top and bottom members 104, 106. The positioning device 132 may be movable or removable in order to facilitate the insertion of a cable. In the embodiment shown, the positioning device 132 may be coupled to the top and bottom members 104, 106 by two threaded fasteners 134, for example. In other embodiments, an additional restraining force may be applied to the side of a cable (for example) from a spring loaded restraining device (not shown) coupled to the respective top and bottom members 104, 106. Although, the positioning device 132 is described with reference to the top and bottom members 104, 106, the positioning device 132 may be provided for one, both, or neither of the top and bottom members 104, 106.

Turning now to FIG. 2B, this drawing represents an assembly cross-section of FIG. 2A taken from line BB. A cross-section of the top and bottom guide channels 130, 135 may be substantially semi-circular in shape and correspond to the diameter of a cable to be bent or deformed. In other embodiments, the semi-circular cross-section may be larger than the diameter of the cable to be bent or the cross-section may be configured to accommodate a range of cable diameters. The semi-circular shape may be recessed within the top and bottom members 104, 106 such that the centerline of the semi-circular shape is located behind the front surface of the top and bottom members 104, 106. In the embodiment shown, the centerline is positioned such that the outer circumference of an inserted cable may be relatively flush with a front surface of the top and bottom members 104, 106. Recessing the centerline of the semi-circular shape to this degree may also facilitate controlling the cable with the restraining device 132 previously described.

In some cases, embodiments of the top and bottom guide channels 130, 135 may be lined with a guide liner 136 comprising resilient or deformable material such as Teflon, plastic, rubber, leather, or other material able to prevent or inhibit damage to the cable. The guide liner 136 may have a higher frictional value and be a different material in the top guide channel 130 than in the bottom guide channel 135. This would facilitate securely holding the cable by the top guide channel 130 of the top member 104 while allowing the cable to translate relative to the bottom member 106 within the bottom guide channel 135.

The restraining device 132 may have a protrusion 138 with a semi-circular recess approximately in the shape of a cross-section of a cable to be clamped. The protrusion 138 may be configured in this way so as to not apply a concentrated stress upon a single location of a clamped cable. In some embodiments, the protrusion 138 may also comprise a guide liner 136 similar to one provided with the top and bottom guide channels 130, 135. However, the guide liner 136 for the restraining device 132 may also be a different material than the guide liner 136 used for the guide channel 130. Additionally, there may only be one guide liner 136 on either the top and bottom members 104, 106 or the restraining device 132.

The top and bottom guide channels 130, 135 may have a radiused R1 upper or lower portions (only the lower portion is shown as being radiused in FIG. 2C). The radius R1 may be substantially equal to the radius of the deforming members 110 described later. These radiuses may further be limited by the MBR of the cable or range of cables intended for the length adjustment system 10. However, if radiuses R1 are present in the top and bottom guide channels 130, 135, they are not limited to the dimensions of the deforming members 110 and may be larger or smaller in size. In addition, although two radiuses R1 are shown symmetrically provided about a central axis of the top and bottom guide channels 130, 135, some embodiments of the present invention may use one, three, or four radiuses R per top and bottom member 104, 106. If more than one radius R1 is used, the radiuses do not have to have the same dimensions, and they may be sized according to the application of the length adjustment system 10.

The invention does not restrict the deformation to lie within a plane. For example, in many case the slack management of the cable will require that the cable then be placed alongside a cylindrical tubular. The deformation system can be designed so as to match the curvature of the deformed cable against the curvature of the tubular. In another embodiment, the deformation may be designed to induce a twist into the cable. For example, in the case that the cable has protruding components which must be placed flush with the downhole tubular, then the deformation apparatus can apply that needed twist to make the protruding component lie with the desired aspect to the tubular.

The housing 100 of the length adjustment system 10 may be divided into sections. Each section may comprise a deforming member 110A-G, an actuator 120A-G, and an adjustor 122A-G (detailed later). In order to simplify the detailed description, only one section will be described. The other sections are similar in form and function.

The first or top most section shown in FIG. 1 comprises a deforming member 110A, actuator 120A, and an adjustor 122A. In the illustrative embodiment shown, the deforming member 110A is coupled with the actuator 120A. Turning or manipulating the adjustor 122A results in a side-to-side or left-to-right translation of the deforming member 110A. Each of these components will be described in more detail below.

An embodiment of a deforming member 110 is shown in FIG. 3. The deforming member 110 may comprise an arcuate member 112 and a hub member 114. The arcuate member 112 may be a roller configured with a radius R2 at greater than or equal to the MBR of a cable intended for the length adjustment system 10 (FIG. 1). The arcuate member 112 of the current embodiment may be coupled to the hub member 114 via a bearing 116. Accordingly, the arcuate member 112 may rotate relative to the hub member 114.

The arcuate member 112 may further have a radially recessed arcuate channel 113 similar in general cross-sectional configuration to the top and bottom guide channels 130, 135 of the top and bottom members 104, 106 (see FIG. 1). For example, the arcuate channel 113 may be configured with a semi-circular cross-sectional area used for abutting against a cable. As with the top and bottom guide channels 130, 135, the arcuate channel 113 may be recessed such that a centerline of the cable is within the radially outermost portions of the arcuate member 112. Locating the centerline of a cable in such a way may further constrain the cable from flattening, kinking, or otherwise experiencing unintentional deformation while bending occurs to reduce the overall length. The arcuate channel 112 may also be lined with a guide liner (not shown in this figure) of resilient or deformable material such as Teflon, plastic, rubber, leather, or other material able to prevent or inhibit damage to the cable.

The hub member 114 may comprise a junction 115 for engaging an actuator 120A-G. In the illustrative embodiment shown in FIG. 3, the junction 115 is an internally threaded orifice configured to engage corresponding external threads surrounding the circumference of an actuator 120A-G. The junction 115 permits the deforming member 110 to translate along an actuator 120A-G.

The actuator 120A may be an externally threaded cylindrical shaft rotatively coupled to the left and right members 108, 109 of the housing 100. One end of the actuator 120A may extend through one of the left and right members 108, 109 to form the adjustor 122A. In the embodiment shown, only one adjustor 122A per actuator 120A is shown extending to the left of the left member 108. In other embodiments of the present invention, the ends of the actuator 120A may extend through both the left and right members 108, 109 resulting in the formation of two adjustors 122A per actuator 120A.

The adjustor 122A may be in the form or a knob, recess, or other couple able configuration for manipulation by hand, tool, or machine. As shown, the adjustor 122A is in the form of a hex head allowing for rotation by an air-tool configured with a standard size socket. In other cases, a knob configured to grasped and rotated by hand may be used. In still other situations, the adjustor 122A may be engaged by an electro-mechanical motor configured to respond to the instructions of a processing device (not shown in this figure). The configuration of the adjustor 122A may depend upon the availability of tools at the well-site and the amount of force required to deform the cable, among other factors.

Turning now to FIG. 4, a method of adjusting the length of a cable, conduit or control line will be detailed with reference to the drawings. In FIG. 4, the length adjustment system 10 is shown in a first adjustment position. In the first adjustment position, a cable has been placed within the length adjustment system 10 and may be retained in the top guide channel 130 by positioning device 132. Manipulation of the adjusters 122A-G may cause the actuators 120A-G to move the deformation members 110A-G to either side of the cable. In the embodiment shown, the deformation members 110A-G are alternatively placed on either side of the cable in order from top to bottom of the length adjustment system 10. In some cases, the first adjustment position may be used to hold the cable in place relative to the length adjustment system 10. The initial length of the cable may be represented as the length between points A and B as shown.

In FIG. 5, the first and second deformation members 110A and 110B are shown in a secondary adjustment position. In the secondary adjustment position, the first deformation member 110A and the second deformation member 110B have deformed the cable from the previous relatively straight configuration presented in FIG. 4. In this figure, two arcuate bends have been placed in the cable causing point B in the cable to move upward by an amount L. The effective length of the cable between points A and B has now been reduced by the amount L traveled by the lower section of the cable. Although two deforming members 110A and 110B are shown as having been moved, one or more than one deforming members 110 may have been moved.

The deforming members 110A and 110B may preferably be moved in sequence from top to bottom relative to the length adjusting system 10. By using this sequence of movement, only undeformed sections of cable will translate through the bottom of the length adjusting system 10. If another sequence were used, the cable may be cold worked as previously bent sections of cable may be pulled through the length adjustment system 10. Additionally, the preferred sequence may facilitate estimating the amount of length reduction by observing the movement of a single point B on the cable. The reduced length may be predicted based upon factors such as the radius and movement of the individual deforming members 110A-G.

As further shown in FIG. 5, deforming member 110C and the radiused right side of top guide channel 130 may be used to maintain a relatively straight overall configuration of the undeformed entry and exit portions of the cable. Accordingly, the cable may be easier to align and run in downhole.

The movements of deforming members 110A and 110B may be substantially equal in order to provide for symmetry along the overall length of cable. However, embodiments of the present invention may not be limited to this illustrative example. Deforming members 110A and 110B may be translated in differing amounts. In some cases, bends may be made only to one side of the cable. In addition, the number of deforming members 110 moved and the individual amounts of movement may vary depending upon the technician performing the length adjustment. In the case of a processor controlled length adjustment system 10, an optimizing program may be configured to precisely control the adjusting of the individual deforming members 110A-G.

After the cable is adjusted to the correct length, the deforming members 110A-G may be adjusted in the opposite directions to release the cable. If a positioning device 132 is used, the positioning device 132 may be released, thereby releasing the cable. If further adjustment is still needed, a new section of cable (e.g., a lower, undeformed section) may be inserted into the length adjustment system 10 and the process repeated for as many times as necessary until the desired length adjustment is reached.

Referring generally to FIG. 6, another illustrative embodiment of a length adjusting system 20 is illustrated as comprising a housing 200 and processor 300. The housing 200 may be generally rectangular in shape and include a left member 208, right member 209, top member 204 and bottom member 206 for example. In some embodiments, the housing 200 may be machined out of a single piece of material. In other embodiments, the housing 200 may be joined together using known conventional methods. The processor 300 may comprise an input device 305 and communication conduit 310 for coupling with actuators 220A-E contained within the housing 200.

The housing 200 may be separated into sections by a plurality of support members 202A-F. In the illustrative embodiment shown, there are seven sections comprising similar components in each section. More than seven or less than seven sections may be used depending on such factors as cost, portability, effective length adjustment amount and manufacturability of the length adjustment system 20, among others. The plurality of support members 202A-F may be relatively evenly spaced between the top and bottom members 204 and 206. The plurality of support members 202A-F may help to stabilize the left and right members 208 and 209 during a length adjustment of an inserted cable (not shown in this figure). The cable may also be a conduit, control line, or other downhole component requiring length adjustment. Each section may comprise a deforming member 210A-G, an actuator 220A-G, and one or more guide rails 221 (detailed later).

Top member 204 may include a top guide channel 230 and the bottom member 206 may include a bottom guide channel 235. In some embodiments, the top and bottom guide channels 230, 235 may be relatively straight and slightly wider than the outside diameter of an adjusted cable. However, embodiments of the length adjustment system 20 are not to be limited to this illustrative example. Non-symmetrical, arcuate, or other geometric configurations may be used for the top and bottom guide channels 230, 235. In some cases, the top guide channel 230 may be configured differently than the bottom guide channel 235. As with the length adjustment system 10, one or both of the top and bottom guide channels 230, 235 may comprise a positioning device 132 (see FIG. 2A) or a resilient restraining device 250 (see FIG. 8).

As shown in FIG. 8, an embodiment of a resilient restraining device 250 may comprise a resilient member 251 and a translating restraining member 252. As with other aspects of embodiments of the current invention, the contacting surface of the restraining member 252 may be configured to approximate and accommodate a circumferential profile of an inserted cable (not shown). The contacting surface of the restraining member 252 may also be lined with a resilient or deformable material such as Teflon, plastic, rubber, leather, or other material able to prevent or inhibit damage to the cable. The resilient member 251 may comprise one or more springs, foam, or other material able to exert a compression force upon an inserted cable.

As previously recited, the housing 200 of the length adjustment system 20 may be divided into sections. In order to simplify the detailed description, only one section will be described. The other sections are similar in form and function.

The first or top most section shown in FIG. 6 comprises a deforming member 210A, actuator 220A, and first and second guide rails 221. The deforming member 210A may be coupled to the actuator 220A. Further, the deforming member 210A may be movably coupled with the first and second guide rails 221. Actuating the actuator 220A may result in the deforming member 210A translating along the first and second guide rails 221. Each of these components will be described in more detail below.

An embodiment of a deforming member 210 is shown in FIG. 7. The deforming member 210 may comprise an arcuate member 212 and a hub member 214. The arcuate member 212 may be a triangular shaped structure comprising two sides joined together with a radius R2 at greater than or equal to the MBR of a cable intended for the length adjustment system 20 (FIG. 6). The arcuate member 212 of the current embodiment may be coupled to the hub member 214, or in some cases, the arcuate member 212 and the hub member 214 may be machined out of a single piece of material. The arcuate member 212 may not be required to rotate relative to the hub member 214 in this illustrative embodiment.

The arcuate member 212 may further have a radially recessed arcuate channel 213 similar in general cross-sectional configuration to the top and bottom guide channels 130, 135 of the top and bottom members 104, 106 (see FIG. 1). For example, the arcuate channel 213 may be configured with a semi-circular cross-sectional area used for abutting against a cable. As with the top and bottom guide channels 130, 135, the arcuate channel 213 may be recessed such that a centerline of the cable is within the radially outermost portions of the arcuate member 212. Locating the centerline of a cable in such a way may further constrain the cable from flattening, kinking, or otherwise experiencing unintentional deformation while bending occurs to reduce the overall length. The arcuate channel 212 may also be lined with a guide liner (not shown in this figure) of resilient or deformable material such as Teflon, plastic, rubber, leather, or other material able to prevent or inhibit damage to the cable.

The hub member 214 may comprise a first and second orifice 240 configured to translatably accommodate the first and second guide rails 221. In some embodiments, the first and second orifice 240 may comprise a separate bushing made from Teflon or other material configured to facilitate relative movement between the hub member 214 and the first and second guide rails 221. The hub member 214 may further comprise a coupling member 245 for engaging an end of the actuator 220A. In the illustrative embodiment shown, the coupling member 245 is represented as an internally threaded orifice configured to threadably attach to a corresponding end of the actuator 220A. However, various permanent and temporary methods of coupling the hub member 214 to the actuator 220A are considered within the scope of this disclosure. The coupling between the hub member 214 and the actuator 220A may permit the actuation of force in two directions parallel to a central axis of a guide member 221.

The actuator 220A may be a pressure driven piston for example, such as a hydraulic or pneumatic piston. As shown in FIG. 6, each of the actuators 220A-G may be operatively coupled to a processor 300 via a communications conduit 310. The processor 300 may individually actuate and control each of the actuators 220A-G so as to bendably deform an inserted cable. The processor 300 may control the order of actuation of the actuators 220A-G (e.g., from top-to-bottom, bottom-to-top, all left side, all right side, or some combination thereof). The processor 300 may also control the extent of movement of each of the actuators 220A-G, so as to precisely adjust the length of the cable in response to a dimension inserted via the input device 305. The processor 300 may comprise an optimizing routine in order to determine the extent and selection of actuation of the individual actuators 220A-G in response to an inputted length adjustment.

In the illustrative embodiment, two guide rails 221 are shown, however embodiments of the present invention may not be limited to this configuration. A single guide rail 221 or three or more guide rails 221 may be used. The guide rails 221 are shown in FIG. 6 as polished metallic rods, for example, configured such that the central axis of the first guide rail 221 is substantially parallel to the central axis of the second guide rail 221. However, a wide variety of structures may be used to permit and control the translation of the deforming member 210A. For example, in some cases a track may be machined into a surface of the housing 200 (e.g., between the left and right members 208 and 209) and the deforming member 210A may comprise a corresponding guide member (not shown) able to translate within and along the track. In other cases, a telescoping member (not shown) may be attached to a single side of the housing 200. In still other cases, the actuator 220A may be configured to provide a translation force along with the directional control otherwise provided by a guiding device (e.g., a hydraulic, telescoping piston for example, among others).

The method for operating the length adjustment system 20 may be the same or similar to the method used for operating the previously described length adjustment system 10.

Referring generally to FIG. 9, in some illustrative embodiments of the present invention, deforming members 310 may be hingedly or rotatably coupled to the length adjustment system 30. In such a situation, a cable (not shown) may be adjusted to provide accurate spacing along a tubular and/or to provide relatively consistent spacing for sensors. In addition, the cable may be twisted about a longitudinal axis so as to more readily conform to the curvature of the tubular upon which it is subsequently attached.

Accordingly, although only a few embodiments of the present invention have been described in detail above, those of ordinary skill in the art will readily appreciate that many modifications are possible without materially departing from the teachings of this invention. Such modifications are intended to be included within the scope of this invention as defined in the claims.