SAE Aero Design Team Log - 2010 Competition
March 16, 2010
The competition may be over, but that just means it's time to start planning for next year! We've learned so much over the course of the entire competition, from general building techniques to better design practices to team management practices. With our newfound knowledge and experience, I really feel we can perform well in the next competition.
Our current rough idea of a goal for next year's competition is to lift 20 lbs (assuming no significant rule changes) and/or place in the top 30% of regular class teams. In order to accomplish this goal, we are striving to accomplish the following over the next A-section work term:
• Develop at least one CFD expert on the team with help from our advisor
• Gain access to the wind tunnel for use during the Summer term
• Intra-team design competition:
» Every participan puts together a rough design of a unique configuration for a possible Aero Design plane
» Once back on campus, each participant discusses the pros & cons of his/her design
» Not only will this help us decide upon next year's design, it will also serve as a useful reference for all future design efforts.
For more video of the competition, check out:
Whoever this is, they took a lot of good video from Saturday of the competition and compiled it nicely into 5 videos. Enjoy!
March 8, 2010
The last day of the competition was quite eventful for the Kettering team. We managed to get in 2 successful flights today, lifting 3.1 lbs on the second try. Our third flight in the final round of the competition, however, was a bit of a disaster. We decided to try for 8.1 lbs of payload. The plane lifted off ~15 past the limit, which was a disappointment, but at least it took off. The following flight was uneventful... until the wings snapped off the fuselage, and the plane plummeted from a height of ~100 ft straight into the ground a ways away from the runway, in the middle of the wet brush.
We ended up winning the award for best crash; so at least we can say we had an award-winning flight! We were all good sports about it, since we accomplished what we came for (namely, flying the plane at all) and we learned A LOT. I really think we'll give the veteran teams a run for their money next year!
Video from one of our successful scored flights:
Video of another successful flight, also showing the pre-flight preparation, and finishing with a beautiful landing:
Video of the final crash:
March 7, 2010
Down, but not out!
We crashed the plane on our first flight attempt of the competition. We were rushing to get the plane to the flight line, and didn't take the time to warm up the engine. Shortly after takeoff (and during a turn), the engine stalled, and despite the valiant efforts of David, the plane crashed. We spent the rest of today performing repairs to the plane to get it back into serviceable condition. We weren't able to complete our repairs in time to get another flight attempt in, but we're now ready for tomorrow morning. At least we missed the rain!
March 6, 2010
We're about to start day 2 of the competition. Today will be our first day of scored flights; there's rain in the forecast, but we're crossing our fingers that it stays away.
Yesterday was a busy day - went to bed around 2am, up before 7am to finish a few last-minute details on the plane, and then off to technical inspection at the Airtel. We passed the inspection with flying colors, then headed off to the flying field for our first test flight. We were all very nervous, but without weight in it, the plane took right off and flew great! On landing, the flaps were a great help, bringing our airspeed to <10mph for a soft landing. Success!
After a single test flight, it was time to give our oral presentation, which was created on the plane, and finished in the car on the way to the presentation. The presentation ended up going very well, with our final score equivalent to a B.
After the presentation, it was back to the flying field for more testing. After some minor difficulties, we were able to get in one test flight which, although not impressive, was very helpful in pointing out some potential problems with our plane.
All in all, it was a successful first day!
March 4, 2010
As I type this, 5 members of the Aero Design team - including myself - are on a flight en route from Atlanta, GA to Las Angeles, CA. The plane is being shipped separately, along with two more members of the team. We haven't had the chance to test fly the plane yet, but we'll have a chance to do so tomorrow morning after technical inspections. To be here, after coming so far, is simply amazing! We're all really excited about this weekend. We've worked hard; now it's time to enjoy the fruits of our labor. Can't relax too much, though - we need to get ideas for next year!
February 28, 2010
Haven't had time to update our team log because we've been so busy building the plane! We're all getting tired from long nights working on the plane, but there's a small chance that we'll have it done today, so we're all excited.
The rear half of the fuse is all assembled, as are the wings. All that remains is to finish the wing attachment points on the fuse, mount the engine to the firewall, and install the payload receptacle. Then cover it all with monokote, of course. We'd like to get a test flight in before we ship the plane to California, but between our busy schedules and the less-than-perfect Michigan weather, that's not likely to happen.
5 days to go!
February 22, 2010
Two more productive days!
We've now managed to glue together one side of the fuselage with the top, and the other side of the fuselage with the bottom. Tomorrow, assuming all goes well, we'll be assembling the two halves, along with the bulkheads, servo trays, and firewall. On Thursday, we should have the materials we need to build the wing, which should go together pretty quick (it's well designed, if I do say so myself!).
Overall, I'm cautiously optimistic that we may have the whole plane done before next week, so that we just might get a few test flights in before the competition.
On a final note, thanks to everybody who has been helping build this plane! Your help is greatly appreciated.
February 20, 2010
We have a plane! Well, the parts for it, anyway. This thing is unbelievably strong (we've started calling it the tank) and will need to be lightened considerably before final assembly. However, thanks to a good design and even better laser cutting, the parts will go together very easily. We still need a few specific pieces of wood, but once we have those, the entire plane will be done soon after.
Tomorrow morning we'll be breaking in our engine (an OS .61 FX, of course, as specified by the competition), along with cutting holes into our seriously overbuilt fuselage. We need to both reduce weight and move our CG forward.
I guess I also forgot to mention that we finally have a build location - a seemingly rarely-used and little-know room in the bowels of the academic building. Pictures will be going up soon. We also, very fortunately, have access to the Model Shop, which contains all sorts of machines, but most importantly, scrap wood and a table saw.
Two weeks to go; we'll make it in time!
January 22, 2010
We finally finished our design report and submitted it to SAE last night. What a relief! Now that that's out of the way, we can focus on the details of the plane, primarily the internal structure of the plane. This includes finalizing the number and size of bulkheads, and the placement and design of servo attachment areas. We'll be submitting purchase orders for all of our remaining materials, and for our travel arrangements, early next week. Hope to start building in a little over a week! We're still looking for a home for our building operations, though. Compared to practically every other team in the competition, we're likely months behind schedule - but that means that when (not if) we succeed in building a flyable plane, it'll be that much more satisfying.