Flight Test Video - Click on the pictures below for flight test video of our current prototype.


Ducted Fan Research and Acquisition - In our initial design we planned on using a ducted fan to lift our vehicle vertically in the air, this was to be our propulsion system.  We believed through our research and prior calculations that the ducted fan would be able to provide the proper thrust to lift our vehicle.  However, as we dived deeper in our research and testing we found that the ducted fan could not provide enough thrust to lift it's own weight.  Because of this discovery, we went with an alternative approach...Propellers.  Click on the link below to view the parts list and pictures of the ducted fan along with it's components.

Programmable Interrupt Controller (PIC) - The PIC is a microchip device that prioritizes interrupt requests generated by keyboards, serial ports, and other devices that pass them on to the CPU in PC in order of highest priority.  We have decided to use the PIC16F84A, as the controller for our aerial vehicle due to many beneficial factors.  The most important factor being that our advisor has students with in-depth knowledge and experience with the PIC.  The memory size is more than suitable for the development of the controller logic and the cost is inexpensive for it's application.  Click on the link below for the PIC's data sheet, video, part's list, etc.  

Click on the Pictures above for Video

Accelerometer - The accelerometer is sensor (ADXL202E) which shall measure the pitch, roll, and/or yaw of vehicle while it is in vertical hover.  The purpose of integrating the accelerometer into our design is for the control and stabilization of the vehicle in mid-hover.  As the vehicle in mid-hover pitches, rolls, and/or yaws, the accelerometer shall detect this instability and relay it's information to the PIC.  In return the PIC shall process this information and direct the servos, which control the baffles underneath the vehicle, to pivot accordingly to stabilize the vehicle.  Please click on the link for Demo and Pictures.

Test Rigs - Testing is an extremely important phase of any design, therefore effort must be placed upon the design of test rigs and testing procedure.  In our project we must develop testing rigs that will display and validate the vehicles ability to lift itself (thrust v. weight), it's ability hover, as well the vehicles stabilization.  In the links below, are our proposed test rigs as well as test rigs which we built, along with demonstrations.

Simulations and Controls - During the end of the Winter Term and the beginning of the Spring Term, we have come to realization that the development and manufacturing process of the system as a whole is much more difficult than originally assumed.  Because of this difficult, we have come to that the design and implementation of the control system may not be achieved.  Because we have never proposed that the control system must be embedded into our final prototype, we have decided to take another root to the control architecture issue.  The approach in which we are taking is that of simulating the motor/propeller/power supply system in regards to thrust and lift and designing a controller to bring the system to zero steady-state error @ minimal overshoot and minimal settling time.  In doing this we must complete the following:

  1. Hook up the optical encoder to the thrust tester with a step input and plot θactual vs. Time. 480 Results    280 Results
  2. Based on the above plot perform System Identification (i.e. calculate ωn, ξ, and τmech which the natural frequency, damping ratio and the mechanical time constant, respectively).  480 Results    280 Results
  3. Development of the dynamics of a propeller/airfoil attached to a DC motor, and find all parameters associated with the model to find the systems transfer function.  480 Results    280 Results
  4. Based upon the transfer function defined in STEP 3, make use of MATLAB to simluate the dynamics of the system and plot θtheoretical vs. Time.  480 Results    280 Results
  5. Design of a proper controller based off the Step Response in Step 2.    480 Results    280 Results
  6. Build Hardware for Controller Implementation
                        Click on the Pictures for Larger View or Video
  7. Physical Thrust Tester with Controller Implementation Results.    480 Results    280 Results

Helicopter Dynamics - This scope of this project involves the development of a Aerial Vehicle which shall have a controllable hover.  We are aware of current technologies today which allow for controllable hover.  In our research we came about the mathematical model of a  DC Helicopter with a main propeller and side rotor, we also found the references to the tandem configuration (Chinook) helicopter.  Since the helicopter dynamics are completely non-linear, it has been very hard to evaluate their dynamics and obtain useful equations for our modeling with our current undergraduate skill set.  However, we are aware that the hover-and-control dynamics of a helicopter is very similar to that of the inverted pendulum-cart experiment which a portion of the team members are familiar with.  In modeling the inverted pendulum and well as completing the inverted pendulum experiment, we are able to better grasp hover-and-control dynamics by understanding the inverted pendulum stabilization dynamics.

Carbon Fiber (CF) Propellers - During our design we came across ideas for manufacturing propellers.  Research was provided by Dr. Oh pertaining to CF propeller molding an article was written by Gordon Johnson, "Molding Carbon Fiber Propellers".  In following Mr. Johnson article we were able to manufacture our own propellers.  View the Tutorial section for an outline of our procedure as well as pictures.  In manufacturing these CF propellers we then tested them and compared their performance to hobbyist propellers which were store bought.


Nacelle Construction - In our design we wish to enclose the propellers so as to protect objects within the vehicle's immediate environment.  We also wish to shroud the "guts" of the vehicle (motors, batteries, control system, etc.).  In order to accomplish this task, we need to be able to fabricate a nacelle.  From the Styrofoam Manufacturing Technique Presentation, it explains our reasons for fabrication with Styrofoam. To briefly state the reasons, the Styrofoam can conform to any shape an size we desire, lightweight, durable, easily mass produced and a wealth of information regarding fabrication with Styrofoam.  Click on the link(s) below for pictures of our nacelle fabrication.

Analysis - During our design and testing we have compiled data to analyze our motor performance, baffle setups, and other miscellaneous items which fit into our design.  Below are a few links which show data or video for our analysis

Vectron Ultra Light - This aerial toy was studied because of it's co-axial configuration along with small size, where our design needs to be small in size to be backpackable, as well as the fact that the propellers are shrouded so to not cause damage out the outside environment.  During our research we came along this toy and thought it would be a good idea to figure out how the toy works by reverse engineering the toy as well as playing with it to determine whether it would be worth while to go with this type of co-axial configuration (analyzing stability issues, safety to objects within it's environment, and controllability).  Although the toy was beneficial in due to small size and enclosed propellers, it ultimately proved too unstable and too uncontrollable for the purpose of our project.  Click the links below to view our reverse engineering results and video of the toy.

Presentations - In Senior Design it is valuable to obtain feedback from advisors and consultants.  The best way to obtain this feedback is by presenting material which you may have accomplished to that individual or group.  Below are multiple presentations which have to given to our advisor, Dr. Oh, and from his feedback we are able to better improve our design and progress pertaining to the Senior Design Project