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AEROSPACE ENGINEERING

The 2016

BRONZE PROPELLER COMPETITION 

(Updated 5/2/2016, 3:30 pm - final competition results!)

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Some of the excited 2016 participants!
 

2016 Competition & Results

The 2016 competition was held at Wichita Heights High School, from 11:00am to 5:00pm, on Sunday May 1st. Nine teams, of 30-plus students, competed in the 2016 event. The weather wasn't ideal, but we made do (50-deg F, 15-20mph winds). Students, friends, family, and alumni showed up for the event. 

Team Shock Drop is the 2016 Bronze Propeller Competition winner! Congratulations to the following WSU undergraduate students (L-to-R in photo):

  • Mitchell Thompson
  • Kevin Hagen
  • Chris Oline
  • Wei Khoo
  • Miro Penheiro

Their names will be placed on the historic Bronze Propeller Trophy, located in the WSU Aerospace Engineering office.

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Team Shock Drop - the 2016 Campions!
 

The competition results and scores (MR/MT/PV/NSF & score) are as follows:

  • 1st-Place     Shock Drop (1/120/828/0 & 2.30)
  • 2nd-Place    Just Wing It (1/142/1152/1 & 1.35)
  • 3rd-Place     I-Drone (1/95/480/1 & 0.84)
  • 4th-Place     Cloud (a.k.a., “Princess Uni Kitty”) (2/165/288/1 & 0.58)

Team Cloud got the highest Mission Radius (MR), I-Drone had the shortest mission Time (MT), and Just Wing It got the highest Payload Volume (PV).

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Team Just Wing It - 2nd Place

 

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Team I-Drone - 3rd Place
 

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Team Cloud - 4th Place


Interestingly, Shock Drop is the only team to avoid a Non-Scoring Flight (NSF) (a zero value is good)! Competing with an aircraft that executes the mission without a problem is clearly desired. They only needed one flight attempt to win the event. Congratulations - that is some great engineering!

The following teams also competed, but didn’t secure points:

  • ROJAK
  • J-WATT
  • JOCKY
  • Heights High School Falcons (high school category)
  • 2-Days and a Storm (professional category)

Special mention goes to the high school and professional teams. The Heights Falcons team had a really interesting and unique design! The pro-team, Jimmy Tenant and Liam Collins, fielded a plane designed to carry a very large 12x60x2-inch package!

Special thanks to Mr. Jonathan Mowrey, Mr. Orion Patrie, USD 259, and the Heights Falcons! Jonathan once again provided outstanding piloting skills and great feedback – we couldn’t do the event without him. What a pilot! Mr. Patrie invited us to fly at Heights High School and hosted a great event – thanks a million.

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Jonathan Mowrey (left) - Bronze Propeller triple-ace pilot!


Also, particular thanks to the DBF team, they came out and helped with running the competition. It was a cold and long day. They did a great job.

Thanks to the families and friends of the teams. Everyone was involved in many different ways – there is plenty of blood, sweat, and tears to go around. I know the teams appreciate your support.

Thanks to all the former students who attended the event. It is great to see you again. It’s also nice for you to reminisce, especially with current students. You should design, build, and compete again (as pros)!

Perhaps most important, special recognition goes to the students who participated. Designing, building, and flying an airplane is a special experience. The time and emotional investment is significant. Sadly, few people will understand the feelings. When it’s all said and done, watching a part of your life successfully fly is simply beautiful.


Be sure to watch this page for information on next year’s competition. 2017 mission and rules will be posted late summer/early fall 2016. Don't forget there are high school and professional categories! Get a team together now!

 

 

Background 
The Aerospace Engineering department annually sponsors an aircraft design competition. The goal is to encourage involvement in a fun and educational activity.

Competing teams design and build an electric-powered, remote controlled, aircraft to fly a challenging mission. Undergraduate winners get their names on the Bronze Propeller Trophy. 

There are three participant categories: WSU undergraduate; high school; and professional. WSU aerospace alumni and graduate students participate in the professional category.

A successful design is well understood and properly developed from the beginning. Don’t let someone create a better overall design than you. Use engineering principles and methods to win!

Don't be shy. Form a team, build a plane, and fly! Mentors for high school and underclassmen student teams are recommended. Contact Dr. Miller for help finding a mentor. 

 

 

(Just for reference, the material below outlines the 2016 event.)

Mission, Rules, & Guidelines

This year's mission is " A High-Speed Long-Distance Special Delivery Aircraft." A successful mission profile includes the following:

  1. Install the payload
  2. Take-off
  3. Fly the box to the customer location
  4. Properly deliver the box
  5. Return completely home
  6. Land successfully

Think of this mission as a UPS, FedEx, or Amazon package delivery using a small fixed-wing unmanned aircraft. Range, speed, package size, and safe delivery are all important.

Competing planes must meet the following minimum requirements and constraints:

  1. The aircraft must be fixed wing (no rotorcraft, airship, etc.)
  2. The aircraft must utilize a single WSU supplied battery pack driving an electric motor and propeller
  3. A 20-Amp propulsion system fuse must be utilized
  4. The fuse must be safely and quickly accessible (located at least 6-inches behind the prop and easy to install/remove)

Internal combustion, jet, or rocket engines are not allowed

  1. The aircraft must be fixed wing (no rotorcraft, airship, etc.)
  2. The aircraft must utilize a single WSU supplied battery pack driving an electric motor and propeller
  3. A 20-Amp propulsion system fuse must be utilized
  4. The fuse must be safely and quickly accessible (located at least 6-inches behind the prop and easy to install/remove)
  5. Internal combustion, jet, or rocket engines are not allowed
  6. Aircraft wingspan is limited to 5-ft
  7. The payload must look like a box (i.e., 6 flat sides, 90-degree angles) and be made of any kind of foam
  8. The maximum box length, in the aircraft's longitudinal direction, is 12-inches (changed 9/3/2015, see Q&A 1)
  9. The length, width, and height are measured (rounded to the nearest inch) by contest officials to calculate payload volume
  10. The dropped payload box must fully separate from the aircraft in flight and descend by parachute
  11. The box must land on the ground (not in a tree, on wires, on a street light, etc.)
  12. The plane must be passively stable and human controlled  
  13. The aircraft must be predominantly made from commonly available model aircraft wood (e.g., balsa wood, basswood, or spruce) sheets of 1/32-inch, 1/16-inch, or 1/8-inch starting thickness
  14. Less than 1.0-oz of foam can be used for aerodynamic fairings (e.g., wing-fuselage fillets, nose cone, etc.)
  15. The use of composite or metal construction materials is prohibited (e.g., no graphite, fiberglass, Kevlar, aluminum, steel, titanium, etc.)(Metal landing gear is okay)
  16. Rubber bands can be used to mount wings (common RC airplane practice)
  17. All primary aircraft components must remain attached to the plane during a mission to obtain a score
  18. Mission scores are not counted for aircraft sustaining significant flight related damage
  19. Aircraft changes, during the competition, that deviate significantly from the initial design configuration are not permitted
  20. Aircraft can be repaired and flown again during the competition, as long as all rules are satisfied
  21. The use of any type of tape to secure anything on the plane is prohibited
  22. Secure servos using screws (no glue, tape, or Velcro)
  23. Velcro may be used to secure only the battery, Electronic Speed Control (ESC), receiver (RX), and wires
  24. The aircraft must be 100% conceived, designed, and built by team members (no one else)
  25. There will be one (1) competition day scheduled in April (likely a Sunday, noon to 4pm)
  26. A designated WSU pilot will fly the plane at the competition
  27. Teams have 3-minutes to ready, load, and takeoff once they are called to fly (otherwise they lose their spot in the flight queue and they earn a strike)
  28. Teams that get three strikes can no longer fly in the competition
  29. Deadlines for submitting department support, part, system, cutting, and other requests will be established in the spring and must be satisfied
  30. All competition rules, requirements, and constraints are subject to interpretation and change at Dr. Miller’s discretion
  31. Additional rules, requirements, and constraints can be added anytime
  32. Review all sections of this web page regularly, especially the Q&A’s
  33. Team members assume all risk with respect to disqualification

 

Flying Location (see above!)
The exact flying location will be announced in the spring. The dimensions are approximately 400x100-ft. Planes are expected to fly within this area at all times. The takeoff, landing, and payload drop zone is in the middle, with turns approximately 300-ft apart. Competition day takeoffs and landings are on grass, not from a prepared hard-surface runway.

 

Scoring
The BP competition score (SCR) is calculated using the following equation,                     

                    SCR=[(MR/3) x (150/MT) x (PV/450) x (3/(1+NSF))]

Where MR is the mission radius (laps), MT is the mission time (seconds), PV is the payload box volume (cubic-inches), and NSF is the number of non-scoring flights.

Recognize the number of complete laps flown after the payload box drop must be equal to, or greater than, the number of complete laps flown before the payload box is dropped! Clearly, you have to make it home after delivering a package. If you have a scoring flight, MR is the number of complete laps flown before the package delivery.

The Mission time (MT) includes the time it takes to install the payload and takeoff. A timer is started once loading begins and ends when the plane comes to rest after completing the mission. The value is rounded to the nearest second.

Contest officials measure the payload dimensions and calculate the volume (PV). All dimensions are rounded to the nearest inch.

The team’s best score, from all completed missions, is used to determine final BP competition results.

 

Non-Scoring Flights
The number of non-scoring flights (NSF) includes any during the competition that do not result in a score. This scoring term is intended to reward teams that do things right the first time, as a result of good solid engineering work and preparation. A good team effectively utilizes engineering methods to minimize test flights, meet performance goals, and to achieve operational success. Proper engineering is not about trial and error or playing around until you find something that works as good as you can get.

Teams experiencing system component problems (e.g., a malfunctioning servo) prior to or during a flight will not be assessed a NSF. Teams that crash or sustain significant damage during a takeoff or flight (e.g., due to weather) will not be assessed a NSF, unless Dr. Miller determines the failure is due to system or design/engineering/preparation issues.

Obviously, a non-scoring flight results if the number of complete laps after the drop is less than before the drop. If you have a scoring flight, MR is the number of complete laps flown before the package delivery.

Teams receiving a strike will not also be given a non-scoring flight (assuming they didn’t attempt a takeoff or flight). Don’t forget, however, you only get three strikes.

Work very hard to keep a zero NSF value. Employ engineering methods and prepare!
 

Required Power System
The plane’s propulsion system must use a single Thunder Power Magna Series LiPo (3S/450mAh/70C) battery pack supplied by WSU. This battery pack must operate, at minimum, the ESC and motor. The same pack can also be used to power the receiver and servos. Or, if desired, another battery can be used to power the receiver and servos.

The manufacturer claims the following for the Thunder Power Magna Series LiPo propulsion system battery:

  • It is 0.5-inches x 1.2-inches x 2.1-inches in size
  • The three-cell (3S) pack weight is 1.6-oz
  • The operating voltage is 11.1V and the capacity is 450-mAh
  • The maximum current rating is 70C (31A)

Please keep in mind actual performance and specifications don't exactly match manufacturer claims. WSU measured battery performance is available by clicking here.

There is a possibility that a specific Electronic Speed Control (ESC) will be required for all competitors as well. Please keep your eye on this site for updates.
 

Important Comments
Keep in mind the following:

  • All rules, requirements, and constraints are subject to interpretation and change by Dr. Miller.
  • Additional rules, requirements, and constraints can be added anytime.
  • Team members assume all risk with respect to disqualification (i.e., SCR=0).
  • Be sure to check the Questions & Answers (Q&A’s) section regularly.

A successful design is well understood and properly developed from the beginning. Don’t let someone create a better overall design!

 

Use engineering principles and methods to win!



Department Support & Mentors
The planes will be inexpensive to build. However, some teams may be eligible for limited AE department assistance to help build their plane (e.g., radio gear, motor, assorted supplies, laser cutting, etc.).

Additionally, as mentioned, the department will do what it can to provide mentors to help less experienced teams.

Deadlines for submitting department support, laser cutting, and other requests will be established in the spring semester. Teams must meet these deadlines.

Contact Dr. Miller for further information on mini-grant and mentor opportunities.


Engineer of 2020
Eligible WSU students, especially seniors, might be able to gain “Engineer of 2020” service-learning credit. These opportunities must be prearranged.  Contact Dr. Miller for further information.

 

Questions & Answers (updated 10/27/2015)
Visit this section regularly for official Questions and Answers (Q&A’s) that can have an impact on your design efforts.

Q1:  Does the maximum box length limit (12-inches) apply to all three box dimensions (i.e., length, width, & height)?
A1:  The maximum box length limit applies to the as installed longitudinal (nose-to-tail) dimension. It is permissible for the box dimensions to exceed 12-inches in the aircraft's lateral or vertical directions. 

Q2:  Is an air-inflated wing, like those used on paragliders, acceptable to compete with?
A2:  A non-ridge wing is acceptable. However, keep in mind that engineering related analysis and design for such a configuration introduces significant challenges.

Q3:  Can we include or add shapes to the front/back of the payload box?
A3:  Including streamlining shapes is allowed. However, these shapes cannot separate from the plane at any time during a mission.

Q4:  Will the payload parachute be given to us, and standardized for each team or do we size the parachute ourselves?
A4:  Responsibility for parachute design, sizing, and construction rests fully with competing teams.

Q5:  Can the payload deform or break on delivery?
A5: No, the payload cannot suffer significant deformation or damage on delivery.

Q6:  Can the payload be hollow and internally reinforced with something other than foam?
A6:  Yes the payload box can be hollowed out. However, it must still be box-shaped (no significant natural deformation) and it cannot be made of anything other than foam.

Remember to check Q&A's regularly! Contact Dr. Miller, by email, with questions - scott.miller@wichita.edu

 

Additional Information 
Contact Dr. Miller, by email, with questions - scott.miller@wichita.edu

"What I cannot build, I cannot understand" - Feynman

 

Visit this page often; don't miss important competition information and news!  ?