(Updated 1/19/2016 - announced tenative competition day!)
Some of the excited 2015 participants!
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. The seventh annual competition will be held (tenatively) on Sunday April 24, 2016.
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.
Mission, Rules, & Guidelines
This year's mission is " A High-Speed Long-Distance Special Delivery Aircraft." A successful mission profile includes the following:
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:
Internal combustion, jet, or rocket engines are not allowed
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.
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.
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:
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.
Keep in mind the following:
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 - email@example.com
Contact Dr. Miller, by email, with questions - firstname.lastname@example.org
"What I cannot build, I cannot understand" - Feynman
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