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AEROSPACE ENGINEERING

The 2016

BRONZE PROPELLER COMPETITION 

(Updated 8/17/2015)

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Some of the excited 2015 participants!
 

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. The seventh annual competition will be held on one day in April 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:

  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 is 12-inches
  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
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 may not exactly match manufacturer claims. WSU performance test results will be released shortly (watch the web page).

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 (coming soon)
Visit this section regularly for official Questions and Answers (Q&A’s) that can have an impact on your design efforts.

Q1:  
A1:  

Q2:  
A2:  

Remember to check this area 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!