Flight Management and Data Acquisition System for a Dynamically Scaled Model Airplane

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Solid Model
Sponsor Quest Aircraft Company, LLC
Team Name Kodiak Cub
Duration Fall 2015 - Spring 2016
Faculty Advisers
Mentor
  • Justin Pettingill
  • Students
  • Benjamin Clark
  • Evan Holbert
  • Nathaniel Meagher
  • Kelly Moore
  • Caleb Morgan
  • Jacob Skaug
  • Austin Wahl
  • Full-scale test airplanes are expensive to build. The goal of this project is to create a dynamically scaled model that flies like a full-scale Kodiak aircraft. The on-board data acquisition/management system collects data from the model’s sensors during flight which can be validated against sensors on the full-scale aircraft.

    The Customer[edit]

    Quest Aircraft Company, based in Sandpoint, Idaho, was started with the underlying mission to design and manufacture a backcountry aircraft specifically suited to the demanding needs of mission and humanitarian aviation organizations. Many mission field situations exist that can only be accessed by a STOL aircraft that can land on, and take off from, unpaved, remote strips.

    The Aircraft[edit]

    2016 KodiakCub KodiakSpecs.PNG
    source: http://questaircraft.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Quest_Electronic_Brochure_April_20141.pdf

    Specifications[edit]

    2015 KodiakCub parameters.PNG

    Project Status[edit]

    Control Surface Force Measurement[edit]

    Control Arm Load Cell
    A custom load cell will take the place of the stock linkage between the servo and control surface (ailerons and flaps). An HX711 load cell amplifier on a breakout board containing voltage conditioning and A/D conversion electronics relays a reading from the load cell to a microcontroller. The microcontroller then processes the data for real-time control and data acquisition via the Raspberry Pi.

    Motor Torque and Thrust Measurement[edit]

    Test Stand - Engine Controls
    Test Stand - Engine & Pillow Blocks
    A prototype load cell to be mounted between the engine and the aircraft's firewall to measure torque and thrust is currently being tested. An engine test stand has been constructed to break-in the engine and test the load cell. Horizontal rods in pillow blocks attached to a vertical plate standing in as the firewall. This allows the running engine to move a small distance linearly and pull a scale to aid in verification and calibration of the load cell readings.

    Avionics and Data Aquisition[edit]

    Communications 1-Line Diagram
    NAVIO+ HAT board for Raspberry PI 2
    A Raspberry Pi computer paired with a NAVIO+ autopilot shield and running ArduPilot APM software forms the core of the flight-control system. The on-ground pilot's radio control is routed through this system, providing software assisted stabilization and emergency scenario autopilot. A separate radio system relays flight data to a ground station running flight management software.

    ArduPilot Firmware Website: http://plane.ardupilot.com/

    Hx711 Strain Gauge Amplifier and A/D Converter Prototype
    24-bit digital values for strain on each control surface and at the engine mount are concentrated on an Arduino Mega before being sent to ArduPilot firmware on the Raspberry Pi.
    Hx711 Prototype Board Sample Rate
    Specifications call for a minimum sample rate of 100Hz for control surface force measurements. Pre-built boards using the Hx711 chip maxed out at 80Hz, making a custom board necessary. The prototype samples at just over 200Hz.

    Team Information[edit]

    2015 KodiakCub Ben.PNG

    Benjamin Clark

    Mechanical Engineering

    I am 23 studying Mechanical engineering at the University of Idaho. I grew up in Moscow as well as lived in Brazil for 2 years serving a full time proselytizing mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am an active member of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) and I am serving my second year term as project lead. I have traveled to Bolivia as part of an EWB travel team to collect data required for future projects. I am fluent in Portuguese and have a working knowledge of Spanish. I have worked as an intern for Siemens in their Building automation division, and currently work as a research lab technician at WSU SSL Lab. I enjoy outdoor activities and frequently hike, rock climb, backpack and mountaineer. I am a marathon finisher and am training for my second.


    2015 KodiakCub Evan.PNG

    Evan Holbert Electrical Engineering

    I am a senior in University of Idaho's Electrical Engineering program and currently interning for Schweitzer Engineering Labs' Engineering Services in automation. My field of interest is in system control and data acquisition with an emphasis on power, but really anything involving PLCs. I’m originally from Sandpoint, ID, and like to snowboard when I can make it up to Schweitzer Mountain.

    2015 KodiakCub Nate.jpg

    Nathaniel Meager

    Mechanical Engineering

    I am a 22 year old Mechanical Engineering student. I have my private pilot license and have been flying since the age of 17. Currently, I am enrolled in the Naval ROTC program and expect to attend Naval Flight School sometime next year. The outdoors is where I belong and during the spring, fall, and summer you’ll probably find me camping, backpacking, or climbing mountains. I have a new interest in triathlons and hope to complete the Coeur d’ Alene Ironman in August. The best sport in the world is soccer. I am excited to be finishing up my college career and start a new career in the Navy, wherever that takes me.

    2015 KodiakCub Kelly.PNG

    Kelly Moore

    Mechanical Engineering

    Long time resident of Moscow with an interest in business and engineering and current co-owner of Howard Hughes Video Rental and President of FourMoore Inc., as well as full time student in Mechanical Engineering. I am a former Green Builder and built the first certified Green Home in Idaho located in Moscow Id. I am a world traveler having lived in India for two years, Pakistan for one year, and Lesotho, Africa for two years. I am a private pilot with over 500 hours and ratings for jump pilot and tow pilot, a D licensed Skydiver with over 600 jumps, a Hang-glider and Para-glider pilot with over 400 hours of flight time. I was a founding board member of the Moscow Civic Association Inc., My Own Home Inc., and a Former board member of Latah County Economic Development Council. I am married with two adult children.

    2015 KodiakCub Caleb.PNG

    Caleb Morgan

    Mechanical Engineering

    I joined the army in 2001 at the age of seventeen as a junior in high school. After graduating, I spent 7 months in Georgia where they trained me in electronics maintenance. From mid-2004 to early 2006, I was deployed to Iraq the first time. Between 2006 and 2009, I was a UAV ground crewman and professional mechanic. In 2009, I enrolled in college and in 2011 was redeployed to Iraq for one year. After which, I continued my college career until now. In 2013 I retired from the Army.

    In my free time, what little there is, I like to work on cars, electronics, and guns. During the summer, I spend my time reconstructing a house.

    2015 KodiakCub Jake.PNG

    Jacob Skaug

    Electrical Engineering

    I am a lined up to graduate this May and eager to push my skills and test my knowledge on a true design project. The dynamically scaled model airplane is where I believe I can do this the best. My interest in Electrical Engineering started my senior year in high school physics. My teacher took us through an electrical section and I loved it. I switched my intended major to Electrical Engineering after this. Now, I can hardly believe I have the opportunity to join in on this exciting project.

    2015 KodiakCub Austin.PNG

    Austin Wahl

    Electrical Engineering

    I am an electrical engineer in the process of completing my senior year at the University of Idaho. On top of working with the electrical system, I am responsible for creating and maintaining the team’s budget as well as purchasing all the necessary items to complete our project. When I’m not working on school work or attending class I like to golf, hike and camp.

    Document Archive[edit]