Inside Unmanned Systems

JUN-JUL 2018

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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AIR DESIGN 64   June/July 2018 unmanned systems inside NASA IS CURRENTLY WORKING ON 'DISTRIBUTED PROPULSION,' WHERE YOU HAVE A BUNCH OF LITTLE PROPELLERS ON A WING, AND MACHUP COULD TAKE A SHOT AT ANALYZING THAT." Doug Hunsaker, MachUp developer and assistant professor, Utah State University " "I design a lot of VTOL aircraft, so I'm ex- cited to start working with MachUp's new fea- tures, and see how my aircraft works during the transition from hovering to forward f light, which has a lot of interesting aerodynamics which are not well understood," Weiss said. ELECTRIC PROPULSION MachUp also can help predict how aircraft with electric propulsion systems might per- form. Users can input specif ications for bat- teries and electric mo- tors, as well as the elec- tronic speed control, the elec tronic circuit that controls the speed of an electric motor. In return, M a c hUp w i l l pr e d ic t the propeller RPM (revolutions per minute) for a given throttle setting and f light speed, Hunsaker said. "This makes MachUp a lot more friendly for RC (remote control) model av iation, something I'm personally ver y passionate about," Goates said. "You can now build an entire electric model RC aircraft in MachUp." REWRITTEN ENTIRELY Whereas older versions of MachUp were writ- ten in the computer language Fortran, the backend of the newest release has been re- written completely in Python. "Python has a much bigger user base," Hunsaker said. "It's the upcoming replacement for a lot of compu- tational software out there, so modern-day us- ers starting school or just coming out of school are more likely to be familiar with it." Although most of MachUp's users will use its web version "and won't really care what it was written in, some users who do care about optimizing their designs will," Hunsaker said. "With the web version, it's difficult to quickly iterate through many slightly different de- signs, so it's difficult to use with an optimiza- tion mindframe—you have to do it all manu- ally, through pointing and clicking. However, if you can write a program to change all those details for you automatically, you can make it very easy to optimize a design. A user could just plug optimization codes they're familiar with into Python and link it with MachUp." Users can download the Python version of MachUp on USU Aero Lab's Github page: In addition, MachUp 5 now accepts both metric and English units of measurement. Furthermore, w ith MachUp 5, users now deal with "dimensional values," which in- clude familiar quantities such as airspeed, weight and density. Previously, users had to work with "non-dimensional coeff icients," which include more technical features such as aspect ratio, which is equal to the square of the wingspan divided by the wing area. The long, narrow wings of most passenger jets and light aircraft have an aspect ratio greater than four or five, whereas the short, wide wings of a plane such as the Concorde have a very low aspect ratio of less than four or five. "For users just getting into aircraft design, it is often difficult to grasp the significance of coeff icients and how they relate to real- world per formance," Hunsaker said. The shift to dimensional values "enables users to directly and easily relate the results from MachUp to real world aircraft that they are designing." For people who prefer non-dimensional coefficients, the researchers will still make MachUp 4 available for use, Goates noted. FUTURE DIRECTIONS FOR MACHUP In the future, Hunsaker would like to add databases of components such as motors, airframes, rotors, batteries and ser vos to MachUp so users can incorporate specif ic commercial parts into their designs. "For in- stance, instead of users having to know all the

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