University of Southern California The USC Andrew and Erna Viterbi School of Engineering Pre-College Summer Programs - Student Portfolios

Aerospace (AE)
Students will:

  1. Design, build and demonstrate a motorized airplane with the ability to fly around a stationary power pole.
  2. Design, build and test an air boat ROV which can maneuver forward, backward and turn in water

 Airplane, Day 1 Group 1: Cindy, Eric, Kimberly, Kylie, Victoria

Our goal is to design and build an airplane that will fly around a stationary power pole, while being attached to it. It is to be constructed out of balsa wood, of which we have a limited amount of. First, we decided to test out different wing placements and tail structures, which we did by using the small glider models provided to us - the slingshot glider and the hand launch glider. We toyed around using the models, and found that one set of wings was better than two, and that a vertical tail stabilizer was incredibly important. We also discovered the importance of glue, as any model that was not securely glued promptly came apart when we threw the plane. We also added more weights to the model by combining both planes into one; however, we ended up not using any of the models that we tested, given the different parameters of the balsa wood to build the actual airplane. We did, however, gain from the experiments that we should have the wings elevated such that it was angled upwards toward the nose, and a motor in the front. In addition, using online resources, we decided on a t-tail design, given its stability and wind flow control, which would be important factors since the plane would be flying in circles around the pole. Finally, we cut out pieces to make the plane out of, with dimensions slightly greater than those in the model (the body, for example, was 1.5 feet long while in the model, it was 1 foot long) but unfortunately, were unable to finish today.

 

 Boat, Day 1 Group 1: Cindy, Eric, Kimberly, Kylie, Victoria

Group 2 day 3

Boat:

  • We continued on from the prevous group's design. but we decided that the propellers/engines would be in the air, not under water. The engines were so heavy that they made the boat sink to one side. To fix that issue, we decided to add a double layer of foam to all sides of the boat.

 

  • The PVC pipes that would hold the engines above the water were shortened to lessen the weight

 

  • Another issue we had to encounter was the plank the batteries would sit on. Our first design was to glue 3 pieces of balsa wood onto the base of the boat. However, water would still wet the board (we coated the bottom of the board with Elmer's glue to make it more water proof)

 

  • But the plank added unneeded weight, so we decied to add only one plank to hold the batteries.

 

  • We wired the engines to the switches and had to consider the length of the wires.

For the most part, the boat moved, but one engine was stronger than the other, so the boat moved in circles instead.

Airplane:

We started from scratch with the airplane design because the first group had made their own models of little test flyers out of the pre-made kits. We used their notes on wings and ideal angles for the elevation but we spent the first half of class before lunch just modifying our own kit airplanes in order to find the perfect combination of lift, stability, weight and length. When we finally found a model that worked well we decided to build a new plane that was double the size in all dimmensions and better fortified. Our plance had three engines; two on the wings and one up front on the nose.

Group 4 day 4

Airplane

We got rid of the unnecesssary wires, but mixed up the necessary wires and had to group the right wires in two groups: one negative and another positive, to make the airplane go. We also taped the stationary pole to ensure that it would not fall apart like it did the previous day. We also replaced one of the propellers because it would constantly come off, causing the airplane to fall.

Air-boat

We had to add more foam to make it float on both sides. The boat would always go to the right due to one propeller being more powerful than the other one; we added another motor and propeller in the front to give the boat more support and power to make it go straight. We fixed the wiring of the back propellers by making sure that the wire had contact with the motor, otherwise the motors would not spin. We also made sure the three motors functioned and tested them by putting the boat on water and making it go forward, backward, slow right, slow left, fast right and fast left.

 Group 3 Day 3

Airplane:

The previous group had gotten an airplane design and had added motors as well as any neccesary wiring. However, one of the issues we came across was that the wings were too slanted, which caused the airplane to constantly come crashing down. After doing some research, we discovered that 15 degrees was the perfect angle. The size and number of motors was another variable we constantly played around with. At the end of the day, we were able to finish the wiring so that the propellors blew the wind towards the rear of the plane rather than to the front, and we ended with a successfully flying airplane! All that was left to do was run a few more tests.

Boat:

We replaced the motor and re-wired it so that the batteries powered both motors equally. We also added more foam so that it could float better.