Stevens Institute of Technology Castle Point on Hudson Hoboken, NJ 07030

ME-424 – Senior Design Phase IV Report

Unmanned Chopper

Advisor: M.G. Prasad Group 15 Members: Christopher Alexander Brandon MacWhinnie Michael Manzione Sonal Pujji Juan Rodriguez Date – 2/14/2008 “I pledge my Honor that I have abided by the Stevens Honor System.” _____________________ _____________________ _____________________



I. Abstract The purpose of this senior project is to design and fabricate an unmanned aerial vehicle. This report will serve as a means to illustrate the progression of the project from the design stage to the fabrication stage. In this report the group will focus on outlining the objectives we plan to achieve this semester and will address the comments from Phase III, as well as discuss the final design of the product. This report will analyze the purpose of prototyping and manufacturability of our chosen design. It will provide a platform with which to move through the prototyping and performance testing phase of the project.

Table of Contents


Abstract …………………………………………………………………… i Project Objectives ………………………………………………………… 1 Phase III Issues …………………………………………………………… 1 Design Finalization ……………………………………………………….. 3 Prototype Justification ……………………………………………………. 4 Prototype Manufacturability ……………………………………………… 5 Prototype Testing …………………………………………………………. 7 Conclusion ………………………………………………………………… 8 References ……………………………………………………………….... 9 Appendix i. Gantt Chart ii. Bill of Materials iii. Nugget Chart

II. Project Objectives In order to gain knowledge of enemy terrain surveillance and reconnaissance missions must be completed. The United States Army has always conducted these missions using mostly human power. Recently, automated robots and all-terrain vehicles have been in use. For our senior design project we wish to add another dimension to reconnaissance and surveillance which the military can utilize. We intend to design and fabricate an unmanned aerial vehicle to conduct surveillance missions Designing an aerial surveillance vehicle will allow many more aspect of the terrain to be analyzed, as opposed to ground vehicles. The aerial vehicle we intend to design will be a helicopter. The group will be modifying designs of current products, as well as introducing new aspects in the design. Although there are many unmanned vehicles in existence, we wish to create a smaller, faster, lightweight helicopter which can send real-time video back to its home base. These videos will then be able to be analyzed and a safe plan of attack can be generated. At this time, the main focus of the project will be demonstrating the ability of the design we have created. We hope to pursue the video option at a later time. The helicopter will be able to be deployed and operated by a single person, which will ultimately assist troops entering enemy territory. The main focus is to create a product which the armed forces can use to survey enemy territory. A low manufacture price would be ideal, however, safety and the life of the chopper is the main focus. The group aims to market this product to United States Armed Forces and other government agencies, such as the Border Patrol. Using an unmanned helicopter to gather information removes the chance of a person being injured or even killed in hostile environment. The group’s final product will be targeted toward the armed forces as the primary customer, with government agencies, and law enforcement agencies as secondary customers. The versatility of the vehicle will allow it to be used in combat, in a search and rescue mission, or even to follow the presidential motorcade. It can even be the first to document a compromised crime scene. A plethora of engineering subjects will be utilized in the completion of this project. For the mechanical engineering aspect, aerodynamics and material selection are two extremely important topics. Electrical engineering will also play an important role in the incorporation of the real-time video camera. III. Phase III Issues The first and foremost concern of the panel at the end of Phase III was the flight capability of the vehicle. Since the UAV has an unconventional design there are few precedents to provide an example of how to produce lift and achieve successful maneuvering. This issue was the most often mentioned aspect of the design. Many of

the panel members were unsure of the maneuverability of the vehicle and how it was to be achieved through the design. The panel also suggested limiting the scope of the vehicle’s uses, as it is unnecessary to the design and presupposes too much of the final product. The scope of the project was initially too large, and it was suggested that exploring the surveillance capabilities of the vehicle be postponed until a successful test flight was conducted. As a result, the design was simplified and would carry less electronics. The majority of the groups focus was spent on the design of the vehicle with controlled flight being paramount. Initially, a video camera was going to be equipped to allow remote viewing from the vehicle’s point of view. However, after taking into account the comments and guidance of the panel, the camera was tentatively removed from the design. It was not incorporated directly in the design during the first phases of the project. However, that being said, the camera is still important to the group and should the group have extra time after demonstrating a successful prototype, the camera will be added to the vehicle. A more specific scenario was also proposed by the panel. Initially, the aircraft was to provide surveillance inside and outside of a building. The vehicle would be small enough to fly through doorways, yet powerful enough to resist wind gusts and the elements of being outside. However, after consideration of the panel’s comments, the design needed to be limited. Since there exist a few larger vehicles of similar characteristics, such as the USAF Predator and Sikorsky’s Cypher, the decision was made to specialize the vehicle to indoor uses. Indoor use would simplify the design by having more uniform and favorable flying conditions. The aircraft would not have to withstand buffeting winds. Also, indoor flight would limit the aircraft’s overall chassis size, and building a smaller aerial vehicle was important to the group. The main concern of the panel was the vehicle’s maneuverability and flight characteristics. The design is unconventional and is not particularly intuitive. Additionally, the group was weighing a few options on how to tackle steering the aircraft. However, at the end of the design phase, the group had selected a steering system to easily control the vehicle. The vehicle steering seems daunting because of its coaxial dual rotor design; however it consists of simple and tested mechanisms. The coaxial design was chosen to reduce the footprint of the aircraft which would make it small and portable. Maneuverability would also increase with a smaller more nimble chassis. Despite these benefits, very few full size helicopters use a coaxial design. A coaxial helicopter requires more complex gearing to power two main rotors with one engine. Coaxial helicopters also require more power to move two sets of main rotors through the air.

IV. Design Finalization The final design employs two electric motors, which do not require complicated gearing. The two motors would also provide sufficient power to the rotors to achieve lift. The drawback of dual motors and rotors is additional weight, but calculations have showed that enough thrust would be produced to lift the estimated weight of the vehicle. The engines that will power the unmanned aerial vehicle have been selected to be Great Planes Rimfire 28-30-1450 Outrunner Brushless motors. Steering will be achieved by actuating the top rotor assembly in the same way a helicopter steers. The group decided to actuate only the top rotor set to simplify the design and reduce added weight. Actuating the bottom rotor assembly may also create unstable flight by pushing out the bottom of the aircraft. This is very similar to the systems used in small radio controlled helicopters. In such coaxial R/C helicopters, the bottom rotor set is actuated with a swash plate to simplify the design, as the helicopter body remains below both sets of rotors. Since the chosen design has a centrally mounted body, the top rotor could just as easily be actuated. As seen in the R/C helicopters, flight is stable and in some aspects easier to control. Coaxial rotors where only one rotor set is actuated result in less maneuverable aircraft. However, all necessary motions are able to be performed, just not to the extremes of a single rotor set up because of rotor interaction and clashing. The final design has the rotors spread far apart vertically to reduce potential clashing and will not tilt far enough to pose a problem. The limited rotor head tilt will decrease the translational (forwardbackwards, left-right) flight speed, but still provide movement in all directions. The slower flight speed can reduce possible crashes and decrease the time it takes to master the controls. Finally, flight will be stabilized by the design of the chassis. As with all researched helicopters the weight of the chassis is suspended below the rotors to provide stable flight. Rather than trying to balance the weight of the chassis above the rotors, the rotors are used to pull the weight of the chassis off the ground. Helicopters obtain stable flight by keeping the weight below the rotors. Since the group wanted to keep the chassis as small as possible the rotor diameter and separation would provide the basis for the largest dimensions. An encompassing chassis shell was used to shield the rotors from damage cause by collisions. The chassis does not extend far above or below the top and bottom rotor set, respectively. This design does not utilize the weight of the chassis as a good stabilizing mechanism. To provide the most stable flight, weight would have to be concentrated as low in the chassis as possible. The outside shell was then redesigned to be hollow to allow storage of electronics and batteries. The motors needed to remain in the center of the chassis to directly power the rotors, but all other electronics could be moved to the outer ring. The cross section of the chassis allows for positioning of the electronics low on the fuselage. This storage space in the chassis creates a lower center of gravity which will help produce more stable flight.

V. Prototype Justification Some of the many reasons for building prototypes prior to implementing a design into full-scale production are to reduce costs, assess potential risks, discover and resolve any issues associated with production, and to demonstrate the functionality of the product. The majority of these reasons are intertwined with one another, which provides further justification that building a prototype is a useful step in the design process. Cost reduction is a key motivation in constructing a prototype. The other reasons that support prototype building tie into cost reduction. For example, discovering a flaw in your design that can only be found through the construction phase drastically lowers cost impact if it is discovered while only building one prototype as opposed to a whole lot during production that would have to be scrapped. Assessing the potential risks, which could prove to be very expensive, during the prototype construction phase could also save a lot of money as opposed to discovering the risks during production. These discoveries could also save a lot of time, which is often referred to as money. Aside from reducing costs, risk assessment during the prototype building process is a vital part of the design to production process as it allows the designers and potential customers to discover any risks that may be associated with the product. This allows them to make informed decisions related to the design, production process, and post production phases associated with the product. Other very important reasons that justify the construction of a prototype before proceeding to production are to discover, and correct, any problems that may be associated with the design to production process as well as to demonstrate the use and functionality of the product. In discovering any problems related to the design the product can be easily corrected to fix the problem without significant impact or extra costs added to the development process. Discovering these problems associated with the design also increases development and production speed as a change can be made easily during the prototyping phase, but would require much more extensive work to correct during the production phase, which also saves a lot of time and money. Prototypes are also very useful in that they can be used to check the product against set requirements and/or project objectives that the team wishes to achieve. In doing this, it lets the designers see where they are in the process and what they need to do or change to get where they need to be. Another benefit of building a prototype of ones product is to present to potential customers. This allows them to see what the product is capable of and how it could prove to be beneficial to the company. The designers can also get feedback from the potential customers at this time in order to better the product and make any changes that may be desired. Demonstrating the product’s potential uses and functionality could also prove to be a source of funding if this occurs during the early stages of design of a research and development type project that a customer or venture capitalist believes in.

The prototyping phase is a very important part of the design to production process for numerous reasons that include, but are not limited to, cost reduction, problem or design error detection, assessing risks associated with the product, and presenting the functionality of the product to potential customers as well as investors. In considering the entire product development process from concept to design to production, the construction of prototypes is very justified in numerous ways, but each one alone provides enough sound reasoning to move forward with the building of a prototype before going on to full scale production. All of the involved parties from engineers to customers benefit from the process of prototype building, as it is a great opportunity to make sure the product is exactly what is desired or make the necessary changes quickly and easily to achieve the best product in the least amount of time. VI. Prototype Manufacturability For the manufacturing of the shell we chose to use a fiberglass composite material because of its high strength to weight ratio. As with many other composite materials, the two materials act together, each overcoming the deficits of the other. Whereas the plastic resins are strong in compressive loading and relatively weak in tensile strength, the glass fibers are very strong in tension but have no strength against compression. By combining the two materials together, the fiberglass composite becomes a material that resists both compressive and tensile forces. Fiberglass also appealed to us because of the ability of fiberglass to be molded into complex shapes. A layer of fiberglass mat is applied over a shape of our choosing, and resin is applied over it. Next all air bubbles are removed; this is done because the presence of air pockets will significantly reduce the strength of the finished mold. Once the final layers of fiberglass are applied to the mold, the resin is allowed to set and cure. In addition fiberglass has very low chemical reactivity characteristics. Low chemical reactivity becomes an asset not only from a maintenance stand point but it also allows our unit to be deployed in a wider range of environments. After the completion of the fiberglass the internal frameworks will be manufactured. The internal frame will hold the electrical equipment such as the motors, servos, and speed controller. The internal frame consists of lightweight aluminum to minimize the weight. The frame will be bolted to the fiberglass and the motors will be enclosed in a hollow aluminum cylinder. The motors are enclosed in the hollow cylinder in order to have them coaxial. The servos and other equipment will rest outside the aluminum cylinder and bolted to the arm of the frame that attaches to the fiberglass. View the images below for a section view and conceptual drawing.

The aluminum frames such as the hollow cylinder and flat plate will be purchased already manufactured. The frame and plate would then be cut to meet our requirements of height and width. Other components such as the swashplate assembly, rotor blades, speed controller, and rotor shaft will also be purchased. The decision to purchase these components are base on quality control, cost and time. Four blades are used for the UAV, all of the blades must be symmetrical and weigh the same, or else an imbalance develops during flight that may make the craft unstable. Manufacturing the blades would be difficult and time consuming, the most readily available material is wood and wood working can produce inconsistent results. The swashplate assembly and rotorshaft were also purchased because of the high tolerances needed to produce them. The swashplate assembly and rotorshaft are

relatively inexpensive components to purchase but require special equipment and intensive labor to produce if done by hand. Once all components are manufactured and received, the team will then begin testing and building the prototype UAV. Prior to assembly the team will test individual components to verify that they meet the performance requirements of the group. Batteries will be tested to verify that they output the correct voltages, the motors and actuators will be tested to verify that they are capable of working according to specifications, the speed controller, and radio receiver/transmitter will be tested as well. Once all components are verified to be working correctly the prototype will then be assembled. The mechanical components attached to the inner aluminum frame and the inner frame to the fiberglass.

VII. Prototype Testing After all the components are assembled the team will commence testing. The testing phase will reveal any inherent instability or excessive vibrations that can cause catastrophic failure during operations. The testing will be methodically performed in order to insure correct system response. The servos will be raised and lowered to verify that they are functioning properly and that the blades are not coming in contact with each other. Once the actuators are verified to be functioning, power will be gently throttled up and down to verify that the motors are spinning opposite of each other and that both are in synchronous speed. The speed controller will then be tested to verify that the motors can come in and out of synchronization automatically. After this is verified enough power is then applied to cause the UAV to raise 6inches off the ground. The UAV will be anchored from all sides to prevent it from drifting out of control or from rising too high from the ground during initial testing. The UAV’s ability to rotate and maintain hover will then be examined. Should the UAV have a tendency to drift, it may mean that the center of gravity is not on center, in which case mechanically mixing using the controller would be applied to negate the affects. If high vibrations are evident it may mean a component is not sufficient secured. Once the pilot has command of the UAV’s rotation and hovering ability, the anchor will be removed and then the UAV will be tested with waypoints such as traveling around the room or to specific spots and hovering.

VIII. Conclusion The mission of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle has greatly expanded over the years as military operations increase in complexity and human resources dwindle. The UAV allows the military to survey hostile situations without committing soldiers into harm’s way. With UAV’s the military can explore the caves of Afghanistan without the dangers of soldier stepping on Improvised Explosive Devices or walking into an ambush. Our objective is to give the soldier on the ground flexibility to search, locate and identify targets and locations, without plunging headfirst into a hostile situation. The use of the UAV is also not limited to military applications. The UAV can be utilized by government agencies such as the Department of Home Land Security to monitor sites of interest such as power plants, landmarks, and critical infrastructures. The vehicle can also be used by the Border Patrol for various search and rescue missions. For example, it can be used to rescue a lost mountain climber. The uses for the UAV are virtually up to the imagination of its owners. The final selected design of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle is a ducted coaxial rotary blade. The coaxial configuration allows a compact design, as a tail boom is not needed. The selected design will be able to maintain a hover and level flight as well as be able to maneuver on all three axes. The minimum flight time is approximately fifteen minutes and maximum operating altitude is one hundred feet. The UAV will be upgradeable to transmit a live video feed back to the operator; the camera can be maneuvered independently of the UAV. The technical areas of focus for the UAV are the aerodynamics and flight characteristic, the wireless transmission and radio control, the structural integrity of the airframe, and the power plant. Existing designs used similar technologies such as ducted coaxial blades. However, their disadvantages are their size and weight. The blade diameter of the Sikorsky Cypher is 6.5 feet, which greatly exceeds the team’s blade diameter of 14 inches. The team’s compact weight and design allows the UAV to be transported by infantry and deployed within buildings and in close proximity to obstacles and structures. The parts needed to create the prototype have been ordered and once they arrive the group will begin building and testing the UAV.

IX. References GlobalSecurity. 14 August 2005. 20 September 2007 Sikorsky Cypher II - Dragon Warrior . 20 February 2005. 20 September 2007 2&Itemid=2 Cypher. 2007. 20 September 2007 FLUID MECHANICS by Frank M. White Gessow, Alfred and Garry C. Myers. Aeryodynamics of the Helicopter. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1952. How Helicopters Fly and are Controlled. 12 October 2007 <>. Morris, Charles Lester. Pioneering The Helicopter. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1945. Shapiro, Jacob. Principles of Helicopter Engineering. London: Temple Press Limited, 1955. Additional References Listed In Bill of Materials

X. Appendix i. Gantt Chart

ii. Bill of Materials

iii. Nugget Chart