Volunteering, competition planning, and slow but sure progress

Everyone’s back from reading week and into the home stretch of the semester, and we’re gearing up to get to competition readiness! Recently, however, we’ve also been showcasing our work to students, alumni, and the public at various events.

We volunteered to host a booth at the fifth annual CO2 Powered Drag Car Races hosted by the Faculty of Engineering. UAARG members covered two tables with posters, our airplane, the ground station and a flight simulator. The flight simulator turned out to be very popular! Even the other clubs wanted to play on the flight simulator! The event took place at West Edmonton mall on Friday, March 15th. At the CO2 races, junior high students raced wooden cars powered by CO2 canisters. Between races, students, parents and teachers visited booths hosted by engineering clubs. The UAARG booth was buzzing with people interested in our avionics box, computer simulator and the competition airplane!

UAARG’s Booth at the CO2 Drag Races

We were also present for both the Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Mechanical Engineering First-year Nights, where first-year engineering students have the chance to talk to faculty, alumni, and student groups of their engineering field of interest before choosing what program to specialize in for the remainder of their engineering career. Plenty of interested students approached us; they were interested in everything from our plane’s construction to how we each personally got involved with the club to the ever- popular flight simulator. We also brought our plane and poster to the Faculty of Engineering’s Dean’s Reception for alumni. Many alumni took a keen interest in our project; we were asked some challenging questions about our plane’s systems from some very experienced engineers, one of which had worked with UAARG in the past!

On the mechanical front this week, we completed our analysis of the center of gravity (CG) of our airframe and its components. As the picture below shows, we have taken the moment of each component measured from the CG of that component to the motor mount wall as a reference point. From this data, we were able to determine the CG of the aircraft which we need to have 32cm to 34cm back from our reference point. If the CG was too far back the airframe would tail heavy and be very likely to stall and enter an unrecoverable dive. If the CG was too far forward the airframe would fly nose heavy, requiring more power to stay in the air and making landing nose down a more prominent issue. The other benefit is that this allows us to track where our weight is distributed and what will have the greatest influence on the CG.

CG distance=sum of the moments/total mass*gravity

Pie chart of moments of the plane’s components about its centre of gravity

In other news, we’ve been planning for our upcoming competitions in May and June – the Unmanned Systems Canada UAV competition and the AUVSI Student Unmanned Systems Competition. We have selected the attendees of the competitions and are in the process of figuring out the logistics of travel, boarding, etc.; stay tuned for updates as we approach closer to the competition dates!