Penn Aerial Robotics is a student led club that competes in multiple international competitions every year. I am a member of the mechanical team that competed in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Design Build Fly competition this past year. The goal was to design and fabricate a radio controlled aircraft capable of carrying and deploying four attack stores, a radome and possessing a minimum wingspan of 4 feet but be capable of folding to fit into a 3x2x2 foot box. Using stress and airflow analysis, material testing and prototyping the plane was optimized to carry six attack stores and weigh under 3 kg.
The pieces were manufactured using a combination of CNC and manual milling, 3D printing, laser cutting, and foam cutting. Thin aluminum stock were machined as latches for the attack stores. The folding mechanism was constructed from two 3D printed pieces. There is a spring that pulls the wings to level position when remotely commanded and then a latch that locks the wings in place for flight. Balsa wood, chosen for its large strength-to-weight ratio, was laser cut and used in the tail assembly. Foam was cut into an airfoil using a hot wire.
Flow analysis in JavaFoil, which uses the 2D panel method, was used to find the optimum flat with the highest section lift coefficient