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Mobile Propeller Dynamometer Validation

Morris, Mason Wade
With growing interest in UAVs and OSU's interest in propeller performance and manufacturing, evaluating UAV propeller and propulsion system performance has become essential. In attempts to evaluate these propellers a mobile propeller dynamometer has been designed, built, and tested. The mobile dyno has been designed to be cost effective through the ability to load it into the back of a test vehicle to create simulated forward flight characteristics. This allows much larger propellers to be dynamically tested without the use of large and expensive wind tunnels. While evaluating the accuracy of the dyno, several improvements had to be made to get accurate results. The decisions made to design and improve the mobile propeller dyno will be discussed along with attempts to validate the dyno by comparing its results against known sources. Another large part of assuring the accuracy of the mobile dyno is determining if the test vehicle will influence the flow going into the propellers being tested. The flow into the propeller needs to be as smooth and uniform as possible. This is determined by characterizing the boundary layer and accelerated flow over the vehicle. This evaluation was accomplished with extensive vehicle aerodynamic measurements with the use of full-scale tests using a pitot-rake and the actual test vehicle. Additional tests were conducted in Oklahoma State University's low speed wind tunnel with a 1/8-scale model using qualitative flow visualization with smoke. Continuing research on the mobile dyno will be discussed, along with other potential uses for the dyno.