Eagle Eye’s goal is to make a proof of concept airship that can operate in the Martian atmosphere while still being fairly simple to operate and relatively cheap to produce. Our end goal is for this project to be used by a space organization either commercial or federal to assist in spatial body exploration.
Pictured from Left to Right: Andrew Eschweiler, Amangeldy Ungarov, Kaleb Cornick, Kolton Underberg, Matthew Porter, Zachary Zeller, Josue Oyervides, Christopher Johannsen, Jared Witt, Luke Schaeckenbach, William Steppick, Ryan Nasers, Alec Wagner, Zachary Koehler, Ryan Whitener, Robert Zartman, Christopher Kosirowski
Project Mission Statement
Eagle Eye's goal is to make a proof of concept vehicle for an airborn Martian rover that can maneuver in the Martian atmosphere and collect topographical and meteorological data. The end goal for Eagle Eye is for this project to be utilized by a space-bound organization to aid in spatial body exploration.
Eagle Eye was started in the fall of 2014. The initial idea was conceived over the summer by former Project lead Dillyn Mumme. At the beginning of the fall term Dillyn brought his idea to Preston Waymire for discussion. After refining the idea and doing more research the two approached Matt Nelson to propose the idea as an M:2:I project. In that first semester the group did mostly research and initial designing of the hexacopter prototype, as well as much recruiting to expand their small 5 man team. The group finalized the design as well as constructed a foam model and did research on how to work with composites for construction. The group then lost their adviser and would be picked up by Dr.Wlezein. After some restructuring the group decided to start from scratch with their design and focus on the rotorcraft being on Mars. The spring of 2016 the group double in size and started the design of a coaxial rotorcraft. During the semester preliminary aerogel testing was completed as well as a solidworks model of the prototype vehicle. Over the summer a group worked on coding and building the recovery system and developing the ribs and spar structure for the blades. As Feasibility analysis has provided evidence that a coaxial rotorcraft will no longer be feasible, due to increasing complexity with fabrication and operation. As of August 2017, the team has elected to shift the project's focus to designing an airship, which uses buoyant force as the primary force contributing to lift, rather than rotating blades.
Last semester Eagle Eye was working toward construction of our prototype airship. This includes construction of the gondola, envelope, motors and other systems. This allowed us to perform inside and low altitude testing with our airship to ensure our control systems and electronics work the way intended. A goal achieved was the ground pressure control system test, which allowed controlled accent and decent as well as provide a safe way to bring our craft down from high altitude testing. Throughout the semester Eagle Eye was able to design and construct an initial main structure that includes a gondola and envelopes to secure the balloons. However, during our most recent test flight we encountered difficulties with the envelope regarding our balloon fill up process. Our response to this issue has been to redesign and re-approach securing the balloons. This semester has focused on creating new procedures that will allow for consistent and successful launches so that we may focus on creating tangible results with our test flights.
The main goal for the Spring 2019 semester is to modify the systems created during the previous semester in order to ensure that our avionics equipment and payload is able to stay well insulated through the -51 degrees Celsius temperatures expected. We plan to spend this semester as a preparatory period for our final launch at altitude, which is currently planned for the Fall 2020 semester.
The Design Team's goals for the current semester are to improve upon the previous bladder fabrication. The main objectives are to fix issues discovered last semester with the servo to motor mount and bladder fabrication.
The Mechanical Fabrication Team's goals for this semester are to research a new insulation for our gondola for the 100,000 ft. altitude that we are trying to achieve, since the temperature reaches approximately -51 degrees, and to research a material to seal the breaches (holes) in the sides of the gondola to make it airtight.
The Flight Systems Operations Team's goals for this semester include testing the functionality of the avionics equipment in a cold chamber, completing the wiring of the avionics systems in a test flight ready setup, and writing flight plan procedures for our test flight at altitude.
Initial Airship Design
Going into next semester and long term goals we need to refine our systems and test the airship at high altitudes.
Thermal Insulation: The size of the fiberglass walls has been determined for now (23.5 x
20.5 x7 inches) We are currently trying to research a new insulation to use instead of
the blue Styrofoam. We are currently looking at a Solimide, semi-open-celled, foam.
The temperature range is perfect for what we are trying to achieve in altitude (goes to -
200 degrees Celsius). However, since the craft is not air tight we will have to wrap the
Solimide in a bag or film to make it air tight for the pressure range the craft will be at.
We will also have to include a vent hole to allow the excess pressure to escape the
Hole Sealant: There are currently holes drilled in the sides of the gondola that are too
large for the size of the wires that go through them. We need to fix this for insulation
purposes so that the heat will not escape from the gondola. We are currently looking
into a spray closed cell foam insulation. We are planning on having the craft wired and
then filling in the holes around the electronics. This is possible because the wires can be
detached from the batteries from the inside of the gondola, so there will be no need to
remove the wires from the holes.
Mechanical Design Team
Servo to motor mount: The goal of the servo to motor mount is to improve the connection between our servos and motors. Currently we mount the motors on to the servos to gain directional control of our thrust using a 3D printed piece. The team will convert this plastic piece to a small machined aluminum mounting piece that can provide a rigid link in between the two while motors are producing 100 percent thrust.
Bladder: The teams goal for this semester is to either create or order a mylar balloon that will be able to provide enough buoyancy to complete a 100,000 foot test flight and maintain 100,000 ft. The balloon is expected to be roughly 50 feet in diameter and will be filled with helium.
Test Flights: This semester the team is aiming to do a test flight in the Howe hall Atrium. This test is important to ensure the crafts electronics still work as well as to test the new structure since it was updated from last semester. The team is also collaborating with the fabrication team to complete the fabrication of a small scale bladder that can be tested during the indoor flight test as a proof of concept. This small scale bladder will then be scaled up to full size.
Altitude: If the inside tethered test flight succeeds, there will be a high-altitude flight test. The bladder will be manufactured to the true dimensions for 100,000 foot buoyancy and the envelope and attachments points will be finalized.
Flight Systems Operations
Complete Avionics Wiring: Our first order of business is to complete the wiring for our avionics components and power supply. If this task is done before the 26th of February, then we can test how well our electronics perform during the cold chamber test.
Create Flight Plan Documentation: With an aim to test our craft with a custom built balloon in an outdoor environment, our team will require a more advanced set of procedures than we had for the last tethered flight test. To this end, the Flight Systems team will develop a new set of procedures and requirements for this test that will cover all the steps needed to ensure a safe and successful flight test that will garner useful data on our craft’s performance. From this, we will get information that can be put to use when we go to an untethered flight test at high altitude.
Avionics Weight Distribution: After discovering that an unbalanced box lead to difficulties in flight control during our last flight test, the Flight Systems team will determine the exact position of each avionics component within the craft so that the structure is well balanced when complete. The team already has scales to precisely weigh each component, and will measure and record their positions in the box that give as little rotation as possible. In addition to a balanced box, we also need our components arranged so that wires can be easily traced from either the microcontrollers or the batteries to the outside of the box, and all the wires and components are easily accessible.
Comprehensive Flight Software Documentation: To prepare new team members for the functionality of all the software written over the past two years, the Flight Systems team will document all the code run on both the onboard microcontrollers the Arduino LoRa and Mega, as well as the ground control computer. There will be an overview of the purpose and dependencies of each file in the code so that a new user can tell what each file is responsible for and how it connects to the rest of the code, allowing for an easier learning process for Flight Systems team members who want to head up work on the software.
Eagle Eye Leadership:
||Dr. Kim, Matt Nelson, Cory Miller, James Wingerter
Eagle Eye Team leads:
|Eagle Eye Sub-Team
|Flight Systems Operations
Eagle Eye Team Members:
||Flight Systems Operations Team