Aircraft conceptual design software for iPad?

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karoliina.t.salminen

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Hi

Short question:
- would somebody find useful a conceptual design software if it ran on iPad?
Long time ago I was writing one for Mac, but then switched on doing Excel-sheets.
Situation is as everybody knows, the software would have nothing else but calculate large number of formulas that you can also calculate by hand or you can make excels out of them by yourself. So the app would not have fancy added proposition or anything secret magic in it.
1. would you download one for free
2. would you pay for the app?
or would it be silly stupid useless crap for you?


Best Regards
Karoliina that has the skills required to wrench Objective-C and Cocoa for iPad (and also Mac).

P.S. If I have to pay 99 dollars developer license to run my software on my own personal iPad, then why wouldn't I offer it to others as well, unless of course nobody wants it?
 
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rtfm

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Hi Karolina,
I'd be very happy to get my hands on decent conceptual design software. I currently use spread sheets, and they're OK, but it would be nice to have software against which to compare results.

Cheers,
Duncan
 

Topaz

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An ambitious idea! I like it, but my tablet runs Android. So long as the software ran on Android, ran through the sort of things covered in Aircraft Design, A Conceptual Approach (Sizing, stability and control, trim plots, and optimizations), and was reasonably priced, I'd consider a purchase.

I would add that it would be very important to me to be able to export information from the app into Excel or other programs outside the tablet for further analysis. I'd also like to see some means to verify calculations along the way, so that I know what's going on and that the results are accurate. I don't want a "black box" that simply spits out answers that I have no practical means to verify.
 

Jay Kempf

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Apparently should be cross platform since some have Androids. We have one Galaxy S3 too and it is very nice.
Karoliina,

I would be happy to try your software but I really don't do any significant work on Tablet touch screen devices. I have a fairly powerful Android phone (Motorola Atrix) but the screen while large for a phone is too small to be useful for much other than a short email on the road. Hate virtual keyboards but they are an evil necessity when travelling. I suspect you will get most of the younger aviation designers with an App as opposed to a real piece of software. Excel spreadsheets are so useful that I really don't do much other than that anymore and formulas in Solidworks. One nice thing about all the modern modelers is that they can be driven by spreadsheet variables. So for instance if you design an airfoil and reduce it to coordinates you can have an import routine that scoures that spreadsheet in that format and just builds the airfoil sketch in one click. So any other parameter can be driven from any other spreadsheet or database record in a similar way. So a well documented piece of software with a live parameter file that could be used for post processing would be of use for early configuration.
 

karoliina.t.salminen

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Well I have tried some Roncz derived spreadsheet, but the usual unfriendliness of a spreadsheet was quite an obstacle for doing anything productive with it.

The problem with spreadsheets is that long formulas embedded in spreadsheet shells become very cryptic very easily and are most useful for the creator of the spreadsheet himself/herself that really knows what was put in it. I have made some spreadsheets myself that I shared with one another person interested, but in the end he could not figure out how to use it.

Reason why I was thinking about software for large touch screen tablets like iPad, is that it would be easier to make reasonable user experience and also at least I almost always carry my iPad but not every time will bring my either 15 inch Macbook Pro, or my iMac or Linux desktop or Linux laptop. But these equations general are simple enough for not actually needing a serious hardware to run it. And there is this thing I face often: if I have a spreadsheet in one of my computers, it is often in the other machine than in the one I carry the day I need it. Tablet is more portable and more singular, providing that the results can be shared to any device, or shared via a cloud to all devices.

AirplanePDQ is a Windows-only software, Martin Hollman had the basic programs that only run on antiquated basic interpreter on a MSDOS emulator these days, and of course there is rds, but it is for Dos/Windows too, and I as a Mac and Linux user do not have good means to run these. And then there are random Fortran codes in the internet that use so old fortran dialect that that old compiler is not even installable on modern operating systems. And many of these are random pieces of this and that without joining the dots to create a package which would do more than one thing and if one does more than random things, then it is priced out of the ceiling.

I think the important thing for understanding what the software does would be to show the whole set of equations that are calculated to the user. From UI design perspective it is a bit of a challenge, but at least I would like it - I don't like black boxes that get input values, perform some magic that nobody knows, and outputs the values out of nowhere.

Big work regardless. No guarantees I will finish anytime soon since e.g. RDS is telling to have 30000 lines of code, and it is all equations and not so much UI to my understanding, for single person it will take at least one year to write.

Edit: Have to admit though; I was opening the spreadsheets I mentioned about using LibreOffice. It may not be the full representation of what the spreadsheet was supposed to be.
 
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Synergy

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This is a good idea, and as the closest Finnish female counterpart to (the real) Austin Meyer you're the perfect person to do it! I'd love to help.

One thought: the most persistent of the potential mistakes one could make in developing such an app will be strategic; for example getting tied to the limitations imposed by embedded concepts in the equations. There are many ways to calculate the same information and get the same results, but that does not make them equal. Some approaches are quite limiting, and others are just plain wrong. The user would have no way to choose the mutually-cooperative and mutually-dependent sets or to adjust their perspective, if you just present all of them together.

Anyway, this is a big step in the right direction, and I truly hope you will establish the right scope for the work and select a strategy to make it pay off for you and the user. Let's chat.
 

Dana

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My only question is how many people will be using a tablet for serious design work? I know I wouldn't Most engineering software is PC based, and tablets seem a bit more awkward for entering numeric data than a keyboard based computer.

I played with AirplanePDQ briefly, and I'd love to see an updated version with a better user interface... for the PC. The ability to import neutral format CAD data would also be a big plus.

-Dana

Atheists are people who have no invisible means of support.
 

karoliina.t.salminen

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Thanks all for suggestions.

iPad and Mac APIs are very close to each other and it is almost trivial to make
an application to work on both Mac and iPad, so it is possible to make it for personal computer also, if we do not count that (PC) meaning a Windows-computer. I personally have no interest to support Windows as I am not a Windows user nor Windows developer.
 

karoliina.t.salminen

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John, true, you are right. That is why publishing all of the math is important.
Lets see if I come up with something useful. You all can help of course if you like.
If you have some methods which are known to be good ones that can be numerically solved as that is what computers speak, please add here or priv msg me write me karoliina.t.salminen at gmail dot com.
I do not know enough to make it a CFD solver nor a xfoil/xflr5 replacement. Instead my focus would be in sizing, layout, performance estimates. Simple stuff at first, maybe more sophistication later. Actually I am quite tempted to make plain atmosphere calculator first that would calculate reynolds numbers based on standard atmosphere because I like to use one web app for that and it is not convenient as you have to navigate to the web site, enter data etc. and it does not store its state or history anywhere. App could do all that more convenient and easy to use.

Had to be noted though, if somebody else made the math part, I could implement a cfd app too, the coding part is easy, navier stokes is not.

Sorry about my potential ignorance, but, Dana what is neutral format cad data? Does Airplane-PDQ do some panel method or cfd analysis for it, or where does it use it (cad models).
 

Himat

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Hi

Short question:
- would somebody find useful a conceptual design software if it ran on iPad?
Long time ago I was writing one for Mac, but then switched on doing Excel-sheets.
Situation is as everybody knows, the software would have nothing else but calculate large number of formulas that you can also calculate by hand or you can make excels out of them by yourself...

Useful for some probably.
A marked for this, yes probably if the price is right.

On your comment on Exell I agree. On the other hand there are better tools than Exel, like Matlab, Mathcad and others.

The real downside I do see with an app or anny other finished "product" is that part of developing the skill of designing aircraft is to learn all the formulas well enough to program them into a suitable software. Still the problem that Synergy point at arise, a certain perspective is issued that point to a spesific set of solutions. Whether the formulas are part of a software or learnt this might happen, but is it part of a software package that do work it can be even harder to realise that a certain perspective is built in. If once learnt it might dawn some day, hey, that's just one way to understand it!
 

autoreply

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The intrinsic problem I found with any software in aerospace is that by the time you are knowledgeable enough to use it, it's easier to write it yourself. Digging through someone elses lines of code is usually more work as figuring out the underlying assumptions yourself.

We've seen a lot of people, delving into CFD (or xfoil), asking questions that shows their lack of understanding, but nevertheless seems to give a false sense of accuracy. I've also seen my own "publicized" spreadsheets taken completely out of context, which made me hesitant to share anything more in public. Not even because of liability, but simply because I doubt people would benefit much from it.

Sorry to be a naysayer. I mean that!

I'd love an easy-to-use solution, but the hard truth I'm afraid is that it takes a lot of study to even get a grasp of aircraft design. And no, that doesn't mean a university degree; we have plenty of people on HBA that show that dedication and self-study can gain you that knowledge. But it does take a lot of knowledge and study to get to the point where you are reasonably capable to use any code while realizing the implications and constraints.
 

Dana

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Thanks all for suggestions.

iPad and Mac APIs are very close to each other and it is almost trivial to make
an application to work on both Mac and iPad, so it is possible to make it for personal computer also, if we do not count that (PC) meaning a Windows-computer. I personally have no interest to support Windows as I am not a Windows user nor Windows developer.
Understood... I can see that if you're developing for Apple platforms you'd have no interest in Windows; it's only that you severely limit the market since the engineering world runs on Windows PCs.

Sorry about my potential ignorance, but, Dana what is neutral format cad data? Does Airplane-PDQ do some panel method or cfd analysis for it, or where does it use it (cad models).
Most if not all CAD systems use their own proprietary file formats. There are a number of neutral interchange formats such as DXF, IGES, STEP, and SAT. If I recall correctly, AirplanePDQ could import DXF files, saving the tedious work of recreating geometry that you'd already created in the CAD system. I don't know how AirplanePDQ actually worked; I had a downloaded evaluation copy somewhere and after playing with it for a very short time, I got a virus warning and my virus software wiped it out... by that time the company making it had stopped answering emails or anything so I was never able to find another copy.

-Dana

A flying saucer results when a nudist spills his coffee.
 

Synergy

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The intrinsic problem I found with any software in aerospace is that by the time you are knowledgeable enough to use it, it's easier to write it yourself. Digging through someone elses lines of code is usually more work as figuring out the underlying assumptions yourself.

We've seen a lot of people, delving into CFD (or xfoil), asking questions that shows their lack of understanding, but nevertheless seems to give a false sense of accuracy. I've also seen my own "publicized" spreadsheets taken completely out of context, which made me hesitant to share anything more in public. Not even because of liability, but simply because I doubt people would benefit much from it.

Sorry to be a naysayer. I mean that!

I'd love an easy-to-use solution, but the hard truth I'm afraid is that it takes a lot of study to even get a grasp of aircraft design. And no, that doesn't mean a university degree; we have plenty of people on HBA that show that dedication and self-study can gain you that knowledge. But it does take a lot of knowledge and study to get to the point where you are reasonably capable to use any code while realizing the implications and constraints.

Agreed.

This is where a really good modeler software can help in two ways. One, by preventing or at least pointing out big mistakes in early concepts. So many designs start off with preventable errors that never get attention until it's really too late. Two, by educating the user in a different way than one might find in a classroom or textbook.

I used Airplane PDQ a long time ago and thought it was a neat tool for a quick what-if study. I stopped using it for exactly the same reason Dr. Gil Crause, the developer of Airplane PDQ, did. X-plane came along. X-Plane did the same thing, but with a hundred times more power behind the numbers. Dr. Crause told me he switched over and advised others to as well.

For a while you could take PDQ into X-Plane or perhaps it was vice versa, but in X-Plane, having the ability to run not just one or two conditions, but infinitely many dynamic conditions at 60 times per second while seeing and interpreting the (mountains of) data visually... now that is powerful preliminary calculation! Our brains are hardwired to instantly calculate the kinematic physics of nature, and we can extract huge insight from a glance. (This is why it's so hard to fool a sports participant or a pilot with movie special effects.)

What Karoliina is proposing would ideally fill the gap in a way that is more oriented toward designers and builders. X-Plane describes its math reasonably well, but it does not show it for every kind of calculation. It took a long time for me to dig into its assumptions to find out where it was right and where it was wrong. (Note: there are other threads for X-Plane bashing here, and I'm on the record for saying it is a fantastic program that is nearly perfect for a start on points #1 and #2 above. Your ultra-exotic Blended Wing Body or any multi-wing weird airplane should get more scrutiny, but if it looks like airplanes usually look, X-Plane is my recommendation for a tool to refine it.)

It might be wise to build the proposed app on the same basis as PlaneMaker, the X-Plane module that lets you design the aircraft using simple inputs. Having the ability to read a PlaneMaker file (as I presume PDQ could) would be an awesome time saver, promote a highly evolved approach to describing any aircraft, and help prevent errors. The output of the app could be compared to X-Plane numerical output at an identical flight condition, which WOULD BE SO AWESOME!!! NOW I'M REALLY EXCITED. This would totally put to rest the debate, and make two useful tools less mysterious.
 

karoliina.t.salminen

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I would like that too. And X-Plane should take in more accurate polars than current rough ones at only two Reynolds numbers to be even better (as a tool rather than game). But this wish is up to Austin Meyer to implement. I bet he could do it any time. Now someone please convince him.
 

Mac790

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Understood... I can see that if you're developing for Apple platforms you'd have no interest in Windows; it's only that you severely limit the market since the engineering world runs on Windows PCs.
For Windows guys it might be better to get a new version of Raymer software. I was just looking at his webpage. It seems that beside publishing fifth edition of his well known book, he also offers new version of his software. This time it's win based program, not like the previous DOS based, which was really pain in @$$ to "play" with. RDS-win Aircraft Design Software Because it seems that probably +90% of people here use his book, so for them it might be easier to use software, which was written by same guy, with probably similar logic.

..I got a virus warning and my virus software wiped it out... by that time the company making it had stopped answering emails or anything so I was never able to find another copy.
I have somewhere both copies PDQ 2004 and 2009, if you want to play with it let me know, but like you said there is a virus in the newer version.

Seb
 

Retiree

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Hi Karoliina,
At its base Apple operating system is Linux. Would your software work or be ported to Linux?
Doug
 
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