Aircraft Design and Design Testing

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Aegis616

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While some may content with building a kit plane, others would like to build their craft from the ground up. Their design, rendered from their mind into aluminum, steel, and titanium. What are some of the best software to design and test airframes? Please note that the software should have engineering in mind.
 

Hot Wings

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Unfortunately, or fortunately for those employed as engineers, there is no such software.
Everything starts out with an idea. That idea is then evaluated based on the persons experience and knowledge of physics. This is why engineers spend time learning the basics.
Once at the evaluation stage there are computer programs that help make this evaluation process faster and more accurate. Even these have their limitations and often require a trained person to validate the results of the program.

AI may someday get to the point that the machine can come up with an initial idea or concept that has real value to a human. In your lifetime? Probably not.

Creating something new is a fun challenge. Why let the machine have all the fun?
 

Voidhawk9

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Or from the mind to glass, foam, and epoxy? ;)
It depends on what you are wanting to test. Structural design? Aerodynamics?
As Hot Wings said, any software simulating reality has limitations and requires an understanding of its operation to get reasonable results - and even then it is no guarantee that it will match reality 100%. Even the big-name manufacturers have needed to make significant changes to their designs once the real thing takes to the air. The 787 is a good recent example, but hardly a rare one.

What is your end goal?
 
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Mad MAC

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An A3 pad of graph paper, ruler & calculator followed by Excel (although for the next one, might look at Smath) & AutoCad (2d layout) followed by Solidworks for 3D modeling (3D is the big suck unless its well defined). Gets a bit vague as to CADCAM & FEA software depends on how long it takes to get to that stage.
 

BJC

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While some may content with building a kit plane, others would like to build their craft from the ground up. Their design, rendered from their mind into aluminum, steel, and titanium. What are some of the best software to design and test airframes? Please note that the software should have engineering in mind.
Welcome to HBA.

What you want to do is laudable, but to end up with a design that will be safe and perform well is series of long, tedious tasks. Then you have to build it. The sooner you start, the sooner you will finish, so jump right in.

Start by getting the technical resources that you will need, then learn the basics of aircraft aerodynamics and structures. There is a list of useful resources here: Technical references - Books, technical papers, software, etc.. Another that is a good starting place is The Glider which you can find on the www. Join the EAA, visit projects, learn how things are done.

Peruse threads in the design section here. Billski has posted lots of information about how, for example, spars work. Study them, and ask specific questions.

Tell us more about yourself (if you are not an experienced pilot, you may not know what kind of airplane you want) and the airplane that you have in mind.


BJC
 

Aerowerx

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MS Excel is the most underrated (and abused...) engineering tool in the world. I love it!
+1 on Excel being an engineering tool.

I used to get paid for writing engineering/scientific software algorithms. I would have a textbook/science book in my lap, calculator in one hand, C++ and Excel open on the computer screen. When they all agreed then I would test the **** out of the algorithm for 3 or 4 days. Only then was I satisfied.

What does this have to do with using software for designing aircraft, you ask? You have to be aware of the limitations of the software.

CAD programs are OK (although I always have trouble making them do what I want) for doing nice organized drawings.

As for aerodynamic simulation programs they, in the end, are based on gross statistical predictions of air flow and don't do good when things get chaotic (like at stall or flow separation). (And I use the term chaos in the mathematical sense.) They are ok so long as you are aware of their limitations.

The same thing applies to FEA programs for stress analysis.

And, to effectively use any of these type of programs, you have to be aware of what goes on in the real world and watch out for things that don't look right.
 
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Jay Kempf

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Excel maybe the best piece of mere human user software ever conceived by anyone ever. Best what if tool for almost anything from engineering to financial and everything in between.

MS Word possibly the worst.

Both from the same company and development group. Go figure...
 

btravis

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BJC, I looked up "The Glider" on google and didn't find anything obviously design related? Could you be more specific, please? Maybe the actual web address?
 

PiperCruisin

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Agree that Excel is probably tool #1, believe it or not. I use FEA a fair amount. It can produce very accurate and useful results, or a bunch of garbage. You have to know how it works and its limitations.

I remember seeing the original Avid Mark IV drawings...on the back of a McDonald's place mat.
 

proppastie

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As a designer and engineer I think of the tools we have and how much farther we need to go so that we can say "computer design an aircraft" ......maybe in 50 or 100 years.

Thanks for posting it gave me a little perspective.
 

pictsidhe

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Excel maybe the best piece of mere human user software ever conceived by anyone ever. Best what if tool for almost anything from engineering to financial and everything in between.

MS Word possibly the worst.

Both from the same company and development group. Go figure...
I've never actually used Excel. I did use other spreadsheets before it was conceived, supercalc and lotus 1-2-3. I use gnumeric now, i've tried a few others, but I keep going back. Nobody has yet complained about any of my gnumeric speadsheets not working on excel. It's not fair to say that microsoft invented spreadsheet software. Sure, they certainly have an extremely popular one. Alternatives de facto need to be able to read and write Excel spreadsheets. Maybe I should try it sometime and see how it compares to gnumeric.
I spent half my time in Word trying to work out to ^%#*ing kill clippy. I finally saw the light, and wiped Word. No regrets!

I've actually been trying to remember how to code in FORTRAN for something I don't want to even attempt in a spreadsheet. 30 years ago, I was really good at coding in FORTRAN. I need to find my old book!

XFLR5 is good fpr playing with aeroplane concepts. I mostly use it as a virtual wind tunnel for aerofoils. Though I don't really trust it. Javaprop is good for playing with propellers. there's also Javafoil, which seems less accurate than XFLR5.

Edit: added missing 'not'.
 
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Aerowerx

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.... It's fair to say that microsoft invented spreadsheet software. Sure, they certainly have an extremely popular one....
I don't think they did.
From Wikipedia:
LANPAR, available in 1969, was the first electronic spreadsheet on mainframe and time sharing computers. LANPAR was an acronym: LANguage for Programming Arrays at Random. VisiCalc was the first electronic spreadsheet on a microcomputer, and it helped turn the Apple II computer into a popular and widely used system. Lotus 1-2-3 was the leading spreadsheet when DOS was the dominant operating system. Excel now has the largest market share on the Windows and Macintosh platforms.
Remember that a lot of Microsoft's early products they stole, uh I mean bought, from the original developers. (Flight Simulator was one. Developed at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. I had a copy of it once, before it had the Microsoft name on it.)
 
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Bill-Higdon

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I've never actually used Excel. I did use other spreadsheets before it was conceived, supercalc and lotus 1-2-3. I use gnumeric now, i've tried a few others, but I keep going back. Nobody has yet complained about any of my gnumeric speadsheets not working on excel. It's fair to say that microsoft invented spreadsheet software. Sure, they certainly have an extremely popular one. Alternatives de facto need to be able to read and write Excel spreadsheets. Maybe I should try it sometime and see how it compares to gnumeric.
I spent half my time in Word trying to work out to ^%#*ing kill clippy. I finally saw the light, and wiped Word. No regrets!

I've actually been trying to remember how to code in FORTRAN for something I don't want to even attempt in a spreadsheet. 30 years ago, I was really good at coding in FORTRAN. I need to find my old book!

XFLR5 is good fpr playing with aeroplane concepts. I mostly use it as a virtual wind tunnel for aerofoils. Though I don't really trust it. Javaprop is good for playing with propellers. there's also Javafoil, which seems less accurate than XFLR5.
MS likes to claim "The Invented a lot of stuff" but as has been already posted in their early days they spoke out of both sides of their mouth complaining about people stealing their products while stealing other peoples products, like Nortons Utilities, Flight Sim, and others. The first Spreadsheet for microcomputers I remember is VisiCalc.
 
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