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Replication of an underactuated propeller for attitude control using standard components

Thompson, Jackson (2018) Replication of an underactuated propeller for attitude control using standard components. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Micro Air Vehicles (MAV) are unmanned air vehicles based on full sized aircraft designs and used for various purposes in many industries. 3D printing and low-cost hobby MAV components have expedited design innovations but rotary wing MAV research has continued to focus on quad rotor designs. Alternative MAV designs seek to control key flight components including: forces, moments, lift and the centre of pressure.

This thesis expands on the work of Paulos and Yim’s 2013 paper on the use of an underactuated propeller for attitude control which reduces cost compared to the original design. The concept for this thesis was to use the modulation of torque applied to a passively hinged, underactuated rotor assembly to create controllable lateral forces. A replicated rotor hub assembly was used and duplicated using 3D design software, a 3D printer and hobby drone rotor blades.

The controllable torques are generated using a direct current brushless motor, an electronic speed controller and a Raspberry Pi single board computer. This control required the replication of the DShot protocol through a Serial Peripheral Interface. Code to superimpose the sine wave to the desired motor speed was written on the Raspberry Pi.

A testing platform, consisting of a 3D printed assembly, load cells for measuring force and a laser beam for measuring the rotor speed was designed and built. This system used LabVIEW and a National Instruments Digital Acquisition Card for the measurement and logging of the electrical signals produced by the platform. Conversions were calculated for these signals to produce force measurements and the system was calibrated. Testing was performed on the constructed rotor assembly to analyse the generation and control of lateral forces. Control was established for the magnitude of the lateral forces produced, but not for their direction.

This work generated options for future development, including improvements direction control, the testing platform and areas for further testing which will all assist with the ultimate goal of independent flight using the underactuated model.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Engineering and Information Technology
Supervisor(s): Parlevliet, David
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