Sunday, February 26, 2012

SpaceX Dragon Panorama

SpaceX has a neat internal panorama up of their Dragon space capsule.
SpaceX Dragon capsule, internal iso/orthogrid panels and grid stiffened structure, forward/port view

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sears--Haack Body for Mini-Estes

We have a little company here in Dayton that does print on demand (Fabbr) with Makerbots. They specialize in printing RepRap kits, but I think I'm going to see if they can print me a little rocket to use with Estes mini-motors.
The 1/4 and 1/2 A motors are 13 mm in diameter and 44 mm long.

The first thing you need to print a part with these hobby printers is an stl file. I followed a some-what torturous route to generating one.
First I made a little python script to find the minimum volume Sears-Haack body that would fit a 13x44 mm cylinder. The bold black curve is the minimum volume body; it happens to have a length of twice the motor length.
As you can see in the script, I also dumped an svg file of that curve. This is easily imported into Blender. Then the svg curve must be converted into a Mesh, and the Spin method applied to generate the body of revolution.
I played with the number of steps to get a mesh that looked like it had surface faces with near unit aspect ratio (not that it really matters, but old habits die hard).

Now I should be able to add some fins and export an stl from Blender for my rapid prototyping friends to play with. The design goal for this rocket will be to have positive static margin with the motor in the rocket, but neutral or negative static margin once the ejection charge pops it out the back (that way it does a tumble recovery).

Saturday, February 11, 2012

OpenFoam Now with Fedora RPMs

Well, I was pretty excited that OpenFoam was acquired by SGI, and they created a foundation to hold the copyrights for the project. That is good news for building a healthy open source community around the software. Looks like I jumped the gun with the install from source option I detailed back in November. If only I were a little more patient, I could have installed from rpms. The new release has lots of interesting additions. We live in exciting times for open source CFD.