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aircraft design software

Posted By:
Scott Cutler
Young Eagles Pilot or VolunteerHomebuilder or Craftsman
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#1 Posted: 5/2/2010 18:20:02

I teach 7th grade science and am looking at teaching a class on aircraft design.  I'm trying to decide between two softwares: Aircraft PDQ and OAD Aircraft Design Software.  Has anyone had any experience working with either of these two products?  If so, how easy was it to learn?  Would either be appropriate for middle school students?  Both load aircraft into X plane which the kids would love.



Mike Dean
Warbirds of America MemberYoung Eagles Pilot or VolunteerHomebuilder or Craftsman
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#2 Posted: 5/7/2010 08:05:16

Scott,

I have tried AirplanePDQ, though it's been a few years since I played around with it. And I haven't done anything real extensive with it. I'm not any kind of aeronatical engineer. More of a wanna-be airplane designer. I do have a fair amount of CAD experience, however. For nearly 20 years my day job has been as a CAD Designer for a (as they say on Wheel of Fortune) "major custom rubber molder". I have used a number of CAD programs, including AutoCAD, Solidworks, and KeyCreator (formerly known as Cadkey).

PDQ was developed using the IntelliCAD (http://www.intellicad.org/) platform which is, basically, an AutoCAD clone. PDQ then adds aircraft performance (weight/balance, Vx speeds, etc.) analysis to it. You key in the aircraft parameters (i.e the type of plane, number of passengers, engine type, etc.) and performace figures you're looking for, and the software configures the plane.

It will then produce all kinds of charts and figures, some of which I question. For example; the weight & balance. I don't now how it can calculate those figures without knowing what materials (and associated weights) were used to build all of the different components in the airplane. And where they are located. And I haven't seen where this data is input. Though maybe it's there and I, in my limited playing around, just never came across it.

Anyway, in my view, it's only good for estimating "preliminary" numbers. Which is fine if you understand that. And for the price, and what you intend to do with it, that might be good enough.

I've never tried OAD (didn't even know about it), but now that I do, I'm going to download it and give it a shot.



Joanne Palmer
Young Eagles Pilot or VolunteerHomebuilder or Craftsman
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#3 Posted: 5/7/2010 16:18:57
Mike Dean wrote:

 

Scott,

SNIP

It will then produce all kinds of charts and figures, some of which I question. For example; the weight & balance. I don't now how it can calculate those figures without knowing what materials (and associated weights) were used to build all of the different components in the airplane. And where they are located. And I haven't seen where this data is input. Though maybe it's there and I, in my limited playing around, just never came across it.

Anyway, in my view, it's only good for estimating "preliminary" numbers. Which is fine if you understand that. And for the price, and what you intend to do with it, that might be good enough.

I've never tried OAD (didn't even know about it), but now that I do, I'm going to download it and give it a shot.

 

Most of these figures would be arraved at "parametrically"  In other words a wing of X Sq ft with an aspect ratio of Z weighs about ...Y pounds.   

 

Like you say these are ONLY a starting point.



Ried Jacobsen
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#4 Posted: 5/13/2010 16:24:28

Scott,

Get into the EAA Sport Aviation archives and look for the series of articles by John Roncz in the early 1990s and Neal Willford in the early 2000s.  There are spreadsheets and explanations of the assumptions and "rules of thumb" used to start a design.  Both go into some discussion of the trade-offs involved with engine sizing, planform, etc.

This would save the cost of software, but require some work and knowledge (or learning) how spreadsheets work.  Not sure how long your class or how many sessions you plan on holding, but these give what I think is decent guidance into the process and starting points for aircraft design.

Ried