Title page for ETD etd-080499-101241

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Remington, Alexander
Author's Email Address aremingt@vt.edu
URN etd-080499-101241
Title A Study of Non-Fluid Damped skin Friction Measurements for Transonic Flight Applications
Degree Master of Science
Department Aerospace and Ocean Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Schetz, Joseph A. Committee Chair
Lang, James R. Committee Member
Simpson, Roger L. Committee Member
  • Aerodynamics
  • Skin Friction
  • Eddy Current Damper
Date of Defense 1999-07-23
Availability unrestricted

A Study of Non-Fluid Damped Skin Friction Measurements

for Transonic Flight Applications

Alexander Remington


A device was developed to directly measure skin friction on an external test plate in transonic flight conditions. The tests would take place on the FTF-II flight test plate mounted underneath a NASA F-15 aircraft flying at altitudes ranging from 15,000 to 45,000 ft. at Mach numbers ranging from 0.70 to 0.99. These conditions lead to predicted shear levels ranging from 0.3 to 1.5 psf. The gage consisted of a floating element cantilevered beam configuration that was mounted into the surface of the test plate in a manner non-intrusive to the flow it was measuring. Strain gages mounted at the base of the beam measured the small strains that were generated from the shear forces of the flow. A non-nulling configuration was designed such that the deflection of the floating head due to the shear force from the flow was negligible. Due to the large vibration levels of up to 8 grms that the gage would experience during transonic flight, a vibration damping mechanism needed to be implemented. Viscous damping had been used in previous attempts to passively dampen the vibrations of skin friction gages in other applications, yet viscous damping proved to be an undesirable solution due to its leakage problems and maintenance issues.

Three methods of damping the gage without a fluid filled damper were tested. Each gage was built of aluminum in order to maintain constant material properties with the test plate. The first prototype used a small internal gap and damping properties of air to reduce the vibration levels. This damping method proved to be too weak. The second prototype utilized eddy current damping from permanent magnets to dampen the motion of the gage. This mechanism provided better damping then the first prototype, yet greater damping was desired. The third method utilized eddy current damping from an electromagnet to dampen the motion of the gage. The eddy current damper achieved a much larger reduction in the vibration characteristics of the gage than the previous designs. In addition, the gage was capable of operating at various levels of damping. A maximum peak amplitude reduction of 33 % was calculated, which was less than theoretical predictions.

The damping results from the electromagnetic gage provided an adequate level of damping for wind tunnel tests, yet increased levels of damping need to be pursued to improve the skin friction measurement capabilities of these gages in environments with extremely high levels of vibration. The damping provided by the electromagnet decreased the deflections of the head during 8 grms and 2 grms random noise vibrations bench tests. This allowed for a greater survivability of the gage. In addition, the reduction of the peak amplitude provided output with vibration induced noise levels ranging from 24 % to 5.9 % of the desired output of the gage.

The gage was tested in a supersonic wind tunnel at shear levels of tw=3.9 to 5.3 psf. The shear levels encountered during wind tunnel verification tests were slightly larger than the shear levels encountered on the F-15 flight test plate during the flight tests, but the wind tunnel shear levels were considered adequate for verification purposes. The experimentally determined shear level results compared well with theoretical calculations

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