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UPDATE #7 - January 16, 1998

PART 1: Chat with Mina Cappuccio
PART 2: Two Weeks to Go - Calibrating the Balance!
PART 3: Test Day
PART 4: Subscribing & Unsubscribing: How to do it


CHAT WITH MINA CAPPUCCIO!

You have plenty of time to register and prepare your 
class for the upcoming chat with Mina Cappuccio!
Remember this is an opportunity to reinforce for
students that it is okay and cool to study science and 
math!

The chat with Mina will be held January 26, 1998 from
12 - 1 PM Pacific time. Mina has been working on 
integration the engines into the new high speed civil 
transport!! (the airliner of the future!) 

Your class should read her bio 
http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/team/cappuccio.html and 
prepare some questions for her in advance.  

To attend chats you register by filling out a form 
online to ensure a reservation.  (So far there's been 
plenty of room in our chats!) To register go to 
http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/chats/#chatting

I am so anxious for you all to have the opportunity 
to chat with our NASA experts that if anyone has 
any questions about registration or the actual 
chatting process I will gladly respond to you by 
email send questions to slee@mail.arc.nasa.gov 


[Editor's Note: Fanny is the Project Manager for an upcoming test of a future supersonic airliner. She has written several journals about the preparations for this test see them online with pictures at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/events/test.html]


Two Weeks to Go - Calibrating the
Balance

By Fanny Zuniga

December 31, 1997 

Two weeks to go before our test starts. We are busy right through the holiday getting ready for our test. A lot of work is going into getting our internal balance ready, so I want to explain some of it to you. Remember, our balance measures the aerodynamic loads (like Lift and Drag) on our model. Think of it as a very fancy, and expensive, bathroom scale that can measure forces in any direction very accurately.

First I need to explain how a balance works. The balance is a cylinder 5 inches wide and 18 inches long. Inside the balance are small metal parts that bend when a load is applied and send out a small electrical signal. The more it bends, the higher the voltage output. Fine, except that we have to calibrate the voltage signal. This is because if you double the load on the balance, you don't necessarily get twice the voltage out. When the balance is calibrated, it means that we can say "this many volts means this many pounds."

To calibrate the balance you have to hold on to one end of the balance, hang some "known" weight on the other end, and measure the output voltage. The balance is actually inside the rectangular metal "block." The block is only there to provide a convenient way to attach weights to the balance. We attach a red cart that holds about a ton of metal plates that we can hang from the balance. We hung up to 12,000 pounds because we expect the model to generate at least 10,000 pounds of Lift. That's 5 tons! Are you surprised by how much weight there is? Thinking about all that weight sure gives you an idea how much Lift our model can generate in the wind tunnel. Now you know why we had to make sure the model was so strong.

Now that its calibrated, we've moved the balance into a preparation room where it can get hooked up to the software that has been written for this test. It is mounted on the two struts which will be used to hold the model in the tunnel. Remember, the balance is inside the metal block. The electrical cable comes out of the back of the balance. Soon the metal block comes off and the model will be attached to the balance. When everything is ready, the model, balance, and these struts will all be carried into the tunnel.

Our software is nearly ready and it has been loaded onto a computer in the prep room which is just like the computer in the wind tunnel. One of the next big steps is to make sure our computer software understands the electrical signals from the balance and that it uses the balance calibration information correctly. To do this we will hang some weight off of the balance again to check that the software program records exactly the right weight. This should happen next week.

Also this week I'm reviewing the "plan of test" (or run schedule) and adding detail to this plan. I have to make sure that everyone is in agreement with the plan and that we make sure we set out our plan as efficiently as possible. Time in the tunnel is very precious. We only have five weeks to do everything we want to do including installation and de-installation so it's critical that we have an efficient plan.

Finally, this week I am also working on getting some software files ready for our use during the test. All this needs to be ready so that we can easily and quickly plot up information about our model as soon as we get data from the tunnel. Once the test begins, the researchers will want to look at the data as soon as we get it. This is important because, no matter how well we plan out this test, we will have to make some decisions about what we want to test based on how the model performs.

Well, that's it for this week. Things are getting very hectic and time is running out before the test begins, only two more weeks to go. I suspect I'll be working long hours the next couple of weeks. It's crunch time!!


[Editor's Note: Frank Quinto is a test engineer at NASA Langley Research Center. He works at the 14 by 22 -foot Subsonic Tunnel there.]

Test Day

by Frank Quinto

Monday, October 13, 1997 

It is Day 3 for this test, Dynamic Ground Effects Test on Various Wing Plan forms. The test started on Saturday, October 11 at 7:00 a.m. Our Facility, the 14- by 22-Foot Subsonic Tunnel, is temporary operating around-the-clock (24 hours/day, 7 days/week). Two of the five test engineers on this test have covered the weekend shifts for this test. I am one of the three engineers that cover the weekday shifts. This morning is my first day on this test. Even though I wrote the plan and schedules for this test, I need to read two days worth of notes to see where we are and where we need to go. It is especially tough after a long weekend. This past weekend was my sixteenth annual football get-together with my "dorm-mates" at Virginia Tech. Tech's football team was victorious over Boston College, 17-7 - GO HOKIES!!! I am reading the shift notes and listening to the Test Engineer from the previous shift tell what they did on their shift and what else is left for us to do on our shift before we can start the test.

I spent most of the morning determining why some instruments were not giving the right output. In trouble-shooting this problem, I normally work from the computer that is getting the information back to the instrument. As I try to track the problem, I will pass-by Technicians working on various items for the test. They will update their progress, so I know what is going on and also write it in the test log. In the log, I note how the Technicians did certain things or what the next shift should do or avoid. Communications among the staff and across the shifts is very, very important. Everyone has to know what is going on. It is like having a band playing the right note of a song at the right time. The band uses a song sheet to know when each note occurs, if they did not have it, they could play different notes at different times. The Test Plan that I put together earlier in the month, during my planning days, and the daily test logs are like that song sheet. I finally track the problem of the instrument output to an "interface" rack. The connections to power the instruments and the signal from them was NOT connected. I make the appropriate connections and now I trace the output from the rack back to the computer to make sure the output is the same all the way back to the computer.

In the afternoon, we check the clearance of the model support system and surrounding cover plates. We move the model down to the tunnel floor and check the clearance of the support as it goes below the cover plates. As the model nears the floor, the back part of the large support structure has a few items that may hit the cover plates. The Technicians mark the cover plates, so they cut out those areas. While they are cutting into 1/4 inch aluminum plates, other Technicians are working on the models to get them ready. In the meantime, I write in the test log what occurred with the instrument problem and the cutting of the cover plates. As I am typing, I get a telephone call from the Test Engineer that will cover the second shift. He will not be coming in because his daughter went into labor and is expecting to the deliver her third child, real soon. I called the other Test Engineer who cover the third shift to see if he could come in 4 hours earlier and I would work 4 hours more to cover the second shift. When the third shift Test Engineer comes in, I update him on what has happened and what else needs to be done. The end of another test day, one day of over 4000 different day. Now it's time to go home and relax after a long 12 hour shift!!!


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