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It's understood this may not be informative to others. However, from the "Experienced Individual" to a "Student", your advice IS VERY helpful. As a result, several fellow classmates and I have concluded to seek guidance from the expertise of experienced individuals belonging to this site.
   
SITUATION:

An exhibit of senior projects took place today at my university. During the exhibit I was confronted by the dean of engineering to start thinking in advance of what I would want my senior project to be.

QUESTION:

My interests are in the fields of Aerospace Engineering. I would like to apply my project to something beneficial in this area as a learning tool. I also want my project to reflect well on myself when other employers are present. Based on your expertise and experience how do I approach this task in coming up with ideal projects that have great potential in today's Aerospace Operations but with the available tools/materials a student could attain.
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Does a quadracopter or UAV qualify as aerospace? Difficult to make though.
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Are you interested in a glass cockpit kind of thing?
Maybe put together some of the mini gyros & accelerometer kind of chips that are available with a TFT screen to make a backup instrument.
Maybe bring a bunch of sensors into a uC and make an inexpensive "black box"/digital event recorder.
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Does a quadracopter or UAV qualify as aerospace? Difficult to make though.

Something simpler along those lines, you could use an accelerometer to control just the ailerons on a plane to automatically bank it during turns. Ensure the center of gravity is always perpendicular to the wings.
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My interests are in the fields of Aerospace Engineering.

That leaves a lot of scope. What areas interest you - sensing, video processing, real-time control systems, data acquisition, airframes/drive systems, electronic hardware, firmware, software? I suggest you should be looking at something that is relevant to the type of job you would be looking for subsequently - which we don't know.
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If you really want to embrace "Aerosapce Engineering" then it's all about how you design.

Pick an ultra modern project that requires the latest in component technology, then limit yourself to components released at least 15 years ago.  Solve that puzzle and nearly any AD company will hire you.

[For bonus points, complain to the component manufacturers whenever they point this paradox out.]

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Arduinos and space, sounds like fun.

Wish I was an "experienced individuals belonging to this site" who could give you some "expertise" on the subject, but I'm not smiley-sad

But wait... Maybe I can give you some "guidance" to someone or someones who can.

Have you ever heard of ArduSat?

Check out this video
 

Talk by Jonathan Oxer at linux.conf.au 2013 conference in Canberra, Australia about ArduSat, the Arduino-based satellite platform. For more info see www.freetronics.com/ardusat
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Ensure the center of gravity is always perpendicular to the wings.

¿Que? The CoG is a point, by definition, so how can it have an orientation?

Edit.... You might find something to kickstart your mind here at CanSat
« Last Edit: February 22, 2013, 10:52:19 am by JimboZA » Logged

Have you looked for answers in the Learning, Reference, Products and Playground tabs on http://arduino.cc/en/ ?
Look here http://electronicsclub.info/ for basic electronics

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I worked as the technical director for the Desert Hawk UAV product while at lockheed and one of the difficult problems for small UAVs is an accurate altitude solution.  Actually I should say the height above ground mainly when coming in for a landing, if you have an altitude that is accurate within say 10 feet you can localize your landing much better and reduce damage also from landing.

People have thought of laser range finders but they are a hard nit to crack given the timing and expense of the APD.  Radar is a possibility as is differential baro altimeters, the GPS vertical error is too high to work for this app.  The differential baro would entail putting one of the high accuracy MEMS baro on the bird and one on the groundstation.  The mission time is too long for you to rely on the original baro reading that you took off with so as you approach for landing you send the current baro at ground level in the landing area to the bird.  The height above ground is a simple calculation based on the difference in baro readings, thus the term differential baro. 

Building a small radar altimeter may be a better approach as then you do not need any changes to the ground station and is a little sexier than measuring the air pressure.  The folks over at DIYDrones may help you on test flights if you share some of your completed hardware, trust me that is very cheap flight testing.

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If its aerospace your interested in I'd like a coupel others, recommend a drone. Suprisingly theres a a boatload of people out there who already have arduino based ones (even an whole rebsite and community solely to run drones) Problem is is a cheap drone will probably end up being ~$500. Whereas a good capable one will be a grand or 2.
 I myself am trying to make a drone for playing airsoft. (based off a gas driven model with a 9ft wingspan rather then the electrics that most drones run off of).


Perhaps though rather then making a drone. You could make a custom model aircraft (they're quite easy to make with various foams) with a strange design (maybe dig up the idea of the flying flapjack), and get that thing to fly. Perhaps have an arduino micro onboard to monitor gyros and accelerometers to stabilize the aircraft. It could be a lot easier the a full fledged drone, but would still be quite interesting to judges and viewers.
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My suggestion to look at CanSat (which implies a rocket for deployment) and the talk of drones, makes me wonder about gliders maybe?

Depends where you live of course, but some kind if on-board usb flash-drive data-logging / real-time radio transmission from the vehicle to a ground station could suit a glider launched / dropped from a tall building or side of a hill.
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glider launched / dropped from a tall building or side of a hill.
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Perhaps have an arduino micro onboard to monitor gyros and accelerometers to stabilize the aircraft.

It would  be kinda cool to make a glider that no matter how you throw it, it will reach a specific destination.  Lets say the target is directly in front of you and you throw it left, it will bank right, and then aim for the target.
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Does a quadracopter or UAV qualify as aerospace? Difficult to make though.

Something simpler along those lines, you could use an accelerometer to control just the ailerons on a plane to automatically bank it during turns. Ensure the center of gravity is always perpendicular to the wings.

That can get you dead at close to stall speed and ground (as in during takeoff or landing) IRL.  The wing tip with the aileron that goes down increases AOA.. close to stall that's all it might take to start a spin.

OTOH an accelerometer, gyro and compass combo can provide good flight data. Add an SD module and you can make a cheap chart recorder.
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Examples can be found in your IDE.

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