Mechanical Components

Probe Without Moving Parts Measures Flow Angle

Flow angle is computed from forces measured by use of strain gauges. The measurement of local flow angle is critical in many fluid-dynamic applications, including the aerodynamic flight testing of new aircraft and flight systems. Flight researchers at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center have recently developed, flight-tested, and patented the force-based flow-angle probe (FLAP), a novel, force-based instrument for the measurement of local flow direction. Containing no moving parts, the FLAP may provide greater simplicity, improved accuracy, and increased measurement access, relative to conventional moving-vane-type flow-angle probes.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs

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Noncircular Cross Sections Could Enhance Mixing in Sprays

Preliminary results suggest that elliptical cross sections may be best. A computational study has shown that by injecting drops in jets of gas having square, elliptical, triangular, or other noncircular injection cross sections, it should be possible to increase (relative to comparable situations having circular cross section) the entrainment and dispersion of liquid drops. This finding has practical significance for a variety of applications in which it is desirable to increase dispersion of drops. For example, in chemical-process sprays, increased dispersion leads to increases in chemical-reaction rates; in diesel engines, increasing the dispersion of drops of sprayed fuel reduces the production of soot; and in household and paint sprays, increasing the dispersion of drops makes it possible to cover larger surfaces.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs, TSP

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Mirrors Containing Biomimetic Shape-Control Actuators

Local bending would be controlled to obtain desired surface figures. Curved mirrors of a proposed type would comprise lightweight sheets or films containing integral, biologically inspired actuators for controlling their surface figures. These mirrors could be useful in such applications as collection of solar energy, focusing of radio beams, and (provided sufficient precision could be achieved) imaging. These mirrors were originally intended for use in outer space, but it should also be possible to develop terrestrial versions.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs, TSP

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Flight Tests of a Ministick Controller in an F/A-18 Airplane

Pilots' opinions were generally favorable. In March of 1999, five pilots performed flight tests to evaluate the handling qualities of an F/A-18 research airplane equipped with a small-displacement center stick (ministick) controller that had been developed for the JAS 39 Gripen airplane (a fighter/attack/ reconnaissance airplane used by the Swedish air force). For these tests, the ministick was installed in the aft cockpit (see figure) and production support flight control computers (PSFCCs) were used as interfaces between the controller hardware and the standard F/A-18 flight-control laws.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs

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Piezoelectrically Actuated Shutter for High Vacuum

This vacuum-compatible shutter generates an acceptably small magnetic field. A piezoelectrically actuated shutter is undergoing development for use in experiments on laser cooling of atoms. The shutter is required to be compatible with ultrahigh vacuum [pressure of 10-9 torr (≈1.3 X 10-7 Pa) or less] and to be capable of performing reliably in the vacuum for at least one year. In operation, the shutter would enable the collection and launch of successive samples of cold atoms and would enable the interrogation of the immediately preceding sample while preventing disturbance of the atoms of that sample by light from the collection region.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs, TSP

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Tool for Bending a Metal Tube Precisely in a Confined Space

This tool offers capabilities that prior tools do not. A relatively simple, manually operated tool enables precise bending (typically, within ±1/2° of the specified bend angle) of a metal tube located in a confined space, with a minimum of flattening of the tube and without significant gouging of the tube surface. The tool is designed for use in a situation in which the tube cannot be removed from the confined space for placement in a conventional bench- mounted tube bender. The tool is also designed for use in a situation in which previously available hand-held tube benders do not afford the required precision, do not support the tube wall sufficiently to prevent flattening or gouging, and/or do not fit within the confined space.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs, TSP

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Multiple-Use Mechanisms for Attachment to Seat Tracks

These could serve as standard or universal seat-track clamps. A Seat Track Attach Mechanism (SAM) is a multiple-use clamping device intended for use in mounting various objects on the standard seat tracks used on the International Space Station (ISS). The basic SAM design could also be adapted to other settings in which seat tracks are available: for example, SAM-like devices could be used as universal aircraft- seat-track mounting clamps.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs

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