Wednesday, December 1, 2010

High Performance Monofoilers-altitude control

One very interesting development over the last year (and sure to be repeated on other boats) is manually controlled altitude that by-passes the wand on the 26' Mirabaud. The guys on the boat say it is particularly useful in choppy water where the wand can create a real bumpy ride.

I've foiled my own 16' boat using a manual control system* and despite some problems I feel it is a great way to foil and I think it has great potential in racing foilers. Here is a post from last year quoting TomSpeer on manual control of the mainfoil flap:

Mirabaud-manual control lever.jpg


If you look at the conditions for stable flight, the forward foil must have a relatively higher heave stiffness than the rear foil, and the rear foil must cause a greater change in pitching moment with a change in angle of attack than the forward foil. This is why wand feedback to the forward foil and a fully submerged aft foil work so well together. The heave stiffness of the aft foil is virtually zero, so it does all the job of stabilizing the craft in pitch. The forward foil then is totally responsible for controlling the craft in heave.

Manual control of altitude via the forward flap makes sense, since that is the surface that really controls heave. But the big difficulty is having enough control power to handle both the dynamic change in lift needed by the control system, and being able to trim out the change in lift due to speed. With direct gearing between the wand and flap and the boat flying at a constant pitch attitude, the only way for the control system to trim out the increase in speed with lift is to deflect the flap upward, and because of the gearing between flap and wand, this means flying higher. 

If the boat is trimmed bow down as the speed changes, then the reduced angle of attack will compensate for the speed and the boat can fly at its design height with the foil centered (on average). One way to get this pitch trim is with manual control of the stern flap. The speed changes less rapidly than flying through waves or even being hit by gusts. So pitch trim with speed makes sense for manual control. 

It might be possible to get some automatic speed trim by clever manipulation of the hinge moments on the rudder flap. Aircraft use a device called a "down spring" to augment their speed stability. A spring with a low spring constant is used to apply a near constant nose down force to the controls. This has to be trimmed out with the trim tab. But the force from the trim tab depends on speed. So as the speed increases, the tab effectiveness increases and moves the elevator in the nose-up direction. This makes the aircraft climb, which reduces the speed.

The opposite could be applied to a hydrofoil. If the rudder flap were deflected upward with a spring, increasing speed would reduce the deflection. This would make the boat trim more bow down, reducing the flying height in much the same way as the manual pitch trim described above. You could also divide the rudder flap into two parts - one driven by the spring and the other under manual control. 

Naturally, the spring force would control the amount of automatic trim change. It's better to get the force from deflecting a long, weak spring a lot, than by deflecting a short, stiff spring. This makes a bungee cord ideal for the purpose. "
Tom Speer

(* also have used a manual system on two different rc boats with great success )

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