PlaneTools May 6, 2011
My biggest contribution to USC’s AeroDesign Team this year was a new MATLAB repository called PlaneTools. PlaneTools includes a collection of programs that aim to make airplane design easier. Chief among these programs is a mission simulator with simulates an airplane’s flight based on the rules of the AIAA Design/Build/Fly competition that we make planes for. A user of PlaneTools can construct a plane out of parts in the PlaneTools library and see how well it scores via the mission simulator. In addition, we can set a range of parameters and have the mission simulator score the whole set in order to spot trends. An example trade study created using this technique is shown below.
Another cool tool in the PlaneTools repository is the object-oriented variable class. This class adds optional parameters of units and uncertainties to plain numbers. When performing operations on two or more numbers, the PlaneTools variable class will automatically propagate the most likely uncertainty. It will also enforces dimensional similitude between numbers to prevent user error. This variable class currently does not support arrays or matrices of numbers which makes it noticeably slower than plain numbers. Hopefully I can fix that up and release it separately at some point.