One of the fun things to do is to get equipment into the hands of students that will create and have fun with a project. Recently, the University of Oregon Department of Geography donated some old fixed-wing drones to the DeArmond Makerspace. Researcher Mark Fonstad had gotten new equipment, so the older fixed-wing planes were obsolete. However, Mark and I knew that one or more students would love to use one of these planes for their own project. So, along come Keenan Siminski a recent NASA intern with a desire to develop a system to launch fixed wing drones. Here’s the project in Keenan’s own words:
“I’ve been designing a UAV Rail-Launch system for rapid launch of RC
planes and quadcopters. After some testing with a traditional lock and
spring style launcher I’d like to upgrade to a rail-gun style launcher
that uses a super capacitor and large magnets to give the vehicle a very
high initial velocity upon takeoff. So far I have designed the lock and
spring iteration in SolidWorks and have just started 3D printing the
Now, what was considered almost to be trash, is the core material that is providing the inspiration for a project requiring developing skills in engineering, electronics, CAD design, and aeronautics.