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Homework Help: Ballistic Glider Design

  1. May 14, 2007 #1
    We have a project that deals with ballistic glider designs. We've tested with designs that were of paper cones, weighted front and back using paper clips. However, our best achieved height-to-distance ratio was 1:1... we need it to at least 1:2.

    We were wondering what other ballistic designs would enable a 1:2 height-distance ratio?

    The parameters: no wings/fins/propellers
    no motors/prefabricated parts, etc.
    totally ballistic flight characteristics

    The flight vessel is released by hand at a height of 5.5m and must 'glide' to a target 12m away.

    Thank you for all suggestions!! :smile:
    Last edited: May 14, 2007
  2. jcsd
  3. May 14, 2007 #2


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    Where do you draw the line between lifting body and wing/fin?
  4. May 14, 2007 #3
    hi... im a group member of !Live_4Ever! 's science project.

    In response to your question, we are not allowed any wings/fins etc... we must use totally ballistic flight characteristics.

    It's quite a headache because what can glide without the use of fins/wings?

    In addition, there is no initial launch force - the flight vessel is only dropped from a height and must 'glide' to land at a distant target.
  5. May 14, 2007 #4
    So the object is to have both distance and accuracy? Can you slingshot the glider at all as long as you still release it by hand? I assume not, but worth a shot if all else fails.

    Well, you probably want to take some hints from nature, seeing as how nature never has any propulsion. If you drop a feather it takes a long time to hit the ground because it exploits the natural fluid dynamics in air. You can exploit this aspect. Although this will come with a trade-off because the more feather-like you make your glider the less control you will have. Dandylion seeds go where ever they want, but are not very effective at deciding where they want to go.

    Another seed that you could take interest in is the one that is shaped sort of like a wing or boomerang. While the seed is not designed for long distance traveling, modifications to the design could work out. Depending on how much force you are allowed to give you could even make a boomerang kind of design; just throw it so it doesn't come back, which is pretty easy if you don't know how to actually throw one.

    More narrow cone-like designs will have good accuracy, but the distance traveled probably will not be all that great.

    Just some ideas. The final design could end up as combination of these, or a single one modified.
    Last edited: May 14, 2007
  6. May 14, 2007 #5
    hmm... interesting... thanks for the ideas! we'll try them out =) ... but it's gonna be hard to achieve direction and airtime accuracy :\ and no, we cannot provide any launch force (that includes throwing or slinging...)
  7. May 15, 2007 #6
    I'm another member of this team...
    The idea is that the body of this project must be completely ballistic and not contain anything that even remotely resembles wings/fins. (i.e. a triangular lifting body does not work) It then must be released BY HAND (i.e. just letting it go) from a predetermined height of 5.5m and is reach a horizontal target that is located 12m away.
  8. May 17, 2007 #7


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    Obviously you're to think outside the box on this, but I can't think of how you'd get significant horizontal movment - let alone 2:1 - without some sort of wing or fin shape.

    The suggestions of wing or boomerang seems to directly defy the rules.
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