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Human-powered Helicopter Fails to Lift Off

michael posted more than 9 years ago | from the we've-got-hiiiiiiiiiiigh-hopes dept.

Education 410

Peter writes "The Human-powered helicopter didn't even get off the ground. A team of University of British Columbia engineering students tried to win the $20,000 US prize offered by the American Helicopter Society. Three metres off the ground and hover for a minute was the challenge. But before the rotors were able to produce enough buoyant force they hit each other. More details: Vancouver Sun."

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410 comments

Ceren causes BSD users to 'lift off'. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9957928)

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Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9957994)

I note with some puzzlement that Ceren Rocks [slashdot.org] is not a fan of Ceren [slashdot.org]. I find this discrepancy quite intriguing.

Obligatory... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9957940)

If humans were meant to fly [on their own power], he/she would have been given wings.

Re:Obligatory... (1)

Vade M (805028) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958048)

We don't need wings to fly we're higher life forms than birds so we can emulate what they do, just like ::robot voice:: COOOOMMMPUUUTTTEERRRRRSSS... I HAWRT shrooms

Wow (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9957941)

Wow, a human powered helicopter! Great, I would be free from traffic congestion on my five minute commute to work!

Re:Wow (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9958024)

I think it'd be kind of hard to fly it from the kitchen (after you eat breakfast) and across the hall to your study, let alone fit the helicopter in your house. =P

Re:Wow (2, Funny)

RevDobbs (313888) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958069)

I see... a methane burning engine, and "U of BC Engineers Go To Taco Bell".

I'd bet ya that a couple of Chimichanga Burrito Supream Stupidbigs would induce one human to produce enough methane to power a small 'copter for a 5 minute trip.

well... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9957946)

fp

the day a work is long
hope i don't fail it
bacon

Re:well... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9957966)

I failed ....

oh well

Maybe ill make a useful comment one of these days
gotta get back to work now

jackqu7 (-1, Troll)

Coderstop (701079) | more than 9 years ago | (#9957954)

This FIRST POST was brought to you on behalf of JackQu7. thank you very much.

Re:jackqu7 (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9957965)

No it wasn't, jackquoff.

If at first you don't succeed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9957964)

... you should never have tried in the first place!

hmmm (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9957971)

I dunno, for some reason, the second half of that headline seems pretty predictable after reading the first half :)

Look on the bright side... (5, Funny)

pyrrhonist (701154) | more than 9 years ago | (#9957976)

...not getting off the ground makes it difficult to crash.

Re:Look on the bright side... (2, Funny)

boarder8925 (714555) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958045)

...not getting off the ground makes it difficult to crash.
But they can still burn! =P

The art of flying... (5, Funny)

bsd4me (759597) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958201)

The art of flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.

Point? (0, Troll)

oasis3582 (698323) | more than 9 years ago | (#9957986)

Really, what is the point of this? Even if they had succeeded, it is not as if our Army would be in a frenzy to purchase these so their pilots can pedal their way to Iraq. I can see the point of the X-Prize competition, but this seems like reaching to me...

Re:Point? (4, Interesting)

fireman sam (662213) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958030)

The point is that this type of research could lead to more efficient lift mechanisms for conventional aircraft. Allowing longer flights with less fuel requirements.

BTW, the Australian Parlament(sp?) past the free trade agreement, so we now have software patents, yay!

Re:Point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9958073)

We already had software patents, now we just get different ones.

But you're right, it isn't an improvement.

Re:Point? (4, Funny)

Sebadude (680162) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958286)

So not only am I paying top dollars to fly to europe, now I'm going to have to pedal for 8 hours too? Great.

Re:Point? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9958291)

Attention passengers, we're preparing for take off. Please put your seats in the upright positions and your feet on the pedals. If you notice a fellow passenger failing to pedal, please quietly alert a stewardess that you suspect terrorism.

Re:Point? (3, Insightful)

storl (740323) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958041)

I'm guessing that the point of this is that a bunch of really bright (ok, maybe not so bright in this case) people are thinking of a way to solve a problem. Think about how useful a human-powered helicopter would be. Not only that, but how many failed attempts were there before the first successful airplane? Maybe someday someone will get it right, and you'll be able to pedal through the air to work. This helps people think up unusual solutions to interesting problems. Having a generation of people that are taught to think shouldn't be a bad thing in a free society.

Re:Point? (5, Insightful)

dykofone (787059) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958088)

Ah yes, "The Point," what is it and why should anything be attempted if "The Point" isn't clearly defined in a two-page, three-color brochure accompanying a 10 slide powerpoint presentation (with plenty of cute sounds and clip-art) and of course complimentary box lunches.

BECAUSE it's cool, because I look at it and go "damn, that would be quite the engineering accomplishment right there," because college isn't all about inventing things that need to be invented, it's about expanding the mind to accomplish abstract ideas. Think of every lab that students do in their science courses: what's the point of those? It's old technology, it's certainly been done before. Why aren't freshman chemistry students working on cold fusion or something else the military will jump all over?

Besides, this is impressive science, since the human legs can put out a sustainable 100W, it's the attempt to built something light enough to get off with minimal power. And the $175,000 they've spent over 6 years to educate students and built a prototype is cheap in the education world.

Re:Point? (1)

oasis3582 (698323) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958186)

because I look at it and go "damn, that would be quite the engineering accomplishment right there," because college isn't all about inventing things that need to be invented, it's about expanding the mind to accomplish abstract ideas

Your post was excellently written and proves that mine incited the exact debate that I wanted. I just wanted to see how many people out there are still interested in doing something to do it, not for fame, etc. Personally, I feel that this would garner more merit were it done of someone's own volition instead of for prize money. However, I hate to say it, but I remain a naysayer - I do not think this will happen, and should it happen, would never become universally accepted. Pedal-cars exist now. How many people do you see pedalling down the street?

Re:Point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9958240)

very few since they must share the roads w/ 2+ ton steel cages of death!

Re:Point? (2, Interesting)

BenjyD (316700) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958093)

Because military applications are the only point for inventing anything, of course.
I imagine that the purpose was to stimulate interest in:

-Helicopters
-Mechanical Engineering
-Engineering/Science generally - you know, those strange subjects they used to teach in school before everyone decided they were too hard and made the less bright kids feel bad.

Re:Point? (3, Insightful)

the_mad_poster (640772) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958183)

you know, those strange subjects they used to teach in school before everyone decided they were too hard and made the less bright kids feel bad.

Screw the subjects... I'd be happy if we could at least get back to the point where we're not intentionally holding brighter people back or trying to keep their accomplishments covered up so we don't hurt the dumb and average people's feelings.

Re:Point? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9958095)

Really, what is the point of this?

To get the prize [vtol.org], dipshit.

That's just silly (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9957988)

Everyone knows Canucks can't fly.

So no simulations or models or just spinning the rotors indicated this might happen?

Why did they bother in the first place? (2, Funny)

inkdesign (7389) | more than 9 years ago | (#9957989)

"Right now we're all taking bets on what's going to fail first"

Sounds like this venture was well planned!

I'm all in favor of alternative energy sources (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9957990)

But killing humans and using them for fuel? That's horrible!

Re:I'm all in favor of alternative energy sources (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9958114)

What do YOU suggest we do with lawyers, then?

Re:I'm all in favor of alternative energy sources (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9958175)

...isnt that what the war in Iraq is about?????
people killed so we can have fuel...

yayaya, the WMD is the mantra of those in favor, but they have found ZERO wmd's, nor any evidence of such being made...dubya just keeps on lieing and killing so oil prices go up, he makes more money along with his buddies...

No pretesting? (5, Insightful)

erick99 (743982) | more than 9 years ago | (#9957998)

How could they not know that this was going to fail so completely? The article did not state whether or not they had done any test flights before the public demonstration. If they did, and it worked, than maybe it was just the temp/humidity as stated. It was interesting to read:

"My feeling at the moment is that the machine is actually quite unstable," said Mike Georgallis, leader of the team that has been working on the project for six years.

Maybe they did know that this wasn't likely to be a success.

Cheers,

Erick

Re:No pretesting? (-1, Troll)

arivanov (12034) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958121)

If you look at their rotor blades there is no way in hell they can be rotated to a proper speed for lift off by anything short of at least several kw engine. These blades are huge, thick profile and with HUGE drag. There is simply no way a human can spin and keep them rotating for 1 minute at a speed sufficient for liftoff.

Re:No pretesting? (-1, Flamebait)

drooling-dog (189103) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958213)

How could they not know that this was going to fail so completely?

Exactly. These were engineering students, and yet no one thought to do the basic physics calculations (like: what is the power required and can a human generate it) before building a prototype. I thought that was what engineering is all about.

Will someone hep me? (1)

mfivis (592345) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958000)

But before the rotors were able to produce enough buoyant force they hit each other.
What does that mean

Re:Will someone hep me? (2, Funny)

Cat_Byte (621676) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958060)

Pilot 1: "pedal faster!"
Pilot 2 (using Scotty voice): "I can't take much more cap'n!"
SMACK!
They hit each other.

Re:Will someone hep me? (2, Interesting)

erick99 (743982) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958131)

There were two rotors, one stacked above the other. The lower rotor was apparently generating lift but the upper rotor wasn't. I imaging that the lower rotor raised up a bit as it generated a net positive force on the bottom of the blade (this is how fixed wing works but I am not 100% sure that it translates to rotor) whereas the upper blade might have been sagging or simply did not lift up a bit as they might have expected.

Cheers,

Erick

Re:Will someone hep me? (3, Informative)

D.Throttle (432930) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958154)

The team used a counter-rotating design. The outer wing rotates clockwise and the inner wing counter-clockwise. The outer wing which is situated above the inner wing naturally flex and hangs down. It was hanging down to the point at which each wing made contact and shattered into countless pieces rendering thousands of man hours and about $30,000 worth of materials useless.

OLDS not NEWS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9958003)

Didn't this happen like, 3 or 4 days ago? Does this still qualify as NEWS. Seems more like OLDS to me.

No, it's a follow-up (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9958025)

To this story [slashdot.org].

No, it isn't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9958196)

No it isn't. The story you linked to, is talking about the flight, due to happen Tuesday past. If this was a follow up, then it should have been posted Tuesday, when the flight attempt happened. Or maybe on Wednesday, the day the the linked article was written.

If I submit a headline for "Burt Rutan makes succesful first shot at private space flight" today, would that be a follow up? No, it would be OLD news/redundant.

Semantics aside, this happened on Tuesday, was well publisised (in fact, it was referenced ad nauseum in the story about the Canada robotic hubble fixer), and is no longer news. Don't defend the idiot Michael, just accept that this was News, 3 days ago.

In un-related news, two tropical storms are building in the Carribean, people in Florida are told to prepare for severe weather three days from now.

As a follow up, stock markets around the world tumble, looks like 1929 is going to be a lean year.

Still think its news? Or a follow-up?

They should hire Inspector Gadget (1, Funny)

foidulus (743482) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958005)

as a consultant(or maybe the people that infused him with the powers, I can't remember who)..

They hit eachother!? (5, Funny)

TeVi (128093) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958007)

Peter writes "The Human-powered helicopter didn't even get off the ground. A team of University of British Columbia engineering students tried to win the $20,000 US prize offered by the American Helicopter Society. Three metres off the ground and hover for a minute was the challenge. But before the rotors were able to produce enough buoyant force they hit each other.

I assume 'they' refers to the rotors, not the team...

Would have been better... (0, Troll)

RU_Areo (804621) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958009)

if he got off the ground then crashed. Probably would have made them rethink the whole ridiculous idea. Dr. Vegas

Nitpick (4, Insightful)

TamMan2000 (578899) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958013)

This is kind of a nitpick, but buoyant force has nothing to do with how helicopters work, blimps and boats use buoyancy, helicopters and planes use aerodynamic lift.

Re:Nitpick (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9958083)

This is also a nitpick, but sailboats use buyoancy *and* aerodynamic lift (i.e. the sail acts just like the wing of a plane).

Re:Nitpick (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9958205)

Sailboats sink when there's no wind? That's news to me...

Re:Nitpick (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9958271)

Congrats! You win the Slashdot retard award!

Re:Nitpick (1)

Enigma_Man (756516) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958189)

Technically though... isn't it? The helicopter is buoyed up by the pressure differential across the rotor. It's just instead of a water-air, or air-helium boundary, we have an air-air boundary... Does that count?

-Jesse

Heliman... (3, Interesting)

FlimFlamboyant (804293) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958017)

Does this mean Lance Armstrong will soon become an astronaut?

I've seen machines in the past that are glider-based, and a human could actually keep them in the air for a fairly long time. But a helicopter? I wonder what they're trying to accomplish here. I mean, obviously the students are trying to win $27,000, but I have to wonder what the American Helicopter Society is thinking. Vertical flight always consumes a heck of a lot more energy than horizontal. I'd like to see more effort put in to human-powerd glider projects.

Re:Heliman... (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958171)

A landing pad takes a lot less space than runway. IANAE, but I'd assume that's because they have much better handling characteristics for the purpose.

I'd actually be interested in a human-powered helicopter for local commutes. Quiet, non-polluting, and good exercise.

We tried to make a helicopter fly... (1, Offtopic)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958021)

but then we got hiiiiiigh!

Just goes to show kids that the evils of marijuana make you fail at everything! Even making yourself fly high!

Does strike me as feasible (3, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958038)

A normal helicopter needs several Kilowatts of engine power to produce enough lift to even get itself off the ground, much less loaded down with a human. The human body constantly generates an approximate 200 watts. In case anyone's wondering, that's about 0.26 horsepower [slashdot.org], and that's assuming that you can apply the full 200 watts of your energy.

It's fun to see them try, but the physics say that the energy just isn't there. Perhaps if the copter weighed almost nothing, and it was constructed of super-strong materials. Of course, then we'd have unobtainium. :-)

Re:Does strike me as feasible (4, Informative)

Kynde (324134) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958137)

The human body constantly generates an approximate 200 watts. In case anyone's wondering, that's about 0.26 horsepower, and that's assuming that you can apply the full 200 watts of your energy. It's fun to see them try, but the physics say that the energy just isn't there.

That's not entirely accurate. I think the 200 watts is an approximation of the heat we emit in room temperatures. That's not the only source of power we have. We can also, for example, pedal.

Considering that we can run uphill fairly fast, the physics indeed says the power to overcome gravity most certainly is there, atleast for short periods of time. It's another question entirely wether we have the power to lift ourselves and the helicopter machinery using that technique. It will mostly depend on the efficiency vs the weight of the machinery.

Re:Does strike me as feasible (1)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958263)

>Considering that we can run uphill fairly fast, the physics indeed says the power to overcome gravity most certainly is there, atleast for short periods of time.

(Sorry if the following is confusing or hard to read, as I realize that english might not be your first language.)

Isn't running up hill, just breaking gravity for tiny (~2 secs) at a time? Each step you take is breaking gravity, but then it reclaims you as shift weight from one foot to another?

Would a better example be doing a chin-up and holding it at its zenith? Your arms are working against gravity lifting up your main trunk and legs? (The forearms are just dangling from the bar.)

Re:Does strike me as feasible (2, Insightful)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958153)

A human generally is lighter than a combustion engine.

Look at the Vancouver article, the helicopter looks more like a glider.

And couldn't they store up the energy into a big rubber-band, by ten minutes of human energy, let it go and add more energy as it goes up?

energy storage is forbidden (2, Informative)

bani (467531) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958292)

its one of the rules for the competition. a big rubber band would violate the rule and disqualify them.

That should read average human body... (5, Interesting)

TamMan2000 (578899) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958169)

The human body constantly generates an approximate 200 watts

You mean the average human...

Lance Armstrong can sustain power outputs around 600 watts, and several people (most competative amatuer cyclists) are capable of a ~1 minute burst of over 1250 watts.

Re:Does strike me as feasible (2, Interesting)

wwest4 (183559) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958245)

I don't know where you got that figure, but you may want to look at the sustained power output of a cyclist. I am an average cyclist, and I can pump out more than 200 W sustained if it's for only a few minutes. For comparison, the Tour winner cranked out around 350 W average for the whole tour, and is capable of much more. (of course, power/weight ratio is what really counts, but the same argument applies).

Re:Does strike me as feasible (1)

ozbird (127571) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958269)

In case anyone's wondering, that's about 0.26 horsepower, and that's assuming that you can apply the full 200 watts of your energy.

They should have used a quarter horse [quarterhorse.com]? (I _really_ don't want to know where the term "pleasure horse" came from...)

Re:Does strike me as feasible (4, Insightful)

KjetilK (186133) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958321)

RTFWS... I have personally small problems sustaining 400 Watts over a period of a few minutes, and I can probably get somewhat higher since I have a pretty good anaerobic capacity.

They have done their tests, and they have a guy which can do well beyond 500 watts, that's a lot.

The next thing is of course to make the helicopter lighter, and optimize everything for efficiency.

At some point, energy demands will get low enough, and then you may have liftoff. I think you're a bit too pessimistic. It's not easy, but that's not why they do it.

Design vs Implementation (4, Interesting)

sczimme (603413) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958044)


IANAAerospace Engineer.

From reading their Project Status/Schedule [mech.ubc.ca] page, it appears their problems may have arisen during the manufacturing stage:

July, 2004

It has been a while since our last update. We have been busy.

COMPOSITE SPAR MANUFACTURE/TESTING

All spars have been cooked including the tapered sections. Assembly of all this is complete for the four wings. Static testing was carried out for the assembled spars. All four eventually passed the test (see Thunderbird Projects - Picture gallery).

WING CONSTRUCTION

All four wings (for the two rotors) have been completed. This includes all wing parts (leading edges, trailing edges, suction side, ...) and assembly (see Thunderbird Projects - Picture gallery).

"Eventually passed the test"? Uh oh.

[There were no updates from December 2001 to July 2004]

December, 2001

COMPOSITE SPAR MANUFACTURE/TESTING

Static testing has been carried out for the CFRP spars. Static tests included both bending and torsion. A large effort was put in manufacturing the tapered mandrel for tapered composite spar production. One tapered spar has been manufactured with disastrous results. The tapered mandrel still requires some work (modifications). Composite spar manufacture continues (including straight sections).


It appears there were construction issues early in the project.

I am certainly not knocking their efforts. However, even the most elegant design can be compromised by sub-optimal manufacturing/implementation resources. I wish them the best in the next iteration.

it was a good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9958053)


well it was when we where all sitting round the bong smoking in our dorm room, oh well , better light another one :)

What a shame (2, Insightful)

azbot (544794) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958062)

Wow did you see the size of the rotors on that thing?

Its a real shame that it didn't work, sounds like the team have been working on it for a long time, which makes me wonder, wheres the tail rotor?

Re:What a shame (1)

NorthernMinx (600563) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958123)

From the image, it's hard to say, but I think that they are using 2 rotors in oposition in order to counter the rotation effect and give lift. a few designs of "flying robots" use this design so no tail rotor is needed.

Re:What a shame (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9958132)

wheres the tail rotor?

It dosn't need one, it has contra-rotatitng main rotors. One turns one direction, the other the opisite direction, thus canceling out the torque.

Re:What a shame (2, Informative)

dykofone (787059) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958160)

Counter-rotating rotors, a lower set goes one way (let's say clockwise) and the set above it goes the other way (let's say anti-clockwise).

The torsion created by each set of rotors balance out, preventing the need for a tail rotor to prevent spinngin. It was one of the upper rotors that hit the lower rotors in this case, which is thought to be due in part to heat and humidity (probably since the top rotors were longer, the heat and humidity caused them to bow, and they didn't generate enough lift to pull themselves out of the way of the smaller lower rotors as they lifted up).

Some more info here [copters.com]

Re:What a shame (1)

loic_2003 (707722) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958195)

no need for a tail rotor as the two main rotors rotate in opposite directions, much like the kamov hokum:

http://www.helis.com/Since80s/h_ka50.php

Counter-rotating rotors also allow heli's to fly a lot faster as you don't get the problems with retreating blades stalling.

Competition rules url (4, Insightful)

Andy_R (114137) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958064)

here [vtol.org] are the rules of the competition.

The obvious cheats (lighter than air gases, storing energy in a battery) are banned, but you could 'cheat' by using a human to store up a lot of energy in a low-drag rotor that then changes angle of attack to convert the stored energy to lift.

i have to wonder.... (1)

bani (467531) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958329)

if you put weights in the rotors to give them a large mass like a flywheel, then use your angle of attack cheat. would that violate the energy storage rule?

I hope they did the physics (1)

PrvtBurrito (557287) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958077)

I hope they did the physics on this. I wonder if it is even *possible* to build a helicopter powered only by a human. It takes a lot of energy to lift and continue lifting 200lbs....

/Didn't rtfa....

Sooner or later someone will do it. (5, Insightful)

runner_one (455793) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958098)

Never underestimate the power of human ingenuity. For many years the thought of sustainable human powered flight of any kind was considered an impossibility but in 1979 we saw the Gossamer Albatross cross the English Channel. I believe that sooner or later someone will manage to meet the requirements to win this American Helicopter Society prize. However without a doubt even then human powered flight will be just an interesting curiosity and not of any practical use.

Over 100 Engineers... (2, Funny)

D.Throttle (432930) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958099)

and no one caught such a simple design flaw.

All they had to do was have the outer wing on the bottom.

The chain broke? (2, Funny)

955301 (209856) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958109)


I would suspect they would have to have gears to get the rotors up to speed but, judging from the picture, I guess they figured the pilot had enough to do, what between holding on for life, pedaling, and praying to the gods.

Just a question... (1)

aster_ken (516808) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958139)

...please don't moderate this insightful or anything - not meant to be making statements.

Why don't they build a regular looking helicopter that uses something like a bicycle transmission? I mean, getting the rotors to spin at first would seem kind of hard, but once they're up to speed for that gear shift to the next one. You would probably go through a hundred gears, but in my mind that seems right?

Re:Just a question... (2, Informative)

dykofone (787059) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958217)

Simplicity and weight, I would guess. Each gear in bycicle tranny weights about .6 pounds(about .3 kg, for those of you counting along anywhere else in the world).

100 of those and you've got yourself another 60 pounds you have to lift, plus the extra mounting brackets, cables, shifters, chance for breakage, etc.

Besides, having guys run in circles to get the thing up to speed brings back images of the good old days of push-start props on airplanes.

wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9958144)

So it's like a big with a rotor blade..... I'm a geek damn it, we'd need more steriods then could be made for us to even be able to work a bike!

Possible? (2, Interesting)

telemonster (605238) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958150)

Is it possible someone did the math and figured out people can't generate enough lift to keep themselves in the air (the more people you add, the heavier it gets).

So once they figured this out, they thought it would be funny to watch people try? I'm having flashbacks to the movie "Chicken Run."

Rotors oscillating (1)

icejai (214906) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958172)

How much difference would there be in air pressure between the top and bottom of each rotor?

It's been a while since my last fluid mechanics class, but wouldn't the low-pressure above the bottom rotor "suck" the top rotor downward every time the two rotors overlapped each other while spinning?... causing the top and bottom rotors to bounce (if ever so slightly) up and down?

Re:Rotors oscillating (1)

icejai (214906) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958242)

I think the low pressure from the top of the bottom rotor would have eliminated the high pressure below the top rotor, disabling the top rotor's ability to produce lift.

Since the top rotor wasn't producing lift, the rotor would sag, while the lower rotor was, and straightened out, and *crunch*...

Something similar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9958176)

Isn't this [idsia.ch] version cooler? (scroll half way down the page to see it)

My easy solution... (2, Insightful)

TheCaptain (17554) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958187)

The weight isn't as important as a little forethought.

It has to be human powered? Fine...put Joe Powersource on it...let him peddle like mad. Store that up in a flywheel or other such reservoir. Let Joe keep peddling one more minute while you tap the flywheel to get the darn thing in the air and help hold it there for a minute.

Eh...then again, I didn't read the rules for this thing - but I'd be looking for the easiest solution the rules will allow rather than the most elegant one. You are trying to win 20k...not the nobel prize.

Previous attempts at such a prize (3, Interesting)

lemonk (220326) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958254)

I was a member of a team way back in around 1993 that was going for the Sikorski Challenge, which I believe was similar to this one. At the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana our project, named the X-391 Dragonfly, was to hover at 1 meter for I forget how many minutes. We got as far as building the main rotor from carbon fiber/kevlar/foam injection with a custom made oven/vacuum bag contraption as well as designing the 'cockpit' the rider would sit in. It was a great experience even if it never "got off the ground" pardon the pun.

Human Helicopters (2, Interesting)

justanyone (308934) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958261)

I believe the only way we could create human-powered aircraft is when the components (mostly wing area) was large and light enough to overcome thrust-drag ratios.

POINT 1: Can someone comment on the maximum sustained (3 minute duration) power output of a well trained human body? I believe it's less than one horsepower... ("he was stronger than a horse"), but not by much.

Regardless, it seems to me the components on a controllable helicopter include a Sikorski rotor assembly (that allows different angles to be put on a blad depending on it's position in a rotation). That dictates towards rotor blades that can occilate rapidly, and thus can very strongly stand up to high-speed torsions as well as flexing.

POINT 2: Since the blade structure is complex, and the rotors must be quite powerful, it seems to me that dictates tight restraints on design given the weight must be severely limited. Is there any discussion of exotic materials used in any other news article? I suspect a lot. What would the rotor blades be made from, standard materials like commerical helicopters?

POINT 3: I suppose the competition prevents someone from using a power storage device like a big battery or flywheel that a person can pump up to accumulate energy?

POINT 4: Does "Human Powered" mean chemically? Suppose I dried and accumulated enough of my own "dung", then burned it to distill alcohol, then used that alcohol as fuel in a conventional helicopter, it would be "human powered"... (grin).

Pre-test (1)

t_allardyce (48447) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958273)

Have they actually ever got the thing off the ground? I mean surely you test these things before you go off to the competition infront of 1000's of people? or did they just finish it and think ah, dang, we really should just stick a tarp over it and leave it until the big day, no use just having a quick go now.. maybe with a video camera. Actually knowing most engineering projects im guessing they just finished building the thing in the morning!

I wonder if a spring would help (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 9 years ago | (#9958315)

The pilot could pedal for a minute or so prior to liftoff and tighten a coil spring, which would be used for the intital takeoff, just to get the blades up to speed faster. Don't know if that would violate the rules though.
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