For my senior design, our team had to design, build, and fly an R/C aircraft designed to deliver a payload to a target a couple of miles away and return back to base. There were many design limitations in this project including a 7.5-foot maximum wingspan and a 12-pound maximum takeoff weight. The payload was about shoebox-sized, weighed 4 pounds, the aircraft had to fit inside a Pelican case before launch, and our budget was only around $200.

Creating a design to drop a payload mid-flight that represented 1/3rd of the aircraft’s fully loaded weight and could be repeatably disassembled and reassembled was no easy feat. I used SOLIDWORKS and did all of CAD modeling for this project. Everything was parametrically designed so that quick modifications could be made to test with CFD.

The final aircraft came out extremely close to the CAD model. The detailed model helped a lot with being able to use a CNC to machine foam to the precise shapes required. While the aircraft did up end up having some Cg issues and required exceeding the maximum takeoff weight to correct this, the aircraft did work, and we were one of the few teams to reliably have our payload separate in-flight.