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Let's Loft!

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Old 12-21-2005, 05:19 PM
  #1  
Chad Veich
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Default Let's Loft!

I’ve seen some interest expressed by RCU members concerning methods of how to generate rib patterns for a tapered wing. As with most things there are multiple ways to “skin the cat” but I thought I’d share the method I use for those who may be interested. This particular method is only workable on straight taper wings (or fuselages for that matter), elliptical shapes are a different colored horse and, quite frankly, I’ve not figured out exactly how to do an elliptical shape yet. I’m using AutoCAD for my design work but the principles are the same no matter what software you use, or even if you don’t use any software at all. A ruler and some French Curves will do the job, just not as quickly! This whole process will be much harder to adequately explain than it is to accomplish so feel free to ask questions if something is not clear. I will also preface this by saying that everything I know about AutoCAD is what I’ve taught myself. You AutoCAD experts out there know just how massive a program it is and I’m sure there are some processes that can be done with more efficient methods than those that I’m aware of. Please feel free to interject here as well. I’m always happy to learn better/faster/easier ways of doing things!

For the sake of this particular tutorial I’m going to assume you already have your root and tip ribs selected and have generated drawings of them. Just getting to this point can be quite an involved process but I’ll leave that for another thread. Below are my two airfoils, these being for a Japanese Ki-46 Dinah that I’m currently drawing up. Notice that the root is almost symmetrical while the tip is much closer to flat bottom. No problem, using this method we can loft from a circle to a square if we want to! Also notice that I’ve set the tip rib at three degrees negative so that we will automatically loft in the desired wash-out.

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Ok, now that we have our root and tip ribs the next step is to divide them both up into an equal number of segments. In this instance I’ve divided each rib into 20 segments. The more segments you use the more accurate your lofted ribs will be but more segments also means more work as you will see. (And to be honest I probably would have been just fine with a few less) Just play around until you get the feel for it. Gentle curves require less segments while steeper curves, such as the leading edge radius of the airfoil, will require more segments. For the time being I am not going to loft the leading edge of the airfoil as it will just make things more cluttered than they already are. More often than not you don’t need to loft the leading edge anyway as you will be sticking a chunk of balsa up there and sanding it to the proper shape.

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It is best to divide everything up and put it on different layers, ie, root rib, tip rib, segment lines, etc. You will notice that during some steps I've shut off certain layers to make things easier to see and understand. I have not deleted them as I may need them again later but it is nice not to have to look through them when I don't need to.

Next we overlay the tip rib on the root rib. For the sake of simplicity I usually put the tip rib right in the center of the root rib but that is just my preference as the relationship between the two makes no difference at all when lofting. It is easier if you keep the tip rib within the confines of the root rib however.

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Now we join the respective segments of each rib with a straight line. Connect the two trailing edges with a line as well. Make certain both ribs are divided into the same number of segments or this step will get very frustrating!



Now comes the time-consuming part. Each of the lines we created in the last step has to be divided into whatever number of ribs we want. In this case I needed seven equally spaced ribs total, including the root and tip ribs that I’ve already got. In order to get a total of seven ribs it is necessary to divide each line into six segments. (Always one less than the total required, confused yet?) Because my ribs are equally spaced I will divide the lines into six equal spaces. It is no problem to generate ribs that are not equally spaced as well, just takes a bit more math. (I’ll explain in more detail a bit later) In the example pictured the upper line which I have marked off has a total length of 4.766 inches which results in six equal spaces of .794 inches. I’m sure every CAD program has different tools that can help you to speed up the process of dividing the lines. I keep a calculator handy to do the math and use the “offset” and/or “array” commands in ACAD to lay out my marks. You can see now why more segments results in more work!



Here they are all laid out and ready for the next step.

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Now it’s just a simple matter of connect the dots to get our intermediate ribs. Get comfortable with the snap functions of your CAD program, they make quick work of this. In AutoCAD I use the “arc” tool to get smooth curved lines here.

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Now, again in the interest of keeping this simple, I’ve lopped off the front of the ribs here as if we were going to use a big chunk of leading edge stock. If we were doing this for real chances are the cut off would not be right at a segment line but you get the idea.

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And here are the ribs shapes ready for sheeting, spars, etc.

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As time permits I will try and expound on this in a bit more detail to cover such things as lofting the leading edge radius and also generating those ribs that my be at odd spacing. Hope it is of some use!
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Old 12-21-2005, 06:08 PM
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Chad, Excellent stuff!!! I have to learn TurboCad or autocad...somethingcad! I've been doing stuff ala Dave Platt, which I think is a must to know...just to have better understanding of what it is we're really accomplishing here. It's no easy task for sure, but it's something anyone can learn how to do if they really want to. I know that CAD makes the process so much faster, and neater. But I don't think that CAD drawn plans are superior to hand drawn. I was a programmer in another life, and one of the bits I remember was a professor drilling into us "garbage in, garbage out.". Granted these programs have probably been designed to recognize if something is too far off, so in that sense they have the ability to be neater. But ya know, despite understanding the lightening of the workload that CAD gives us, I would still take a quality set of hand drawn plans any day. They are a work of art. Usually anyone that understands engineering and has taken the time and effort to draw up a 3 view, or plans has also put a lot of love for the subject as well.

Anyway, now that I've gotten that out of the way...excuse me if I'm rambling today, Dr. gave me some very good pain pills! In about 30 minutes, I'll probably pass out! Chad, I didn't mean to interupt your thread. I think this is a great thread and will be a big help to many of us. A friend gave me AutoCad 14.01, what version are you using? I'm also going to get TurboCAD, unless of course I can translate this stuff to 14.01??? I know nothing about CAD or one version from another.

Keep it up!
Rob / karchmarek
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Old 12-22-2005, 12:50 AM
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Default RE: Let's Loft!

Chad,

Awsome tutorial! Should have waited a couple of days on my work! Thanks for the info.
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Old 12-22-2005, 08:28 AM
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Default RE: Let's Loft!

Ramble on Rob, that's what this thread is for! I agree that a good hand drawn set of plans can be just as accurate as a good CAD drawn set of plans, it's all up to the person doing the drawing. I don't think that a CAD program makes a bad designer any better, it only speeds up how fast they can finish off bad designs! Beleive me, it is not a great deal harder to introduce mistakes into a CAD drawn set of plans than it is for a hand drawn set. Ask me how I know! I've built from and/or cut kits from plans by most of the big name designers and my two favorites have been Brian Taylor and Phillip Avonds. Both of these guys are hand drawing their plans and have amazingly few errors when it comes to parts fitting together properly. Their is one other big advantage of designing in CAD however, and that is laser cutting. The best thing since sliced bread as far as I'm concerned! By the way, I'm using ACAD 2000 at home and 2006 at work. Both have some advantages over R14 but their is nothing we're doing here that you can't do in R14. Believe me, this kind of stuff barely even scratches the surface of what ACAD is capable of.

Marc, thanks for the kudos. Your Mig-3 plans are looking great and I'm watching your thread with much interest.
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Old 12-22-2005, 08:47 AM
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Default RE: Let's Loft!

[sm=thumbup.gif][sm=thumbup.gif] Great thread Chad,

I guess it leaves me with one burning question. Starting from zero in CAD skill or exposure, is it something that a guy with some savvy with plans and designs can pick up and put to good use? I've never really gone further down the road because I haven't needed to, but can see the need in the future to learn, especially from this thread. I suspect there are more guys like me out there that if they could get in on the learning curve of the thing with good effect, they might be more willing to do things like your so skillfully showing us how to do here. Thanks.

Mike
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Old 12-22-2005, 09:04 AM
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Default RE: Let's Loft!

Chad

I loved that demonstration. It looks like the hardest part is generating the root and tip ribs. Once you have them, you can scale them to any size and generate a new set of ribs. I have a Royal kit that I would love to try this on. Thanks for sharing the procedure.

I work for a company that transitioned from manual to cad drawings in the late 80's. Our pencil drawings were good. Our early cad drawings were very bad. But we learned and evolved. Now our cad drawings are far superior than anything ever drawn by hand.
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Old 12-22-2005, 09:38 AM
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Default RE: Let's Loft!

Have to ask if compufoil would not do that in a jiffy. Is one progrm i have that is well worth the cost of $65 i paid for it.
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Old 12-22-2005, 12:07 PM
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Default RE: Let's Loft!

Geardaddy, Compufoil will indeed reduce this whole process down to a few minutes and is well worth the money. I have it and have used it but have not gotten really comfortable with it yet. One thing, not every airfoil that one may need for a scale airplane is available in Compufoil and I have not reached the point where I can edit the existing airfoils to get where I want to go. Guess I need to learn a bit more about interpreting airfoil coordinates! Still, lofting the old fashioned way is a good skill to know and have in your "tool box" even if you are using some form of lofting software most of the time. I'd be very interested in somebody doing a tutorial on how to really use Compufoil effectively.

Mike, if you have any sort of drafting skills at all then you are ahead of the game when it comes to learning CAD. The majority of the basics necessary to draw up plans can be learned quickly. However, learning to really use CAD to its' full potential may take years! I'm at the point where I can find ways of doing most of what I want to do but my gut tells me there are more efficient methods that I have not learned yet. I really am considering taking some night courses in ACAD just to learn some of the finer points. I use ACAD every day at work, and have for the last 6 years or so. However, I use it in a pretty limited capacity for my job. I've learned far more drawing airplanes than I have learned at work!

Kelsey B, thanks for the kind words. Generating the airfoils can be easy or quite difficult depending on what tools you have available and what airfoils you need. For those designing scale models I highly recommend you bookmark "The Incomplete Guide to Airfoil Usage" found here: http://www.ae.uiuc.edu/m-selig/ads/aircraft.html
This site lists the root and tip airfoils for a huge number of aircraft. Some airfoils are quite easy to find references on while others can be impossible. Of course, if you're not going to use the scale airfoil then the whole process may be much simpler.
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Old 06-05-2006, 10:33 AM
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Chad Veich
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Default RE: Let's Loft!

Just bumping this up to see if the images will re-appear.
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Old 06-05-2006, 04:17 PM
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Default RE: Let's Loft!

ORIGINAL: Chad Veich

Geardaddy, Compufoil will indeed reduce this whole process down to a few minutes and is well worth the money. I have it and have used it but have not gotten really comfortable with it yet. One thing, not every airfoil that one may need for a scale airplane is available in Compufoil and I have not reached the point where I can edit the existing airfoils to get where I want to go. Guess I need to learn a bit more about interpreting airfoil coordinates! Still, lofting the old fashioned way is a good skill to know and have in your "tool box" even if you are using some form of lofting software most of the time. I'd be very interested in somebody doing a tutorial on how to really use Compufoil effectively.

Mike, if you have any sort of drafting skills at all then you are ahead of the game when it comes to learning CAD. The majority of the basics necessary to draw up plans can be learned quickly. However, learning to really use CAD to its' full potential may take years! I'm at the point where I can find ways of doing most of what I want to do but my gut tells me there are more efficient methods that I have not learned yet. I really am considering taking some night courses in ACAD just to learn some of the finer points. I use ACAD every day at work, and have for the last 6 years or so. However, I use it in a pretty limited capacity for my job. I've learned far more drawing airplanes than I have learned at work!

Kelsey B, thanks for the kind words. Generating the airfoils can be easy or quite difficult depending on what tools you have available and what airfoils you need. For those designing scale models I highly recommend you bookmark "The Incomplete Guide to Airfoil Usage" found here: http://www.ae.uiuc.edu/m-selig/ads/aircraft.html
This site lists the root and tip airfoils for a huge number of aircraft. Some airfoils are quite easy to find references on while others can be impossible. Of course, if you're not going to use the scale airfoil then the whole process may be much simpler.
Chad, check out the autocad commands MEASURE and DIVIDE, and the related commands PDMODE and PDSIZE. Divide will divide a line (circle or arc) into any number of user specified segments, placing a point (PDMODE and PDSIZE) at each segment. MEASURE will place a point at whatever distance along a line (circle or arc) the user specifes, with no regard for "leftovers". i.e. - you tell it to measure along a line that is 10.5" by a distance of 1" - there will be a 0.5" piece "left over". Both commands are really handy if you want to put an object on another object a repetitive numver of times.

BTW - the input ordinates for Compufoil start at the leading edge, go back along the top and continue forward along the bottom. Once you figure that out, it should be easy to input your own ordinates.

HTH,
Jeff
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Old 06-05-2006, 05:04 PM
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Default RE: Let's Loft!

Has anyone tried to do this with solidworks? I guess I was just thinking of making one and extruding it then slicing it. I used to have auto cad until work went with solidworks.
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Old 06-05-2006, 08:45 PM
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ORIGINAL: J_Whitney
Chad, check out the autocad commands MEASURE and DIVIDE, and the related commands PDMODE and PDSIZE. Divide will divide a line (circle or arc) into any number of user specified segments, placing a point (PDMODE and PDSIZE) at each segment. MEASURE will place a point at whatever distance along a line (circle or arc) the user specifes, with no regard for "leftovers". i.e. - you tell it to measure along a line that is 10.5" by a distance of 1" - there will be a 0.5" piece "left over". Both commands are really handy if you want to put an object on another object a repetitive numver of times.
Jeff, this information will certainly speed up the whole process immensely! I knew there must be a better way but I just had not happened across it yet. As I'm sure you know, the ACAD folks don't always make this stuff readily apparent! Anyway, your input is very much appreciated and will be put to good use.
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Old 06-06-2006, 12:43 PM
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Default RE: Let's Loft!

Very nice thread! Let's keep it going....
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Old 06-07-2006, 12:08 AM
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Default RE: Let's Loft!

You can do something similar working from the top view. Using the top view you can place your ribs anywhere, and get accurate dimensions for them by bringing down construction lines. You may want to reposition a rib for a servo box or some such. You can see this in my first and second pictures. The rib center lines are drawn on the 'top' view, and then construction lines are brought down to scale the ribs onto.

For the rib, I exported a mh43 from profili as dxf. Imported it into my drawing. Now I can use that template to make all of my ribs, without having to redraw anything. The align tool is great for this sort of work. It lets you move and scale a part of your drawing at the same time.

In picture 4 I have selected my airfoil, and started the align command.

In picture 5 I pick the first source point. I want the leading edge and the trailing edge to be aligned to the horizontal line I have drawn, so for my first source point I pick the very point on the leading edge of my airfoil.

In picture 6 I pick the destination point. At the end of the command, align will move the source points to the destination points if it can. In this example, I want the destination to be a tthe very front of the horizontal line I have drawn.

In picture 7 it asks for another source point, so I pick the trailing edge.

Picture 8 wants another destination, so I pick the end of my line.

Now, it will ask for more source points. There is no need for more here, and I have rarely needed to use 3 or more. So just hit enter.

Then align will ask if you want to scale you objects. Hit yes here, this will scale your airfoil to touch both destination points. And now you have a prefectly scaled airfoil. Just repeat this process for the rest.

You can see, if you pick destination points that arn't horizontal, align will rotate your object so that your source points will go thru the destination points, or as best it can fit.

Hope I havn't stepped on anyones toes.

Notice that none of these techniques require CAD to use. Its just basic drafting. I would recommend anyone wanting to learn cad, if you don't want to take any CAD courses, at least take a drafting or descriptive geometry course. You can do the exact same process on a drafting table and the use of a photocopier to scale your airfoil sections.
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Old 06-07-2006, 08:32 AM
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Default RE: Let's Loft!

NRistow, no need to worry about steppin' on toes here. That's what this thread is for and your input is much appreciated. Very interesting method for generating wing ribs without having to do any math! One thing I would like to clarify, this method will not work for progressive airfoils (unless I'm missing something) but only where your root and tip airfoils are the same. Thanks for the input, keep it coming.
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Old 01-16-2007, 11:53 AM
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Default RE: Let's Loft!

Sorry to raise this from the dead, just trying to make the links work again.
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Old 10-16-2007, 09:27 AM
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Testing
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Old 10-16-2007, 10:11 AM
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Default RE: Let's Loft!

It works just fine. Man, talk about cleansing some cob webs. I vaguely remember when you first did this. A bump now and then sure helps. Maybe it should be a sticky. I've noticed over the last year or so that there are a bunch of new users on RCU (low post counts). I'm sure this info would light up their sky.
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Old 10-16-2007, 11:14 AM
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Default RE: Let's Loft!

I missed this thread the first time 'round so I appreciate the "bump".
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Old 10-16-2007, 02:44 PM
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Chad Veich
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Default RE: Let's Loft!

There is a gentleman asking about lofting ribs in the scratchbuilding forum and I linked him to this thread. Then I figured I better make sure all the images were still coming up! Seems to be working fine and if it helps some folks who may not of known it was available then all the better. Thanks for the kind comments.
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Old 10-16-2007, 03:40 PM
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Default RE: Let's Loft!

I missed this thread the 1st time as well. Great tutorial.

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Old 04-10-2008, 02:24 PM
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BUMP TO SEE IF IMAGES WILL REAPPEAR
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Old 06-20-2008, 12:23 PM
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BUMP
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Old 06-20-2008, 03:44 PM
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Default RE: Let's Loft!

Chad,
Not trying to step on any toes here either. But I think If you really want a great and easy to use wing program. Compufoil is the best. I have been using it for years. I can draw most any wing in about 15 to 20 minutes. I even recently upgraded the program and it also will loft basic fuse formers the same way it does a wing. I Started a new project just over 33 days ago and drawing the wing was the easiest and the fuse took a little longer. I have built most of it already and just drew up the nacelle over the last couple days and now building them .

Anyone drawing there own designs Compufoil is well worth it.
You can even downlaod a trial version at:

http://www.compufoil.com/index.shtml
here are some pic's from the program and my project:

Ty
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Old 06-20-2008, 05:00 PM
  #25  
Chad Veich
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Default RE: Let's Loft!

Thanks for the input Ty. I have and use Compufoil as well. I bumped this thread up again only to make the images re-appear in answer to another gentleman's question in the scratch building forum.
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