Mechanical team fills an integral role in Cyclone Rocketry as a design and manufacturing-focused subteam. Each year as a part of the design of the full-scale Spaceport Cup competition rocket, we are allowed to integrate one mechanical sub-system into the vehicle. All of our previous rockets including Imperator have utilized a flight-proven airbrakes system that deploys airbrake pads to slow the rocket to a target apogee of 10,000 feet in the coast phase of flight. Additionally, mechanical serves in a metals manufacturing capacity during the Spring semester to machine structural components in Boyd Lab.
Working as a member of mechanical teams is known to implement two vital components to engineering which include design verification and hands-on work. Participating in mechanical gives members an opportunity to see their projects go from concept to reality as projects are scrutinized throughout the semester by other members of the club and professionals in the industry. Machining parts adds a hands-on component to the team as it provides members with an opportunity to learn about milling and work on the lathe to provide the best quality parts. Computer-aided manufacturing software is also utilized to accommodate complex parts which write g-Code that can tell the mill how to run a part.
This year mechanical team took on the challenge of developing a piston ejection recovery system that protects reefing from the hot explosive forces of black powder ejection and reduces the amount of pressurized volume needed for safe ejection from the vehicle in flight. Simply described the system consists of a fiber wound sleeve that has a machined aluminum bulkhead at the bottom to serve as a reactive surface all of which is housed within a rocket’s recovery tube. This system is deliberately toleranced with a tight fit and installed a few inches above the black powder canisters to minimize the amount of explosive needed to achieve the correct ejection pressure. Piston ejection is set to be installed on a 6-inch diameter by 9-foot long launch vehicle named “Scuffy” which will serve as an experimental testbed for other student-made projects including fiber wound carbon fiber tubes and reefing.
Another project that the team accomplished last semester was the development of an optimization process to cut weight from metal structural components. Mechanical utilizes an iterative process involving design and the use of structural analysis software like ANSYS to verify weight and structural integrity. This process is important for the team’s goal of building higher flying rockets so as to safely minimize the weight of the vehicle without compromising structural integrity.
Recently the team began construction of a secondary avionics test rocket which implements a prior version of Cyclone Rocketry’s airbrakes system to test code effectiveness. Airbrakes for this vehicle were 3D printed and analyzed to prove structural strength.