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The importance of testing

The momentum is growing at the Lausanne office in preparation for next year’s new and exciting adventure while construction of HB-SIB carry’s on full throttle. It’s too soon to spill the beans, but you can be certain that there will be no room for disappointment.

In the meantime, let’s zoom in on the most recent test: HB-SIB’s drivers. The driver is pretty much the « brain » of the motor, managing its proper functioning and directly communicating with the control system in the cockpit. There will be one driver per motor gondola, four in total on the aircraft.

The vibration test took place at RUAG, the international aerospace and defense technology company and one of the only sites in Switzerland with the necessary machinery to undertake such tests. By subjecting the driver to vibrations at different frequencies, real flight situations are simulated demonstrating the driver’s resistance.

The test location almost felt like an operating room. Imagine the driver secured with two thick bars bolted into a huge steel plate, the anterior part of a large amplifier-like machine. With a sensor glued to its external shell, the driver was then connected to a computer, almost like a patient waiting for surgery. The sensor was meant to measure the driver’s behavior during the test such as its frequency, direction and acceleration.

Powered initially at 5 Hz, the large machine followed the computer’s simulation gradually increasing the frequency to 2000 Hz – equal to 2000 movements per second. There is not much to see once the frequency is above 5 Hz as the steel plate’s vibrations become so rapid they’re invisible to the naked eye. The objective of the test is to verify the driver’s acceleration and direction in order to understand its behavior and pinpoint the moment of resonance. Everything has frequencies, even the human body; the key is to avoid resonance as it’s a cause of stress which consequently shortens the lifespan, or even damages, a given object.

A couple of weeks ago, during the first vibration test, the driver was damaged but Solar Impulse’s electrical engineers skillfully fixed the problem with the lightest possible solution. This structural improvement was a success as the driver passed the vibration test with an A+ but it also acts as a reminder of how important testing is: pushing the limits is no easy task! 

The momentum is growing at the Lausanne office in preparation for next year’s new and exciting adventure while construction of HB-SIB carry’s on full throttle. It’s too soon to spill the beans, but you can be certain that there will be no room for disappointment.

In the meantime, let’s zoom in on the most ...



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