Degree Name

BS in Mechanical Engineering


Mechanical Engineering Department


Joseph Mello, Kurt Colvin


Fall of 2009, The Cal Poly Aircraft Construction club restarted Cal Poly's quest for the Sikorsky prize. The Sikorsky prize rewards the first a human powered helicopter to sustain controlled hover for one minute without stored energy. Throughout the 1980’s, Cal Poly made three attempts; the most successful being the DaVinci III. Also, the DaVinci III was the first ever publically recognized successful human powered helicopter to leave the ground. This scope of this project is to improve the DaVinci III fuselage and drivetrain for the DaVinci IV. The DaVinci IV adopts the DaVinci III system layout and improves both weight and efficiency. The helicopter will be a single tip driven rotor with a single pilot. The tip propellers will be turned by unspooling thread at the propellers with a winch spool that the rider will be supplying power to. Specifically this document contains the fuselage, rotor hub, and drive train for the DaVinci IV.

The fuselage functions as the support structure for the drivetrain and rider. The fuselage will maintain an efficient riding position while providing a rigid structure for the drivetrain to transmit power from the rider to the propellers. The rotor hub will attach the fuselage to the rotor while the rotor rotates above the pilot. The drive train will be a winch driven by the rider’s pedal strokes. The winch will spool the thread from the propellers, thrusting the propellers forward. The DaVinci IV will be 30% lighter and better drivetrain efficiency.

This project will provide the framework for Cal Poly's next attempt at the Sikorsky prize. This project includes valuable research from the previous DaVinci helicopters, uses engineering techniques to understand unknown flight characteristics, and provides a recommendation to the future DaVinci series helicopters. Upon completion, this project will test fuselage, drivetrain, and rotor hub with data to help future designers model the system.