Date of Award

9-2015

Degree Name

MS in Aerospace Engineering

Department

Aerospace Engineering

Advisor

Robert McDonald

Abstract

Small electric uninhabited aerial vehicles (UAV) represent a rapidly expanding market requiring optimization in both efficiency and weight; efficiency is critical during cruise or loiter where the vehicle operates at part power for up to 99% of the mission time. Of the four components (battery, motor, propeller, and electronic speed controller (ESC)) of the electric propulsion system used in small UAVs, the ESC has no accepted performance model and almost no published performance data. To collect performance data, instrumentation was developed to measure electrical power in and out of the ESC using the two wattmeter method and current sense resistors; data was collected with a differential simultaneous data acquisition system. Performance of the ESC was measured under different load, commanded throttle, bus voltage, and switching frequency, and it was found that ESC efficiency decreases with increasing torque and decreasing bus voltage and does not vary much with speed and switching frequency. The final instrumentation was limited to low-voltage systems and error propagation calculations indicate a great deal of error at low power measurements; despite these limitations, an understanding of ESC performance appropriate for conceptual design of these systems was obtained.

MODELING AND TEST OF THE EFFICIENCY OF ELECTRONIC SPEED CONTROLLERS FOR BRUSHLESS DC MOTORS