College - Author 1

College of Engineering

Department - Author 1

Electrical Engineering Department

Degree Name - Author 1

BS in Electrical Engineering



Primary Advisor

Xiao-Hua Yu, College of Engineering, Electrical Engineering Department


Cal Poly Space Systems is the high-powered and experimental rocketry club at Cal Poly SLO. They aim to design, test, and launch fully integrated launch vehicles. In order to create efficient and reliable vehicles, stabilization systems must be implemented. One parameter that can be actively stabilized is the vehicle’s roll. The roll of the vehicle can have noticeably effects on vehicle performance, as uncontrolled roll leads to decreased system stability in flight. Un-controlled roll can also have negative impacts on the quality of onboard video, which is used for post-flight analysis and marketing.

Reaction wheels are a popular method for active control systems in the aerospace industry. Through the use of an actively controlled reaction wheel, roll stabilization can be achieved. The system is completely contained within the body of the vehicle and can be placed anywhere along the rocket’s cylindrical axis. With this stabilizer, the club can achieve more reliable flight performance, and improved video capture by keeping the cameras pointed in a consistent direction during flight. The aim of this design is to develop a low complexity and cheap method to maintain roll stability.

Through a combination of simulation and physical testing, a reaction wheel stabilizer was designed for Cal Poly Space System’s internal research vehicle. This vehicle had a diameter of 5 inches and a wet mass of 10kg. The system is centered on the STM32F411 and MPU-6050, the micro-controller and IMU selected for this project. Through the control of a brushed DC motor with attached aluminum wheel, the system was designed to stabilize roll on the cylindrical axis of the vehicle. Although simulations showed mitigation of roll, hardware testing highlighted possible issues with motor saturation.