BLDS Heating

Department - Author 1

Mechanical Engineering Department

Degree Name - Author 1

BS in Mechanical Engineering



Primary Advisor

John Fabijanic


Dr. Westphal, a professor at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, created a boundary layer data system (BLDS). This device was designed to measure the boundary layer over a wing of an airplane during flight. A problem with the BLDS is that at flight altitude of 50,000 ft, the BLDS stops functioning due to the extremely low temperatures.

Team IcePick’s objective was to design, build, and test a device which could provide heat to the BLDS so it can function. Our team decided to continue with where the previous senior project team had left off and build upon their proof of concept design. Our sponsor, Dr. Westphal, allowed our team to explore two avenues for manufacturing the device: casting and machining. While casting our first prototype, our team learned this method was more suitable for more advanced casting processes which were not readily available to our team; this method of manufacture was abandoned before a final prototype was made. We were able to produce a working metal prototype using CNC machining. This prototype was then tested in the Cal Poly Wind Tunnel to investigate what the highest power output could be and to determine the resistance which produces max power output at design conditions. While our test results showed that our device produces less power then what we were aiming for, our team believes the device does produce enough power to allow the BLDS device to work in a wider temperature range than before.

The following report goes into detail explaining our team’s design and manufacturing process and the results gathered from our testing.