Wind Tunnel Rib Cage

Dear Fellow Basement Scientists,

Wind Tunnel construction had taken a little break for our adventure into the world of interesting photos, but its time to meander back to our basements. Last time we planned the construction of the bell mouth so now we shall execute our plan. This part of the wind tunnel construction is a little more detailed oriented, which makes it more difficult, but the joy seeing it completed is even greater! There is unspeakable satisfaction when I behold on the table what I pictured in my mind.

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Follow up to an Interesting Photo: In Flight

To all,

Recently we discussed this interesting photo:

In the Shadow of a Plane

Thanks to all who commented on our previous post for the help in understanding what is generating the color rings, but I still wanted a little more understanding. I took the liberty to dig a little deeper, meaning reading beyond a wikipedia article, and I found that a NASA satellite imaged the same phenomenon: NASA photo. The NASA satellite photographed a glory just like this photo only the diameter was miles larger. I also found three other informative discussions: Here, here, and here(p145).  Thanks to all who commented on our previous post for the help in understanding what is generating the color rings, but I more understanding.

Lets try to nail this thing down.

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Time for an Interesting Photo: In-Flight

To all,

Here is an interesting photo I captured while in flight. I love looking out of the window during flights because you can see a lot of very interesting things, and this one I had not seen before. It it the shadow of the airplane on an adjacent cloud. This is neat in itself, but not very curious. The curious part is the ring of color bands like a rainbow surrounding the shadow. As a note to those concerned, my phone was on airplane mode, so no interference created here. You’ve got to obey those flight attendants!

In the Shadow of a Plane

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Enter the Bell Mouth

Dear Fellows of the Basement Science Research Consortium,

For those new to the field, it is an important lesson to learn that the longer and more complicated the organization name, the more prestigious and talented the group. Therefore, we are part of a very important research group!

Our next task is to build the bell mouth. An overview of this was explained here a little earlier. I was trying to think of a good way to construct this as I was wandering though Continue reading

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Welcome to Basement Science

Welcome all to Basement Science,

Hello, this is Ben Washington and you are reading our blog of Basement Science. I say “our” because I hope for you to perform your own research as well. We are a fledgling research group but with great potential. We have just been initiated to Scienceblog and are thrilled about the upcoming wonderful blogging experience.

The heart of this communication is the belief that real science does not require a University or laboratory named after someone famous. Research and discovery is right at our fingertips and can be found even in our basements (when paired with some hard work). After all, many scientists before us had little more than an interests and determined will.

Currently, we are chronicling the construction of our wind tunnel in order to perform tests in fluid mechanics and perhaps some aeronautics. Build your own, offer suggestions, or follow along as we conduct Basement Science.

Best Regards,
Ben Washington


Alright, a little disclaimer. Research can be very expensive, which is why you get labs named after famous, and often wealthy, people/companies. This is fine and good and where a lot of grad students, like myself, find themselves. So, this research group will avail ourselves to that research which can be done inexpensively. I study mechanical engineering, so most of this work will be in that realm of study and can be built with mainly wood or what can be found at Home Depot and using only typical shop tools. No National Ignition Facility here, but we sure can build a lot of other things. Lets get to work.

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Test Section Legs

Dear Fellow Basement Scientists,

Here we are, on to more construction. You may say, “What, I thought this was science not wood shop class!” Well, to conduct experimental science you have to build stuff. So, that is what we continue to do, building stuff to conduct our experimental science. Also remember, you have to build stuff right in order to get any good results.

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Wind Tunnel Design Overview

Fellow Basement Scientists,

Where we stand now is we have our “tunnel” and our measurement/test stand. We need to complete construction of our tunnel. Let’s now review the few basic remaining parts of a wind tunnel. Please refer to my highly technical drawing below which lays out our plan. The main drawing is in blue, the rest are a few dimensions I was working out. Continue reading

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Spring coefficient

This section is a lot more theory than construction, which is good because if there was no theory in this basement we couldn’t call this science.

For our force measurement we are going to use springs as discussed earlier. I explained in “Lift and Drag Measurement Gauge” a little about linear springs. But here is a little refresher. Your common daily use springs are pretty closely defined as linear springs. This means that the force exerted by the spring varies linearly with the length stretched by the springs. This idea is captured by the equation F=-k*x. Force equals the negative of the spring coefficient, k, times the length stretched, x. There is a negative because if you pull it to the right, it pushes to the left. Not all springs are linear and even your common springs are not exactly linear, but it is close enough. As you dig into science, you will find that many of the things you learn are not exact but pretty close. Maybe that is more true for engineering than science. Continue reading

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Lift and Drag Measurement: Post 2

Fellow Basement Scientists,

The last installment brought about the development of the lift and draft measurement mechanism. However, we still needed to build the device hold it.

Before designing our anchor contraption, we must understand all of what it is meant to do. It must let the anchor screw rotate but not move, and anchor the springs while allowing their length to be adjusted. The first is easy, just drill a hole and stick the screw through it. The second is more difficult. My idea was to have instead of a hold, a slot. The spring would then be attached to a long screw which could more back and forth through the slot and tightened in place. Ok, lets build it. Continue reading

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Lift and Drag Measurment Gauge

On to the Next!

In order to conduct science you need measurements. For our Wind Tunnel tests investigating fluid mechanics and aeronautics we need to measure lift and drag. There are a lot of ways to measure lift and drag, but with all basement science we need to ask, “What’s available?” As usual, my what’s available is wood. This time I have a box of old balsa hobby wood. This wood was my grandfathers and was used to make little glider airplanes. Continue reading

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