Variable Acceleration Force Calibration System (VACS)

Thomas Johnson
2015 53rd AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting   unpublished
Conventionally, force balances have been calibrated manually, using a complex system of free hanging precision weights, bell cranks, and/or other mechanical components. Conventional methods may provide sufficient accuracy in some instances, but are often quite complex and labor-intensive, requiring three to four man-weeks to complete each full calibration. To ensure accuracy, gravity-based loading is typically utilized. However, this often causes difficulty when applying loads in three
more » ... s in three simultaneous, orthogonal axes. A complex system of levers, cranks, and cables must be used, introducing increased sources of systematic error, and significantly increasing the time and labor intensity required to complete the calibration. Automated machines are also used to improve calibration time however they too requires complex systems. One aspect of the VACS is a method wherein the mass utilized for calibration is held constant, and the acceleration is changed to thereby generate relatively large forces with relatively small test masses. Multiple forces can be applied to a force balance without changing the test mass, and dynamic forces can be applied by rotation or oscillating acceleration. If rotational motion is utilized, a mass is rigidly attached to a force balance, and the mass is exposed to a rotational field. A large force can be applied by utilizing a large rotational velocity. A centrifuge or rotating table can be used to create the rotational field, and fixtures can be utilized to position the force balance. The acceleration may also be linear. For example, a table that moves linearly and accelerates in a sinusoidal manner may also be utilized. The test mass does not have to move in a path that is parallel to the ground, and no re-leveling is therefore required. Balance deflection corrections may be applied passively by monitoring the orientation of the force balance with a three-axis accelerometer package. Deflections are measured during each test run, and adjustments with respect to the true applied load can be made during the post-processing stage. This paper will present the development and testing of the VASC concept. Nomenclature AF = Axial Force B = balance moment center D = moment distance
doi:10.2514/6.2015-1792 fatcat:crvlwocyujhpjjiotj7ub6q6py