Study of Rubber Damped Skin Friction Gages for Transonic Flight Testing


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Virginia Tech


A non-intrusive direct-measuring skin friction device with a rubber RTV sheet over the surface of the floating head, gap and housing was developed for application in 3D, unsteady, transonic flight conditions. Design conditions required optimum gage performance at altitudes ranging from 15,000 to 45,000 feet, Mach numbers ranging from 0.6 to 0.99 resulting in shear values of 0.3 to 1.5 psf. under vibration conditions up to 8.0 grms over a 15 - 2,000 Hz frequency range. The gage consisted of a rubber RTV sheet-coated floating element attached to an aluminum cantilevered beam. A dual-axis, full bridge strain gage configuration was used with the application of semi-conductor strain gages to increase instrument sensitivity. The gage was studied with and without a viscous liquid (glycerin) fill in the housing.

Vibration verification testing was performed at 1.0 grms in the Virginia Tech modal analysis lab to ensure adequate damping performance over a 0−3200 Hz frequency range. Tests revealed that the rubber RTV compound sheet provided adequate viscoelastic damping, with or without viscous liquid fill.

Gage performance verification testing was performed on in the Virginia Tech supersonic wind tunnel at shear levels of tw = 3.9 to 5.3 psf in a Mach 2.4 flow. Skin friction values in good agreement with previous testing and analytical predictions were obtained from the tests with adequate damping in the low vibration environment of the Virginia Tech supersonic wind tunnel. The gage proved robust as it survived repeated runs including the violent start and unstart processes typical of a supersonic, blowdown wind tunnel.

Flight tests were performed at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, with the gage mounted in a plate suspended below an F-15 aircraft. This provided a mildly 3D, turbulent boundary layer on a vibrating surface. The gage was tested without liquid fill in the gage cavity, and it performed satisfactorily in this high vibration environment. The gage demonstrated adequate damping and good robustness, surviving the complete flight test intact and remained fully operational. The sensor measured skin friction values 30%-50% higher than those predicted by indirect methods and analogies generally valid for 2D, steady flows. The gage indicated trends in skin friction values for different flight conditions in good agreement with the other methods. Possible reasons for the differences in numerical values are discussed in detail, including potential uncertainties in the gage output and limitations and uncertainties in the methods used for comparison. Finally, suggestions for further development of such gages are provided for flight test applications.



Damping, Skin Friction, Aerodynamics, Flight testing, Rubber