Research in the broad area of instrumentation design and evaluation is conducted in the Instruments and Measurements Lab (IML). Current efforts are investigating novel uses of 3D-printing technology for advanced structural health monitoring.
In addition to structural health monitoring, the IML has focused on developing an instrumentation suite capable of wirelessly and non-invasively measuring canopy suspension line loading during inflation and terminal descent. The current prototype load cell/amplification board is shown on the right. The device works by changing suspension line geometry slightly. During loading, the tension in the line pushes on a cantilever. The cantilever deflection can be measured with strain gauges, and transmitted over Bluetooth to a host device for storage.
Testing has been conducted on both a Bose Electroforce load frame, as well as on an actual parachute (with up to eight load cells mounted on the parachute). Current work is seeking to improve the PCB design and microcontroller software in order to collect more accurate load distribution data.