Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Insanely bright new display by Jeremy

Jeremy just sent me a couple of inflight photos of the new display prototype in full sunlight under a Diamond DA40 canopy over the California in the middle of the day. Behold the brightness:

It's brighter than his Garmin G1000. This is crucial since it allows our instrument to be a reliable situational awareness aid regardless of the conditions.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Airball vlog by Robert Sogomonian

Jeremy's and my friend Robert Sogomonian made a vlog of an interview and flight test with Airball! Check it out here:

Friday, June 15, 2018

Stick and Rudder available online

The book Stick and Rudder, by William Langewiesche, is now out of copyright and available online! Check it out here:

We at Airball are huge fans! [*]

I believe that, if you cannot explain what you do to a smart 6th grader, you probably have no idea what you are doing. This has informed all my work, on the Airball project and elsewhere.

In Stick and Rudder, I believe we have the best application of that ethos to aviation. Mr Langewiesche manages to describe the phenomenon of flight correctly, but with nary an equation or unnecessary fancy term. In Chapter 7, "What the Airplane Wants to Do", starting on page 109, this is particularly evident -- he boils down what engineers model via differential equations into step-by-step explanations, pretending that time is broken up into tiny "slices" and imagining what happens at each slice and how it affects the next slice. This is technically acceptable at all levels -- it also happens to be the finite difference method for solving differential equations on a computer. But you would not see such needless name-dropping in the book. It's all focused on building intuition.

We believe that, if Mr Langewiesche were alive today, and based on illustrations like these in his book, he would be excited about Airball.

[*] -- The book, being a product of the 1940s, is rather condescending towards women pilots. We are most definitely not fans of that aspect of it.

Monday, June 11, 2018

How far Airball has come, and looking to the future

Way back in 2015, Ihab had already been thinking about measuring air data cheaply and accurately and had substantially designed the Airball probe as we have built it today.

In April 2015, he described his idea in An Inexpensive Operational Airdata Probe, laying out the basic probe design, and–more importantly–the math behind it. While the probe in that paper is assumed to be plumbed to its electronics sitting somewhere else (rather than sitting inside the probe as they do today), the basic design of the nose of the probe was exactly the same as our current Airball probes:

In June 2016, Ihab submitted his winning Airball entry for the 2015-2016 EAA Founder's Innovation Prize. In that entry, he built upon his 2015 design and included a proposed design for a (now somewhat ancient-looking "yellow submarine") probe, as well as his innovative "airball" method of displaying the air data. He also included a mock-up for pretty much what the display unit looks like today:

In December 2017, I joined Ihab to collaborate on making this thing an attached-to-wings reality. Together, we've continued to prove, improve, and build upon Ihab's original basic design to produce our current generation of air data probe (built by myself) combined with a prototype display unit (built by Ihab), which no longer need to be renderings because they actually exist and work in real life:

After several weeks of busy "crunch" time for Ihab and myself, reviewing and revising and writing about our efforts, we are proud to announce having submitted Airball again for this year's EAA Founder's Innovation Prize. In our new entry, we describe the technical improvements we've made, our ongoing development efforts, and the in-flight validation we've done. We also describe our plans for the future and where Airball can go from here.

Take a moment to read our Airball entry for the 2017-2018 EAA Founder's Innovation Prize – and let us know what you think!

We look forward to hopefully seeing many of you at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh next month!