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!