Date of Award

Spring 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering

Committee Director

Drew Landman

Committee Member

Thomas Alberts

Committee Member

Colin Britcher


In recent history, there has been a rapid rise in the use of drones, and they are expanding in popularity each year. The widespread use and future capabilities of these unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will call for increased study and classification of propellers to maximize their performance. As a result, it is necessary to have continuity in the development, maximization, and optimization of propeller test stand’s capability to collect accurate and precise measurements. It is of significant advantage to have the capability of accurately characterizing a propeller based on its thrust and torque. In this study, a propeller test stand was improved with specifically designed features in order to obtain a system with high repeatability and defined prediction bounds.

The improvements to the propeller test stand were confirmed at Old Dominion University (ODU) Low-Speed Wind Tunnel using a Design of Experiments (DOE) approach in order to observe the accuracy, repeatability of measurements, and required a mathematical model for aerodynamic characterization. 12x8, 14x12, and 17x12 APC Thin Electric propellers were chosen for comparisons to published data. In addition to these propellers, further experimentation was done on two aluminum fabricated propellers created at ODU, one of a conventional design and the other of a new design with swept blades. The performance data of these propellers were obtained with an emphasis being taken on detailed performance comparisons. Results obtained revealed information that warrants further experimentation with swept designed propellers versus straight blade propellers for application to UAVs. The results of this research showed significant improvement in the propeller test stand and its ability to repeat data with high accuracy and precision in order to predict a propeller’s efficiency.


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