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Microthruster Test Platform Design Presentation II PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Erik Mueller Michael White. Microthruster Test Platform Design Presentation II. Contents. Introduction Problem Solution Sensing Frame Testing Q&A Sources. Microthrusters. Microthrusters produce <1N of thrust ( mN range) Various propulsion systems (standard, mono, ion drive).

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Microthruster Test Platform Design Presentation II

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Erik mueller michael white

Erik Mueller

Michael White

Microthruster Test PlatformDesign Presentation II



  • Introduction

  • Problem

  • Solution

  • Sensing

  • Frame

  • Testing

  • Q&A

  • Sources



  • Microthrusters produce <1N of thrust (mN range)

  • Various propulsion systems (standard, mono, ion drive)

The problem

The Problem

  • Thruster and forces involved are minute

  • Must be rugged and durable

  • Modular design preferable

Our solution

Our Solution

  • Sensing is done through direct thrust measurement using a strain gauge sensor.

  • Thruster assembly is suspended atop a pole

  • Secondary force measurement using indirect thrust plume measurement.

System overview

System Overview

System overview1

System Overview

Indirect Thrust Plume Pendulum Sensor

FM Modulator


Fire Control

Strain Gauge

Amplifier Circuit


Lab View






  • Single pole for the thruster support, grooved bracket w/ clamping system.

  • Material likely to be aluminum

    • Easy to work with compared to steel

    • Strength is more than adequate for the forces involved

Thrust sensing detail

Thrust Sensing - Detail

Direct force measurement

Direct Force Measurement

  • Strain Gauge

  • Load Cell

  • Signal Amplification

Indirect thrust measurement

Indirect Thrust Measurement

  • Capacitive Plate System

  • Exhaust plume exerts force on a plate

Induced Force


Capacitive pendulum

Capacitive Pendulum

  • Uses electronic principle of capacitance

  • Needle point fulcrums eliminate frictional losses

  • Double pendulum plates eliminate mechanical noise

Modified pendulum quadruple pendulum

Modified Pendulum: Quadruple Pendulum

Signal processing

Signal Processing

  • Series of amplifiers and filters used to measure the change in signal

Signal processing1

Signal Processing

  • Alternatively, use an FM generator per plate

  • Compare frequency shifts to determine deflection.

  • Advantage – more resistant to noise and distortion

  • Disadvantage – potentially more complex





  • The signal processor will tie into a computer, along with the rocket ignition circuitry.

  • Both subsystems will be integrated into a single user-controlled program. We are considering Labview at this time.









  • One rocket test scheduled in the coming weeks to gauge ignition methods & rocket plume

  • Subsequent test once strain subsystem complete.

  • Currently creating and testing software with a load-cell.



Project management

Project Management

Work breakdown structure

Work Breakdown Structure

  • Week 5-6 Subsystem and structure prototype

  • Week 6-7 Electrical circuit schematics

  • Week 5-9 Software composition and test

  • Week 7-10 Final mechanical component fabrication & revision

  • Week 9-12 Assembly, testing, revisions if needed

  • More details on website





Works cited

Works Cited





  • Traceable calibration of the 3-axis thrust vector in the millinewton range, EB Hughes and S Oldfield, National Physical Laboratory

  • Direct Thrust Measurement of In-FEEP Clusters, IEPC-2005-235, K. Marhold and M. Tajmar, ARC Seibersdorf research GmbH

  • Rocket Thrust Measurement For an Estes B6-2 Model Rocket Engine, Peter Hyatt, Jeremy LeFevre, Russell Dibb, Bringham Young University

  • Thrust stand for ground tests of solid propellant microthrusters, S. Orieux and C. Rossi and D. Esteve, Review of Scientific Instruments, Volume73, Number 7, July 2002

  • A Ground Test Rocket Thrust Measurement System, Mary Fran Desrochers, Gary W. Olsen, M. K. Hudson, Department of Applied Science and the Graduate Institute of Technology, University of Arkansas

  • MilliNewton Thrust Stand Calibration Using Electrostatic Fins, Allen H. Yan, Bradley C. Appel, Jacob G. Gedrimas, Purdue University

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