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7 Components of a Wind Tunnel Balance: Design and Calibration Miguel A. González, José Miguel Ezquerro, Victoria Lapuerta, Ana Laverón, and Jacobo Rodríguez Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Aeronáuticos Universidad Politécnica de Madrid Spain 1. Introduction The aim of wind tunnel tests is the simulation of the flow around bodies or their scaled models. In aeronautical applications, the measurement of aerodynamic loads in a wind tunnel, forces and momentums, is a very difficult task due to the required accuracy. The wind tunnel balances, comprised by several hardware and software components, provides directly the pursued measurements, with high accuracy and reliability. For these reasons, among others, wind tunnel balances have become a common tool in testing facilities. This chapter starts with a general description of wind tunnel balances. The number of measuring components and the position of the balance with relation to the model and wind tunnel chamber determine the wind tunnel balances designs. The most flexible ones, in terms of usability, are the six components external balances, so these will be referenced for introducing the calibration process, which is one of the key points to achieve the required aerodynamic tests results accuracy and reliability. Because of its influence on the drag measurement accuracy, the coupling effect between lift and drag measurements is analysed very deeply as well. The analysis of the non-stationary effects are finally done taking into account the wind tunnel balance requirements and constraints, with special attention on an issue not commonly mentioned, the inertia forces generated on the balance by the model vibrations, and their influence on the aerodynamic forces to be measured. Several mentions to signal processing and acquisition are done, as this is the other key point on the measurements accuracy. However, it is easy to extrapolate these procedures to other types of balances, as the main intention is to show which are the critical points that make wind tunnel balances such a special and complex hardware. We do not intend here to describe the design and calibration procedures of the industrial manufacturers. This is the result of a work done in the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM), and the Instituto Tecnológico y de Energías Renovables (ITER, Tenerife, Canary Island, Spain, ). Nevertheless, we do consider that is a good guide for developers of wind tunnel balances in institutions like UPM and ITER, where research and education are very important points.
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