Robert Miller discusses the design tools used in the design of a state-of-the-art UAV

In response to several queries regarding the design tools used for our UAVs, we felt it appropriate to share some insight:

As a self-funded project, we have been diligent in how money is spent during the course of operations – especially given that being a Not For Profit venture, we have declined donations until we were certain that our project would succeed.

One exception to this policy has been accepting assistance from Dassault Systemes SOLIDWORKS and their distributor MECAD Systems. The support shown by SOLIDWORKS and their willingness to make their software and support available to us, has played an instrumental role in ensuring that we progress to our current advanced state.

The power and functionality SOLIDWORKS and the 3DExperience Platform from Dassault Systemes provides, has been vital for our project to push the limits of UAV design and perform all CFD (computational fluid dynamics) and FEA (finite element analysis) needed and to avoid as much physical testing as possible.

So why SOLIDWORKS? Those who know me know that I am candid about my feelings on equipment and software, and while we initially didn’t partner with them until a later stage, there was one main reason that we approached them:

First and foremost, our wing geometry is complex and requires hundreds of CAD hours to create.

The steps involved in this process can result in faulty geometry, and there is nothing quite as discouraging as reaching the final step in design only to discover that one cannot proceed due to faulty geometry, which can be very challenging to correct.

 SOLIDWORKS, while giving us the tools needed to complete our design, is fanatical in ensuring good, solid geometry and once the risk of bad geometry was eliminated we were free to continue without further hindrance.

That being said, having one of the best CAD systems is all good as long as one has enough computer power to run it efficiently…

We were fortunate in that we managed to acquire three HP ZBook 15uG5 mobile workstation demo units upon the commencement of the project, which meant that not only did we secure technology from our preferred brand, we received it at a price that did not exhaust our budget.  Unfortunately, we quickly surpassed the capability of these units, but fortunately, two ZBook 15G5 demo units became available as we had need for them.

Before diving into the specs, it is worth noting that we specifically chose HP (who do not sponsor us) due to their ZBooks being absolute powerhouses when it comes to intensive design and processing. The ability of the tech speaks for itself and we would have chosen this route despite budget limitations.

HP Jet Fusion 5200 Series
Industrial 3D Printing Solution

Without realizing it, HP has had an impact on every stage of the project from our workstations and screens, that we have used during the design stage, to their Jet Fusion 3d printers that we will be utilising for production of nearly all of the air-frame components.

For Topology Optimisation we currently use:

•             a ZBook 15G5 with an 8th Gen 6 Core Xeon CPU

•             128Gb Ram

•             Quadro P2000 internal GPU

•             Akitio Node eGFX box with a Quadro P4000 GPU

For Main Design we currently use:

•             a ZBook 15G5 with an 8th Gen 6 Core i7 CPU

•             96Gb Ram

•             Quadro P2000 internal GPU

•             Akitio Node eGFX box with a Quadro RTX 4000 GPU

For CFD and FEA we currently use:

•             a ZBook 15uG5 with an 8th Gen 6 Core i7 CPU

•             64Gb Ram

•             Quadro P1000 internal GPU

•             Akitio Node eGFX box with a Quadro 4000 GPU

If one has the budget for a mobile workstation for intensive CAD work, I would highly recommend one looks at the HP ZBook 15G6 and HP ZBook 17G6 mobile workstations. My only criticism of the ZBook 15G6 is that it is limited to a Quadro RTX3000 whereas the ZBook 17G6 is available with a Quadro RTX5000. That being said, both machines can make use of an EGFX with an external GPU.

Quadro RTX4000 GPU

We appreciate your interest and look forward to sharing further insights and project updates with our interested supporters in our ongoing journey!