Thursday, April 11, 2013:
Jetpack inspires the next generation...
The concept of personal flight really sparks people's imagination and here at Martin Jetpack, we get a lot of correspondence from around the world from people sharing their excitement about our product, offering advice on how to make it better or wanting to come and work for us. We also get requests from students wanting help with assignments and we would like to share this one with you.
Arielle Triaca is a Year 11 student, studying at Michael Mount Waldorf School in Johannesburg. She contacted Martin Jetpack founder, Glenn Martin, in 2012 wanting advice on how to create a model jetpack that demonstrated the principles of lift and thrust. Here's her story...
"Buzz light-year, Iron Man and Superman all heroes I admired and longed to be. Even though one was a toy, the other a billionaire with non-existent technology and the last one from a different planet, they all held one captivating similarity: the power of personal flight. This was one of my ultimate dreams: To be in control of my flight, my desired destination, to defy gravity: essentially own a jetpack.
And so my journey began:I realised that through all the ages man has had the idea of personal flight. But the reality is, the only person to have made any significant progress is Glen Martin, creator of the Martin Jetpack.
The Martin Jetpack is the furthest we have progressed in jetpack technology. It is able to stay aloft for 30 minutes and will be the first commercially available jetpack.
It was the Martin Jetpack that made me choose to research jetpacks for my grade 11 project. There it was, featured in Time Magazine Best Inventions of 2010. I was amazed that jetpacks were finally becoming a reality. One of the first things I did when I started this project was to get in touch with Mr Martin and ask him personally about his jetpack and what he suggested I try and do for a practical component.
His response sent my dreams of building my own jetpack down the drain. He told me how he had worked for 30 years on his model and it was only just being perfected for commercial use now. Having no intention of waiting 30 years for my Waldorf certificate I had to come up with a new plan!
Mr Martin very kindly sent me lots of detailed information on the design of his jetpack, which I found invaluable when doing my practical. It became clear that using a ducted fan - that is a fan mounted inside a tube - would be best option because it creates a lot of downward thrust. So then I went to a hobby shop called Aerial Concepts and I was able to purchase most of the parts required for my jetpack. Then with the help of my dad, I began to assemble my jetpack.
The ducted fan became the core and everything else was attached to it. To prevent any sideways movement, I decided to build the jetpack on two vertical strings that allowed for upwards motion but prevented it from spinning out of control.
After all the parts had been assembled, my dad and I threaded the jetpack onto the strings and switched it on. While my dad monitored the movement I increased the throttle on the transmitter to maximum. With a great screeching sound, the jetpack shot up, stayed there for a few seconds and then came crashing back to earth. This was not the desired outcome!
It needed to stay up for longer. We measured the battery voltage and realised that the correct voltage (15V) was only there for the initial few seconds of flight. Thereafter it rapidly dropped down to 10V, not enough to sustain flight. This was due to the huge amount of current being drawn by the fan - more than the batteries could cope with.
There seemed to be little choice other than to fit a third battery but that brought with it some new problems. The voltage was now too high for the motor and receiver to withstand so a regulator had to be built.
With more power, my jetpack now offered the possibility of being able to lift something resembling a human form, so my dad and I went...Barbie doll shopping!!
We got home, assembled the jetpack with the regulator and third battery and strapped Barbie to it. Once again I increased the throttle to maximum but alas no lift off. Barbie was too heavy, so in she went for plastic surgery...(an unconventional operation which involved snapping her legs, cutting off the flesh from her thighs and drilling out the plastic from her back!). However, despite the modifications, Barbie was still too heavy and I had to use one of my mother's Christmas Shepherds made from fairy wool instead.
My dad and I assembled a stand that was very high and set the jetpack up for the last time. I switched it on and it soared skywards. I had finally succeeded in 'manned' flight!
Even though building my jetpack was fraught with difficulties and there were times when I thought it could never work, I found the whole experience very exciting. For my project I received a highly commended (a first or highest mark you can receive). I thoroughly enjoyed this project and was quite sad when it ended, although my dream of personal flight did not end with my project. One day I will fly my own jetpack!
I believe that in our imagination, anything is possible. No laws confine us to think literally. What we imagine, we believe can work."