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Asymmetric Coaxial Rotor Helicopter

Top rotor is smaller and faster than the bottom rotor
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Coaxial rotor helicopters have two rotors: one above the other spinning in opposite directions. These have the advantage of not needing a tail rotor to counter the torque of the main rotor, but have a much more complicated linkage to control collective and cyclic for both rotors. They also tend to be tall because there needs to be significant separation between the two to avoid rotor collisions.

What I propose is that rather than having two similar rotors spinning in opposite directions, make the top rotor significantly smaller, and have it spin faster. It might look very much like a fixed pitch propeller for a fixed wing aircraft. The lower rotor would be a fairly standard helicopter rotor, but of course have a hollow shaft to allow for the shaft to the propeller.

The helicopter would be controlled with the main (lower) rotor just like a normal helicopter. The speed of the propeller (upper) would be adjusted to counter the torque to control rotation, but would have the beneficial side effect of providing additional lift.

scad mientist, Sep 01 2017

https://www.google....safe=active&ssui=on [hippo, Sep 01 2017]

Tailwheel Takeoff https://www.youtube...watch?v=qbIQR02y3zo
[FlyingToaster, Sep 06 2017]

[link]






       Might work. How about curving the upper blades upwards? An egg beater would therefore be more apt name.   

       But still my subconscious, directs me towards a state change rather than just an aerial double screw.
wjt, Sep 01 2017
  

       Or have one rotor and make it rotate alternately clockwise and counter-clockwise.

Or give the helicopter one rotor and little stubby wings with little propeller engines on, one pointing down and forward and the other pointing down and backwards, to counter the rotation of the main rotor
hippo, Sep 01 2017
  

       Maybe have the surfaces spark up. Pretty in the night sky.
wjt, Sep 01 2017
  

       It's been tried, nearly a century ago. Didn't end well.   

       There are many reasons, some obvious (downwash from upper blade destabilizes airflow over lower blade) and some not so obvious (asymmetric impingement of airflow on top of fuselage, Coanda effect).
8th of 7, Sep 01 2017
  

       But coaxial helicopters exist; why would a smaller upper rotor be worse?
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 01 2017
  

       If we give you a coaxial helicopter and a hacksaw, will you promise to try and find out by practical testing ?
8th of 7, Sep 01 2017
  

       No, because I suspect that the speed of the upper rotor cannot be adjusted as necessary. I was hoping for a more reasoned argument.
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 01 2017
  

       [+] though challenging : a lifting blade going supersonic would be A Bad Thing.
FlyingToaster, Sep 01 2017
  

       // I was hoping for a more reasoned argument. //   

       In the face of all previous experience ?   

       No, we don't think so.
8th of 7, Sep 01 2017
  

       //// I was hoping for a more reasoned argument. //

In the face of all previous experience ?//

He didn't say he was hoping for it from *here*
hippo, Sep 01 2017
  

       So, my thinking is this. Start with a normal helicopter, and modify the blades so that the innermost, say, 25% of them is just a rod with no aerodynamics to it. Lengthen the blades if necessary. Keep the outer 75% the same, so that it provides lift.   

       So far, I see no reason why it won't work.   

       Now chop off the tail rotor. The helicopter will spin round and it will be bad.   

       Now add the smaller coaxial rotor - 25% the diameter of the main - either above or below the main rotor. All it has to do is to provide drag to counter the main rotor; if it provides lift as well, all well and good. It won't interfere with the main since it's over (or under) the aerodynamically null part of the main rotor.   

       So, such a helicopter should fly OK.
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 01 2017
  

       But what's wrong with all these designs? (see link)
hippo, Sep 01 2017
  

       ^ well, there's the large gap between the rotors. Looks awkward.   

       If the counter-rotor were small enough it could just be a propeller without articulation (though possibly with variable pitch).
FlyingToaster, Sep 01 2017
  

       Yeah, right ..... damn-fool way to commit suicide ....
8th of 7, Sep 01 2017
  

       And then there's the stealth version which looks akin to a B-2 bomber but simply spins the entire aircraft.
normzone, Sep 01 2017
  

       //But what's wrong with all these designs? (see link)//   

       The sales figures are the biggest problem. Helicopters are already maintenance nightmares, noisy and very crashy. Adding the complexity of a second counter-rotating rotor makes all those worse.   

       //If the counter-rotor were small enough it could just be a propeller without articulation (though possibly with variable pitch).//   

       This makes a lot more sense. Standard tail rotors provide all the counter torque but no lift. A counter-rotating lift propeller would provide torque and lift. Some of which would be both free and counter to the main rotor in lift asymmetry. You'd still need the whole tail arrangement, but it could be a lot smaller.
bs0u0155, Sep 01 2017
  

       So, Mr Clever, why do 'copters typically have long, thin blades ?   

       Why not just have two contrarotating variable-pitch props ?
8th of 7, Sep 01 2017
  

       In a normal helicopter, the rudder pedals control the pitch of the tail rotor to balance the torque.   

       In a coaxial helicopter, both sets of blades are the same, with that complicated double swashplate meaning they balance each other automatically, right?   

       With one tiny rotor and one big, to have torque balanced and full control over the collective pitch, I think you'd need to vary both the pitch of the blades *and* the RPM. So, you'd end up needing the same double swashplate and also something like a CVT.
mitxela, Sep 01 2017
  

       Well, you can torque the torque, but can you etc.
Ian Tindale, Sep 01 2017
  

       // With one tiny rotor and one big, to have torque balanced and full control over the collective pitch, I think you'd need to vary both the pitch of the blades *and* the RPM. //   

       Give that man a cigar...   

       // So, you'd end up needing the same double swashplate and also something like a CVT. //   

       ... which could not only handle a shedload of power, but do it with cyclic asymmetry and get it right every time ...   

       Consider yourself promoted, [mit].   

       Now, there's another critical problem no-one has mentioned yet. Clue: it depends on whether the small rotor is above or below the large one.   

       We'll leave that as an exercise for the class.   

       Well ? Anyone ?   

       <addresses padded envelope to [IT], starts to fill it will selected moist morsels of animal excrement >
8th of 7, Sep 01 2017
  

       I know the answer, but I'm waiting to see if anyone else does.
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 01 2017
  

       You won't get a gold star on the wallchart if that's your attitude.   

       Not that we doubt you; it's not rocket science (just aeronautical engineering) and we know you have the critical intellectual faculties, but sitting back with your arms folded and sulking won't score any points.
8th of 7, Sep 01 2017
  

       I've often wondered why we don't use a collective pitch and cyclic as our main user interface for using a computer.
Ian Tindale, Sep 01 2017
  

       Lack of rudder pedals ...
8th of 7, Sep 01 2017
  

       Aside: In a Fourier transformation is the addition of oscillations communitative?
wjt, Sep 01 2017
  

       // critical problem ... it depends on whether the small rotor is above or below the large one. //   

       [8th] I'm interested to hear what your critical problem is, though perhaps I'm missing it if it only occurs when the prop is below the rotor because I've only considered having the small prop on top.   

       In my original idea description, it does say that the small one will be on top with the purpose of avoiding the need for the more complex linkage (double swash plate). I specified a fixed pitch prop as well for the same reason. I was about to say that if a fixed pitch prop wouldn't work then the idea was toast, but I just looked up how variable pitch propellers work. Hydraulic control using a tube up the center of the shaft is common, and shouldn't add excessive complication. I am still concerned that a variable pitch prop might be more susceptible to fatigue from the flapping forces. With a fixed pitch prop, I'm hoping fatigue can be dealt with by simply making it a bit stronger. I'm also hoping that since the prop is small, the roll force from unequal lift will be easily countered with a little cyclic on the large main rotor.   

       And yes, some sort of independent speed control might be needed between the two rotors. A CVT would be one way to accomplish this. That might doom this idea, though it seems that CVT technology has improved in recent years.   

       One possibility for not needing independent speed control: What if you use a fixed gearbox to set the relative rotor speeds for the situation where you want the most lift and/or highest efficiency. In other situations you'd need to prevent rotation by a somewhat non-ideal angle of attack on the main rotor to increase or decrease torque and compensate with more or less rotor speed. For example, increase the main rotor angle of attack and slow both rotors. This would increase torque and lift from the main rotor and decrease torque and lift from the prop. Requiring changing the rotor speed to increase or decrease lift would unfortunately make it very sluggish for changing vertical speed. A rapid change in collective would result in spinning if engine power was increased to keep the rotors from slowing. To start climbing, rotor speed would need to be increased as collective was increased, which would be slow. The situation could be improved with variable pitch prop, though I'd like to avoid that.   

       My original main concern was that we couldn't get enough torque from the prop to fully cancel the torque from the main rotor without the tips being supersonic, but [Max]'s comment made me realize that we could actually use a non-ideal prop design to get more torque. So maybe use a fixed pitch prop design with a steeper than normal angle of attack.
scad mientist, Sep 01 2017
  

       // Requiring changing the rotor speed to increase or decrease lift would unfortunately make it very sluggish for changing vertical speed. //   

       Sikorsky tried that on his early designs and soon abandoned it as impractical. Subsequently a lot of effort went into the development of constant-speed systems and FADEC, with lift modulated by the collective pitch control.   

       The hub and blade assembly is specified so as to operate efficiently in a fairly narrow speed range. Since you have to have cyclic control for direction, collective control is more or less "free".   

       You get points for getting an inkling of what the critical problem is that we mentioned, but constant-speed variable-pitch props are a red herring. As you note, many variable-pitch props are hydraulic - now, ask yourself why there are no hydraulic swashplate couplings.   

       Hint: take a look at pictures of contrarotating 'copter designs. Look closely at the relative positions of the blades at the points where they intersect, and where those points are with respect to the fuselage. Then, consider the likely interaction of a simple two-blade hub with a much smaller sub- or superposed two bladed prop running at a much higher speed and not coupled to the main hub.
8th of 7, Sep 02 2017
  

       Your question about a hydraulic swashplate coupling sounds to me like a stupid question, and I don't think you're stupid. Therefore I must be missing something or be making some wildly different assumptions than you.   

       As to your hint, I don't see anything that hasn't been mentioned already. Also I don't understand what you mean by // Not coupled to the main hub. // Of course they aren't connected since they are turning in opposite directions, but they are very closely coupled since the shaft for one goes through the middle of the shaft of the other, and there would be bearings that prevent vertical movement of either rotor hub in relation to the fuselage.   

       So again I think we're missing each other and it would be more effective if you just stated the problem. Thanks.
scad mientist, Sep 02 2017
  

       My uneducated guess would be that to work best, the blades need clear air. An upper contra rotating blade is going to mess up air dynamics with it's downward thrust. Preferably the blade should mess up the other blade over the cabin because that when downward force is obstructed anyway. A small rotating blade has to move faster so will cross over more times at unwanted places. If the smaller blade is closer to the cabin it's effect maybe more pronounced.
wjt, Sep 02 2017
  

       Well done, [wjt].   

       // they aren't connected since they are turning in opposite directions, but they are very closely coupled since the shaft for one goes through the middle of the shaft of the other, //   

       By "connected", we mean that the relative rotational speeds can be different. Think in terms of gyroscopic force, where changing the rotational speed of the rotating mass changes the couple which is transmitted to the shaft, and it's working in the reverse direction to the couple induced by the main constant-speed rotor. It makes the whole system aerodynamically unstable and extremely sensitive to the tiniest change in conditions or control forces, making it effectively uncontrollable.
8th of 7, Sep 02 2017
  

       The smaller prop needn't spin faster, if it can be draggier.
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 02 2017
  

       Drag = turbulence, which is a Bad Thing in this circumstance.
8th of 7, Sep 02 2017
  

       Yes but (a) The main rotor can have its central portion as just rods, and hence not be very affected by turbulence (b) The small rotor could be below the main, having less imact on the latter.
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 02 2017
  

       I think what [Max] is saying the main rotor could be paddle like which would loose a lot of wing area and place a load more stress on the an already very complex mechanism. Maybe just wait for material science to hand out the next gen. in super strong lightweight materials.
wjt, Sep 02 2017
  

       [8th], I don't buy your assertion that unbalanced gyroscopic effects are a serious issue. Conventional single rotor helicopters deal with large gyroscopic precession. A tail dragger airplane has to use the rudder in addition to elevators/flippers during takeoff to compensate when the tail comes off the runway. Put them together in opposite directions and they will partially cancel. The remaining precession will be dealt with in the normal way.
scad mientist, Sep 02 2017
  

       If a lot of the wing area was loose, surely it'd fall off?
Ian Tindale, Sep 03 2017
  

       // Conventional single rotor helicopters deal with large gyroscopic precession. //   

       Yes, because it's a predictable single force and can be factored into the airframe and control design.   

       // A tail dragger airplane has to use the rudder in addition to elevators/flippers during takeoff to compensate when the tail comes off the runway. //   

       All aircraft have that problem, not just tail-draggers.It's more pronounced because the empennage is deeper into the ground effect. The fin's usually offset to compensate,or the rudder has built-in bias.   

         

       // Put them together in opposite directions and they will partially cancel. The remaining precession will be dealt with in the normal way. //   

       Only under fixed conditions. Make the relationship independent and dynamic and it's a whole different can of worms ...
8th of 7, Sep 03 2017
  

       Spinning the smaller blade faster limits the total achievable airspeed, for the reason that FT mentioned above.
RayfordSteele, Sep 04 2017
  

       I don't know why you'd want the idea other than that the tail rotor is hard to see when its spinning.   

       //Top rotor is smaller and faster than the bottom rotor//   

       If you insist they provide the same lift. A second rotor can be eliminated by using the moderate thrust of engine exhaust.   

       //it depends on whether the small rotor is above or below the large one//   

       In either configuration I can't think of a way it could stir tea.
bigsleep, Sep 05 2017
  

       It would be very hard to tune engine exhaust to the dynamic demands of flight.
RayfordSteele, Sep 05 2017
  

       //All aircraft have that problem, not just tail-draggers.It's more pronounced because the empennage is deeper into the ground effect.//   

       Aaand, you're just making stuff up.   

       IIRC, tail-draggers don't generally do 3-point takeoffs: pilots lift the tail first bringing it up onto 2 wheels, which is when (propeller) precession kicks in and tries to turn (yaw) the aircraft. Unlike nosewheel birds which are in that orientation to begin with.   

       "Ground effect" is caused by reduced compressibility of air between a wing and ground. I doubt an horizontal stabilizer has any worth mentioning.
FlyingToaster, Sep 05 2017
  

       // I doubt an horizontal stabilizer has any worth mentioning.//   

       Oh no. It's noticeable, measurable and an important design consideration. It's particularly prominent on longer aircraft with low mounted horizontal stabilizers. Imagine something like an A340-600 where at the limit of 9.5% rotation, the wing is 20+ feet further up out of ground effect. The ground effect vs. height above ground is very much non linear so those few feet make a big difference.   

       The other consideration is angle of attack, wing in ground effect lift drops off in a non linear relationship with this too. A rotating aircraft will increase the angle of attack of its wing while raising it off the ground, at the same time, the horizontal stabilizer will move closer to the ground and decrease it's angle of attack, because it's likely to be all-flying, so you get a pitch down tendency as the aircraft lifts off.   

       This is one of several reasons why you may want to go with a high T-tail during design. An example of this is the Handley-Page Victor. During approach, it's low wing entered ground effect earlier than the high T-tail giving a kind of automatic pitch up flare, solid British design. Conversely, the F/A-18 has very low horizontal stabilizers and had tremendous problems getting off the flight deck. The fix involved canting both rudders inward to sort of lever the nose up. Some may blame shoddy design work that should have been spotted at the scale model stage, I think we should give them the benefit of the doubt. Twin outward-canted rudders look cool, and by actuating them independently you sort of invent the ruddervator. Besides, hasty aerodynamic bodge-jobs to fix flawed airframe design is as close as the US gets to a naval tradition.
bs0u0155, Sep 06 2017
  

       // Aaand, you're just making stuff up.//   

       <points smugly at what [bs] said >   

         

       // IIRC, tail-draggers don't generally do 3-point takeoffs: pilots lift the tail first bringing it up onto 2 wheels, //   

       Lift the tail ? But... how ? Does the pilot yell at Tinkerbell and Peaseblossom to lift it up ?No, amazingly the tail generates lift as airspeed increases ...   

         

       // which is when (propeller) precession kicks in and tries to turn (yaw) the aircraft. Unlike nosewheel birds which are in that orientation to begin with. //   

       Yaw on climbout is unrelated to ground effect.   

         

       // "Ground effect" is caused by reduced compressibility of air between a wing and ground. //   

       Airfoil. Any airfoil, not just the wing. Even lifting-body designs encounter ground effect.   

       // I doubt an horizontal stabilizer has any worth mentioning. //   

       If you have a small plane and a big runway, try it - as ground speed picks up, you can't keep the tailwheel on the runway. With a Stampe SV.4, there's no way you can do it, long before flying speed is reached - even with the stick right back. Then you have to be very gentle releasing the pressure or you'll put the nose in.
8th of 7, Sep 06 2017
  

       //<points smugly at what [bs] said>//
<points smugly at <link> which is not at odds with what [bs] said>
  

       Ground effect has nothing to do with rudder control. Lifting the tailwheel to make the aircraft level, prior to attaining rotation speed, causes precession which creates yaw which requires rudder to compensate. Nosewheelers don't have this particular issue since they're already level.   

       That's not to say they don't require rudder handling: since the engine is at full throttle, and the built-in wing and tailfin offsets are made to compensate for cruise throttle, some extra rudder is required.
FlyingToaster, Sep 06 2017
  

       If a tail-dragger aircraft is handled gently - and particularly, if the throttle opening is slow and smooth - then the yaw when the tail lifts is barely noticeable, given that other forces, particularly if there's any crosswind, can predominate.   

       On twins, the effect can be completely "hidden" by simply advancing one throttle a little more than the other.   

       But you're right about the difference between full-power and cruise power - the rudder/fin bias is always a compromise.   

       There's another problem with tail-draggers. Before the tail lifts, the fin and rudder are in the turbulent "shadow" of the fuselage (unless you're lucky enough to have a Lancaster) so the rudder authority is reduced. So initially, disproportionate rudder input is required until the fin lifts into smoother air and starts to do its job properly,
8th of 7, Sep 07 2017
  
      
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