Sor, S., Bardera, R., García Magarino, A., García, J. M. C., Donoso, E. 2019. Development and characterization of a low-cost wind tunnel balance for aerodynamic drag measurements. European Journal of Physics 40, 4, DOI: 10.1088/1361-6404/ab1a7b
Drag force measurement is one of the most important data that can be obtained in wind tunnel tests. Drag force is directly related to the energy that a vehicle needs to move, and, therefore, to the fuel costs associated with it. For vehicles, drag forces are usually measured in wind tunnels. The typical instruments for drag measurement are the force balances, which are usually complex and expensive instruments. The aim of this investigation is to study the development of a low-cost in-house balance for drag measurements in a wind tunnel. Based on a commercial available load cell XFTC300 Series in combination with simple elements designed and manufactured at INTA, a balance capable of measuring the drag force to models in a considerably wide adjustable range has been developed and characterized. The balance has been calibrated and used in a wind tunnel. Tests were carried out on a truck model, a simplified frigate shape and an Ahmed Body to obtain the resistance coefficient and evaluate the operation of the balance.