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Peer Review

Compressible Aerodynamics Calculator



Overall Numeric Rating:

4.5 stars
Content Quality: 4.5 stars
Effectiveness: 4 stars
Ease of Use: 4.5 stars
Reviewed: Apr 02, 2004 by Engineering Editorial Board
Overview: This online calculator computes the standard relations for compressible flow of
a perfect gas, and is intended to provide a faster, more convenient alternative
to printed tables and charts (e.g. NACA Report 1135). Three sets of relations,
taken from standard aerodynamics texts, are included:

Isentropic Flow Relations
Normal Shock Relations
Oblique Shock relations

For each set of relations the calculator is used by selecting the variable to
input, entering its value, and then pressing the calculate key. Output is
immediately displayed. The calculator permits the value of the specific heats
ratio to be entered as well. Also included is a scratchpad for intermediate
Type of Material: A Java applet that provides an online calculator.
Recommended Uses: As a calculator for solving one-dimensional compressible flow problems. A fluid
dynamics instructor may easily incorporate it into a lecture to demonstrate
various compressible flow concepts and problem solution techniques. The
calculator may likewise be used by students solving assigned homework problems
in compressible fluid flow.
Technical Requirements: A web browser capable of supporting Javascript.
Identify Major Learning Goals: To help students better understand the relationships that exist between
pressure, temperature, Mach number, and flow area in compressible fluid flows.
Target Student Population: Junior or senior undergraduate aerospace and mechanical engineering students.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: User needs to know the fundamentals of one-dimensional compressible flow
Isentropic Flow Relations
Normal Shock Relations
Oblique Shock relations

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: The calculator is very useful for students solving problems in gas dynamics. It
is certainly the online equivalent of the numerical tables presented in the
classic NACA 1135 report. It includes all of the major parameters of interest in
computing flows through nozzles and across shock waves, and provides the
results in a rapid and accurate fashion. By allowing values of the specific
heats ratio to be entered, the calculator becomes even more useful than the NACA
1135 tables, which used only the value of 1.40 appropriate for air. The rapid
iterative calculation of the Mach number, given the A/A* ratio for nozzle flow,
is a very useful element in the calculator since this is a difficult hand
Concerns: None

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: The calculator lends itself well to both classroom demonstration and homework
assignments. It provides instantaneous calculations and permits the instructor
or student to avoid the tedious process of referencing and interpolating charts
and tables during a lecture or homework assignment.
Concerns: Although not a major concern, if the website presented a discussion and the
equations underlying the computations in the manner of the NACA 1135 report,
this learning object would have even greater potential effectiveness as a
teaching tool.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: The calculator is very easy to use, and the various input boxes are quite
intuitive to anyone with a basic knowledge of gas dynamics. Its ease of use and
immediate feedback allow students to focus more on the gas dynamics and less on
the rather involved calculations. A nice feature is its use of scientific
notation to represent very large and small numbers, something that many online
applets fail to do.
Concerns: None

Other Issues and Comments: