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TunnelSys Design Applet Version 1.0g


This is a beta 1.0g version of the TunnelSys Design Applet program, and you are invited to participate in the beta testing. If you find errors in the program or would like to suggest improvements, please send an e-mail to

Due to IT security concerns, many users are currently experiencing problems running NASA Glenn educational applets. The applets are slowly being updated, but it is a lengthy process. If you are familiar with Java Runtime Environments (JRE), you may want to try downloading the applet and running it on an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) such as Netbeans or Eclipse. The following are tutorials for running Java applets on either IDE:

This page contains an interactive Java applet to explore the design of a wind tunnel model. All of the information presented by the applet are available within the Beginner's Guide to Wind Tunnels. You should start with the slide describing the design of a wind tunnel.

TunnelSys - Design Applet

With this software you can investigate the design of a wind tunnel model by changing the geometry of a representative wing model.

TunnelSys is a series of three Java applications which students can use to explore the process of wind tunel testing. In wind tunnel testing, an engineer must first design and build a wind tunnel model with all of the appropriate instrumentation included. The model is then placed in the tunnel test section and air is blown over the model. The instrumentation records the desired information for the model designer. The engineer who conducts the wind tunnel test is not normally the same person who designed the model, but someone who is a specialist at wind tunnel operation. The data from the test normally goes to a third engineer who performs the necessary data reduction and produces performance plots for the initial engineer.

To demonstrate the process used to conduct wind tunnel testing, we have produced an applet version of TunnelSys. Because of security limitations with Java, you can not save designs or results produced with the applet version. The full application version does permit a team of students to work on the various systems engineering aspects of wind tunnel testing. The applet at the top of this page is the Design portion of the TunnelSys applet and application. It is presented here so that students can gain familiarity with the design part of the process.

This version of the Design applet includes an on-line user's manual which describes the various options available in the program and includes hyperlinks to pages in the Beginner's Guide to Wind Tunnels describing the math and science of wind tunnels. More experienced users can select a version of the program which does not include these instructions and loads faster on your computer. You can download these versions of the program to your computer by clicking on this yellow button:

Button to Download a Copy of the Program

With the downloaded version, you can run the program off-line and do not have to be connected to the Internet.


This program is designed to be interactive, so you have to work with the program. There are a variety of choices which you must make regarding the display of results by using a choice box. A choice box has a descriptive word displayed and an arrow at the right of the box. To make a choice, click on the arrow, hold down and drag to make your selection. The current values of the design variables are presented to you in boxes. By convention, a white box with black numbers is an input box and you can change the value of the number. A black box with yellow numbers is an output box and the value is computed by the program. To change the value in an input box, select the box by moving the cursor into the box and clicking the mouse, then backspace over the old number, enter a new number, then hit the Enter key on your keyboard. You must hit Enter to send the new value to the program. For most input variables you can also use a slider located next to the input box. Click on the slider bar, hold down and drag the slider bar to change values, or you can click on the arrows at either end of the slider. At any time, to return to the original default conditions, click the yellow Reset button at the lower left of the program.

If you see only a grey box at the top of this page, be sure that Java is enabled in your browser. If Java is enabled, and you are using the Windows XP operating system, you need to get a newer version of Java. Go to this link:, try the "Download It Now" button, and then select "Yes" when the download box from Sun pops up.

If you experience difficulties when using the sliders to change variables, simply click away from the slider and then back to it. If the arrows on the end of the sliders disappear, click in the areas where the left and right arrow images should appear, and they should reappear.


The program screen is divided into three main parts:

  1. On the top left side of the screen is the View Window. The view window includes a graphic of the wing model that you are designing and a slider which control the graphic. Details of the window are given in the Graphics section of this page.
  2. On the right side of the screen is an Engineering Drawing of your model. The size and scale of the model is given at the bottom of the panel. Clicking on the words "Double" and "Half" will change the size of the picture.
  3. On the lower left side of the screen is the Input/Output Panel. Details of the variables are given below.


The View Window contains a computer drawing of the wing model that you are designing and some controls for the schematic drawing. You can move the picture within the window by moving the cursor into the window, holding down the left mouse button, and dragging the model to a new location. You can also "Zoom" in close to the model by using the green slider at the left of the window. If you get lost, pushing the yellow Find button will return the model to the initial position.


The input/output variables are located on the panel that is displayed at the lower left. There are five input variables; the type of airfoil, the camber (curvature), thickness, chord, and span of the wing. The meanings of these terms are described on the geometry web page of the Beginner's Guide. As you vary any of the input variables, the resulting geometry is shown in the view window and the drawing window. Output from the program includes the wing projected area and the aspect ratio which are also defined on the geometry page. Calculations can be performed in either Imperial or Metric units by using the choice button at the bottom of the page.


The Education Programs Office will continue to improve and update TunnelSys based on user input. Changes from previous versions of the program include:

  1. On 5 Aug 09, version 1.0g was released. This is the first released version of the program. This version was derived from the application version by Anthony Vila of Vanderbilt University during a summer intern session at NASA Glenn.

Guided Tours


Button to Display Wind Tunnel Index Button to Display Aerodynamics Index
Beginner's Guide to Wind Tunnels
Beginner's Guide to Aeronautics


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Editor: Nancy Hall
NASA Official: Nancy Hall
Last Updated: May 13 2021

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