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Thread: XFOIL with MATLAB

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
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    XFOIL with MATLAB

    Hi all,

    I am trying to write a code in MATLAB that would be able to call up XFOIL from the MATLAB shell and have it run simulations. The closest I can get to doing so is writing a Perl wrapper to take inputs, generate a config file for XFOIL to use, then have XFOIL load it.

    The issue is, I plan on many many iterations of this, and there's no "scripting language" within XFOIL to write an XFOIL script. I don't want to have to manually type in "oper; iter 100; alfa _____" for as many iterations as I need. The idea was something like this:

    Code:
    while (answer == unconverged)
        use initial guess/previous iteration to  generate config file for XFOIL
        open XFOIL, load config file
        have XFOIL automatically generate CL, CD, other data
        return values back to MATLAB
    end
    Is there any way to get XFOIL to run these commands with having to manually type them in?

    Thanks for the help!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot

    Re: XFOIL with MATLAB

    I don't know what XFOIL is and I've no clue if what I'm going to suggest will help you, but can't hurt to try.

    You can easily start up external apps using the 'system' command in matlab. Depending on your output, you may be able to grab the results from your xfoil app. However, I guess xfoil dumps its data somewhere. Which in that case you can simply let matlab import the data and do your convergence analysis.

  3. #3
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    Re: XFOIL with MATLAB

    Quote Originally Posted by XCan View Post
    I don't know what XFOIL is and I've no clue if what I'm going to suggest will help you, but can't hurt to try.

    You can easily start up external apps using the 'system' command in matlab. Depending on your output, you may be able to grab the results from your xfoil app. However, I guess xfoil dumps its data somewhere. Which in that case you can simply let matlab import the data and do your convergence analysis.
    I am very familiar with the system() command, and so far that is how I'm accessing XFOIL.

    XFOIL is a computational fluid dynamics tool used to calculate boundary layers and pressure distributions along airfoil (2D wings). The issue that I am having is that a user needs to run an xfoil "shell" to interact with it. This wouldn't be a problem, since MATLAB is the same way - except with MATLAB, you can write scripts to automate these processes. XFOIL has no way for a user to just run a bunch of commands without having the user actually interact with XFOIL.. i'm not worried about capturing the outputs of XFOIL, that's relatively simple.
    Last edited by azredwing; October 31st, 2009 at 05:25 AM.

  4. #4
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    Dec 2009
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    1

    Re: XFOIL with MATLAB

    Hey, did you find a solution for your problem? I am also trying to use Xfoil via MATLAB. How do you check if your results are converged?

  5. #5
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    Re: XFOIL with MATLAB

    Quote Originally Posted by udai87 View Post
    Hey, did you find a solution for your problem? I am also trying to use Xfoil via MATLAB. How do you check if your results are converged?
    I did, actually! I totally forgot that you could use pipes in/out of files, so I have a Perl script generating an XFOIL "script" that gets executed. Here's the code of interest:

    Code:
    #!/usr/bin/perl
    
    # xfoilwrapper.pl - Wrapper script to interact between MATLAB, XFOIL
    
    use strict;
    use warnings;
    
    sub cleandie{
        unlink $_ for qw(commands.xfoil coords.dat xfoil.def coeffs.txt);
    	die @_;
    }
    	
    sub cleanup{
        unlink $_ for qw(commands.xfoil coords.dat xfoil.def coeffs.txt);
    }
    
    my ($alfa, $Re, $Ma, $NACA, $coeff_type) = @ARGV;
    
    # If the user wants a NACA foil, make sure it's a 4 or 5-series only.
    if (defined $NACA && (length($NACA) <4 || length($NACA) >5 ||  $NACA =~ /\D+/)){
        die "Only 4 or 5-digit series NACA foils allowed";
    }
    
    
    my $Re_10e6 = $Re/10**6; # Config file accepts Re/10^6 as input; need to transform it.
    
    $Re_10e6 = sprintf("%.4f", $Re_10e6);
    $Ma      = sprintf("%.4f", $Ma);
    
    #--------------------------------------------------  
    # Generate the coordinate files (see end of program)
    #--------------------------------------------------  
    open my $COORDINATES, ">", "coords.dat"
        or cleandie "Couldn't open coords.dat for writing: $!";
    
    my $coords = get_coords();
    print {$COORDINATES} $coords;
    close $COORDINATES;
    
    #--------------------------------------------------
    # Build the config file using input $Re, $Ma
    #--------------------------------------------------
    
    my $xfoil_def = <<"EOF";
      160       1.0000   0.1500   0.2000 | Npan    PPanel  TErat  REFrat
        1.0000   1.0000   1.0000   1.0000 | XrefS1  XrefS2  XrefP1 XrefP2
       10.0000   0.5500   0.0150   0.8000 | Size    plotAR  CHsize ScrnFr
       11.0000   8.5000   0.0000   0.0000 | Xpage   Ypage   Xmargn Ymargn
      F        T                          | Lcolor  Lcursor
        1.0000  -4.0000  -0.5000          | CPmax   CPmin   CPdel
        0.0900   0.7000   0.0200          | XoffAir ScalAir BLUwt
        0.0000   1.5000   0.5000          | CLmin   CLmax   CLdel
        0.0000   0.0400   0.0100          | CDmin   CDmax   CDdel
       -4.0000  10.0000   2.0000          | ALmin   ALmax   ALdel
       -0.2500   0.0000   0.0500          | CMmin   CMmax   CMdel
       1         $Ma   0.0100          | MAtype  Mach    Vaccel
       1         $Re_10e6   9.0000          | REtype  Re/10^6 Ncrit
        0.1000   0.2500                   | XtripT  XtripB
    EOF
    
    open my $XFOIL_DEF, ">", "xfoil.def"
        or cleandie "Couldn't open xfoil.def for writing: $!";
    print {$XFOIL_DEF} $xfoil_def;
    close $XFOIL_DEF;
    
    # Build the XFOIL command list using $alfa and $Re.
    # Start with 100 iterations; if the output result is a diverage, add 100 more iterations.
    # die() the program after 1000 iterations fail.
    
    my $numit = 100;
    ITERATION:
    while ($numit <= 1000){
        my $command_file = defined $NACA ? <<"EOF"
    y
    plop
    G
    
    naca $NACA
    oper
    visc $Re
    iter $numit
    pacc
    coeffs.txt
    
    alfa $alfa
    pacc
    
    quit
    EOF
          : <<"EOF";
    y
    plop
    G
    
    oper
    visc $Re
    iter $numit
    pacc
    coeffs.txt
    
    alfa $alfa
    pacc
    
    quit
    EOF
          
        open my $COMMANDS, ">", "commands.xfoil"
            or cleandie "Couldn't open commands.xfoil for writing: $!";
        print {$COMMANDS} $command_file;
        close $COMMANDS;
    
        
        if ($^O eq "linux" || $^O eq "darwin"){
            if ($NACA){
                system("xfoil <commands.xfoil >/dev/null");
            }
            else{
                system("xfoil coords.dat <commands.xfoil >/dev/null");
            }
        }
        else{
            if ($NACA){
                system('C:\xfoil\bin\xfoil.exe <commands.xfoil >nul');
            }
            else{
                system('C:\xfoil\bin\xfoil.exe coords.dat <commands.xfoil >nul');
            }
        }
    
        # Check coeffs.txt for CL and CD. If there's no numbers, divergence occurred.
    
        open my $COEFF_FILE, "<", "coeffs.txt"
            or cleandie("Couldn't open coeffs.txt for reading: $!");
    
        while (my $line = <$COEFF_FILE>){        
            # CONVERAGE OCCURED! PRINT CL AND CD, RETURN TO MATLAB
            if ($line =~ /(\d+[.]\d+) \s+ (\d+[.]\d+) \s+ (\d+[.]\d+)/xms){
                print $coeff_type eq "lift" ? "CL=$2;\n"       :
                      $coeff_type eq "drag" ? "CD=$3;\n"       :
                                              "CL=$2; CD=$3;\n";
                cleanup();
    			unlink("coeffs.txt");
                exit
            }
        }
        $numit += 100;
    	close $COEFF_FILE;
    }
    
    # At this point we've failed to converge after 1000 iterations. Return inf to caller and let the caller deal with what to do.
    cleanup();
    print "CL=inf;CD=inf;\n";
    
    
    sub get_coords{
        my $coords = <<"EOF";
    # Coordinates for your airfoil go here
    EOF
        return $coords;
    }
    And here's the MATLAB function calling this wrapper:

    Code:
    % get_coeffs - Get the lift and drag coefficients for an airfoil
    %
    % USAGE: [CL, CD] = get_coeffs(alfa, Re, Ma, [NACA])
    %    (r) alfa: Desired angle of attack 
    %    (r)  Re : Reynolds number
    %    (r)  Ma : Mach number
    %    (s) NACA: NACA Airfoil designation. Must be a 4- or 5-digit string only.
    
    function [CL,CD] = get_coeffs(alfa, Re, Ma, NACA)
        
        % perl() command expects all arguments to be strings - transform into strings... 
        alfa = sprintf('%.5f', alfa);
        Re   = sprintf('%d'  , Re);
        Ma   = sprintf('%0.5f', Ma);
        
        % Result of the eval() command is CL and CD.
        if (exist('NACA') && ~ isempty(NACA))
            eval(perl('xfoilwrapper.pl', alfa, Re, Ma, NACA));
        else
            eval(perl('xfoilwrapper.pl', alfa, Re, Ma));
        end
        
        % In Windows, xfoilwrapper.pl fails to unlink coeffs.txt. Take care of
        % it here.
        if (exist('coeffs.txt'))
            delete('coeffs.txt');
        end
    Note in the XFOIL wrapper that if divergence occurs, I return CL=inf, CD=inf, and these will be what the MATLAB function returns as well. So you need to check your return vals and have some kind of error catching in place. If I generate CL/CD data and there's holes in it (inf's), I kick the holes out and perform a spline interpolation to fill those holes back in:

    Code:
    if (y_of_interest(i) == inf)
         y_of_interest(i) = fill_gaps(x_of_interest, y_of_interest, i);
    end
    
    function yy = fill_gap(x,y,i)
        y_interp = [y(1:i-1) y(i+1:length(x))];
        x_interp = [x(1:i-1) x(i+1:length(x))];
        yy = interp1(x_interp, y_interp, x(i), 'spline');
    end
    Hope this helps!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Beans
    14

    Question Re: XFOIL with MATLAB

    Hi!

    I'm designing a windmill for my Mechanical Engineering undergrad project, and I think this may help me. What I want to do is this:

    1. Choose six or seven standard profiles at specific lengths across the blade.
    2. Calculate the Cd and Cl for the design Tip speed ratio (or design windspeed) for the entire blade. This should involve:
    - Calculating Cd and Cl for each Blade Element at design wind speed using XFOIL.
    - Integrating over the blade (is this correct?).
    3. Calculate Cd and Cl over a range of windspeeds for the entire blade (perhaps an iteration of steps in two above).
    4. Introduce an additional blade angle of twist to make the blade stall in higher speeds, and re-calculate the Cd, Cl for the above. This will have the effect of changing the Angle of Attack across the blade.

    I think your script is a good starting point, however, I'm completely new to XFOIL, python, matlab, and pearl. (New as in, haven't even run Hello World yet). I'm pretty sure I can adopt your matlab code to python though.

    I'm confused on a few things:

    1. Does the above list seem to miss anything?
    2. I don't understand the XFOIL interface... help here is very much appreciated.
    3. Using your scripts produce a bunch of files. How do I find the Cd and Cl of my profile under the conditions specified?

    Thanks so much!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
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    135

    Re: XFOIL with MATLAB

    Quote Originally Posted by swiftarrow View Post
    Hi!

    I'm designing a windmill for my Mechanical Engineering undergrad project, and I think this may help me.
    Lucky for you, this is exactly what I'm doing for my undergraduate project as well! (Actually I'm building a vertical axis wind turbine, but of course this doesn't matter for XFOIL.)

    What I want to do is this:
    1. Choose six or seven standard profiles at specific lengths across the blade.
    2. Calculate the Cd and Cl for the design Tip speed ratio (or design windspeed) for the entire blade. This should involve:
    - Calculating Cd and Cl for each Blade Element at design wind speed using XFOIL.
    - Integrating over the blade (is this correct?).
    3. Calculate Cd and Cl over a range of windspeeds for the entire blade (perhaps an iteration of steps in two above).
    4. Introduce an additional blade angle of twist to make the blade stall in higher speeds, and re-calculate the Cd, Cl for the above. This will have the effect of changing the Angle of Attack across the blade.
    I haven't done a lot of work with XFOIL for 3D airfoils, and as far as I know it can only handle 2D profiles. Like I said, though, I'm not sure. For my 3D model, I am capturing CL/CD as a function of both angular position and height of the blade. The local Reynolds numbers are different as you move across the blade, so finding CL/CD for each "blade element" basically translates to "plugging in the correct alfa and Re". Other than that, the logic sounds good.

    I think your script is a good starting point, however, I'm completely new to XFOIL, python, matlab, and pearl. (New as in, haven't even run Hello World yet). I'm pretty sure I can adopt your matlab code to python though.

    I'm confused on a few things:

    1. Does the above list seem to miss anything?
    2. I don't understand the XFOIL interface... help here is very much appreciated.
    3. Using your scripts produce a bunch of files. How do I find the Cd and Cl of my profile under the conditions specified?

    Thanks so much!
    First of all, it's Perl and not "pearl"

    1) See above for comments on your methodology.
    2) Check out the XFOIL manual here: http://web.mit.edu/drela/Public/web/xfoil/xfoil_doc.txt

    There are various tutorials on the web, as well. If you look in my Perl script, I have a list of commands that gets piped into XFOIL. This will calculate a single CL/CD given an alfa.

    3) The Perl script is not meant to be run on its own, it should be called from MATLAB. XFOIL generates the CL/CD-alfa data and this data is parsed by the Perl script. The wrapper will clean up after itself and pipe CL/CD back to MATLAB, so there isn't any need to interact with the files Perl or XFOIL generates. (If you're trying to use SciPy/some other language you will need to adopt the MATLAB script into that language, but the Perl wrapper shouldn't change much, if at all.)

    Let me know if you've got other questions! Hope I could help.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Beans
    14

    Re: XFOIL with MATLAB

    hello guys, i am a new member and i 'd like to ask if you know how can i attach a .txt file (which includes all commands needed for xfoil) in matlab and secondly how can i make matlab iterate a parameter.for example, i have created .txt file :
    naca0012
    oper
    visc
    3e4
    mach0.3
    alfa0
    cpwr
    example

    quit
    how can i make matlab run this file from xfoil and how can i write a "for...end" command in matlab in order to change apha from 0 to 5 with step 1. if you could write down all commands needed in matlab it would be really appreciated . thnx

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Beans
    135

    Re: XFOIL with MATLAB

    Quote Originally Posted by nikolhs View Post
    hello guys, i am a new member and i 'd like to ask if you know how can i attach a .txt file (which includes all commands needed for xfoil) in matlab and secondly how can i make matlab iterate a parameter.for example, i have created .txt file :
    naca0012
    oper
    visc
    3e4
    mach0.3
    alfa0
    cpwr
    example

    quit
    how can i make matlab run this file from xfoil and how can i write a "for...end" command in matlab in order to change apha from 0 to 5 with step 1. if you could write down all commands needed in matlab it would be really appreciated . thnx
    Edit the MATLAB and Perl scripts I already wrote, above. There's only some minor tweaking that needs to be done.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Beans
    14

    Re: XFOIL with MATLAB

    hello,
    the code which is above ( Perl script generating an XFOIL script) doesn't run with matlab.When i paste it in a blank .m file, they appear many red marks, which means that's something wrong happens.
    If you could explain what exactly i should do (and by this i mean the correct sequence of the files that i have to create etc) i would be really grateful.

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