Archive for March, 2009

Rug, Reel, Code and Glue

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

The bad news is that the rent on the building is going up. The good news is we’re getting a new rug and hot water. About half of yesterday was taken up with ATO stuff and the other half taken up with moving desks, bookcases and filing cabinets so the old carpet could be pulled out.

The new reel was removed from mold. It came out great. The two halves were split and trimmed. It’s now ready to have the holes for the drag bars drilled.

Mark expanded and wrapped up the code for the rocket motor heaters. The main controller was tested looks pretty good. We still need to do some more heat cycle testing to determining the best on/off timing.

Yet another two yards of reinforcement strips went on to Ascender airbeam rib. Only 5 yards to go!

The Sacramento State University crew installed the bearing plates in the drum brakes and made the drum to shaft access port. It’s really starting to look like it will fly.

Mounting the Away 28 hub plates The old rug

Motor Parts

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

Anthony did a great job crafting this antenna for the quad engine.

Antenna from above Antenna from the side

Reel Building

Friday, March 20th, 2009

Last night Mark and Karl laid carbon fiber and balsa wood into the reel frame mold. This is the first step in building a new balloon reel. This is a complex part to make. Two balsa cores (one inch apart) are sandwiched between single layers of carbon above and below. The whole thing gets vacuumed to get a good lamination. The result will be a very light and very strong part. We won’t know how it came out till Saturday. We’re leaving it to cure in it’s vacuum bag til then.

Mark and Karl and the reel frame in a vacuum bag.

Our 100th Mission

Monday, March 16th, 2009

Here’s a sketch of the upcoming Away 38 mission.

Away 38

Saturdays Progress

Monday, March 16th, 2009

We had a late start and an early finish, but we got a lot accomplished. Here the list.

We began applying reinforcement strips to the outer seam of the Ascender rib. Two yards worth got glued in place.

The first draft of the software for the rocket motor heater controller was completed, loaded and is running.

Second heater pair install in the second mini launch box.

The Away 28 “Reimaged” project is really coming together. This mission is being worked on by the Sacramento State University engineering student crew. They completed the drum brake disks and made the new drum bearings.

Old deck plates for a high rack platform were patched. The foam and carbon decks are normally good for two flight. This will be the forth for this set.

Helium inventory in never a fun task. Each tank gets a valve with a gauge mounted to check for pressure then the 120 pound tanks get sorted. The gang jumped in and found enough gas for the next mission.

A set of end caps for the ascender rib got another coat of sealant over the foam.

We begun the physical weight assessment for Away 38.

At 5pm the folks from the Sacramento L-5 Society came pouring into the electronics room for there monthly meeting. We hung on in the main shop working on connectors and code for another couple of hours then called it a night.

Coding the rocket heater.   Drilling Bearings    Rib Work
Programing the heater controller, drilling bearing and rib work.

Away 28       Foam Lunch

Away 28 and, don’t even ask……

Dropping Things

Saturday, March 14th, 2009

We spend the whole day on Saturday dropping a 20lb iron weight from the 18 foot ceiling. We’re going to start testing the reel system from that height tomorrow. Just in case the system fails, (it will from time to time during testing) the falling weight won’t kill us. The first few drops were pretty exciting. Instead of absorbing the energy our foam target made the weight bounce.  Nothing like a 20 pound piece of iron bouncing like a super ball to get the blood pumping. A dozen drops later and the weight stops dead safely in the target.

Now that we’ve learned how to make the test airbeam withstand 3.5 psi it’s time to apply what we learned to the Ascender rib airbeam. We finished adding reinforcements to the inner seam Wednesday. Tomorrow we start on the outer seam.

The Hardware for the new heater controller is done. Now the software needs to be written. The first two heaters were installed in the mini rocket launch box. The second pair get installed in the second box in the morning.

Electrons, Photons and Teachers

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

Saturday Bob taught a Basic Stamp class. From the raves I’ve gotten from the team it went very well.

While the class at the shop was going on, I was manning a table at the California Aerospace Museum. It was teacher and educators day. It looks like with vehicles will be filled to the brim with PongSats again this year.

The Discovery Channel was at the shop Monday. They filmed for over five hours. It was fun, but I’m still seeing spots from all the lights. This will be for an episode that will air sometime in the fall.

Wednesday the crew started assembling a controller for the rocket motor heaters. This project fell to some of the folks who took Bob’s class and are new to stamps and embedded computers. It’s a good first flight system project.