Archive for April, 2009

Away 28 and Away 38

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

There has been some confusion about what vehicle is what. Away 28 was flown a couple of years back. This is the vehicle the Sacramento State University engineering students are upgrading for there senior project.

Away 38 is the next new vehicle that we are preping to fly. We’re going to fly both vehicle at the same time in near future. To that end both craft have been getting a lot of work.

Spaceship Guts Carbon and Balsa component for Away 28 The Away 28 Team

Floating to Space Review

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

“Floating to Space” got a review in April’s “Spaceflight” magazine!

Book Cover

Meter Calibration and Camera Repair

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

Last Wednesday we did balloon fill training. We always do this with a small, three foot balloon and helium. This provides feedback on how well it was done my measuring the lift in the balloon compared with the intended fill. After three fills with the small balloon and one with a bigger balloon is was apparent that something was amiss. All the fills were off by the exact same factor. This means only one thing. Time to recalibrate the fill meter. That all day task was done on Saturday, (it must be done over and over again to verify a stable meter). On the plus side it was one of the best fill training session we’re had in a while.

Saturday also featured camera rebuilding,deck mounting, and telemetry system layout work. Were now close enough to the Away 38 mission that work on all project not related to the upcoming flight are on hold.

Meter Calibrating   Camera Rebuilding

A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far, Far Away……

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

Or so it seems. This year is our 30 anniversary. I’m still hoping to make a big deal about it, however, there’s barely enough time to keep up with the present!

Here’s some pics from “A Long Time ago”:

Ascender 175 Frame and Propeller
This is the frame and port propeller of the 175 foot long Ascender.

Inside Ascender 175
Inside the Ascenders nylon shell.

Aubrey and Away 9
This is my son Aubrey taking a landing site picture of Away 9 while the Away 9 vehicle is taking a picture of him. This is from May 2002.

Away 9 on board camera
This is from Away 9 camera about 40 minutes before the above shot.

Build Session Update

Monday, April 13th, 2009

Saturday we had a pretty big crowd all building, gluing, soldering and coding. Here’s what was happening:

The new reel has been assembled had two sets of carbon brackets mold on the sides. These will hold the braking system. This new reel has duel brakes and a longer drag ladder than the original. We also make the new hub.

The next to last seam reinforcement went on to the Ascender test rib. Eighteen inches to go and it will be ready for a pressure test.

The team finished a second pair of mini rocket launch boxes. The first pair are for testing. They only last for one launch. The new pair will be for flight.

We’ll be flying two HD video cameras on the next flight. We began working on camera alignment. One camera will be focused on the launch boxes, the other on the flight path.

We’re controlling several move events on Away 38 than on a standard mission. We went back and forth on whither to use a seperate event controller and connect it to the the main controller through a serial port (this is how it’s done on the Tandem Airship), or just extend the main controller with a daughter board. The daughter board won. We cot it build last week and Saturday the systems team wrote the code for it and tested and debugged it. This took a little longer than usual, someone who shall remain nameless (yours truly), put in all three transistors backwards…….

Diego and the Rocket Heaters Drew Patching Deck Plates Karl and Emmit cutting out parts Emmet cutting out the new reel hub

Dust and Disarray

Monday, April 13th, 2009

Getting new carpet is just like moving. Your world goes into boxes and chaos ensues. It didn’t help that the old carpet came out over a week before the new went in. Workman have been in the shop all week, fixing the roll up doors in the bays, putting in a hot water heater and repairing a whole list of things. Are you sitting down? They’re even coming in next week to fix the air conditioning.
I agreed to sign the new building lease only when all the promised maintenance and upgrades had been done. I think the building owner really needed us to stay. Sometimes a recession has its upside.

Playing with Plasma

Monday, April 13th, 2009

We’re been experimenting with different antenna configurations for the small test quad engine.  It’s been waaay too much fun making gas glow. We were patterning our initial experiments after some recent big university experiments. It wasn’t working out to well so we started tweaking and adjusting. We now getting the same results at 35 watts that they were getting at 300.