Archive for February, 2010

PongSat Flight Opportunity

Friday, February 26th, 2010

Away 44, 45 and 46 will be carrying PongSats aloft on April 24th 2010.

If you want to be on board send me an email with your contact info and how many PongSats you want to fly. I’ll send you ID numbers to write on your PongSats. You will need to send your PongSats to us at least a week before the flight. Important Note: Spring missions often get delayed for weather. Our rain alternate date is May 8th.

Away 44 and 45 missions are single balloon flights to 100,000 feet.  Away 46 is set to go higher, around 120,000 feet. Space is limited on Away 46 to five PongSats so let me know early if you want on board that one. There is plenty of space on 44 and 45 for lots of PongSats. Everyone is welcome to fly.


Mock Up in One Minute

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Air Beams for Jellyfish

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Our new Jellyfish balloon uses inflated struts.  They don’t have an outer shell so there not true air beams.  However, they are beams and full of air. Last night we tested the maximum pressure the unsupported tubes could  take. The answer ended up being very complicated.  The beam held fine at 1.1 psi then bubbled,  stretched and burst as the pressure dropped down to 0.7 psi. We retested varying the pressure between  0.5 and 0.7  for 30 minutes, (est. first flight duration). It held just fine showing no stain.  The beam need to hold 0.4 for the structural needs of the balloon. In flight the pressure will be monitored and controlled and now we know to keep the max pressure at or below 0.7 psi. Even a brief spike at higher pressure creates failures in the plastic matrix. Once that happens the beam is toast even at much lower pressures.

jellybeam1 jellybeam2

jellybeam3 jellybeam4

300 Watts

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

Today we drove the plasma side of the “desktop” quad engine to 300 watt. No components melted, nothing caught on fire, and it even generated plasma.  Points ahead!

We won’t fire the hybrid side of the engine until we’re out in a remote area. There is still a lot of plumbing to be built first though.

Altimeter for the Pup

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

We got an altimeter for the Sky Pup. I may be a wimp, but I can’t fly without one.  The Pup has a GPS on board however the GPS response rate for altitude is a little slow. We’re using a MicroTim Digital altimeter. It’s a very nice instrument and fairly low cost.


Pics from the Past

Monday, February 8th, 2010

Here’s a shot from up top. This is an on board view from our 2004 Away 25 mission.


You can see a whole pile of PongSats going up in the 2006 Away 30 mission.


Handles and More Sewing

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

Saturday the team really got some work done. First we cut out handles and mounted them on the crew module mockup. This allows us to easily lift it on and off of the interior. Before putting it over the chair assemble they had to do a fair bit of rearranging of the shop.

We bumped to telemetry system work to next week, but did get three more balloon bag panels sew together, the popper/propeller circurt further along and the two more test antennas for the quad engine soldered together.

Mounting Handles Trimming Hatch Frame

Mockup Couchs mockup_inside1

trimming_hatch inside_people


Today’s ToDo

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

Here’s the list for today’s build session:

-Mount handles on crew module mockup, (six handles mounted on the exterior so we can lift the thing).
-Assemble the propeller popper, (upgraded backup balloon separation circuit use the Parallax Propeller chip).
-Join launch bag panels, (each of the 28 foot panels need to be sewn to each other).
-Assemble 3 backup trackers, (we’re rebuilding all of out backup tracking telemetry systems).

Shell Complete

Friday, February 5th, 2010

The last of the inner lining went on last night. The shell is complete.  Now the work of figuring out where all the equipment goes begins. The mock up has already given us one good feedback on the design. The hatch needs to be six inches higher on the wall.

JPA at Yelp

Friday, February 5th, 2010

JPA rockets make an appearance at the Yelpbot Odyssey 2010.

The both the fiberglass prototype ML rocket and the carbon ML block 3 rocket partied into the night with robots and other Yelpers.


Shell Nearly Complete

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

We’ve been working on the inner skin for the last two days. It’s 75% done. Today we should be able to get the last of it on. That will let the shell assemble have a least a full day to dry before Saturday. We plan to spend about two months playing with the configuration. Once we’ve decided the size is right we’ll start construction of a 1/2 scale model for pressure testing.

The Disco Room

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

The “lid” and outer skin went on to the crew module mock up Saturday. We experimented with several adhesive combinations on test segments and on the walls themselves. The paper covering is really stffening up the walls and adding to the strength, but they are coming out pretty wrinkly.

We welcomed our new intern Ethan on Saturday. I was only away for 30 minutes. I was in my office with Ethan and his teacher doing paperwork. I knew I shouldn’t have left them alone with the crew module. When I got back it was too late. Our crew module was no more, replaced by….. The Disco Room. sigh….

mockup_lid mockup_inside


The Disco Room