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Telecon tomorrow (Thursday) @ 5 pm Eastern time

Hi all,

Telecon tomorrow (Sep. 12 in North America, Sep. 13 in Australia) at the regular time: 5 pm Eastern (2 pm Pacific, 11 am Hawaii, 23.00 European, 7 am Eastern Australia). More updates on testing of the photodiodes with the new amplifier boards, on telemetry, on the drop-testing pole status (we're allowed to raise it again!), and also some more progress on AIFCOMSS station-keeping prediction/simulation software. More discussion items for tomorrow's telecon include: flight/telescope plans and tests; construction and lab tests of the new gondola/payload; light sources and light source modelling; goniometric and pre- and post-flight calibration; propulsion work; nanosat bus and payload solid models; computing / website / TWiki forums and e-mails; grant applications; and recap of schedules. I'll send an update with some recent photos, etc, before the telecon tomorrow.

Here's how to connect:

1) Open Skype on your computer (note that of course, you should first install Skype, http://www.skype.com, on your machine if you haven't already).

2) In the "Contacts" menu, add me ( jalbertuvic ) as a contact, if you haven't already.

3) Just wait for me to Skype-call you at the usual time (5 pm Eastern, 2 pm Pacific, etc).

4) If there is any trouble, or if you don't get a Skype-call for some reason and would like to join, please just send me an e-mail (jalbert@uvicNOSPAMPLEASE.ca).

Here's the tentative agenda:

I) Flight & telescope plans, and upcoming tests

II) Construction, drop tests, and other tests of the new gondola and payload

III) Diffused light source and its modelling, pre- and post-flight calibration, and goniometric calibrations

IV) Solid modelling

V) Computing/website, including recent flight control and simulation progress

VI) Grant applications


Talk to you all tomorrow, thanks!!!


-- jalbert - 2019-09-11

Hi all!

Apologies for the delay! -- here's a quick update on ALTAIR balloon work over the past 2 weeks, minutes of the meeting 2 weeks ago (attendees Arnold Gaertner [NRC] and me), and a reminder of the telecon in six hours from now:

First, some excellent news on the drop-testing pole: I can now raise it in order to do drop testing again, since Saanich did not reply negatively to my (lawyer-approved) notification to the municipality. I thus raised the pole (just to mow my lawn) on Sept. 4, however on Sept. 7 I flew to CERN for a workshop (where I still am) and I won't be back to Victoria until Sept. 28, so I'll resume drop testing with the dummy payload at the very end of this month (firstly, in order to try to get a repeatable recipe for assuring that the parafoil opens promptly following release).

Students Peter Ogilvie and Zejia Xu will do an initial linearity test on our windowless Hamamatsu S2386-8K photodiodes either today or tomorrow (they have been very busy). The class 100 laminar flow clean hood arrived yesterday and is now being run, and should reach clean status by tomorrow. We will of course keep the box of S2386-8K photodiodes in the hood, so that when we need to open the box it is in a clean area -- however Peter's setup for photodiode testing does not fit in the hood, so the one windowless S2386-8K photodiode that we test will just be marked as no longer clean following the test (and we will get microscope images of it before and after, in order to try to get some idea of the rate of dust accumulation on its photosensitive surface when it is outside a clean area). We've now gotten a quote from Hamamatsu on S12698-01 photodiodes (not windowless, but with special UV glass and hermetically sealed -- that's what they sell them as, they weren't willing to offer them windowless), and I'll order some of those tomorrow or early next week.

I found what seems to be the main problem with the SHX1-144 144 MHz transceiver boards (and this has now been confirmed by Andrew Macdonald in the electronics shop): the BUSY signal from these boards always reads 4 volts, either when the board is actually BUSY or not. (Interestingly, the 4V is not the 5V TTL used by the rest of the board -- but the main problem is that it never changes.) We're corresponding with Radiometrix in order to figure out why this is the case, and if it is fixable (e.g., with new EEPROM code). If it is not fixable, we can work around it, but of course it would be much better if it is fixable. We'll then resume integrating the SHX with the other (DNT900 and RFM23BP) telemetry.

I'm also working with student Zejia Xu on the actual station-keeping algorithm for AIFCOMSS. Presently the "station keeping" code in AIFCOMSS just turns on the propellers in the simulation at full power, and propels the gondola in a single direction until the battery runs out (it's presently most certainly not actual "station keeping"). I added some hooks for adding actual station keeping algorithms into the code, and we're developing the algorithms and will implement them.

The survey-tripod-mounted device to cross-check yaw-pitch-roll information from the gondola (e.g., on days before/after flights) is also constructed now, thanks to Mark Lenckowski -- photo at:

and all that remains to be done is to finish the small fitting between the device and the bottom of the payload. The purchased hardware in it includes both the survey tripod (http://www.cpotools.com/cst-berger-60-alwi20-o-aluminum-tripod-with-quick-release--orange-/cstn60-alwi20-o,default,pd.html), two adjustable angle mounts (http://www.thorlabs.com/thorproduct.cfm?partnumber=AP180), and a rotation mount (https://www.thorlabs.com/thorproduct.cfm?partnumber=RP01). That last fitting to attach (temporarily, pre- or post-flight) the upper adjustable angle mount to the payload landing gear has been started and will be completed here in the next couple weeks.

We're currently revising the draft initial contractual agreement from our colleagues at Globalstar Canada regarding 2 initial SPOT Trace devices (and their service plans) for the educational side-project for the upcoming NATO SPS application, in which classrooms in elementary and high schools could launch company-donated SPOT Traces using party balloons (or a more environmentally-friendly version thereof), and track them to learn more about winds at different levels in Earth's atmosphere.

Houman will send Cordell and/or us updated sections of his master's thesis soon -- that information will be extremely useful to us going forward. Also, Susana and Nathan, it would be very helpful for us all to get the JHU students' final writeup when you have a chance.

Next grant applications will be a new CSA FAST (due Oct. 18) and a NATO "Science for Peace and Security" application, together with Australian colleague partners.

Our next telecon is in six hours from now (see below for Skype instructions).

Cheers, talk in six hours from now -- thanks all!


-- jalbert - 2019-09-12

Title Telecon tomorrow (Thursday) @ 5 pm Eastern time
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