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Telecon tomorrow (Thursday) @ 5 pm Eastern time

Hi all,

Telecon tomorrow (Oct. 10 in North America, Oct. 11 in Australia) at the regular time: 5 pm Eastern (2 pm Pacific, 11 am Hawaii, 23.00 European, 7 am Eastern Australia). Updates on telemetry, on new equipment received from Thorlabs, on testing of the windowless Hamamatsu photodiodes with the new amplifier boards, on drop testing using the drop-testing pole status, 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 - 2019-10-10

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 two hours from now:

The new Thorlabs equipment (12 extra standard FDS-100 photodiodes [with windows; and we will see if we can cleanly take a couple of the windows off with our WR1 can opener that we got this summer], three new laser diodes [a 980 nm wavelength L980P200, an 840 nm wavelength L840P200, and an extra 660 nm L660P120 laser diode], and some new laser diode driver ICs [MLD203P1, MLD203P2, MLD203CLN, MLD203P1E, and MLD203CLNE])

is now back here in Victoria and handed over to student Peter Ogilvie. He'll first be using the new laser diodes and drivers to do more tests of the windowless Hamamatsu S2386-8K photodiodes (which looked good in the 660 nm laser test Peter did a couple weeks ago:

but have yet to be tested at 405 nm, or in the near-infrared -- he'll do those latter tests asap). He'll also do more tests of FDS-100 photodiodes, with windows both on as usual, and removed with our WR1 can opener. The new Hamamatsu S12698-01 photodiodes have now been ordered from Hamamatsu, and will arrive in Victoria at xmastime. I also ordered a replacement SPOT Trace to replace our one (device name "ExParte") that is lost in the New Brunswick woods (fortunately I have the product replacement plan so getting a replacement only cost $30 USD). We additionally still have our original SPOT Trace (device name "ALTAIR") here in Victoria.

I'll resume drop testing in my backyard with the dummy ALTAIR payload after this telecon today (I returned to Victoria a week ago, but it has been raining this past week, so today is the first good day for outdoor drop testing). I'll work on (and hopefully get in the next few weeks) a repeatable parafoil-folding recipe for assuring that the parafoil opens promptly following release.

I have frustratingly not yet received a response from Radiometrix regarding the problem with their SHX1-144 144 MHz transceiver modules that we reported to them on Sept. 13 -- the BUSY signal from these boards always reads 4 volts, no matter whether the board is actually BUSY or not -- despite having followed up with a second e-mail to Radiometrix on Sept. 25, then called them this past week (their sales rep said on the phone that she had talked to Radiometrix tech support about it, and they are working on it, but are just very busy). Hopefully I'll hear back from them as soon as possible if that problem with their modules is fixable (e.g., with new EEPROM code), or not. Since I'm slightly disappointed that I haven't gotten any response in a month from Radiometrix (not even an e-mail reply saying "we're working on it," or something of that nature) on this issue with their modules, I've just requested quotes for competing/alternative 144 MHz VHF radio modem modules from Airlinx (their product number DGRV1TAS, http://www.airlinx.com/products.cfm/product/2-146-425.htm ) and from Raveon (their product RV-M8S, https://www.raveon.com/m8s-oem-data-radio-modem/ ), but I haven't yet received those quotations from either of those two companies. Hopefully Radiometrix will just get back to me regarding the above issue with their modules soon, so we don't have to replace our SHX1-144's with other devices (which obviously would require the time- and money-consuming process of purchasing and testing those alternative 144 MHz radio modem modules).

I'm also working with a brand-new undergraduate student 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, the latter together with Australian colleague partners.

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

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


-- jalbert - 2019-10-10

Title Telecon tomorrow (Thursday) @ 5 pm Eastern time
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