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Telecon tomorrow (Thursday) @ 5 pm Eastern time

Hi all,

Telecon tomorrow (Nov. 7 in North America, Nov. 8 in Australia) at the regular time: 5 pm Eastern (2 pm Pacific, 11 am Hawaii, 23.00 European, 9 am Eastern Australia). Updates (and a new idea!) on drop testing, on telemetry, on more progress on AIFCOMSS station-keeping prediction/simulation software, and on testing of the windowless Hamamatsu photodiodes with the new amplifier boards and new equipment received from Thorlabs. More discussion items for tomorrow's telecon include: flight/telescope plans and tests; construction and lab tests of the new gondolas/payloads; 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 a progress report 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 - 2019-11-06

Hi all!

Apologies for the delay! -- here's a quick update on ALTAIR balloon work over the past 2 weeks, plus a reminder of the telecon in three hours from now:

I'm now set up for more backyard drop testing in order to get a repeatable parafoil-folding recipe for assuring that the parafoil opens promptly following release, and I had the following idea to modify the parafoil such that prompt parafoil opening isn't a -- difficult or impossible to reliably reproduce! -- matter of exact how the parafoil vents are positioned and fluffed-up when placed over the rigging, etc: by adding some nice lightweight, bendy, "unbreakable" removable fiberglass spars to the parafoil. The parafoil would be placed over the rigging as usual, and then the three fiberglass spars would be inserted by sliding through fabric "belt loops" that I'll sew on, and kept from sliding out by velcro "end stops" that I'll also quickly sew on. (We have three parafoils -- our "test parafoil" that I've always been using, plus two fresh ones, so if this idea doesn't work for any reason, I'll only have wrecked one of our three parafoils.) The best lightweight spar material would probably be something like this:


but, just in order to test the idea, I presently have lengths of the nylon rod that is used for the gondola structure (for the long spar) and some bamboo rods (for the two short spars), as shown in this photo:

The spars will be placed as shown in this photo (which also shows the fabric and velcro that I'll use for the belt loops and the end stops):

and, of course, there will be no spar on the side of the parafoil that has the vents. (So, only those 3 spars.) I plan to do the sewing this Saturday (which has a rainy forecast) and test it this Sunday (which has no rain forecast). Cross fingers that this will both work, and work very reliably.

As mentioned 2 weeks ago, the new 144 MHz RV-M8S radio modem boards from Raveon (https://www.raveon.com/m8s-oem-data-radio-modem) are ordered, and are now presently on their way from the factory outside San Diego, to New Hampshire. I'll pick them up over xmas, and then test them out first thing in the new year.

Student Peter Ogilvie is still working with 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]).

We also have a bit of good news on the grants front -- our New Frontiers for Research Fund letter of intent successfully passed initial review (~35% application success rate at that stage -- 335 out of 917 applications in Canada have passed that stage, so this initial success has some significance), and thus we have been invited to submit a full application. This full application is due on Dec. 10. There will also be about a 30% success rate at the next stage (~100 out of the 335 initially successful applications, Canada-wide, will be selected in this round). We'll be working on that application over the next weeks. Other applications, such as CSA FAST and NSERC, have been submitted and are under review (with results on those expected in March or April of 2020).

I'm also working with a 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 the NFRF application mentioned above (due Dec. 10) and a NATO "Science for Peace and Security" application, the latter together with Australian colleague partners.

Our next telecon is in 3 hours from now (see below for Skype instructions).

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


-- jalbert - 2019-11-07

Title Telecon tomorrow (Thursday) @ 5 pm Eastern time
Forum ForumGeneral
Topic attachments
I Attachment History Action Size Date Who Comment
JPEGjpg ALTAIRInterimSparsForParafoil.JPG r1 manage 3184.7 K 2019-11-07 - 03:32 JustinAlbert "Interim" spars for the ALTAIR test parafoil, laid out on top of the test parafoil
JPEGjpg ALTAIRParafoilWithSparsAndBeltLoopMaterial.JPG r1 manage 3666.2 K 2019-11-07 - 03:34 JustinAlbert "Interim" spars for the ALTAIR test parafoil laid in their future positions, and the "belt loop" material (that will hold the spars) laid on top of the test parafoil
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Topic revision: r3 - 2019-11-07 - JustinAlbert
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