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Telecon tomorrow (Thursday) @ 5 pm Eastern time

Hi all,

Telecon tomorrow (May 28 in North America, May 29 in Australia) at the regular time: 5 pm Eastern (2 pm Pacific, 11 am Hawaii, 23.00 European, 7 am Eastern Australia). We have some fantastic news from CSA: our FAST proposal that we submitted this past October has been selected for funding. This is a 3-year grant, likely beginning on July 1 this year -- the forms still need to be signed, etc, but this is wonderful news, and I'm looking forward to providing news on progress.

We've also done a couple more drop tests this past week, to see if the dummy payload drops measurably more slowly with two parafoils rather than one. Radiometrix is presently updating and testing our SHX1 144 MHz transceiver modules; and engineering students Josh Gage and Evan Moore are presently testing out some new laser diodes and photodiodes. Also, some more testing of the new Raveon M8S data modems in the lab, new Hamamatsu and Thorlabs photodiodes are here in Victoria and ready to be tested, and 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 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 - 2020-05-28

Hi all,

Apologies for the delay! -- here are minutes of our last telecon on Apr. 2 (attendees Max Fagin [Made In Space Inc. -> Blue Origin] -- it was wonderful to see you again Max! -- and welcome to the Pacific Northwest! [Max, who of course has been with ALTAIR from the very beginning, is moving from Florida, where he has been an engineer with Made In Space Inc. for the past several years, to a new engineering position working on crewed spaceflight, for a return to the Moon, with Blue Origin right in the Seattle area! -- it will be wonderful to interface with you again, since you'll be in the vicinity!!!] plus me, plus apologies from Arnold Gaertner [NRC] with home computer still missing a microphone), an update on ALTAIR balloon work, and a reminder of the telecon in 20 minutes(!) from now:

As mentioned in the announcement yesterday, we have fantastic news from CSA. I'll say more about that in the report 2 weeks from now rather than today (just since the university hasn't signed any forms for it quite yet -- we just have the good news in an e-mail from CSA), but it is most certainly excellent news! Probably, the official start date for the funded project will be a month from now on July 1.

Ten days ago on May 18 I did the set of two drop tests to time a 2-parafoil drop test vs. a 1-parafoil (fully outfitted with all spars in both cases), to see if using 2 parafoils rather than 1 results in a measurably slower drop (and, thus, a measurably gentler landing). I didn't do the timing in any very precise way -- I just filmed the two drop tests and then afterwards played them at 1/4 speed to see if the time spent in the air was measurably different between the two drops. Here are the videos of those two drops:

1-parafoil drop:

2-parafoil drop:

I measure the time in the air being 2.0 seconds in both cases, i.e. no measurable difference (in this admittedly not very precise test). It is fairly clear that the exact amount of time spent in the air in any given drop is due to the details of the specific drop (e.g. how much wind there is at the moment and other not completely reproducible factors); but at least in the initial fall of ~7 meters, having 2 parafoils instead of 1 does not make a very major difference in how quickly the gondola takes to fall. We'll need to wait for a tethered ballon drop test (i.e. from significantly higher up than 10 meters) to see if there is a difference with longer drops. Certainly for now I think 1-parafoil will be the default.

Radiometrix has our four SHX1-144 transceiver modules (they arrived there on Apr. 6) and is doing their firmware update that solves the BUSY output issue. They'll then test them out and send them back to us. As mentioned a couple of weeks ago, they will likely need another month or so before they can fully attend to this, and thus we just need to wait for them, and greatly hope that the COVID-19 situation improves in the UK (and everywhere else of course too) soon.

We've also been doing more connecting up and testing out of our two new 144 MHz Raveon M8S data modem transceivers here in Victoria:

After successfully checking them out with Raveon's Windows-based Radio Manager software, I've started to connect the radios up to Arduino Megas -- in the next few weeks I'm planning to get them talking to one another, and then I'll check out their effective ranges.

Engineering student Josh Gage successfully tested out the laser diodes -- he found some quite unusual tails ("wings") in their light output distributions that he is now investigating:

We also have our 10 Hamamatsu S12698-01 photodiodes and 3 Thorlabs FDS100-NOCAN photodiodes (those Thorlabs ones have their windows removed) here in Victoria:

I've given them to Evan (new engineering student) to try out -- he's taking a few weeks to ramp up, and will produce some linearity, etc., plots from them soon.

I'm also working with another 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 application will be a NATO "Science for Peace and Security" application (together with Australian colleague partners).

Our next telecon is in 20 minutes from now (see below for Skype instructions).

Cheers, talk in 20 minutes(!) from now -- thanks all!


-- jalbert - 2020-05-28

Title Telecon tomorrow (Thursday) @ 5 pm Eastern time
Forum ForumGeneral
Topic attachments
I Attachment History Action Size Date Who Comment
Quicktime moviemov ALTAIRTimedDropTestWith1FullyOutfittedParafoil18May20.MOV r1 manage 3318.7 K 2020-05-28 - 20:36 JustinAlbert Timed drop test with one fully-outfitted parafoil on Monday, May 18, 2020
Quicktime moviemov ALTAIRTimedDropTestWith2FullyOutfittedParafoils18May20.MOV r1 manage 3825.3 K 2020-05-28 - 20:37 JustinAlbert Timed drop test with two fully-outfitted parafoils on Monday, May 18, 2020
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Topic revision: r2 - 2020-05-29 - JustinAlbert
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