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Telecon the day after tomorrow (Thursday) @ 5 pm Eastern time

Hi all,

Telecon on the day after tomorrow (June 11 in North America, June 12 in Australia) at the regular time: 5 pm Eastern (2 pm Pacific, 11 am Hawaii, 23.00 European, 7 am Eastern Australia). Sending this reminder today rather than tomorrow, as tomorrow is the academic Strike for Black Lives (https://www.particlesforjustice.org/strike-details) to focus on the need for equality and fairness for Black academics and the Black community as a whole, in addition of course to the need for fairness for Indigenous peoples and the several other communities that are marginalized, victimized, and unfairly treated within academia and elsewhere worldwide.

I'll send a progress report before the telecon on Thursday. Briefly we're presently updating AIFCOMSS (https://github.com/ProjectALTAIR/AIFCOMSSwithCUPredictorTest) to work with Python 3 (specifically the current latest, 3.8.3), rather than the ancient 2.7 that it presently requires (and which is incompatible with many other things on both my and other people's computers, thus necessitating this update). Engineering students Josh Gage and Evan Moore have 3-D printed some PLA plastic integrating spheres for testing of component fitting for their new design (prior to making real integrating spheres with their new design out of aluminum), and are also presently testing out some new laser diodes and photodiodes. We're currently still waiting on CSA to send UVic the FAST grant forms, so no news on that quite yet. Radiometrix is also still updating and testing our SHX1 144 MHz transceiver modules; and we have some more testing of the new Raveon M8S data modems in the lab, and new Hamamatsu and Thorlabs photodiodes here in Victoria and ready to be tested. 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.

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 on Thursday, thanks!!!

-- jalbert - 2020-06-11

Hi all,

Apologies for the delay! -- here's the update on ALTAIR balloon work, and a reminder of the telecon in an hour from now:

In the quest to implement the actual station-keeping algorithm for AIFCOMSS, we need to update the version of Python it uses from the ancient v. 2.7 (which is incompatible with many other things on my and other people's computers, and will soon cease to be supported) to Python 3 (the most recent version being 3.8.3). The main issue with this is that the flight path prediction uses very old versions of the numpy and statsd-client Python libraries, which only work with Python 2.7. Undergraduate students Dhwani Sutaiya, Spencer Plovie, and Helio Huet are working with me on updating code to work with Python 3, and then we'll continue with the implementation of an actual station-keeping algorithm in AIFCOMSS.

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 few weeks 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 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.

Once we get those 144 MHz transceivers settled and back into the ALTAIR gondola, we'll do some outdoor drop testing of the actual gondola. (BTW, we've done all the outdoor drop tests I can think of doing with the dummy gondola.)

I received an e-mail from CSA yesterday saying that the FAST grant forms will be sent to UVic for signature by the end of next week, so that is excellent news! (Per their message, the start of the funded project will occur after all forms are signed.)

Engineering students Josh Gage and Evan Moore found that the "wings" that Josh had found in the laser diode light output distributions:

were due to how the diode was mounted in the heat sink. When the diode is mounted properly and carefully, the wings go away.

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 Moore to try out -- he's taking a few weeks to ramp up, and will produce some linearity, etc., plots from them soon.

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 one hour from now (see below for Skype instructions).

Cheers, talk in an hour(!) from now -- thanks all!


-- jalbert - 2020-06-11

Title Telecon the day after tomorrow (Thursday) @ 5 pm Eastern time
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