We had some great images from this flight. The cloud cover created some interesting details.
Recovery went well. A ground landing. The SPOT satellite tracker worked beyond expectations and will be used on all future flights. For some reason the aprs tracker stopped sending altitude data above 78k feet. The flight reached an estimated 87,000 ft.
Students cut their PongSats in preparation for their launch. This is followed by the students around the inflated balloon. Then the students prep for launch.
Today we started our elementary workshop. 9 students signed up for an intensive high altitude ballooning experience. Monday will be the Ideal Gas Law, Tuesday will be the Atmosphere, Wednesday Ham Radios, Thursday the launch, and Friday data analysis and presentation of results. Below a student presents her experimental proposal.
Currently on the solar eclipse team, SE2017 - The Sunspots, we are working on post flight analysis for NSE-012 and the photometers. The photometers seem to be overloaded when in full sun so we are working on developing shading schemes. the circuit diagram is below. We're using a op amp to boost the small current from the LEDto a voltage that we can read. We've yet to see what LED types can be used for varying frequencies. I would like to get readings at 4 different frequencies. We're taking our lead from Forrest M. Mimms designs. We want to find tune and calibrate the photometers tomorrow.
Today we conducted our post flight review. Ari, Katie, and Milo discussed what went well and what could be improved upon for the launch. Below is a pic of the board ideas. Overall impressions were that there was a lot to work on but the big metric for success, everybody was safe and payload recovered, were met.
Saturday we have a great learning launch. Ari, Milo, and Katie did a great job of learning how to conduct a launch and recover for a high altitude balloon. We launched near LaCrosse, WA. We got on site around 10:45 a.m. and began launch activities. As this was a learning launch I set a slow pace so that the students could have a chance to absorb the volume of information being thrown at them. There was a problem with the radio system Katie was working to develop. There fore there was a delay in launch. There was a healthy wind, around 20 to 30 mph, that made determining the lift difficult. We estimated our lift at launch was 15 lbs. More that we wanted by about 7 lbs. We did use the balloon containment sheet which worked well but made lift difficult to determine. The flight followed the prediction very closely.
Katie was totally stoked! She finally got her data transmission system to transmit some data. This was a very exciting. There's also some pics of other prelaunch activities. Milo is putting together the structure. Ari is working on the GPS system.
Ari, when you try to post the elements window pops up on the left. Drag a text box over and type items in it. To post the video clip drag the media box, located towards the bottom of the elements, over and then add the file you want to post. See it that works. Mr. B. Oh, and to submit the post click in the upper right corner.
Hi Ari, Kattie, and Mete. Post a short post here to verify you're signed in and good to go.
2 freshmen students were chosen to initiate work on the solar eclipse launch SCADA (System Control And Data Acquisition) device. They were chosen because they showed high levels of motivation and ability. Their summer task was to acquaint themselves with Parallax Basic Stamps, obtain a HAM radio licence, and work towards getting a radio to link with a Basic Stamp via a radio modem. A daunting task.
This years balloon launch was textbook perfect. The launch conditions were such that we could hold the last component in the train and simply release it upon countdown. The flight followed prediction extremely well. Landing occurred only a few miles from the predicted landing spot. The 3 primary experiment were successful as well. The first experiment was to determine if a passive directional control of the experimental module was possible. The flight video demonstrated that both the rotational speed and the angle of rotation was smaller than previous flights. This is encouraging and we have plans to add an active control for the next flight. The second experiment concerned sound at altitude and the student presented his results at the UI engineering expo. Lastly, the PongSat were a hit with the elementary students and they learned a lot about the scientific method.
This year two students have signed up for dual enrollment with Near Space Engineering. One student will be investigating if it is possible to design the experiment module in such a way as to have it weather cock with the winds. While the winds are variable there should be pockets of relative consistency which would yield a constant pointing orientation. This project is in anticipation of needing a relatively stable orientation for the solar eclipse launch. The second project is about acoustics. I'm not sure of the details as of yet. In addition we will be carrying the 4th grade pongsats again this year.
In Aug of 2017 there will be a total solar eclipse that will transect the United States from Oregon across to South Carolina. In the works is a joint effort between each state's NASA Space Consortium's in which a high altitude balloon from each consortium will carry aloft a video camera that will have a live video feed to a NASA website so a person could see the eclipse live as it crosses the U.S.. I have been selected as the lead for the Idaho Consortium. It will be a fun activity and I look forward to involving my students in the endeavor. More to come.
After a wait the weather finally cooperated, albeit with a healthy dose of wind. Which was good in that the conditions were ideal for testing our newly made balloon containment system. BCS. There were a couple of new things this year which worked out well. First, we launched on a Friday which meant that it was a class trip as opposed to being optional. This means there were all hands on deck for the launch activities. A big plus. Secondly, we took a group of 4th graders to launch pongsats. They had a lot of fun and enjoyed the launch. Them accompanying us had an alternative motive. It was a pilot for conducting a district wide 4th grade launch. The 4th grade teacher, Kathryn Bonzo, and I are sorting out details of what worked and what didn't to make a future launch even more successful. Thirdly, we conducted a proof of concept for the BCS. Winds over 5 or 6 miles per hour made wrangling the balloon difficult. The idea is simple. A large piece of fabric to place over the balloon while being inflated and while waiting for the count down. Muslin was used to make a 5 by 7 yard fabric tarp. This material was chosen to reduce the chance of a static charge developing on the balloon. Eyelets were made at each corner and the midway points between the corners. These were tied to milk jugs filled with water. Some eyelets tore out and the jugs were not massive enough. Lessons learned. BUT the idea worked perfect. So a redesign is due for next year. The launch went perfectly and the balloon reached around 64k ft and was cut down by the timer cut down system. Future launches will have a longer time. >90 mins. Recovery happened in about 30 minutes after the module landed. Mostly due to stopping for a bathroom break.
The weather forecast for May 16th's launch is looking good as of today. Sunny with winds around 4 mph. High of 77 degrees F. I ran a predict today and the jet stream is blowing straight east. Looks like Washtucna will be our launch site. Below is the predict.
Well, the weather once again is not cooperating. So we must move the launch back again. This time we will move it enough to hopefully totally bypass the weather. So the new launch date is May 16th. Fingers crossed. :)
This Friday's launch, 4/18, had to be pushed back to Friday, 4/25, due to weather. There is a 50% chance of rain and major cloud cover. Hopefully the weather will cooperate next week.
The parts for the EMF detector arrived today. I'll get them to the student for the circuit build and testing.