Difference between revisions of "HSIS"

From Makers Local 256
Jump to: navigation, search
m (Full Vehicle Flight Hardware: Added camera specs)
(Links: Tracking the 4/10 launch.)
Line 416: Line 416:
* [http://the.narro.ws/mologogo/ Makers Local 256 Boost Mobile Phone Location]
* [http://the.narro.ws/mologogo/ Makers Local 256 Boost Mobile Phone Location]
* [http://garydion.com/projects/whereavr/ WhereAVR]
* [http://garydion.com/projects/whereavr/ WhereAVR
4/10/2010 Launch:
* UAH-1 / Payload: [http://www.findu.com/cgi-bin/find.cgi?call=uah-1&terra=4]
* Ethan: [http://www.findu.com/cgi-bin/find.cgi?call=k8gnm&terra=4]

Revision as of 12:13, 10 April 2010

Preparing for First Test Flight of Payload
Born On:
12:49, 15 February 2010 (CST)
Last Updated:
12:13, 10 April 2010 (CDT)


This page is for the ML256 members who are participating in the Hackerspaces In Space (HSIS) competition. We have a Mailing List!


  • April 2, 2010, 6pm - 8pm: HSIS Presentation at end of 2600 Meeting at Stanelio's Sub Villa on Jordan Lane
  • April 5, 2010, 8pm: HSIS Build Session & Flight Readiness Review & Preparations.
  • April 9, 2010, 7pm: Preparations for flight.
  • April 10, 2010, 9am: UAH Balloon Launch from back parking lot of the NSSTC building on Lakeside Drive across from UAH campus. Arrive at 8am to prepare. Sign up on Launch Day Roster if you want to attend.
  • April 11, 2010: Alternative launch date at Bill Brown's farm 5 miles east of Hartselle, AL. Sign up on Launch Day Roster if you want to attend.
  • June 1, 2010: Official Contest Launch Window Opens
  • August 31, 2010: Official Contest Launch Window Closes
  • September 7, 2010: Deadline to Submit Results of Official Launch
  • September 30, 2010: Announcement of Winners

Current Vehicle & Flight Specifications

Full Vehicle Flight Hardware

Item Weight Cost to Team Market Cost Purpose
Plastic Bubble Wrap 2 ounces Free  ? Thermal Control
Ziplock Plastic Bag 1 ounce Free  ? Waterproofing
2"x2"x4" Styrofoam Block 2 ounces Free  ? Water Floatation
Canon SD1000 (7.1 Megapixels) Digital Camera 5.1 ounces $55.00  ? Photography
Boost Mobile Motorola i455 Phone & Service Subscription 4.35 ounces $50.00 for phone, $20 for 3 months of service.  ? GPS Tracking
Supplemental Battery Pack (4 AA batteries)  ?  ?  ? Additional Power for GPS Tracking
Radio Chirper  ?  ?  ? Radio Beacon Tracking
Audio Beeper  ?  ?  ? Secondary Tracking
Flashing Lights  ?  ?  ? Secondary Tracking
Battery Pack  ?  ?  ? Power for Radio Beacon & Secondary Tracking
International Orange Streamer 2 ounces Free  ? Secondary Tracking
2 24"x24" Garbage Bag Parachutes 4 ounces Free  ? Recovery
NovaLynx 800g Latex Weather Balloon 28.22 ounces $69.00 $69.00 Ascent
Helium  ?  ?  ? Ascent
Totals  ?  ?  ?
  • Configuration Notes:
    • Max Payload Weight: 2 lbs (limited by parachutes rated for 2 lbs; 0.5 lbs for foam cooler and parachutes, 0.7lbs lbs for camera, cell phone and charging cable, 0.25lbs for hot hands, 0.25 lbs for the supplemental battery pack leaves 0.3 lbs for secondary tracking systems)
    • The cooler and hot hands will be replaced with bubble wrap and solar thermal heating. This will lighten the payload weight.
    • The cell phone tracker and radio chirper beacon may be replaced with a WhereAVR

1st Flight of Full Vehicle Flight Plan

  • Launch Site: Parking Lot of J&M Cylinder Gases, 818 Highway 31 SW, Hartselle, AL (34.43, -86.94)
  • Predicted Maximum Altitude: 91,863 feet (28 km)
  • Predicted Lowest Temperature: -90.4 °F (-68 °C) between 53000 - 54000 feet
  • Predicted Time of Flight: 02:24:45
  • Predicted Landing Site: Gadsden, AL (34.04, -85.99)

Predicted Competition Score

  • Predicted Score: ?



1st Test Flight of Payload - 4/10 & 4/11 Flight Windows

Flight Readiness

Must Be Ready

Here's what needs to be ready for flight:

  • Payload
    • Photography
      • Cold Test In Freezer - Passed with an endurance of 2.5 hours for an uninsulated camera with flash and screen turned off manually and scripted to take a picture every 10 seconds. Camera battery was at 25% at the end of the test and the memory card was not full.
      • Photo Test - See Above, Passed.
    • Thermal Control
      • Cold Test - From Bill Brown; using the solar-heated clear bubble wrap method has been flown and proven. Therefore, it will be accepted and used this flight.
  • Recovery
    • Water Landing Readiness - In the event we land in water. Currently using a foam block and ziplock bag packed in with the bubble-wrapped payload. Will need to test this.
  • Lifting Hardware
    • Balloon - Ready for the 4/11 Window. Two, 800-g weather balloons in our posession. Will not be required for the 4/10 launch.


For the 4/10 launch, tracking, lifting and recovery hardware will be provided by UAH and Bill Brown. For the 4/11 launch, tracking and recovery hardware and lifting gas will be provided by Bill Brown. Therefore, our preparations for them on each respective window are optional.

  • Tracking
    • Primary Tracking Systems - Need to decide on tracking system.
      • Cell Phone Tracking - Has issues, needs replacement. No longer acceptable as a viable tracking system per Brimstone and Bill Brown.
        • Cold Test In Freezer - Test done uninsulated on phone trying to find a cell tower and recording and broadcasting GPS coordinates. Revealed a supplemental battery pack is required. First test had the battery last for 3 hours, need an hour margin for a 2.5-hour flight. Therefore batteries need to run for at least 3.5 hours.
      • WhereAVR - Under evaluation. Brimstone and BendersGame have been looking into it as a tracking device.
      • Ham Radio Beacon - Recommendation from Bill Brown as a tracking device that would fit our goal for a $150.00/vehicle budget.
    • Secondary Tracking Systems - need to develop secondary tracking systems; install a radio chirper, flashing lights and an audio beeper on payload, paint the payload and parachutes international orange and install an international orange streamer. Set up a ground-based antenna to find the chirper.
    • Tracking Test - Pending
  • Recovery
    • Parachutes
      • Cold Test - Not Yet Done. Cold soak them with dry ice (-109.3°F or -78.5°C) and see how well they perform in a weighted drop test. Dry ice is available at most grocery stores.
      • Drop Test - Passed. A test with a 2 lb test weight and a drop height of ~150' was successful.
  • Lifting Hardware
    • Lifting Gas - Ready. From J&M Cylinder in Hartselle, AL. Will be purchased and delivered on launch day at launch site.

Flight Equipment List

Must Need

  • Balloon - Only for 4/11 launch.
  • Lanyards to link payload and balloon
    • 50 lb SpiderWire Line
  • Recovery
    • International Orange Streamer
    • Foam Block
    • Labels with our logo, organization name, and 'who to call if found' contact info.
  • Payload
    • Photography
      • Digital Camera
      • Memory Card
      • Battery Chargers and/or fresh batteries for all the above
    • Thermal
      • Bubble Wrap
      • Clear sealable ziplock bag
      • Clear Packing Tape
  • Tools
    • Duct Tape
    • Foam-Safe CA
    • CA Zip Kicker
    • Exacto Knife
    • Scissors
    • Tarp
    • Broom or brush
    • Archoring weight (at least 20 lbs)
    • Measuring tape (the kind for tailoring)
    • Black Sharpie Marker
    • Rubber Gloves
  • Recovery
    • Binoculars
    • Handheld GPS (preferably one for geocaching, not an automotive GPS)
  • A Big Van


For the 4/10 launch, tracking, lifting and recovery hardware will be provided by UAH and Bill Brown. For the 4/11 launch, tracking and recovery hardware and lifting gas will be provided by Bill Brown. Therefore, our equipment for them on each respective window are optional.

  • Lifting Gas
  • Recovery
    • Parachutes
  • Payload
    • Tracking Systems
      • Cell Phone
      • Supplemental Battery Pack
      • Laptop w/ internet connection to tracking website (http://the.narro.ws/mologogo/).
      • Radio Chirper
      • Yagi Antenna & Reciever
      • Audio Beeper
      • Flashing Lights
      • Battery Chargers and/or fresh batteries for all the above

Pre-Flight Checklist & Flight Procedure for 4/10 and 4/11 Windows for Test Payload

  • In development, depends on what we can get ready for flight.

Pre-Flight Checklist & Flight Procedure for Full Vehicle

  1. Find a flat surface (preferably tarmac) and clear of debris.
  2. Lay down tarp and weight and flatten, remove debris (remove your shoes if you are going to stand on the tarp.
  3. Remove all sharp objects from the area the balloon will be inflated in and on your person.
  4. Lay down the uninflated balloon and attach it to the anchoring weight. HANDLE BALLOON ONLY WITH GLOVED HANDS
  5. Inflate balloon to specified diameter. For an 800g balloon, a 6.2 ft diameter comes to a 19.4 ft circumference.
  6. In the meanwhile, have someone predict the flight path based on current conditions and announce the landing site and it's GPS coordinates.
  7. In the meanwhile prepare the payload and ground equipment. Install fresh batteries into all systems; tracking; cell phone, radio chirper and audio beeper, photography; digital camera. Check charge on tracking laptop and radio tracking receiver. Check internet connectivity on laptop to tracking website (http://the.narro.ws/mologogo/).
  8. Turn on the systems and check functionality;
    1. Cell phone receiving and broadcasting GPS (all extraneous systems turned off to save power). Check tracking website (http://the.narro.ws/mologogo/) for data updates.
    2. Radio chirper broadcasting and tracking receiver receiving
    3. Audio beeper on and audible
    4. Lights flashing
    5. Camera on, check that it is taking pictures, screen and flash manually off.
    6. Prepare a label with our logo and 'who to call if found' contact info.
  9. Place all items in a sealed ziplock bag, deflate air and seal and tape shut. Ensure that camera lens, aperture of audio beeper and flashing lights are pressed to bag surface. This way, we can still take pictures and hear and see the payload after landing.
  10. Wrap the payload with the foam block in three layers of bubble wrap. The foam block is for flotation in a water landing. Seal and secure with packing tape. Cut a hole in the wrap so that camera lens and aperture of audio beeper have a line of sight to the outside. Once again, so we can still take pictures and hear the payload after landing. Write on the outside our logo and 'who to call if found' contact info.
  11. Wrap the payload with 50lb SpiderWire line, be sure to wrap around the both the width and the length of the payload and have a four-point bridal to a single suspension line. The camera aperture must be facing horizontally when payload is suspended. Secure lines with packing tape and knots with CA. Cure the CA with ZipKicker. Be sure not to cover the beeper and camera apertures.
  12. Attach streamer to bottom of payload and the suspension line to the parachute and balloon.
  13. The balloon ought to be inflated by now. Have two guys hold the balloon while the anchor weight is removed.
  14. Ensure no obstacles nearby and launch.
  15. Travel to predicted landing site. In transit, track with what instruments you have available.
  16. Recover balloon and payload. Shut it down and recover data.

Launch Roster

Please note what you will be doing on the ground crew (recovery, tracking, setup) or if you will be observing:

  • Ratmandu
  • Spacefelix - Setup and tracking
  • Your Name Here

Contest Information

HSIS/Contest Information


Available Materials

  • GNX-5 (rebranded as Guidepoint) GSM(cellphone)/GPS tracking device
    • Ratmando has the data sheet and pinouts of the current micro controller for this device. He's looking into replacing the micro controller with something like an ATMEGA644
  • Ratmandu may have a camera
    • Brimstone found out that if we take a 1M picture every 10 seconds, that it will fill 7.5GB in 2.5 hours
    • We may be able to get cameras that work with CHDK at Unclaimed Baggage for less than retail cost.
  • Omegix can volunteer his Android G1: HSIS/G1
    • Asking HSIS team to come up with $80 that I'll hold on to until we retrieve my phone (and keep if we don't).
      • The Little Buddy or the Boost Mobile solution would be cheaper, and just as easy Omegix 15:23, 11 March 2010 (CST)
  • Opticron found his Boost Mobile Phone. This combined with a camera taking automated pictures and our electrical needs are met.
  • Cameras
    • Bender
      • 8MP, $85. Confirmed that it works with the special firmware
      • 7.1MP, $55. Confirmed that it works with the special firmware
    • Omegix
      • 4MP, free. Will need CompactFlash memory if we want to find out about the firmware
  • 1 Foam Cooler
  • Several Hot Hands
  • 50 lb SpiderWire line.
  • Clear Packing Tape
  • Weather Balloons
    • Have two, 800 gram weather balloon from Nova Lynx. Gives a payload capacity of 2.5 lbs to 91,000 feet. Other smaller balloons are possible; a 500 gram balloon will bring a 2.5 lbs payload to 80,000 feet and a 300 gram will bring 1.3 lbs to 68,000 feet. Given that a contest rules state '[b]alloon camera must take pictures of the curvature of the earth with black space backdrop', and the minimum altitude to see the curvature of the Earth and the sky darken is 60,000 feet, the 300 gram balloon may barely be able to make a scoring flight.
    • Bill Brown gave the recommendation that there are margins in the balloon specs that could get us higher altitudes/heavier payloads (about 5%). We would have to handle the balloons carefully during preparation to keep these margins (gloved hands to keep off dirt, dust and oil, no excessive stress).
  • Lifting Gas - Helium
    • Preaux has a hookup at J&M cylinder in Decatur, AL:
      • "ok i got [hydrogren] for $19.85 for the fill and the bottle rental @ $6.50 for a month" ~preaux
      • "k-bottle i think will be TOO much, as it hold 489 cubic feet of hydrogen" ~preaux
      • For three flights of one 800 gram weather balloon each (inflated diameter of 6.2 feet and volume of 127.4 ft^3 from here), we will need 400 cubic feet of lifting gas (at 1 atm and 25 degrees centigrade, standard temperature and pressure). Preauxphoto said he will look into getting us enough gas. --Spacefelix 15:19, 24 March 2010 (CDT)
    • Safety Note:
      • For Helium, it is an inert gas, so no special safety precautions are required for its transport and storage.
      • For storing gas under pressure in cylinders, certain safety standards must be met:
        • Bottles must be chained to a wall to prevent them from falling and breaking.
        • Proper ventilation to prevent injury or death in case of leaks.
        • Proper signage to indicate the potential hazards.
        • More info at Iowa State Lab Safety.

List of Potential Materials - Source & Pricing

Depending on design, we may not need many of these materials:

  • Lifting Gas - Helium or Hydrogen
    • Can be had from Air Liquide or our local Airgas shop: 191 Cochran Road Southwest, Huntsville, AL 35824-1105, (256) 772-5404‎
      • Helium K-bottle: $100
      • Hydrogen K-bottle: $54
      • K-bottle: $0.47 / day, $75 / year, or $325 to own
    • Safety Note:
      • For Helium, it is an inert gas, so no special safety precautions are required for its transport and storage. Hydrogen is flammable, so it must meet storage and transport safety standards for Argon gas (per Preauxphoto on 3/24/10). Omegix has also stated the people at Airgas said that there are no special safety requirements for transporting a K-bottle of hydrogen. Also, no more antics from the fire hooligans if we store hydrogen gas in the shop.
      • See more safety notes above on storing pressurized gas in cylinders.
    • On-Site Hydrogen Electrolysis = Cheap Hydrogen
      • Using a Hoffman Electrolysis Apparatus, it is possible to collect and pressurize hydrogen gas into the balloon by placing it over the tube of the cathode side of the device. The only danger would be static shock or balloon leaks/punctures that would release the hydrogen. A cheap way to make lifting gas at a low cost and avoid storage concerns.
  • Parachute (rocket model type) and streamers
    • Alternative is to build one from duct tape and garbage bags. Since they are the same material (either PETE or LDPE plastic sheet) as model rocket parachutes, we ought to be fine. Using this parachute calculator, we will need a 1152 in^2 square parachute to descend at a speed of 11 mph (maximum safe speed). This is the area given by two parachutes side-by-side using two halves of a 30 gallon garbage bag. --Spacefelix 15:19, 24 March 2010 (CDT)
  • String / Fishing Line
    • Will need 10 to 20 lb kite string.
  • Digital Camera: 5MP, preferably a Sony so we can use CHDK
  • 1 x Memory Card, 8GB
  • 1 x Memory Card, Cheap (size not important)
  • Atmega Processor
  • Free-spinning joints (like found in keychains) & Bungee cords
    • Can replace by making lanyards and lines sufficiently long to allow the payload, parachute and balloon turn independently of each other and give some damping and springing action by the lines' natural elasticity.
  • GPS
  • Batteries (3 x D Cell)
  • Radar Reflector (Is this something we will make, or purchase?)
    • Can be a simple cardboard rose (two perpendicular discs) covered in aluminum foil.
    • Since balloon is light enough to not be under FAA Part 101 rules, we will not need a radar reflector.
  • Shock Cushion for Bottom of payload
    • Given we are only allowed a maximum descent speed of 11 mph, this eliminates the need for padding. Drop testing of the foam cooler loaded to 2 lbs on a concrete floor from 6 ft up with two 24"x24" parachutes did not damage it.
  • Radio or Cell Phone
  • Bubble Wrap
  • International Orange Streamer

Human Resources

Bill Brown

Bill Brown has expressed interest in helping the project. He can provide balloons, lifting gas, a launch site (on a mountaintop near Hartselle), a ground station and some lightweight tracking payloads. All of it is for his company: High Altitude Research Corp. He invented the Near Space BalloonSat back in 1987. It was the first to take photos and videos in Near Space.

  • Recommendations
    • Tracking
      • Use his lightweight GPS and Ham Radio tracking payloads instead of the GPS cell phone method. He can provide us effective tracking methods that will fit our $150.00/vehicle build and launch cost.
      • Cell phone method has a 3 in 4 failure rate (from MIT's Team Icarus) since it cuts out at high altitudes and is unable to connect to multiple towers when descending from a high-altitude flight.
      • Balloon Trajectory Forecasts is only for long endurance flights. For our short hops, we should use Near Space Ventures.
    • Hardware
      • Hot Hands do not work at high altitudes as there is not enough oxygen in the local atmosphere to maintain their thermochemical reaction. Instead use solar thermal by wrapping payload in three layers of clear bubble wrap and launching during daytime.
      • Bought balloons for $20.00 each on eBay. Has receipt to prove it for costing.
    • Photography
      • Use the Canon PowerShot series hacked with CHDK (Canon Hacker Development Kit) software.
      • Fly the Flip video cam.
  • Media


Our member who has access to cheap lifting gas.


  • Rohan has worked on BalloonSat before
  • Steve Boyer and Sarah Johnstone have worked on BalloonSats before as well
  • The members of the Madison Alabama Space Expansion Forum (MASEF) are interested in learning about and helping out with the project.

All Interested Peoples

  • Omegix (Acting as local POC/Project Manager)
  • Spacefelix (HSIS Event Board Liason, Backup POC, Assistant Project Manager)
  • BendersGame
  • Brimstone
  • Crashcart (requested no admin duties)
  • Ratmandu
  • Richard from MASEF
  • Rohan
  • Your name here


Launch Site & Flight Considerations

Launch Site

  • Looking at the local airspaces and to minimize the chances of us colliding with aircraft, the recommended launch site would be from New Market, AL (34.91, -86.43).
    • Looking at UAH Space Hardware Club's balloon launch, it seems this is not really that big of a concern since they launch directly under and fly through the C-Class airspace of Huntsville International Airport (HSV) and through E-class airspace of Redstone Army Airfield (HUA). I'm assuming this is because they do not fall under FAA Part 101 below or that they have a radio tracker.


  1. Carries a payload package that weighs more than four pounds and has a weight/size ratio of more than three ounces per square inch on any surface of the package, determined by dividing the total weight in ounces of the payload package by the area in square inches of its smallest surface;
  2. Carries a payload package that weighs more than six pounds;
  3. Carries a payload, of two or more packages, that weigh a total of more than 12 pounds; or
  4. Uses a rope or other device for suspension of the payload that requires an impact force of more than 50 pounds to separate the suspended payload from the balloon.

HAL5 Presentation Talking points

  • Introduce ourselves
  • Describe Makers Local 256
  • Describe the contest
    • Review rules
  • Describe how we're going to compete
    • If it's still at the shop, show that piece of paper we drew a diagram on
  • Rustle up support for the project:
    • People are welcome to join
    • Donations of money and gear are appreciated



Lessons Learned

  • Use your resources wisely, what is reported as a way to do it is not always the best way.
  • Spray paint has solvents that eat styrofoam, avoid applying directly to foam surfaces.


General Information

Balloon Trajectory



4/10/2010 Launch:

  • UAH-1 / Payload: [1]
  • Ethan: [2]