Archive for the ‘High Altitude’ Category

Payload hull building!

Posted by AmyJ on 22 February 2009

JonM and I started construction on the payload hull tonight for AHAB3. We had a pretty easy job figuring out where to put everything, given that we only have one camera, a transmitter and some batteries.

The Package

The Package

Then we cut some pink foam to rough size – 3 8″ x 12″ pieces of 2″ foam and cut the interior hole to fit the guts into.

Moar AHAB3 guts

Moar AHAB3 guts

Now, we wait for the contact adhesive to dry on the three pieces to put it together.

Help us send some cameras into near space!

Posted by AmyJ on 17 December 2008

Hi everybody,

I’m so excited to be working on AHAB3. As the money handler, I just added a new button to the blog I’d love

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for you to push:

AHAB3 – Once more into the skies!

Posted by adamcecc on 16 December 2008

Inspired by the video Luke posted and watching the videos Bre made of the first AHAB projects, I decided HackerBot Labs needed another round of putting a payload into NEAR SPACE!

On Saturday December 13th at 8pm HackerBot Labs kicked off AHAB3 its 4th project related to near space exploitation. The AHAB3 project will focus on sending a single payload with multiple cameras into the skies.

highalt-generic-iconThe three main themes of the project are to keep things simple, testing testing testing, and to apply the hundreds if not thousands of lessons learned from the first three launches. We can’t control the stars and the winds, but we can eliminate a lot of the variables and increase our chances for a recovery.

I’ve taken on the role of manager/PHB for AHAB3. I’m supported by seven incredible leads and the dozens of others that will pitch in over the coming months. Without this army of

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awesome people AHAB3 would be nothing more than a daydream so thank you all in advance!

The seven leads will each be responsible for a different areas of the project. We’ve broken down the AHAB3 project as follows.

Payload – Amy
Electronics – Jon
Logistics – Naj
FAA – 3ric
Communications – David
Documentation – Beth
Recovery – Pierce

It’s going to be a lot of work, and as with any project at the HBL we’ll have a ton of fun along the way. All of our effort can be tracked right here at this blog so check back soon for photos, videos, and entries on our progress.

We set out to learn and have fun…

Posted by JonM on 14 May 2008

…and there was no shortage of either last weekend.

We’re as excited as ever about our science and autonomous flight goals, and continue to work to success. Thanks again to all of our sponsors and supporters.


Posted by JonM on 12 May 2008

Woke up with a start at 6 am. Up and out of the bed, eat breakfast, pack up, and head back out to base camp.

Like a well-oiled machine, we got camp setup, although the winds were twice as bad as yesterday!

We tore apart the non-functioning repeater, moving one transceiver to the ground ops station, and putting the other in my truck. This would give us much better distance communications in the field. The Internet link was relocated to a shallow rise on the other side of the road, where Verizon could hear us. We set the APRS ground station up with a three element Yagi, and relocated the balloon fill site further into the field, to get more wind shelter from the hill.

The wind was knocking down our shade shelters, so the soldering station was setup in the back of Chicken’s pickup. Cozy, but functional.

With the base camp reconfigured, we got the MOAR launch under way. Batteries were soldered to the transmitter, I assembled another cutdown device, and everything was tucked into the eggshell. With a bright, longer set of streamers, we waited for confirmation from the ground crew that our beacons were going out correctly. No dice on the first go: The GPS unit’s ground wire had broken loose. After fixing that, we still couldn’t get a 3D lock; without altitude information we couldn’t fly. We cut it open, and realized that the GPS was upside down; with the antenna resting on the Microtrak’s ground shield, it wasn’t getting any signal. We flipped it over, and promptly got 3D lock.

3ric got the final go-ahead from the FAA, so we cracked the valve on the helium cylinder, and filled the balloon. Even with 8 wranglers, it was all over the place, knocking people off their feet and popping off the fill tube. We persevered, however, and got the balloon filled and tied to the payload. I set the cutdown timer, this time for 210 minutes, and we let the balloon loose.

This time the wind took it straight east, rising about 400 feet per minute. We lost tracking again after a few minutes, and I was worried the cutdown timer fired prematurely. Adam and I loaded up and headed out to the field again. A few minutes later, we got word that tracking was picking up again, and it was headed steadily east.

Headed out on the open road, we loosely followed it through open farmland, getting position reports from the ground station, until we got out of range of our simplex radio communications. Fortunately, we were back in cell coverage, and were able to get continued position information from the base camp.

Thirty miles out, the base camp stopped picking up the MOAR beacons, and it still wasn’t getting picked up on the APRS digipeaters. Adam and I were about 50 miles from base camp when we decided to try finding a repeater with coverage. The AK2O repeater covers most of eastern Washington, and I had gotten permission from them last year to use it, but we couldn’t hit it with our handhelds, so I didn’t ask them again this year. However, with the 50 watt mobile unit we could hit it just fine, and the base camp could to. We were a little worried about offending the AK2O folks by taking up their repeater, but they seemed interested in what we were doing.

3ric’s latest predictions said MOAR was going to land in Idaho, about a hundred miles from our current position. With that much ambiguity, Adam and I decided to call it a wrap and head back to camp.

No less than two minutes after we turned around, we received a beacon from MOAR. It was at 85000 feet, and almost directly above us!

We turned around again, and headed off to the last position. There were only thirty minutes until the cutdown timer went off again, so we wanted to get more position reports before it dropped out of the sky. We drove around on all sorts of entertainingly named backroads (Bachelor Flats Road S), but didn’t get any more beacons. Shortly after 2pm, 10 minutes after the cutdown would have triggered, we called it a wrap and headed back towards camp.

Since it was getting late in the day, and the FAA was growing increasingly impatient with us, base camp decided not to go ahead with the REHAB launch, and packed everything up. We converged back in Coulee City, to eat at Grandpa Joe’s Cafe, which is run by the wife of the farmer whose land we used for our launch site.

They were very gracious and accommodating, seating nearly 20 rowdy hackers on Mother’s Day, and the food was fantastic after a long day’s work.

Properly sated, we began the return caravan to Seattle, during which there were several multicast jellybean transmissions. Packet loss was high, but acceptable.