Sweet! I just got a couple of images to save via typing command-lines in on the elphel shell. Here's the first:
Oops, I wasn't aiming the camera or anything. Here's try #2:
The processor is an Atmel AT91SAM7S256 on an Olimex development board, courtesy SparkFun Electronics. The sensor stack includes a MicroMag3 3-axis magnetometer, a 5-DOF inertial sensor, and an additional rate gyro. We gratefully acknowledge SparkFun's contribution to this project.
Many many thanks to the folks over at Elphel, Inc. for sending us a camera. We got it last week, and after some careful wiring (we were worried about supplying 12 volts to data lines, though apparently our worries were mostly superfluous, as they had accounted for that), we got it working last Sunday! Yay!
Images from the initial testing of the camera can be seen here. More will be added as I progress.
Much more to do, and alas I'm a bit behind, but I plan to work on this for a good number of hours over the next couple days, and I expect we'll have images from space within a few days time!
OK, back to work. :-)
We are go for launch on Saturday morning, 5/10/2008 around 9am PST!
We will post information about the launch, and provide links so you can watch the location from the comfort of your own home.
Here is the short summary of our plan:
- Launch an autonomous glider which has been lifted by a huge balloon to over 90,000 feet. If it goes as planned, the software will glide the glider back to us. Codename: Habit.
- Launch a ballloon with scientific instrumentation onboard. Codename: Rehab.
There are also rumors of a 3rd balloon launch. Watch this spot for more information. Wish us luck.
We took advantage of fantastic weather today to get out to the flying field and test out our new plane. We loaded it up with our set of IMU sensors, a data logger, and the APRS transmitter, and set out to get some sample data.
The glider I've been flying with, a Multiplex Easy Glider, is a little brother to our flight glider, a Multiplex Cularis. With a wingspan of 71 inches, and an all-up weight of 35 ounces, it's a cinch to fly, and fun to tootle around the field with.
I took a few flights with the Easy Glider to get warmed up, getting good airtime and smooth landings.
Then came the moment of truth. We powered up the electronics in the HABIT glider, and I walked out to the field. I waited for the go-ahead from the ground crew, and prepared to launch.
I powered up the throttle, gave her a good toss, and she was off, like a rocket!
Compared to my Easy Glider, the brushless motor that came with the Cularis was really strong, and pulled hard. The plane quickly gained altitude.
I took it around on a couple of turns, and then brought it around for a landing approach. The plane was nowhere near as stable as the Easy Glider, and I had to fight to keep it in line. It stalled in a too-sharp turn, and took a nose dive into the ground. We ran over to the plane, to find that the entire nose section holding the motor had broken off.
We carted the broken craft back to the vehicles, and I got to work gluing the nose back on.
While we waited for the glue to set, I took another go around with the Easy Glider, which lived up to it's name and came around well.
With the Cularis patched and reassembled, I headed back out to the field. I got a good launch, and man did the motor pull hard. So hard that the plane pulled a loop-the-loop. After which it took another dive into the bushes. No damage this time, just a popped off wing. I plugged it back in, walked back onto the field, and gave it another toss. This time, it immediately caught the wind, and took another nose dive, doing even more damage to the front end.
At this point, we clearly needed a new fuselage for the plane, so we decided to pack it in. I made everyone wait around for one more flight with the Easy Glider. No problems there, good fly time, beautiful landing.
We were curious if we had simply overloaded the Cularis, so we decided to test the Easy Glider's handling with extra weight. Searching around, my Leatherman tool was a good fit, and plenty heavy, so I shoved it in, aimed for a good center of gravity, and took out to the field for one last flight. My first throw was a little weak, but on the second throw I caught the wind right, and took off around the field. The climb rate was a little slow, but the plane actually seemed to handle better with the extra weight.
We packed up the gear and headed off to get some food, collect our thoughts, and process data.
I'm disappointed at the damage to the plane, and surprised at how much harder the larger model is to fly, but we should still be good to launch, if we can get Multiplex to send us a replacement airframe in time. Hopefully the software will have a better time at it than me. :)