Archive for the ‘High Altitude’ Category

Clipped wings

Posted by JonM on 8 May 2008

Since the time we started thinking about doing a glider launch, we have been concerned about regulatory restrictions related to autonomous aircraft. We’ve had an ongoing conversation with our local FAA field office (the same one we worked with last year when we did the AHAB launches), and they have repeatedly assured us, in writing, that we were OK to fly under FAR 101, the balloon flight regulations.

However, earlier this week we discovered that we weren’t talking to quite the right people in the FAA. With the explosion in interest in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs, think Predator Drone), the FAA has instituted a series of regulations restricting the operation of unpiloted aircraft in American airspace. The primary gating factor is that UAVs must have a Certificate of Airworthiness (COA). Getting one involves a process geared towards defense contractors and large corporations, and can take as long as a year to work through.

So, this means we can’t have a high altitude glider launch this weekend.

What we will do, however, is launch REHAB, our science payload, and MOAR, our attempt at the amateur high altitude record. We will also use a tethered balloon to raise our glider up to 400 feet, the limit for unrestricted “model aircraft”, and have it fly around autonomously. This is actually good, as it gives us plenty of time for shakedown, and sets us up for a good start to the COA process.

Tonight is one last night of frenetic building and hacking at the lab. Tomorrow we pack up and relocate 200 miles east. Saturday morning we’ll be launching MOAR, stay tuned for information on how to get realtime updates on it’s progress!

Sweet! I just got a couple of images to save via typing command-lines in on the elphel shell. Here’s the first:

First image captured non-interactively from Elphel!

Oops, I wasn’t aiming the camera or anything. Here’s try #2:

First -aimed- image from Elphel, direct

Hi, Phil!

Strapdown IMU + Flight Computer

Posted by machack on 7 May 2008

Overall system:

P1020764

Closeup of sensor stack:
P1020765

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.

Elphel is working!

Posted by lindes on 7 May 2008

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!

The web interface is amazingly complex, especially since it seems to all be html and javascript, without any flash or anything. Very slick. There’s so much crammed into it that I had to spend some time figuring things out, but we definitely got images!

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. :-)

Balloon launch scheduled!

Posted by 3ricj on 5 May 2008

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.