Hello All! We are nearing the big event, that is the launch of our probe, which is scheduled for liftoff early next week! I have already run some HabHub landing predictor models which show the probe bursting anywhere from Ipswich to Milton Keynes depending on the time of day so we will have to be very attentive with respect to our timing.

 HabHub Flight Predictor trial

HabHub Flight Predictor trial

 Map of launch site at Churchill Cambridge (Chart is courtesy of Ordnance Survey © Crown copyright 2008)

Map of launch site at Churchill Cambridge (Chart is courtesy of Ordnance Survey © Crown copyright 2008)

I am still in contact with the BOC Group to finalise the dimensions of the regulator however we have decided to go with the 528-G10 Helium Balloon Gas (Safety Datasheet: http://www.boconline.co.uk/internet.lg.lg.gbr/en/images/tg-8312-helium-v1.4410_39593.pdf?_ga=1.133572108.306201186.1464085511). 

I have spoken to the Cambridge University Space Flight society who have confirmed that they will provide duct tape. We need to bring a 1mm nylon cord (they suggested http://randomaerospace.com/Random_Aerospace/Stuff.html) however in our unboxing we received some nylon string already so we don’t need to purchase anymore. Finally the team mentioned that we don’t need to bring gloves.

Diyar, Max and I have been working on the physical construction of the probe, which involves a lot of sanding and fine-tuning of the polystyrene! We have successfully fitted one of our insulation discs onto the largest hemisphere and are considering adding an additional disc for extra thermal protection. We have also fitted the GoPro onto the top hemisphere although we may need to redo this as the polystyrene is slightly corrupted in places.

 Top hemisphere of probe housing GoPro camera

Top hemisphere of probe housing GoPro camera

 Largest hemisphere of probe with first insulating layer fitted ideally

Largest hemisphere of probe with first insulating layer fitted ideally

We have continued to add content to the website on two separate notes. Firstly Diyar, Wei, Arshan and Max recorded and uploaded our first podcast to the ‘Feed’ page. The podcast details the purpose of our overall mission, a technical overview of how our probe functions and any details regarding contacting the probe when in space. Secondly Wei uploaded his second tutorial which is on the build of a LoRa gateway. The LoRa gateway is primarily used to receive and decode the messages sent by the tracker but Wei added extra functionality to allow us to upload messages to the LoRa tracker as well (i.e. sending tweets to the OLED display).

Max has been working on the animation for the post flight replay using Blender and Unity3D. Shawn modelled the balloon, parachute and payload using Blender and Max imported it to Unity to animate, having heard of the hardships of F-curves from last year’s group. So far they have the basic functionality up and running; tweets can be displayed, the balloon moves and weather animation plays, all timed according to the timestamps of our sensor data and tweet bank as read from a file. We are hoping to add an interactive timeline and functionality to display images (today).

 Probe animation with chilly environment demonstrated via snow graphic

Probe animation with chilly environment demonstrated via snow graphic

Wei ran into some issues with the previous OLED in that it glitched whenever it was being run together with the tracker software. At the start of the week Wei managed to write code and modify the tracker software to change up the OLED display after every picture taken, but the OLED ended up malfunctioning because the tracker uses the same serial interface as the OLED. So we have ordered a new one (which uses a different interface) and Wei has been tinkering with it. We are happy to report that it does work together with the tracker software, and now Wei just needs to modify his code to accommodate the new OLED.

Ash, Max and Wei have also been working to figure out how to get the Raspberry Pi camera to focus on the text on the small OLED screen and have ordered a variety of lenses to experiment with.

- Peter