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Here are the latest happenings at JPA              


Here's a pic from Away 29:

 Holding for weather
                      Holding for Weather


Integration is everything

You can have all the systems complete and tested, but it doesn't count for nothing until you put them in the vehicle.
Once integrated into a larger system, subsystems can take on a life of there own. Unexpected behaviors, weird
reactions are the norm.  I always assume integrating a system will take twice as long as building the part in the first
place. The motor control system for the airship were no exception. It bench tested superbly then did all kinds of funky
things once on the airship.  In spite of the frustration is caused Bob and Ross, I just smiled. Right on schedule.

Fill Tubes!

We are going to use some seven foot diameter balloons on the next mission. We haven't flown baby balloons
in a while and were fresh out of fill tubes. A fill tube is a carbon sleeve that we slide inside the balloon nozzle. They need
to sized to balloon that were using, they need to be very stiff and since they stay with the balloon that can weight nothing,
or at least as close to nothing as we can make them. It's just a little part, one of the hundreds of little things that go into a

Here's what they look like coming off the mold.

Fill tube 1 Fill tube 2 Fill tube 3

Fill tube 4 Fill tube 5 Final Part


The new parachute is complete. This one is for the baby airship that will fly next month. At the end of it's mission
it will release the helium and descend on the parachute.

Today is a writing day. Not as much fun as building, but very necessary.


Working The Todo List

We made lots of progress on a long list of airship tasks. The control wiring harnesses for the motor
were built and tested.  All the panels on the new parachute were sew together.  We cut out all the parts for
the deck that the parachute will ride on. The
carbon valve/mount was trimmed and the seams filled with
carbon paste.  The electronic compass software was integrated into sensor array controller. Last, but very
important, a pile of pockets for the flapping dampening were hemmed.  

It's easy to stay focused on the flashy stuff, launching the rocket, floating at 100,000 feet, etc. I'm glad I have a crew
that can stay just as focused when it comes down to the thousands of unexciting details.

Next on the immediate front:

    Sew webbing lines on to the new parachute
    Modify a second flow meter
    Finish launch bag modifications
    Complete new launch bag
    Complete the second large launch bag tear panel
    Make motor controller frame mounts
    Write the output routine for the sensor array controller
    Sell ads to pay for the mission......

PongSat Blog

The SEDS organization has graciously setup a blog for PongSat users and future PongSat users.
Stop by and say Hi!


The Countdown...      
 sometime we don't know when to just put the camera down.

Here's the downloadable version:
    be afraid......

The idea is that the real countdown to space start when you pick up the soldering iron.


No Work, No Kirk.

We need a touch bigger parachute for the next mission. We kept is simple and did a straight 20%
increase of the fabric templates.  The fabric is cut out now it just needs to be sewn together.

valve/mount for the airship is nearly done. last week the halves were joined. Saturday a
carbon strip was run around the seams.

We thought the sensor array was done. Oh well, sometimes you just can't leave well enough alone.
We added the digital compass. Now we'll know which way the airship is heading. It was to be integrated
into the main flight controller. The main controller is already getting  upgraded to run the motors. Adding the
compass to the sensor array made simplified and sped up the process.

More sewing. This first launch modifications are nearly complete. After that there are still two more bags
to upgrade.

We got the new motor controllers talking to the motors. Now we need to go from a nest of test wires and clips
to a flight system.

and a big happy birthday Carl!


Ascender Development Path

Ascender path
100 foot Phase II                                30 foot Rocket Deployed Mach Glider                             Small Orbital Ascender
20 foot Rocket Deployed Mach Glider                       900 foot Transatmospheric Ascender                                 Large Orbital Ascender     

We're in Wired!



We bumped the duration of the motors on the airship up for the first flight. However, it comes with a price. We traded the
video camera for batteries. Airships that fly at the edge of space have amazingly tight weight budgets. One of the things
I do on the big airship is find a 1/2 ounce a week I can remove. Sometimes it's changing twenty low load Aluminum bolts for
nylon ones. Sometimes it's remolding a part with just a little more care with the epoxy. 1/2 ounce a week doesn't sound like
, but it really does add up.

All is not lost in the video department. We took one of the still camera and are going to run it in video mode. We modified
the camera controller so it will shoot eight seconds of video every minute for 200 minutes. The quality is lower than the full
camcorder however, the entire system weights 10 ounces instead of three and half pounds.


We finally finished the motor sensor arrays, at least the hardware. The software still needs RPM and serial data
dump routines.
Along with soldering it won't be a build session without sewing. Half of the anti-flapping pockets were
sew on to the first large balloon bag. Only eighteen to go..........

We're considering a tether test launch with the first airship. We could do it local and run the entire system at 100 feet.
It will give us excellent training and it always get us great looks from the barbecuers at the park.

Pics from the past.

 Fill team   First Stack   Full balloon train
These were taken during a rockoon (rocket launched from balloon) launch in 1999. This was before the had the Dark Sky Station.
The rocket platform was carried aloft by a long train of balloons.

June-July 07 what's new page.

May 07 what's new page.

April 07 what's new page.

January-March 07 what's new page.

October-December 06 what's new page.

August-September 06 what's new page.

May-June-July 06 what's new page.

March-April 06 what's new page.

January-February 06 what's new page.

October, November ,December 05 what's new page.

August September 05 what's new page.

July 05 what's new page.

May-June 05 what's new page.

March-April 05 what's new page.

February 05 what's new page.

January 04 what's new page.

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This page was last edited on October 11, 2007
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