[islandlabs] Balloon Launch II - Preflight Questions
toolfox at gmail.com
Sun Apr 11 21:49:02 EDT 2010
I certainly understand that John T. wants to get his deposit back on the
helium cylinder a.s.a.p. I haven't forgotten this, and I hope the rest of us
haven't either. I don't blame him. I for one would like nothing better than
to launch another bird. Heck, my dream is to get at least one other flight
under our belts before the Harbor Country Day School talk on 5/14.
However, I would sure hate to p!$$ through $60 worth of perfectly good helium
just replicating what we did a month ago without trying to learn something new
about high altitude ballooning in the process. As much as I got a rush from
the 3/7/10 flight (and believe me, I was trippin' on the natural endorphins),
if I'm going to become an adrenaline junkie, I'd like to get "edumacated" at
the same time.
If we want to get John T.'s deposit back, we need to launch another balloon
If we want to launch another balloon soon, we need to be ready when the
weather smiles on us.
If we want to be ready when the weather smiles upon us, we need to accomplish
(1) nail down what we're going to be doing for the next flight,
(2) get all the gear back together in one place,
(3) determine what still needs to be obtained, and
(4) assemble our second craft.
1 - NAILING DOWN WHAT WE'RE GOING TO BE DOING FOR THE NEXT FLIGHT
Lots of new and interesting stuff has been talked about; some of us are
pursuing little projects, researches, and purchases independently on the side.
This is great! But it's time for us to catalyze ourselves into a team like we
did back in February. To wit:
Joe S. has fabricated a prototype capsule (dubbed "tuna-can") which is
supposed to be less susceptible to spinning on the end of its tethers than the
picnic cooler was. Joe, is it flight-worthy? If not, what has to be done to
make it so? How long before it's ready to go up?
John A. was working on a data-logger to track air pressure data so that we can
more accurately calculate altitude. How is that coming, John? I recall you
having some problems with the device. Have you sussed it out? How long do
you think you'll need to have something working?
The last I heard, Kupo was working on this. What's the status, Kupo? How
long before you have something working reliably?
HAM RADIO SUPPORT
Do we have any HAMs on this mailing list right now who are willing step
forward and keep us legal when we have the APRS up and running? By this, I
DON'T mean, "I know somebody I can ask..." or "I'm sure I can get somebody..."
We need someone who'll *commit* and say, "I'm your guy (or gal)." Is there
anyone on this list like that? If not, then we *will* have to ask around.
Even if we have APRS ready, do we want to abandon the cellphone yet? I'm
reluctant to ditch it altogether until APRS has proved itself (and more than
once). I've read a number of accounts of balloonists having their APRS fizzle
out on them and they're left wondering where their payload landed. In any
case, APRS may not be ready, so we'd still need to use the cellphone. I know
that for the first launch, we had some snags regarding attaching an external
antenna to the phone (To extend range? To improve signal strength?). Is
anyone working on that? If so, is anything needed to get that moving? If
not, is it worth pursuing?
John T., you had said that you'd wanted to send your camera up on the next
flight. Is that still the case? If so, is it ready to go? Do you need
anything? Joe S. had also talked about purchasing a lightweight spycam.
What's the ETA on that, Joe? Will it need modification once you receive it?
If so, can you give a guesstimate as to how much time you'll need to be ready
for flight? Also, I'd heard a rumor that Jonathan D. had a small video camera
he was willing to send up. Is there any truth to this rumor, Jonathan? If
so, is it ready to go or is there anything you need to get it flight-ready?
I've discussed this with Joe S., but I haven't mentioned this to the rest of
the group since it seems trivial and doesn't impact the group, the project, or
the flight. Nevertheless, I should keep you folks informed. I've assembled a
tiny clear plastic capsule with marigold seeds (it's about the size of a large
gumball and probably weighs even less). I would like to affix the capsule to
the outside of our next payload to see if near space conditions (cold, lack of
air pressure, UV and cosmic radiation, etc.) affect them. I have a control set
of seeds as well. My thought is that if we get the launch done before 5/14,
we can donate some of the seeds to Harbor Country Day School so that the
kiddies can follow through on the experiment. They might find it fun and
interesting and might get them even more engaged. The seeds are all set; all
I need is a payload to attach them to.
2 - GETTING EVERYTHING TOGETHER IN ONE PLACE
Everyone, if you have any of the supplies or equipment that was used for the
first flight -- even if it's small stuff like gloves, string, tubing, or rolls of
tape -- please bring it in to the next Island Labs meeting (or have someone
bring it for you). Then we can...
3 - DETERMINE WHAT STILL NEEDS TO BE OBTAINED (AND OBTAIN IT)
4 - ASSEMBLE OUR SECOND CRAFT
Then with everything assembled and in one place, we'll be ready to go on short
Apologies if I sound bossy or like a mother-hen. I'm not trying to take over,
especially since I don't want to be in charge. I just don't want to see John
T. wait any longer than necessary to get his deposit back, or for interest to
flag in the balloon project (enthusiasm was running high a couple of months
ago; I'd like to keep it going). Trying new things keeps the project alive
and interesting. As they say, if you ain't movin' forwards, yer movin'
P.S.: A belated thank you for helping me celebrate my birthday. It was fun.
Let's do it again next year! :D
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