It was really heartbreaking that Armadillo did not win anything. Watching this unfold shows how hard this problem really is and makes me realize how very far from being ready we really are. I've been trying to work up a plan of action for the next year and the rough outline looks something like this:
1)Start working on the command and control code on the Helicopter to get the telemetry and mission planning stuff out of the way. This can be done close to home without the major expedition aspects of going out to FAR. Id like to have this 100% resolved by Christmas.
2)Work on resolving my valve issues, this will probably be one of the following:
- Rework the tonegowa driven valves for less backlash and better electronics. (Open servo based?) This is my preference.
- Use higher pressure Butterfly valves as the sole valve. This is my sons preference.
- Design a custom valve using either rotary or poppet style valves. This is no-ones preference. (I'm thinking a bearing supported plug valve sort of like this)
3)Resurrect the test stand even if it means making new tanks and resolving our engine igntion issues once and for all. Before we do any vehicle work I want to run a motor on the test stand with throttling and simulate a full LLC mission including the 30 minute turnaround. I want to do this over and over until we get it right. This may get as involved as developing a new injector and igniter design. I'd like to start this testing in January.
4)Once 1,2,3 are done rebuild the vehicle and start tethered testing. If all goes well I could see tethered testing as soon as Febuary 1 ~ 4 months from now. After watching Armadillo I know I want to make some architectural changes. The primary one will be for the vehicle to automatically test all its valve actuators and sensors with minimal human intervention.
When I get to the point of testing a full vehicle I need to find a different transportation method. I'd be inclinded to buy a used flatbed or Box truck, but I can't park that near me, so I'd need to find someplace in San Diego to park it without spending a fortune. Anyone with an empty lot in San Diego where I can park a 20' box truck off and on for a year?