Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Unreasonable Plans

I enjoyed visiting with all the people that stopped by to visit at the Xprize cup.
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)
I'd like to have valves resolved by Christmas.

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?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Good Luck to Armadillo

I will be leaving for Holloman some time Wednesday afternoon.
Before I go I want to wish armadillo the best of luck in their NG-LLC efforts.
I will be rooting for them!

They have worked very hard and have been a real class act.

Good luck to John and the rest of the Armadillo team!

Long night we are ok...

The wind switched directions and it looks like the witch fire will not reach the coast. Our thoughts are with the 500,000 people that have been evacuated and don't know the status of their homes. It looks like 1200+ homes have been destroyed in the last 36 hours. There are still areas in San Deigo county where people are still losing homes. If the wind switches we could still be at risk, but
it looks 200% better than is did 24 hours ago.

Monday, October 22, 2007

San Diego fires

We live in Solana Beach, the city has just said
"Everyone is being asked to plan, pack and evacuate ahead of
being required to do so.

It looks like the witch creek fire is likely going to burn all the way to the coast. Where it crosses I5 and hits the coast is pretty much up in the air. It looks like its going to cross somewhere near our house +/- 5 miles. We live in a fairly dense residential neighborhood, if it gets to us this fire is going to be a truely note worthy disaster. I'm going home from work to join the rest of the family and get prepared to leave. It probably won't be to the coast for another 12-18 hours , but it looks like nothing is going to stop it. Wish us luck, we hope to see all of you this coming weekend at Holloman. I'll let everyone know how it turns out Tuesday.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Unreasonable Ideas

For awhile I've been contemplating making some personal or political posts on this blog. I don't really want to mix the messages that way. Today I started a new blog unreasonableideas with a sad personal note. I'll continue posting rocket stuff here, and I'll post personal stuff there.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

We will be displaying at XPC.

I've been having an internal debate about coming to the Xprize cup as an exhibitor or strictly as an observer. Unlike the other teams that are are looking to raise capital and awareness, we are not yet trying to do that. So I was hesitant to spend the money necessary to transport stuff to the show. I've decided that it would serve my larger goals of showing that small teams and individuals can do significant things in "space development" so we will be there.

We will be bringing the complete vehicle minus some valves and plumbing.
We may also bring the test stand carcass, the test helicopter, and and a video display. If you are coming to the show stop by and say hi.

On a personal note I went to the Plaster Blaster event last Saturday and spent the day watching a huge array of people launch rockets of all shapes and sizes. It was my first trip to a high power rocket event. The Xwing ( very cool, but all in all I found the event somewhat depressing. There were several cool projects, but none of the projects seemed to be advancing the state of the art. In some ways it seemed like a conspicuous consumption event. To be fair I saw a lot of families there and that was a very cool aspect to the event. My wife chastised me for this attitude, and said who am I to be judging other peoples efforts. She is probably right.

Lastly I've not done ANY thing on the rocket in the last month, I needed the break. I've been trying to catch up at work, organize my office and play some video games... (online chess and replaying all the original starcraft scenarios.)