Thursday, December 29, 2011
Will do so later.
A Humming bird builds a nest in our front entry way on fragile shrub right in path of traffic.
So we put a step ladder in front of the nest with a sign that says go around watch out for nest.
All is well for a while, the mom and dad bird tend the nest and the eggs hatch.
Last night when we came home around 8pm the fragile branch failed turning the nest upside down. Dumping one baby out on the ground, Mom bird was frantically buzzing around in the dark bumping into things. We righted the nest and taped it to the ladder to keep it upright
Mom did not return to nest so we tried putting here back on the nest she did not stay, she flew away.
After 1/2 hour with temp in low 50F we brought the nest and one baby bird inside and placed them in a large Christmas cookie tin. Put tin floating in pot of warm water (bird stayed dry, tin floated on the water.)
Put a small thermocouple on the nest and regulated temperature manually to keep it around 90F all night.
Not much sleep for wife and I, after getting this set up we decided to go back outside a look for second bird not in nest, found bird on sidewalk, very cold and barely moving. Brought it in warmed up and put in nest.
Fed some sugar water to both babies. (I know they need protein too, its all we had)
Stayed up all night, at first light Put Christmas Tin with nest in it on top of ladder under bush where nest was.
Mom came by, got in nest fed fed baby. Then pecked side of Christmas tin flew around wildly and flew off.
(All this activity was observed 10 or 15 feet away from inside through window)
Replaced tin box with a piece of wood with a hole the right size for nest to sit in.
Dad bird came by and fed both babies off an on all day. Never saw mom again, but did not keep a close watch.
This afternoon we went by the backyard bird store and got some humming bird food with insect protein in it.
Tonight after dark we check the nest, no one is sitting on the nest, no mom, no dad, getting cold again down to 55F not sure what to do brought nest back inside. Went and got small heat lamp and have the heat lamp shining on the nest with thermocouple in air next to nest under heat lamp. Will stay up long enough to insure that temp has sabilized then go to bed.
Current plan is to return the ladder and nest to its correct spot just before daybreak in the morning.
Hopefully dad bird will keep feeding them.
The babies have their pin feathers and some more substantial feathers on wings. but don't seem to have their eyes open yet. Not sure when they hatched. Not sure if this is the best course of action....
From a philosophical stand point, it's just a few grams of almost inconsequential bird feathers,
In the scheme of things would I be doing a more significant service to nature/GAIA if I let the little ones die and did not burn resources driving around gathering things to try and save them? I've spend $ and time that might remotely make sense if I were a vegan (I'm not). How can I in good conscience eat an animal that is smarter and closer to me in the scheme of things (Beef) and at the same time spend a sleepless night and a good part of this evening helping a tiny bird that may or may not survive and in any case will not understand my efforts?
A tired brain can barely ponder such things.
I've been told by a Humming Bird expert that Mom does not sit on the nest after 5 days or so.
So Not having mom on the nest at night is normal.
I put the nest back out this morning and have seen Mom feeding them at least twice.
I captured some poor video of her feeding them here
I changed the camera angle and its recording, sometime tonight I'll go through the hours of video and try to post better pictures.
I've also been told that "Dad" is a threat not a helper.
Here is a picture Mariellen captured of "Dad" on the nest the day before it fell down.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Saturday, December 03, 2011
I've spent the last 2 years thinking about what it takes to build an orbital vehicle. A very rough first pass can be done with a simple how much delta V do you need. A more refined tradeoff needs a more refined model. Ultimately I'd like a full up hardware in the loop simulator that I can run full missions on. Writing such a simulator is a bit of a daunting task.
Just modeling the complexity of the "World" as you fly around it is non trivial. Starting with what reference frame do you use: Lat Lon altitude? , North East Down? Earth centered fixed. Earth centered Inertial? (Probably ECI what epoch J2000?)
A whole bunch of things that used to be fixed for the LLC simulator now change...
- Atmospheric pressure.
- Magnetic field strength, direction.
- GPS constellation geometry.
- Earth is not round.
One could refine the vehicle model with a simple 2D model of a spherical earth and launched from the equator, Yet there are questions that can't be answered without these details. Just one simple example, I plan to use a MEMS IMU, GPS and Magnetic sensor to keep track of the vehicle position and orientation. MEMS IMU's drift really bad (0.1deg per sec is typical for a mems gyro) A better Laser gyro is much much heavier.
This is correctable if you have a couple of outside references to keep things aligned. In aircraft its common to use gravity and magnetic field to "erect" the gyros keeping then aligned. On a spacecraft under thrust you can do it with GPS velocity an accelerometer and a 3D magnetic filed sensor. The accelerometer measureing thrust direction in a body frame is compared against the GPS measured acceleration in an absolute frame (Say ECF), In reality these two vectors measure the smae thing so these two vectors gives you one absolute orientation vector. The magnetic field gives you another. This will fully define the corrections you need to apply. If some where during your launch the magnetic field vector and the desired thrust vector align too closely then you really only have one reference vector and your orientation is ambiguous in roll around that one vector. You might say that orientation on that axis does not matter, and that would almost be true, but if the orientation changes from the desired trajectory and you want to correct back or close the loop, you must have a full orientation solution to steer the rocket.
So do they ever align? I have absolutely no idea. Does this mean I'm limited to picking only certain orbits? Maybe? When the rocket stops thrusting and coasts I loose my orientation again, can I start thrusting for a circulization burn and learn my orientation quickly or is it more efficent to steer into a direct injection orbit with no circularzation burn.
Doing a direct injection burn has a delta V penalty, is this penalty larger or smaller than the hardware weight cost to have the 3rd stage motor restart? Is the find my orientaion with quick thrusting penalty in delta V greater or less than the mass penalty for a simple sun sensor, or tine CMOS start tracker? Inquiring minds want to know. The whole conceptual rocket has way too many knobs.
Trying to organize this monster project into a modular individually testable coding campaign is quite daunting.
Monday, November 14, 2011
Here is the list of what I've spent some time on in the last three months:
- Exploring the possibility of starting a Nanosat/Microsat launcher business.
- Exploring the NASA NanoSat challenge.
- Working on developing peroxide compatible high performance tank age.
- Training my self to run, I'm up to running 5K, long term goal is to finish a 1/2 Ironman, the swim and bike are much easier for me that the run part.
- Learning to be a better RC helicopter pilot.
- Updating the Helicopter autopilot to clean up code and use more modern lower cost sensors.
- Helping my Son move to Seattle and getting adjusted to the "Empty Nest"
- Testing GPS units under high acceleration.
- Cleaning organizing my Shop in anticipation of getting back to a rocket project.
- Repairing my little catamaran and doing some delayed maintenance on the boat.
- Going to the shooting range and relearning to shoot well. This was the primary Father son activity with my Dad from age 8 to 16. Sad to say that I took my Dad to the range and he is too far gone down the dementia path to enjoy that, it was loud and confusing and he realized he was not shooting well, but could not put the cognitive skills together to figure out what he was doing wrong, one of the Sadest things I've done in a long long time.
- Develop a tiny low cost guidance and control package for HPR class rockets.
- Develop a truly low cost (<5K) hovering controlled rocket vehicle for use by students, schools, serious amateurs etc...
- Develop an autonomous aerobatic RC helicopter.
- *Develop a integrated RC transmitter and Telemetry receiver display for UAV and controlled rocket use.
- *Develop a gas and go 100Kft reusable liquid rocket. (Glide back, guided parachute, or VTVL TBD)
- *Develop a high G integrated GPS and IMU system.
- *Break the VTVL hovering duration record.
- Build something like the Martin Jetpack.
- Build a Solar powered aircraft. (My last attempt is here:http://www.rasdoc.com/splinter/solar2004.htm)
- Build a manned solar powered aircraft.
- Get my FAA medical back and start flying again. (13 months ago I started using CPAP, so without a lot of paperwork and hassle that pretty much kills my medical.)
- *Develop a peroxide rocket that uses thermal decomposition rather than catalysts, allowing 95% peroxide and removing cat pack black magic issues.
- *Develop the full range of motors necessary to build a nano-sat vehicle.
- *Build a electric "turbopump" driven rocket motor.
- *Do more development on 3d printed rocket motors. (This is really a $$ issue)
- *Build and fly a two stage liquid rocket.
- *Build out and test the paper concept I have for a very simple to construct Rocket Motor.
- *Develop a set of compact brushless valves and actuators and Sell to NewSpace co's.
- Build, test and sail a trans pacific autonomous sailboat.
- Build a large envelope 3D printer IE a Makerbot on steroids.
- Start something like Techshop in the San Diego area.
- *Start something like the original Armadillo aerospace setup. IE get a building and have a group of volunteers working on some serious rocket projects with meetings/work parties twice a week or so.
- *Start a properly funded venture funded rocket business.
- Do some more public speaking. (I've really enjoyed the speaking I've done)
- Build and market an RC helicopter "Oh Shit" Autopilot, IE a small box on an RC helicopter that will recover from dumb thumbs and put the vehicle in level hover if you screw up and hit the Oh shit button)
- Do some more traveling and see parts of the world I have not seen.(South America, Asia)
- Buy a big sailboat and take a long cruise.
Everything with a * is applicable to the NanoSat challenge.
So many choices so little time.....
Wednesday, November 09, 2011
So the second attempt used a slightly different process for the liner. The liner actually turned out lighter, but it was so light that is started to buckle during the overwind process. We were targeting a 1000 PSI tank this time and the logitudinal windings for 1000 PSI were done, but the tank started to buckle after only about half the circumference windings. When this happend the tank was removed from the winding machine, slightly presurized and put in the curing oven.
Based on the partial winding the tank theoretical burst value was just over 500 PSI.
Today the tank burst at 500 PSI. There appears to be general stress all over the tank, but the failure was fairly catastrophic showing that the fiber matrix was distributing the load correctly and the failure was not a point failure. All in I'm very happy about this result.
With 85% peroxide the tank that just failed at 500PSI (Even with double the needed longitudinal windings) has a mass ratio of 36!!!!
We are about to make tank V3 and will modify the fixture so we can slightly pressurize the liner while winding.
Here is a picture of the tank.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
John from Microcosm was out at the site and brought out the first completed tank to come from the microcosm/unreasonable joint development effort. With peroxide it has a mass ratio of 36,
(I earlier said 40, but I messed up the correction for peroxide density) and theoretical burst of 600psi and expected burst of around 500. So far its only been hydroed to 180 or so.
This weekend I only ran one experiment, I launched a Novatel OEMV-1HV high vibration GPS on my little HPR rocket. It was the first GPS flight on that rocket that held lock for most of the flight.
From ignition to touch down it lost less than 3 seconds of data. It lost data when the nose cone/parachute ejection charge fired, and it lost data when the nose landed on the ground and rolled around. The GPS is in the nose cone, so getting slammed with a hard ejection charge data loss is not unexpected. The GPS only data can be found
The GPS can do 20 fixes a second, but I was more interested in seeing if it kept lock so I turned it down to 5 samples a sec to reduce data size for this flight. I also sampled the analog devices IMU at 50Hz during the same flight, so if you want the data set including values from the IMU ask and I'll upload that as well. The GPS is an expensive part $1245 or so. It can be ordered without the COCOM limits for non-export usage, for another $1K or so.
Other than my one flight and the SDSU fireing.
The other FAR experimental projects were all plagued by Murphy.
Two projects failed to make any flames at all, and the Sugarshot test had a spectacular night time cato. Later this week look for some spectacular youtube video when they post their results.
Nature even got in on the act with some awesome thunder and lightning.
Monday, September 05, 2011
In the process of removing 23 layers of dust from the RV.
The whole pack up and go to the desert for 5 days thing made me really think about the scale of whats needed to actually colonize someplace off planet. More later.
The wedding went off well and was kind of fun.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
He and Jawon (his bride to be) choose to get married at burning man. Paul and Jawon were part of a big theme camp so they went early to help set up and are already out in the desert.
My wife and I are heading out very late Monday or early Tuesday
Seeing pictures of all the cool burning man art cars and other cool stuff makes me want to build something,.... just what I need another project or six.
So no blogs, tweets or any rocket stuff next week. we will resume our regular stuff in a week or so.
Monday, August 15, 2011
"If I offered a dedicated 3U launch capability to any orbit < 600Km for 500K per launch how many would I launch a year?"
I asked this question over and over to government, vendors, academics and anyone that would take the time to discuss it with me.
I got answers varying from 0 to 500/yr.
I think the real answer will eventually be 20 or more launches a year. If the question is changed to 20Kg and 1M I get the sense the number of launches would actually go up.This is a SWAG (Sophisticated wild ass guess) its hard to generate a better answer because of the uncertainty hovering over the whole community.
At this conference Spacex announced commercial 2nd ary pricing of 200K to 325K for a 3U, giving some validity to my swag. The number of small sats launched is clearly undergoing growth, maybe even exponential growth. The problem is the people building the cube sats are not really paying for their own launches. They all have sponsors that are giving away secondary space on existing launches. The majority of people with real $$ to spend (IE DOD ) still think that the cube sats are toys, and the most forward thinking DOD people see them as marginally useful experimental vehicles.
Given just those facts I would have to conclude that today there is not a viable cubesat market.
The elephant in the room is that EVERY one I talked to has funding uncertainty.
All the program managers all say they have all these interesting plans that will happen as soon as the budget is resolved and they get their expected xx% increase, just like they got xx% last year and the year before. Not a single DOD, NASA or other government entity even acknowledged the possibility that they might see a significant reduction in funding. Collectivly they are either in denial or blind.
While today the university cube sats rely on the significant crumbs from larger programs, they are in fact demonstarating real usefulness. When the reality of the current long term funding sinks in to the smart and nimble among the program offices they will be forced to consider 5M cube sat programs as opposed to 100M conventional programs.
I see the next 5 years in the small sat space to be really volatile and chaotic. 5 to 10 years from now there will be a well funded thriving small sat/ cube sat market that could easily support several dedicated launchers. I just can't see what the details of this transformation will look like over the next 5 years.
How is that for a long and rambling non-answer.
Sunday, July 31, 2011
I enjoyed meeting lots of rocket friends, both old and new.
NASA was well represented at the conference and It's real clear that NASA as an organization has not digested the implication of the shuttle program ending. There are clearly NASA groups that are in denial, they are trying to figure out how to get back to where they were 5 years ago and continue growing their empire. Some of the NASA people see the possible benefit of greatly reduced commercial flight costs, as it opens up new exploration opportunities that were not there before. There are groups that are not completely in denial they think there organizations have real value and that they can market this value to the new commercial space vendors. What they don't realize is that their cost basis makes their facilities and capabilities unusable by the commercial vendors. The NASA cost model says Falcon 9 should cost 4B to develop, it cost 390M. Their basic organizational operational costs are 10X too high to be viable. If NASA can figure out how to sell services at a commercially viable price then commercial space needs to fly 100X as often as the shuttle did to support the same size workforce at the facilities, its not going to happen. I had three different conversations with three different people in different fields that were trying to work with three different NASA centers, all three thought that the value provided was not worth the price paid. This evaluation varied from unbelievably bad to marginally ok. If NASA wants to stay relevant in commercial space going forward they really need to examine why their costing models said F9 was 4B and Elon did it for 390M. Being wrong by a factor of 10 is not a minor thing.
A lot of the conference was about space futures that border on fantasy. Some dreaming or fantasy is good, it gives you a direction and a focus. If the fantasy is physically impossible then it can be destructive as it makes physically realizable space look stupid or dull. As long as we are using chemical propulsion anything that launches from the ground or changes it orbit in a significant way has to look like a propellant tank, if its not 90% tank by mass its not going to work. The gravity well and the rocket equation do not make exceptions for anyone.
Its not clear to me that Hollywood depictions of space, x-wing, star trek shuttle, firefly, etc have not done a disservice to the real space movement by making things look too easy.
A lot of people have read my recent blog posts and I got all kinds of advice.
At space access this year I expressed my concerns about the economy and the direction of the federal government and budget. A lot of people though I was too pessimistic. At this conference I encountered a number of people that were more pessimistic than I. I've become more certain of two things:
1)Commercial space is ready for someone to make an effort at building a truly low cost launcher, not a half price vax, but an apple II. (See earlier posts if you don't get the reference.)
2)Non governmental funding for space does not yet really exist, and governmental funding is the 5 to 10 yr time frame is really really uncertain.
These two "facts" do not sit well together, will a radically lower launch cost create a field of dreams where if you build it they will come, or is it a fools errand? I can't yet answer that question.
Where too from here?
In the real short term, I'm going to spaceup LA next Saturday.
The Sunday after that I'm going to Small Sat in Utah, I've never been, but I'm going with the specific purpose to try and evaluate what commercial market there is for a nano sat launcher.
I'm also looking at possibly submitting a proposal for an SBIR in the current NASA SBIR solicitation, they have a nanosat specific one that looks interesting. I'm not sure if getting on the SBIR tread mill is the best approach, would I be better off spending the time and energy looking for private funding, or just going slowly along on my own dime?
Saturday, July 09, 2011
Spacex has assembled a group of really talented people, many of them with a history in the traditional aerospace environment. If you read the bios on the Spacex web site here. You will discover that many of the senior engineering people came from large aerospace organizations. They used their experience to build the best rocket they could. They had a clean sheet of paper and enough resources to do the job.They fixed most of the business problems in the traditional aerospace model, they embraced vertical integration and the rejected the traditional aerospace supply chain. Win, win, win.
Now I'm going to ask you to get into your time machine.
Go back to the late 1970's. Take a large budget and go hire the best and brightest computer engineers from IBM, DEC, Prime,HP etc... . Give them a clean sheet of paper and allow them to fix any problems they see in the traditional computer business. Turn them loose and volia you have a killer minicomputer. It outperforms the DEC VAX and cost 1/2 as much. Its better than the rest of the industry in every way...... Instead of costing 120,000 or so it only costs 60,000. The orders pile up and the traditional computer companies would be worried. Meanwhile a guy named Wozniak with no degree and no experience designing computers is building a computer to impress his friends at the homebrew computer club. The Apple I soon to be an Apple II, in every measurable technical way the Apple II was inferior to the minicomputers of the day, except one, price. If you had asked the engineers from DEC,IBM, Prime, HP etc... to design you a useful computer that could be sold for less than 3000 they would have laughed at you.
So the question I ask is it possible to be a Wozniak in the space access area?
If its possible, you aren't going to get their via SBIR, because the SBIR evaluators with their reality closely tied to traditional aerospace model will be laughing.
You won't be able to do it by selling parts to other aerospace companies, IE Mr Wozniak did not start by building low cost memory cards to sell to DEC, the whole concept of modular cards and back planes as implemented in big computer land cost more than the whole apple I. The whole concept of separate bolt together components going into a launcher will need to be changed. The size scope and scale of what you build will not be appropriate for traditional aerospace.
Traditional aerospace customers will laugh at you and ridicule you... until one of you ends up unemployed and looking like a fool.
Clearly the microcomputer revolution was enabled by Mores law and the physics of space flight will not have any such exponential favoring factor.
Wozniak did not build any custom silicon, he use commercial off the shelf parts in new ways. I believe that modern CNC, 3D manufacturing and automated composite construction can be leveraged in a similar way.
This concept of comparing aerospace, old minicomputers and the PC revolution is not an original idea of mine. Charles at http://www.microlaunchers.com/ has used this comparison for years.
Frankly I never really got it. I thought it was a bit too much of a stretch. For the last 4 years I've been reading, studying and brainstorming on really low cost launch concepts. I've also been a rabid Spacex fan following what they are doing and cheering their success. In my though experiments I keep coming up with differnt solution concepts than Spacex. The Spacex solutions keep looking like traditional aerospace, but with much better execution, why is that? Is the traditional super high tech method the only way to achieve space launch? Then it dawns on me that Elon/Spacex hired the wizards from DEC, IBM, HP etc.. to build a better computer. In that context it ALL makes perfect sense.
Thursday, July 07, 2011
I'm really proud of what Unreasonable rocket accomplished in pursuit of the LLC contest. I think we effectively showed the world that unreasonable people can accomplish. more than expected. At the same time the LLC and its end has been personally really hard. I've never worked that hard on a project in my life, I gave it everything I had, and got really close. Over and over my wife asked me if I was going to be ok if we failed. I always said yes I'd shown the world what could be done and I'd be ok. Keeping that promise has been a lot harder than I expected. Failing took a lot out of me.
The bright hard goal of a hard task to accomplish is very seductive.
So I failed at the LLC and this removes a nice bright hard goal, and replaces it with my business as CTO of NetBurner. 13 years ago my business partner Tom and I started Netburner. If I look back on the my career the times I've been most happy have been when I'm learning something new and accomplishing something really hard. Starting NetBurner and writing a robust embedded network ecosystem from scratch was all of these things, lots to learn, hard, a task worth putting 100% into. From a personal financial and business sense NetBurner has been a success, but at the same time from a personal technical challenge the code base is now mature and I spend at least 80% of my time messing with hardware and code that I created 5 or more years ago. From a personal sanity standpoint I need to do something different.
As I've stated here and elsewhere helping humanity reduce the cost of accessing all of the solar systems resources is probably the most important task that a human can attempt. I'd like to contribute to that effort. Clearly any effort in this direction has to be commercial, if it can't create value and a profitable business, it won't be self sustaining. How best to contribute to that?
I could go work for an existing organization, but I'm not sure how well the transition from leader/owner to employee would go.
I could liquidate all my assets and bet the farm on starting a NanoSat launcher business in an unreasonable fashion. Based on projections this would be grossly under capitalized and even if I acomplish this its not clear that having an organization where the value lives in the head of the one old wizard really creates value. ( At some level I've already a got a business that looks a lot like this )
I could write a business plan to create a larger organization where the value is in the organization and systems created and and go out on the begging for investors road trip. I've personally seen some very smart people fail at this. I've also seen some really creative people be consumed by the continuous process of finding the next funding round. Business schmooze is not my thing and unless the process can be setup with enough resources to succeed upfront I'm hesitant. Business have natural size scaling issues. Some where between 5M and 20M there is a discontinuity where things like HR and overall business management come into being and
trying to learn the 20M business organization game at the same time as trying to do a really hard technical problem seem personally daunting.
I could do some hybrid like working 1/2 time at NetBurner and liquidate some assets to build an all volunteer space business in San Diego (The Armadillo model) Unreasonable rocket has generated a lot of interest but the number of people that would show up once or twice a week on a regular basis for years seems to be vanishingly small.
I could say I'm done playing the rat race game, buy a Chris White Atlantic 48 and sail off into the sunset. (At one time this was a personal goal, my wife thinks I would be bored out of my mind.)
There are a million complicating issues:
The vast majority of the current U.S. space revenue comes from the government in one form or another. The U.S. government is broke and the recent NASA budget proposal is only the beginning. If the politicians get serious about getting the budget under control then all discretionary spending has to go to zero. NASA and non-military space is the poster child for discretionary. If the politicians don't get the the budget under control we are headed to a fiat monitary collapse or hyperinflation. In either case the current discretionary space funding goes to zero. One might even see this as an opportunity if could become the lowest cost launch provider by an order of mangnitude.
My son, who was a key part of the Unreasonable Rocket effort, is rightfully starting his own business and his own life. I doubt I will ever find someone that is as personally easy to work with. As my wife says don't play pictionary against thoose two they have some sort of personal telepathy.
I turn 49 in September, I have a lot of experience wisdom and gray hair, I can see that the brute force problem solving CPU is not what it was when I was 25. Can I find a way to harness the experience and hard earned wisdom without being the one primary CPU?
What is my personal responsibility to existing stakeholders in my life? Is it fair to sell the house and live with in an industrial space with my wife?. (She says she's fine with that, I'm not sure I am) What do I owe to the existing NetBurner stakeholders? A lot of independant consultants
base their lively hood on our eco system. I need to leave enough assets there to make sure NetBurner continues as a strong viable business while at the same time its my primary asset .
Lots to think about.
Saturday, June 04, 2011
I made three atttempts to capture a rocket launch from my autopilot euquiped helicopter. Its currently setup so I put it into position by RC then hit the freeze mode and it stays there in that exact position and orientation until I unfreeze it. So I can take shelter while the rocket launches toward the helicopter. The first attempt we were too far away and the goproHD just caught the rocket launch leaving the frame. The 2nd and 3rd attempts were with my workhorse HPR rocket and I was less concerned about playing chicken with someone else's rocket.
I have video from both the air and ground for all three shots. My video editing setup is currently not installed on my current computer so I can't edit the video.
So I uploaded the helicopter view from the 2nd attempt and the ground view from the third attempt unedited. These are the only ones that are short enough to be reasonable in size. The helicopter view interesting part starts at 2:36.
I would usually resolve this before posting, but I'm catching plane on Sunday and I just won't get to it.
After playing with the helicopter we ran the small printed peroxide/gar motor for the 3rd time. I have video of that, but its really boring, the rocket exhaust is completely clear, and you just get 3 minutes of hearing hissing noises. So I probably won't post that one. Other than leaking valve on the test stand the test was perfect. So I have finally killed my cat pack issues. This cat pack has run three times for at least 3 min each time, over a period of 3 months with no maintenance. This means I can static test a motor, and then put it in a flight vehicle with confidence it will work as desired.
The link for the ground based camera is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zOFmxN6Hb0
Video from Helicopter...
Slightly Edited video from the Helicopter with Slo-mo replays.
Friday, June 03, 2011
We will test the small printed stainless motor.
I've been working on my software development helicopter (A trex 600) This is the vehicle I used to develop the software for the blue and silver ball's. It had not flown in awhile and I had to re-familiarize myself with the software and behavior. I've modified the code so instead of just flying the LLC profile you can drive it around the sky with the RC controls then hit the freeze here button and have it stay in place. So my helicopter goal for this weekend is to capture video of a rocket launch from above. I'm not sure what is launching at FAR this weekend, so we'll bring the HPR along as a stand in if necessary.
In addition to the helicopter I've been looking for a smaller less scary platform to do some IMU and GPS testing on. I've now got an Arducopter flying. I'd never played with a quad before and its amazingly stable. Right now its 100% box stock, but the first modification will be to put on a Netburner CPU for more horsepower and probably a test IMU with 3 or 4 different sets of sensors for comparison. Analog devices has some new MEMS rate gyros designed for high vibration environments and I have high hopes for these as a suborbital capable IMU with very little external aiding.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Like all modern aircraft crashes the crash was the result of many causal events chained together.
Its clear that the root cause is a failure of both pitot static systems. Probably caused by super cooled freezing rain. One could reasonable argue that the root cause was the failure to replace these sensors, as that particular model had a history of freezing rain problems.
I believe that the static ports clogged and the pitot ports remained open.
We pick up our story shortly before this happened.
The experienced captain has retired to the crew rest area leaving two more junior crew to watch the airplane. Its four hours into a very long flight, its dark and cloudy flying between layers one cant really see the sky or the surface of the ocean. The cruise flight is usually uneventful and almost fully automated. The airbus flies as high as it can given the fuel load, it seeks thin low drag air for maximum efficiency. The margin between the cruise speed and stall speed where the aircraft stops flying is thin. They fly as high as they can given their weight. Maybe as little margin as 15%. In this warm cocoon with dim cockpit lights one struggles to stay alert.
Its hard to stay alert your human clock has no idea what time its it's dark, quiet peaceful.
Little has prepared you to be sharp and focused, you are about to loose the fight for your life.
The plane flies though a mist of super cooled water. This immediately makes a smooth solid sheet over the airframe. The various heaters and bleed air system make short work or removing this ice from most of the important surfaces.
The Pitot static system has two ports. One is used to measure the ambient "static" pressure. The other port is used to measure the pitot or impact pressure.
The absolute pressure on the static port is used to measure altitude.
the difference in pressure between the pitot and static pressures measures the indicated airspeed. IE dynamic air pressure. At these altitudes the airspeed might read 150mph even though the airplane is going 600mph. The air is thin here so the impact/airspeed pressure is
not adjusted for density as its real use is to tell what aerodynamic conditions the airplane sees, not the real speed over ground.
The static port heaters aren't quite up to the job. They seal shut under this icy glaze.
Since the system is basically flying in equilibrium there is no sudden change. After some time,
maybe quickly, maybe many tens of minutes the computer system on the aircraft determines that it can't tell what speed or altitude its flying at. The autopilot is officially confused. So it does what its supposed to do when confused, it shuts itself off and tells the pilots I have no clue you figure it out. The junior pilot is awakened from his day dreams with an alarm the basically says you've got it. So he is now been jarred into action to fight some flaw or failure of unknown origin and type. He can't really see outside he is now hand flying the airplane focused on the instruments. Maybe he sees the airspeed is a little bit high, so the natural reaction is to pull the nose up and slow down. When he pulls up the airspeed slows down as it should, as the plane climbs the pitot pressure decreases and the indicated airspeed slows down. So his first reaction seems to be correct, nose comes up speed slows down. Its kind of strange the altitude did not change. No he's confused. But his brain says nose up slow down it worked. Airspeed is ok.
Back to messing with the computers to see what error code caused this problem.
Yet maybe he keeps applying a little back pressure the plane climbs and slows down to the point it stalls. Now he has multiple different alarms, stall warnings, computer alarms and confused autopilot he must choose what problem to address. Scared and confused he goes back to basics, fly the dammed plane. At this time the aircraft is stalled and descending rapidly in the dark clouds. The outside air pressure is increasing so the pitot pressures is increasing showing a rising airspeed. Yet in the real world the airplane is slow REALLLY slow, falling from the sky.
Yet the pilot saw the airspeed respond to his first inputs when he took control, that must be working. soon the airspeed is really climbing, maybe even approaching redline as the pressure increases. The Altimeter shows lots of altitude, the view out the window is dark confusing and useless. The more the pilot tries to pull up to slow down the airplane the faster the airspeed shows.... he now fears that he's going to rip the wings off..... His brain screams your screwing up something is wrong, yet noting seems to behave correctly, trying to just do the basics and its not right. Its not clear that the pilot ever figured out what was wrong before the plane smacked the water killing everyone on board.
When I was a 100 to 150 hour pilot in Alaska I almost had the identical crash.
My college girlfriend had come up to visit at the end of the summer and I wanted to take her flying to show her where I grew up. The airplane I was used to flying, a super cub on floats, was down for maintenance. So we were flying my Dads Turbo 206. It was completly tricked out with all the slow speed stol slats, big engine amphibian floats (not regular floats like the cub)
I Probably had 6 to 10 hours in the 206. It was a bit much for me. We were going from Ketchikan to Craig Alaska, typical Alaskan day raining dreary 1500 ft ove cast. Getting through the pass across prince of wales island was tight but not unusually so. Getting near Craig there was patchy fog around and the water was glassy. Glassy water landings are a challenge in a sea plane because you can't judge height over a mirror surface. So to land you set up an attitude and rate of descent and just hold it till you hit the water. I set up fro a straight in landing heading directly at Craig, I'm all configured, wheels up, flaps down, cowl flaps, etc... I check the gear twice. All the check list things are done, but the plane is not flying right. The airspeed is way high and I just can't get it to slow down. I'm trying to hit the target glassy water speed to set the right approach angle. Its not working the nose is way up, the airspeed is climbing. With all the STOL gear on this plane the stall is mushy not sharp so I don't notice a buffet or stall break.
I'm fully stalled and descending to the water at a high rate of speed. My brain is screaming something is wrong fix it. I can't figure it out something is obviously wrong. If it had been the super cub I had a lot of experience in I would have realized what was wrong by the feel of the airplane. I did not have enough time in the 206 to realize this. I eventually realized that I was in trouble and decided to abort the landing, full power (this was the souped up plane so full power would climb at a 45 degree angle) Stop thinking about landing start thinking about going around.
I started looking outside exclusively as I did not want to fly into the town of Craig, I needed to go around. When I stopped focusing on the airspeed and started flying the airplane I lowered the nose. At that moment we hit the water. I'd just powered my way out of a stall into minimum controllable airspeed by pure power. We hit firmly but not hard enough to break anything.
(remember this is glassy water so there is no height clue) I immediately pulled the throttle back and we were bobbing on the water, not moving at all. I looked down and the airspeed said 130 knots. I reached down and flipped the alternate static port valve and altimeter and airspeed suddenly read the correct values.
Here I was flying by visual flight rules in a simple non automated airplane in the day time while being on high alert due to the newness of flying this plane and a frozen static port almost killed me. I can close my eyes and imagine the terror as the pilot struggled to figure out what was wrong, his brain screaming your screwing up something is wrong fix it, and being unable to figure it out. I've been there it was not fun. Its been 29 years since that flight and retellign the story still makes me feel terrified.
A side note on multiple causes:
With the STOL gear the plane stalls 10 or 15 mph slower than the factory stock version. The bush pilots that flew that plane on a regular basis found the continuous stall warning horn on approach annoying so they put a chunk of tree branch in the stall warning vane so it would not go off. If I'd heard a stall warning I might have figured it out sooner...the cub I usually flew did not have or need such things.
Sunday, May 08, 2011
- Deliver the tank mold I spent the last week making to continue the Joint peroxide tank development.
- Fly my autonomous helicopter again in preperation for my GPS IMU integration project.
- Strech goal use the helicopter to film a launch from above.
- Test my printed motor for the Third time to qualify the cat pack.
- Be a spectator and watch three really cool projects.
As I ended up with a flat tire. From the outside it looked like a bent over nail, or staple. Today when I had the tire fixed it turns out to be a knife blade(Inside the tire view.). The tire is a loss. I had hoped to get to FAR before dark to start setting up. Alas with traffic and the tire I got to FAR really late. It took 7 hours from my house to the site. (Normally takes 4) The site was really busy with lots going on.
I accomplished part of my list. I set up half the test stand Friday night before I went to bed, but Saturday had so many people working on som many projects I never got a break between projects to finish and fire. By 3PM I was worn out from the heat, and still needed to resolve getting my tire fixed, so I tore it back down and I'll do the fireing on the next FAR day Jun 3rd.
All the projects were fun to watch, alas I think only the sugar shot guys had a successful recovery. The two stage attempt had a wild disassembly followed by the 2nd stage firing straight down. The biggest coolest project was part of a TV program so I'm not sure they would want me to discuss the outcome.
I fired up the helicopter and the software and sensors still work,I successfully made some minor changes to the flight software and that worked. Alas a loose tail rotor prevented any attempt at getting the launch shot.
I delivered the tank mold form so I should see the first testable peroxide compatible tank in the next month.
Sunday, April 17, 2011
We got to FAR at 10:15 We missed the Garvey space launch by 20min. Breakfast so was not worth it.
Historically every liquid test/launch conductor says they will go at 9 am and inevitably it happens around 12 or 1. This was a relaunch of the vehicle they flew two weeks ago and everything went according to plan. It jsut means I'll have to get up earlier next time I go to FAR.
For our test we broke off the fuel feed fitting, probably from all the handling in the last two weeks. We have stopped bringing the kitchen sink with us so we had no spare. A 1.5 hour drive into California city and back nets us a usable fitting and a lunch in air conditioning.
We were very careful in loading propellants to get proper wieghts for the oxidizer and fuel going in and leftover fuel coming out after the test. This should allow me to calculate a good ISP number combined with the load cell data.
The test ran for several minutes and from my perspective was perfect. The motor had a bit more hum than last time, I suspect the cat pack might be getting loose from being compressed, and cooled, but it operated perfectly.
Another test on the May 7th (the next FAR day) and I'll declare the cat pack issue resolved and start working on motor tuning for max ISP.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
I created this post so the debate could move over here and not clutter up someone else's blog.
for rocket news we will be testing the printed SS motor this weekend, and we will be presenting at space access.
Also good luck to team armadillo and the tube rocket.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
I chose to cancel rocket testing this weekend and work on my GPS project.
I got the Rakon GMM8652 based front end working.
So now that I have a fully working front end the real work starts.
I'm currently routing the raw data into an FPGA , but instead of doing the processing there I'm just using that as a path to record the data. Recording raw data records (4M bytes/sec) and post processing with the FASTGPS open source software GPS program on a PC.
Next Step do the corelator processing in the FPGA. I have that verilog code written, but its mostly untested at this point.
Rough order of events:
- Prove the RF and FPGA hardware works. (done)
- Get one correlation channel tracking one sat.
- Get 6 or more channels tracking sats.
- Calculate position, velocity, time (PVT) based on this tracking data.
- Add data delay buffer and feedback from IMU data to aid loop tracking.
- Fly the thing.
and fly that so we have a good raw data set to use for testing and simulation.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
On March 5th we watched Garvey space have a perfect flight.
We tested a commercial GPS and out stainless printed motor.
The Motor had cat pack issues,
The peroxide has to flow through the cat pack and not around it.
This is done by adding rings that look like piston rings and expand out against the barrel of the cat pack area and block flow that wants to go around the outside. I disassembled the pack tonight and I had 4 anti channeling rings in the pack. The top ring was fine, the second ring was a bit distorted, the 3rd was badly burnt and thinned and the last one came out in tiny bits. I'm going to try stainless C clips as anti channeling baffles and we will see how that goes.
The GPS stopped updating the moment the motor lit.
I'm going to use some tougher stainless snap rings as anti channeling baffles.
Today I received my 2nd version of a GPS front end board and hopefully will get to try it this weekend. (rakon grm8652 integrated GPS front end )
The Max2769 eval board is due in on Friday if UPS is to be believed.
This Saturday we will try firing the small stainless printed motor with modified anti channeling baffles in the cat pack.
Some time in April we might get our first test tank under the Tank development process with we are doing jointly with microcosm.
I have high hopes to have a high dynamics GPS to actually fly by the next FAR outing the first Saturday in April.
My current Plan of record:
1)Work on the small 3D printed motors both stainless and aluminum until I have a viable 3rd stage motor.
2)In parallel work on high dynamics GPS and IMU integration using HPR rockets to test,
3)Tank development continues. (my involvement with this is limited until testing is needed)
4)When I have the high dynamic gps/imu working add some small canard control fins to the
HPR test rocket and see if we can control the trajectory.
This may possibly be done with vanes in the exhaust instead of canard fins.
5)Combine steps 1-4 to see if we can fly a small rocket to 100Km.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Non COCOM GPS that can do what I want or if I should spend a month or so finishing what I started, and have something to offer the community.
Sunday, February 06, 2011
- UCLA was fireing a 2Klb Nitrous Hybrid Motor.of their own design. They had a good firing and learned a lot.
- There were several EX solid flights including an M.
- An experimental Steam Hybrid Motor.
- The site next door, RRS fired a large 10K lb (my guess) biprop liquid for a 10 seconds or so a good rumble.
- We fired our small Gasoline/H2O2 regen 3D printed DMLS stainless motor.
- Our Cat pack issue is resolved, it started right up and ran perfectly. It looks like lots of anti channel rings are really important.
- The motor is running a bit lean as the flame was completely transparent.
- We ran for about 60 seconds so we reached thermal equilibrium.
- We are completely paranoid about material compatibility on the H2O2 side of the test stand. It appears we need to be more paranoid about the fuel side as the gasoline ate the seals out of one of our fuel valves.
- I'll try to publish data this week.
- We should also have access to video later this week.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
There is a huge on-line discussion base about lower cost space flight and it clearly covers this and other B.O patents. If the patent is challenged the patent will be clearly invalid, but if it is issued it will cost millions to have it declared invalid. This is a huge expense to any small organization that might want to use that technology.
I am not anti patent, but the patent needs to actually be innovative.
I won't go line by line to refute the claims, that has already been done in several forums by myself and others.
If the patent actually had some new art, say:
- A unique way to adjust trajectory to compensate for performance changes and still land on the barge.
- A cool stabilization and retention system that would capture the rocket on a rolling barge and stabilize it.
- An innovative method to incorporate a flame trench or blast diffusion system on a barge.
- Anything that someone "Skilled" in the art would not find obvious to the extreme.
Friday, January 21, 2011
We waited three hours for the delivery truck who thought the road was still to rough so we met him at the end of the pavement and took the delivery the rest of the way in our truck.
We then set up the test stand and fired the stainless DMLS motor. It was much better than last time, but we still have catalyst issues as we were not getting full decomposition. The beginning and end of the very long run were identical so we are no longer poisoning our cat packs.!!
I think I need to add some anti channel baffles.
The test stand worked flawlessly and set up to fire time was less than 45 minutes with just two of us.
After we finished that I went back and made another attempt on the generator:
I replaced ALL the banjo fitting seals and soft feed tubing. After doing that the prime pump was much more solid and priming was faster and seemed less random. The Motor still did not run.
Then I removed the side panel (Item D in the picture from two posts ago) and tried to figure out what moved when your moved the shutoff lever..... nothing moved.....
Then I removed the fittings and bolts holding block Item 9, from the top of the injection pump.
I discovered that the pump pistons have a little cam arm that comes out and engages a rod that should be moving. One of the injector pistons is stuck in the full up position and will not turn as it should. This jams the rod keeping all of the injector piston cams stuck in the shutoff position.
I freed that piston and reassembled everything.
Now when you move the shutoff lever you could see moment inside the area exposed by cover Item D. When the motor was turned over the outlets made little sequential squirts.!!!!
After fully reassembling everything the Generator started on the second attempt.
We then cleaned up the oily mess inside the generator enclosure from all the bleeding.
We buttoned up all the covers and ran it one more time. We now have a generator!!!!
Many thanks to Dave Weinshenker for the diesel help. He deduced what the problem was and provided me the information I needed to resolve the issue.
I should have data and possibly video of the rocket motor test in the next week some time.
I won't have much time this weekend as my Dad fell down and is in the hospital (Nothing major, he should be out Today) We also have a 99th birthday celebration for my Step Mom's mother this weekend.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Clearly modern composite structures hold real promise for improving structural efficiency. I've dabbled in composite structures but I am very much a beginner. The tanks produced by professionals like Scorpius Launch Systems/Microcosm are both amazingly functional and beautiful. It would take me a decade to acquire that level of expertise. The recent composite coupons I tested for peroxide compatibility were fabricated by Microcosm/Scorpius. I'm currently riding home from a meeting at their facility where we finished the details of a joint development program to build peroxide compatible liner less tanks.
I think this is a win win for both parties Scorpius will get a new product line and we will gain access to world class tanks.
Saturday, January 08, 2011
I sent the following note and picture to the vendor I bough the generator from. Any ideas from the peanut gallery? I realize the text is kind of rough, but it is part of an ongoing conversation....
I've attached a picture with parts labeled.
I still don't have it running, so I'll explain.
First thing I did was fix the return plumbing on top of the injectors.
I did not end up replacing the injectors as when I got the new bolts it all sealed up.
The return line that goes from the right end of the injector string down to the filter was rubber and leaking so I replaced it with the new metal part
I got from you guys.
Between each step below I'm loosening the screws #B and pumping the little pump until I get clear fuel with no bubbles.
I'm treating screw B like one treats a brake bleed, you need to close it while clear fluid is coming out so it does not suck in air.
So after fixing that and priming and bleeding I try to run... nothing.
The I remove the left most injector line nut #A (shown removed in the picture)
when I crank no fuel comes out the empty fitting, nothing not even a drop.
Then I remove all four nuts, and nothing not even a drop from ANY of them.
I open cover #3 and lift up the plate and turn the motor over to make sure gear inside is turning. It is.
So one of the guys says diesel pumps have shear pins and that could be it.
So I remove panel #D and turn over the motor, you can see the plungers moving up and down so the shear pin is probably good.
At this point I text you.
So for the next step I remove the screws #2 and then unscrew the left most two fittings #1 and the one to the left of it.
Inside are little plungers and springs, the plungers may have been stuck but the are now free.
Then I reinstall the springs and plungers and turn the motor over (after bleeding) and noting comes out.
So I remove #1 again and manually operate the prime pump and fuel comes out.
If I only screw #1 in part way the prime pump can make fuel come out. IF I screw it in all the way the prime pump can't
make fuel come out. If I only put number 1 into the point that the prime pump can make fuel come out and crank the motor No fuel comes out.
A couple of comments
The Hose #10 is really stiff and too big for the nipple, I really can't keep it from leaking air.
All of the banjo fittings on the inlet side of the world seem to have non metalic seals that are dried out and leak.
These were some of the seals I asked you for, but I've removed #10 and the banjo fitting behind it and all the fittings going to the first fuel filter,
I've brought these home and I'm going to get new seals and new hose before I go back out.
So at this point I'm lost? The only thing I see that could be wrong is that the inlet check valve into the plunger pump assembly is stuck open?
At this point is seems like I'm down to a fairly simple concept" plunger pump and two check valves.
Where will I find the inlet check valves to unjam?
Can I remove the whole upper pump assembly #9, if so do I just remove the 4 nuts, or do I have to do something else?
#J is fixed and I'm guessing it should not be adjusted?
#H moves all the way counter clockwise when you try to start, I'm guessing that that is the ONLY shutoff the electronics has for the motor?
#C What is this and does it do anything?
It takes be 4 to 4 1/2 hours each way to go the the site.
I've now been to the site 4 times to work on the generator. not counting time on the phone at home or asking researching at home
I've spent close to 50 hours working on this what should I do next?
Did you guys actually run this motor at your office? (based on the way it was packed I'd guess no.)
So realize this motor has NEVER EVER EVER run, so what else could be wrong?