Monday, November 14, 2011

Paralyzed by options

For the last two months I've been working on improving my physical self. Next year I turn 50 and its clear that some attention to self maintenance is no longer optional. I've been running, carefully controlling what I eat looking at things like nutrient levels unrealized food allergies etc... So far I've lost 25 lbs, I am sleeping better, fixed some weird digestive issues etc... I'm starting to feel a whole lot better. For the next few months this is going to remain my primary focus, but I'm starting to have some spare brain cycles to devote to interesting projects. The only problem is I have not yet picked one. Its almost an embarrassment of riches as I have far more things I'd like to work on than I could ever possibly do.

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.
Here is the short stream of consciousness list of projects I'd like to do, and that I've spent some time sketching or thinking about.
  • 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:
  • 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

Tank V2.

The original tank shown in the last blog post did not pass hydro it failed at about 180PSI where the integral liner failed. This tank was desiged for 500PSI burst.

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.