Tuesday, 7 May 2013

STRATODEAN One Follow-up and Future Plans

As promised, here are some of the stats and data we've gathered from STRATODEAN One. We launched on Sunday 21st April at 10:14am from our local rec in Coleford.

We listed our flight on the UKHAS Google Group in the few weeks prior to launch so we had lots of people willing to help track. See below for a break down - thanks to all those mentioned!

People tracking our payload

We were forced to stop our own in-car tracking to save the laptop battery (in-car changer blew a fuse!) so your help was essential for us to keep an eye on the balloon trajectory and predicted landing site.

STRATODEAN Signal being received
Signal being received
Some of the most positive feedback from our flight was that the signal did not drift off frequency. In real terms this means that our radio transmitter kept very close to the advertised 434.650MHz and was not adversely affected by temperature. This also meant that tracking was easier as radios did not have to continually be retuned.  We received a nice email from new 'HABer' Martin Rigby who was kind enough to show us a screen shot of the signal as received by his radio in Penrith, Cumbria. You can see that the RTTY lines are fairly straight.

We also had an email from fellow HABer Geoff Mather who was able to create this interactive flight movie in Google Earth based on the telemetry that we had been transmitting. Thank you Geoff!

The raw telemetry that was saved onto the SD card from the transmitter can be seen here.

Since the launch we have put things on the back burner for a week, just to reflect on what we have achieved and to think about a few other (non-space!) ideas. However, it's now time to start resetting ourselves and the project and working out what we can do better for STRATODEAN Two!

In our second launch we'd like to do a few things differently. The first launch was a success but there are some improvements to be made. Firstly we aren't entirely happy with our video quality when the payload reached the stratosphere. We included the GoPro anti-fog inserts thinking that this would help us avoid the misting in our videos, however we now know this caused the exact opposite to happen. The waterproof case let air out but did not let air in, so a vacuum formed inside. As we all remember from our science lessons(!), water boils at a much lower temperature inside a vacuum, so inside our case, the moisture that had been collected by the anti-fog inserts started to boil and then condensed on to the coldest part of the case - the lens cover pointing out into space!  To remedy this we are simply going to fly without inserts or a lens cover and have holes in the case so that no vacuum can form.

We had no idea from the first launch how hot/cold it was up there, so another thing that we have acquired are temperature sensors that we can wire into our flight tracker so that it will record these values for us.

Finally, something we are trying to research for next time is adding time, velocity and altitude data to our flight videos - currently a work in progress trying to find the best software. We had people comment on the video 'how high are we now' at certain points, so it would be nice to have a little 'Head-Up Display' on the video to display this data.

We have applied for CAA approval and extended our helium rental so it's just a case of completing our upgrades and waiting for good weather!

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