Funded! This project was successfully funded on July 15, 2012.

Update #13

Balloons, TVACs, and Shipping –Oh my!

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First off, we’d like to apologize for the October update not coming out on the 15th - even though it’s only two weeks from now, we’ll be back on schedule with updates on the 15th of each month starting in November. Thankfully, our lack of updates has not been due a lack of progress: in addition to assembling and shipping all the sensor packages (which should arrive before November 15th), we’ve been pretty busy!

High-Altitude Tests Successful – ArduSat Prototype Flies to 85,000 Feet!

On October 27th, the ArduSat payload prototype was carried to 85,000 feet on a high-altitude balloon! During the flight, which took a little over two hours, the payload ran sample programs, ran tests on the sensors, and even snapped some pictures in the upper stratosphere. The launch was made possible thanks to the awesome guys at Edge Research Laboratory from Colorado Springs, who designed and built the balloon, provided all the tracking services, and even had a plane helping photograph and recover the payload after landing. We’ve posted the first few pictures from the flight on our Facebook and Twitter pages!

There’s also a great blog article from Sparkfun (one of our sponsors) here: http://www.sparkfun.com/news/996. Sparkfun also launched a balloon with Edge Research on the same day and managed to hit 125,000 feet (their payload was ¼ the weight)!

Originally, we had planned to launch from Austin Texas on September 22, but the flight had to be rescheduled when the launch provider found their helium tanks empty right before launch day and didn’t have enough time to get replacement gas before we had to fly back to San Francisco.

Building some space in our lab – progress on the thermal vacuum chamber

As much fun as it is sending the payload into the stratosphere, we need an easier way to test how our electronics perform in the low pressure and temperature extremes they’ll see in space. To do this, we’ve been putting together a thermal vacuum chamber that will simulate orbital conditions, with the help from David Thiebert from Thibert Engineering Concepts.

As of this week, we’ve built the chamber, found and fixed a few small leaks around the seals, and have started testing off-the-shelf Arduinos in vacuum (we've put a few pictures on our Facebook / Twitter as well). Over the next few weeks we’ll be building the heating and cooling system to simulate temperature extremes in the vacuum, using simple resistive lamps to simulate the sun and a liquid-nitrogen-based cooling system to simulate cold deep space.

Fubra Universe Website Launches

ArduSat’s Platinum Partner, CATN, has launched a new project to teach Arduino programming to kids called Fubra Universe, and their website went live this month. They’ll be working with a local scout troop to build a simulated Martian terrain and a programmable rover, and then open it up for students to remotely program and explore using javascript. Once they’ve got the program running, they’re going to open it up and let anyone in the world use it. It’s sounds like a really cool looking project, definitely something worth keeping your eye on - check it out here: www.fubrauniverse.com

We need your help!

Lara has been putting together a series of education videos designed to help new DIYers and hackers learn how to use an Arduino. We’ve posted the first lesson on Screencast, and we’d really appreciate any feedback from the DIY community on the content of the videos: http://www.screencast.com/users/NanoSat_University/folders/BMP085%201 The user interface that will be on the finished product is still under construction, so we know it’s a little rough around the edges.

(A note from Joel): I just wanted to add my personal thanks to everyone for your support this summer and patience while we put the project together! After bouncing around Germany, Texas, and Canada, it feels great to be onsite with the rest of the team in San Francisco and seeing the project coming to life.

I’m looking forward to sending another nice long update in two weeks!
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