Summer Festival 2013

November 6th, 2013

Well, another year and another competition go by the wayside.
This year was much more successful than last. We made some progress in the fact that we actually got the system deployed to 1200 meters this year first of all.
Second, we had some climbers actually make it to this height and come back safely. Highest speed was around 10 m/s average climb speed. Raw data can be seen here. And official results can be seen here.
This data was taken by a variety of sensors in a 1kg payload that all teams used to help get more accurate data on the climbs.

There were about 15 teams and we had quite a few runs at lower heights, but only 5 made the final 1200m run on the final day.

All in all, other than needing to cut down a bunch of trees to clear some of the field near mount Fuji, everything went pretty smoothly.

There was one fire and one damaged battery, but no injuries other than bug bites that I can recall.

It is always fun to see the students working hard to make their climbers work as they have done each year. But it was good to see the tethered balloon system work as planned since we had some unfortunate mishaps (BOOM!) last year.

Hopefully soon there will be a video available to see some live footage as well.

There was some media coverage in one of the national magazines here and also by some local papers. We continue to garner support of all who are interested in seeing this project move forward.

Of course as you do, you learn, and we find that to be the case again this year. And we wait to see what height (2000-3000m?) and what lessons will be learned in the next. I find myself contemplating more and more use-cases for tethered balloon systems, and welcome any ideas/comments to that effect. I have yet to come up with anything that would immediately be economically feasible, but believe they do exist.

In the end though, the biggest bottleneck in any balloon system I believe is the maintenance and running costs that would be needed.
I think if we could make a self-sustaining hot-air balloon (at least during the day), this would be a large step toward changing existing balloon systems and the potential applications of them. Of course there would be degradation of the system, but just getting any significant progress on a self-sustaining hot-air balloon would be a huge accomplishment.

Recent articles for balloon systems

February 6th, 2013

I recently read some interesting articles related to balloon systems.
One is about a new tether. I believe it is mostly designed for electric circuits, but appears to be a serious attempt at a true nanotube fiber tether, which I have not really seen to this point (at least not one which could be commercially viable).
The next is about a balloon system done by Aeroscraft, which originated from Antonov engineers which made the largest cargo airplane known. I want to use this for our next competition. This and a real automated tether winding system.

Data logging and 3d display

December 11th, 2012

So I am trying to figure out how to display the data that is logged to an android phone in a 3d engine.

It took me a few days, but I think I have something that works for the most part now.  There are still some problems with the precision of the data, i.e. my phone only has precision of ORIENTATION up to 1 degree.  And there is some noise on the accelerometer too.

But after checking the developer.android.com/reference/android/hardware/SensorManager.html#SENSOR_ORIENTATION

and some Matrix mathematics for 3d engines and vectors, I was able to make this.

jsea.oreth.com/spaceelevator/sesource/directoryv3.1/index.php

From here we can drill into the data that I collected on my android phone and view the 3d simulation of that movement.

I think it is pretty cool anyway.

Could be useful for a variety of things.  I was surprised at the HTML5 functionality that is available now with the Canvas, which is a big part of what allows me to do this so fast.

On a separate thread, for me mobile development is only a temporary thing.  As soon as phones support browser functionality well, all of the UI development done on phones will be useless.  The only thing useful for mobile development is sensors and hardware related. Everything else should just go in a browser.  Of course the browser and browser JS engine development is important too.  This could be said about UI development in general.  PC UI development should also be done in Browser if possible.

I see why the tech giants use expensive ads to promote their browsers even though they are all free.