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lajoswinkler

Project - sending a Jeb figurine into stratosphere

Good Idea?  

64 members have voted

  1. 1. Good Idea?

    • Brilliant! $50+
      7
    • Good Idea, $10
      10
    • Good Idea, won't donate
      42
    • TERRIBLE IDEA EVERYONE SUCKS (haters gotta hate)
      5


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I'm opening this because I'm seeing what's currently happening with the microsatellite project. Herding a bunch of cats, as one member said. If anything actually happens with that project, I'll be glad to help, but so far it seems the logistics are seriously failing.

So here's a thread dedicated to my early recommendation for boosting the public image and raising awareness about KSP for later projects.

First watch this popular video.

It's been quite a while since the general public has started releasing camera and GPS equipped stratospheric balloons. It is not something you need an institute or an university for anymore, but it's not a piece of cake, either.

Goal

To send a figurine of Jebediah Kerman into the stratosphere, strapped in front of a camera, dangling high above the troposphere, and show images and video to the world.

Propositions

- The most realistic Jeb out there is Shapeways' Jeb, made by Squad.

625x465_1013413_1285015_1383678173.jpg

I think it would be the best to use this one, and not stuff like custom made plushies and crochet toys. After all, this is Jeb in the command chair. He might as well be on the EAS-1 External Command Seat, commanding the flight.

- Sending the balloon equipped with a GPS tracker and camera recording would require tracking the craft and travelling to retrieve it, then releasing the video to the public. That's how it's usually done.

A lot more complicated and expensive, but cooler thing to do would be a live stream equipment, even if the resulting image is poor. I seriously doubt we could do it, but let's keep it in mind. Who knows?

- Basic sensor instruments onboard: barometer, thermometer, hygrometer, Geiger counter.

Info

- Radiosondes are relatively cheap, but someone knowledgeable in electronics could do it using Arduino.

- Retroreflector is a must, but it's easily made from aluminized plastic foil and lightweight panels.

- Helium is too expensive; hydrogen offers more lift and is completely safe if safety precautions are made.

- HD, high quality 808 keychain micro camera can be bought for less than 50 USD and offers very nice video; GoPro and other expensive fancy stuff isn't needed.

- Capsule needs a heater which can be based on sodium acetate pad because it's made out of styrofoam which is a great thermal insulator.

- Real classic parachute is not needed as it would greatly increase the horizontal travel. A ribbon would be enough, if not simply relying on the torn balloon. Terminal speeds of a lightweight styrofoam probe and retroreflector would be tolerable.

This would benefit a lot of people: Squad, people in charge of the microsatellite project, sponsors. The total cost should be well under 1000 USD, probably less than 500 USD. The funds could be raised easily.

I'm not capable of executing this flight or even preparing the hardware. I live on a coast, so there's a large chance of the probe falling into the sea or wandering off to another country and I'm not willing to go and wander the mountains of Bosnia. This needs to be released inland, without nearby mountains or large lakes.

I'm just proposing this and can't actually do anything around the hardware. Someone else should take care of it. I'm sure even Squad alone could hire someone to do it. There are companies out there that did the same, sending drink cans, chairs...

So, let's discuss... and try to be serious.

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I am most certainly up for it. I've got almost everything I need for it, from a GoPro to a nearby certified helium dealer.

I'm actually in the midst of working on a project to launch a Kerbal off of a weather-balloon launch platform. The rocket is expected to reach about 30,000 feet above the balloon, if everything goes well. Unfortunately, the rocket needs to stay as low-mass as possible, so I'm not actually launching the Shapeways model of Jeb on the rocket, but instead this little guy:

SVkUh3l.jpg

(sorry for the potato quality)

At 0.2 ounces, PicoJeb can not only fit in the body tube, but also not mess up the mass of the rocket too much! A win-win for all. (I'll still mount Shapeways Jeb on the balloon, he just won't get launched on a rocket.)

Before you dismiss this as a pipe dream, I'm going to (if all goes well) launch the rocket for a ground test... in about two weeks, at NARAM 56. If the rocket survives the boost (50 g's at 950 mph to ~10,500'), I'll be happy. If it can be retrieved, I'll be ecstatic. If it's intact... JOY!

I'll post some of the build progress as the days pass.

Oh! Here's a recent rocket launch (just to show that I can, indeed, build these things). This rocket isn't built for speed or altitude, but it has a GoPro on it. And Jeb.

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This project is actually doable!

I volunteer to design and build the sensors (pressure, temperature, and Geiger) and if needed launch the balloon (I can make hydrogen). I live in Minnesota.

I pledge 50 dollars (can someone start a Kickstarter)?

We should be able to do this for under $1000, probably under $500.

Some preliminary ideas for sensors:

Pressure sensor: Honeywell NBPMLNN015PAUNV, $12.32 on Digikey.

Temperature sensor: Texas Instruments LM19CIZ, $0.85 on Digikey

Geiger counter: Tube costs $93.95 on Sparkfun. We could also try our luck with Ebay. The drive (boost converter) and sensing circuits should be under $20.

Edited by QuesoExplosivo

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I'll take a look at Kickstarter tommorow, be patient.

But first things first - we need to gather people (this thread is only several hours old, let's not speed things up) and talk things through before actually starting any funding operation. Haste will get us nowhere. I expect this to be done over these summer months, before autumn.

QuesoExplosivo, I was talking about cheap sensors like this one.

http://www.dx.com/p/arduino-digital-temperature-humidity-sensor-module-121350#.U8cnTvmSwcY

It's just an example I found after few seconds of searching on DX. There are probably even better options. The more data is gathered, the better. All but the Geiger counter come as very lightweight, simple Arduino elements, and the Geiger itself is quite small, too.

C6981B.jpg I think one could assemble this for under 50 USD. eBay offers tons of tubes, and there are readily available schematics online. I'll leave that to you.

Regarding hydrogen, producing it is a piece of cake, but producing copious amounts of reasonably pure and dry hydrogen isn't. Are you sure you could do that? Making a probe from scratch, the launch mechanism and launching (+tracking, +retrieving) might be too much for one person.

Next, the capsule. Any recommendations?

If several people work on each part while communicating to ensure compatibility, the project becomes stronger. After everything is made, it can be shipped to the person who will release the probe.

More people able to do physics calculations are needed and welcome.

UpsilonAerospace, go for it! It looks great. :)

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We'll also need programmers for the electronics. Someone who could write a simple program for the Arduino elements, to gather sensor data every few seconds so it could be put into the video clip at the end. I don't have experience with this, so anyone willing to take care of it would be welcome.

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I can produce a large amount (cubic meters) of dry hydrogen. What I don't know how to do is make a balloon envelope.

Regarding video, how will we store it?

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You got your priorities wrong.

no need for capsule (heating can be provided withouth pressuarized capsules) or scientific equipment (it'll just be a dead weight with no value what so ever).

Spend money on a good camera (image quality matters. A lot) that allows you to trigger both: stills and video. Then make both: high quality images and a good video.

it'll be by far more popular than crappy video stream from a keychain camera. Plus: you might actually hope for a press coverage if you'll have quality material from your baloon flight.

Edited by Sky_walker

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How about getting a bigger balloon so we can send Jeb into a suborbital trajectory (or somewhere close)? We could get a bigger balloon that lifts more, attach a model rocket motor (I'm looking at you, GregoxMun), then launch it sky-high!

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Unless you find someone who has done it - forget it. It's too easy to fail. You want to have a results to show, not a rock strapped to the baloon.

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Alright then. A figurine in the stratosphere's plenty enough already.

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Unless you find someone who has done it - forget it. It's too easy to fail. You want to have a results to show, not a rock strapped to the baloon.

I have done 2 HAB launches, though none with a Jeb figurine. (link to first launch, I'm still working on the second launch video: bit.ly/nearspace )

If some KSP players would be willing to donate and help me out, I could definitely do this, with sensor and camera data.

Also, 100th post!!

Edited by TheDataMiner

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Very cool idea. Can't help with anything but moral support, due to a lack of money or expertise on any of the practical matters. I do agreewith Sky_walker though. For a first attempt, it's better not to do to much and instead focus on doing on thing well. In this case, getting great footage of a Jeb figurine as he's floating in the upper atmosphere.

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Unless you find someone who has done it - forget it. It's too easy to fail. You want to have a results to show, not a rock strapped to the baloon.

We do have one that have already launch a kerbal in a rocket

I am most certainly up for it. I've got almost everything I need for it, from a GoPro to a nearby certified helium dealer.

I'm actually in the midst of working on a project to launch a Kerbal off of a weather-balloon launch platform. The rocket is expected to reach about 30,000 feet above the balloon, if everything goes well. Unfortunately, the rocket needs to stay as low-mass as possible, so I'm not actually launching the Shapeways model of Jeb on the rocket, but instead this little guy:

http://i.imgur.com/SVkUh3l.jpg

(sorry for the potato quality)

At 0.2 ounces, PicoJeb can not only fit in the body tube, but also not mess up the mass of the rocket too much! A win-win for all. (I'll still mount Shapeways Jeb on the balloon, he just won't get launched on a rocket.)

Before you dismiss this as a pipe dream, I'm going to (if all goes well) launch the rocket for a ground test... in about two weeks, at NARAM 56. If the rocket survives the boost (50 g's at 950 mph to ~10,500'), I'll be happy. If it can be retrieved, I'll be ecstatic. If it's intact... JOY!

I'll post some of the build progress as the days pass.

Oh! Here's a recent rocket launch (just to show that I can, indeed, build these things). This rocket isn't built for speed or altitude, but it has a GoPro on it. And Jeb.

http://youtu.be/VDgNC8yRmAE

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We do have one that have already launch a kerbal in a rocket

Not from a balloon. Nowhere remotely close to the altitude we're talking about.

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We probably need to discuss where in the world we are going to do this from as then people can reasonably say what support they can give.

This. I'm interested but I suspect it will be too far from me.

I'm still interested though, I will contribute to a kickstarter and I *might* be able to help with the programming. I'll monitor the thread and let you know if I see something I can do.

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I can produce a large amount (cubic meters) of dry hydrogen. What I don't know how to do is make a balloon envelope.

Regarding video, how will we store it?

Why do you think an envelope is needed? We're talking about a simple weather balloon. I bet it could be done using a large wedding balloon (that's something I'm currently planning to test) and still reach at least 20 km using hydrogen. We don't need to go super high in order do get nice shots. :)

The easiest source of hydrogen would be a welder's gas tank. Electrolysis is out of the question because it's slow and can't build up pressure. Zinc-acid or aluminium-base reaction can produce lots of pressurized gas, but purification is needed in order to save the balloon from reacting with the corrosive mist.

Video... if we use an 808 camera (plenty of info here), it's simple as inserting a MicroSD card inside. Those cameras can stay alive for more than 2 hours, which is probably more than enough if the ascent rate of the balloon is sufficient, which is a must because you don't want the probe to wander around the country.

The trick with 808 cameras is that there is a ton of versions available, each with its own level of quality. There's a whole 808 camera community of enthusiasts out there.

If you are seriously considering livestream, we need some sort of fast radio transceiver. I suggest that we use this: http://www.readymaderc.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=48

It was just a suggestion. It would be very difficult to organize a successful stream online. There's a ton of problems, and I'm sure the equipment would be rather heavy, requiring a larger and a lot more expensive balloon. If you want to explore that possibility futher, go for it.

You got your priorities wrong.

no need for capsule (heating can be provided withouth pressuarized capsules) or scientific equipment (it'll just be a dead weight with no value what so ever).

Spend money on a good camera (image quality matters. A lot) that allows you to trigger both: stills and video. Then make both: high quality images and a good video.

it'll be by far more popular than crappy video stream from a keychain camera. Plus: you might actually hope for a press coverage if you'll have quality material from your baloon flight.

Images can be extracted as screenshots from a HD video. No need for expensive stuff like GoPro.

"Capsule" is anything that houses equipment. It doesn't have to be pressurized. Why do you think there's no value over data recording? I'd love to see some numbers next to Jebediah, especially when they get serious with low temperature and pressure, and increased cosmic rays would be fun, too.

Live stream would be very cool and Kerbal for all of us to enjoy, but I seriously doubt it will be feasible so I'm not going to push it forward.

Take a look at the "crappy keychain camera". It's #16, the best one at the time of releasing this video.

Not so crappy, IMO, and a lot more cheaper than the hyped GoPro.

How about getting a bigger balloon so we can send Jeb into a suborbital trajectory (or somewhere close)? We could get a bigger balloon that lifts more, attach a model rocket motor (I'm looking at you, GregoxMun), then launch it sky-high!

Balloons don't do suborbital trajectories. They're buoyant objects, not missiles.

Model rocket engine? Where? You do realize that would be a huge complication and would probably fail? I'd like this to be redundant and tough as much as possible. Simplicity is the key.

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Regarding the funding, I've talked with my pal about Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Kickstarter works for a few countries. Indiegogo accepts money from all around the world.

I'll explore this further in the next 24 hours. Let's not rush anything.

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Here's what I'm willing to do to support this project:

I have a GoPro that I'm willing to donate to the project, though if I do so, I expect it back. :wink:

I'm more than willing to strap my rocket onto the balloon, though that would likely mean a rework with the overall balloon payload. Maybe it would be better to do after the first launch. (Also, you can't use hydrogen balloons when launching rockets off of them, for obvious reasons, so we would need to switch to helium. Again, maybe a better option after a smaller-scale successful flight.)

If no one else is willing, I'm okay with flying my Shapeways model of Jeb. I'll probably give him a little coat of epoxy on the back and work on a mounting sled, to boot.

I'm willing to make videos for the cause and to donate a small amount to the Kickstarter. (Buying all of the gear needed for the little rocket has left me all but broke at the current time.)

I should note that the rocket in question is pretty light (~27 oz.) but would still be a significant chunk of payload to haul up. Also, the only way I've currently worked out to have a good launch involves dowels, metal rods, and absolute loads of string. Again, maybe better for a later launch.

Edited by UpsilonAerospace

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I have a 10-foot balloon sitting in my closet with a bunch of rocket engines that have no use but to rot away. There is more equipment, such as reflectors, a parachute, a canister, and a GoPro camera. These were planned for a balloon research flight last month that was suddenly cancelled. Perhaps I could help? I may have to get a bigger balloon, but its worth it.

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The easiest source of hydrogen would be a welder's gas tank. Electrolysis is out of the question because it's slow and can't build up pressure. Zinc-acid or aluminium-base reaction can produce lots of pressurized gas, but purification is needed in order to save the balloon from reacting with the corrosive mist.

I was planning on metal-acid generation of hydrogen, and filtration to remove acid mist.

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Is it possible that we replace the Arduino with a Raspberry Pi? I think that RPi could be used to collect video, GPS and environmental data and send it back to ground station

RPi + RPi 5 MP HD cam combined only weighs at 48g, the only problem is that I still cannot find the weight of the 900MHz transceiver

This balloon have 600g payload capacity with price only at $60

EDIT:

is the RPi cam quality, but there is a problem, as the transceiver only have 500 kb/s bandwidth.

Here is the thing. If its possible, and I do not know it, the full 12 mbps feed are divided into two, one is stored in the microSD card, one is feed through ffmpeg, reducing its quality so it can fit on 400 kbps bandwidth

Edited by Aghanim

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