prev next

2016 Holiday Gift Ideas

Sometimes, it can be hard to think of the right gift for people. Even if you can think of a good one, sometimes you still want some more ideas. And sometimes, you’re shopping for yourself. Whatever your reason, we’ve got some holiday gift ideas for you!

Retro Space Travel Posters

Earlier this year, NASA JPL released a series of travel posters for the planets of the solar system, and beyond. These are great gift ideas for the space lover in your life, and there’s plenty of shops on Etsy that carry the posters and derived merchandise. We liked these so much, we did a poster giveaway contest for them!

If you think one of these posters make for good gift ideas, it might not be a bad idea to take a look around for other space inspired travel posters. SpaceX’s travel posters were debuted in April last year. Another option is these by Aaron Wood, A.K.A Justonescarf Designs:

3D Printed Models and Accessories

3D printed things are really cool, if for no other reason than we encounter so few things that are. For some extra special rocketry related gift ideas, check out Shapeways. They’ve got everything from model rockets to miniatures, keychains to necklaces. There’s even a scale model of the solar system!

Clothing

Clothing gifts can be some of the lamest gift ideas. Who likes getting underwear for Christmas? But there’s plenty of good gift ideas to be had in the space themed clothing department. Star Wars inspired t-shirts are a fan favorite, such as those found on We Love Fine. For the colder weather of winter, or a capsule landing in the frozen tundra of Siberia, there’s jackets like the Space Jacket from Betabrand. And for one last suggestion, you could go retro with Space Invader themed socks and other clothing.

 

Those are some of our favorite gift ideas, and we hope they help you out! Regardless of whether you’re shopping for your friends and family or for yourself. 😁 Got any ideas of your own? Feel free to let us know!

NOTE: These ideas are solely based on the opinions of its author. Neither its author nor Mach 30 make any gain from the sale of these products. Mach 30 makes no guarantees on these gifts.

Shepard Test Stand is now OSHWA Certified Open Hardware

Mach 30’s first hardware project was the Shepard Test Stand, a piece of hardware we designed to run tests on commonly available Estes rocket motors. From day one, it was a piece of Open Source Hardware. Now it’s an Open Source Hardware Association (OSHWA) Certified Open Source Hardware, receiving serial number US000006.shepard-oshwa-cert

OSHWA created the program primarily as a way to help people identify that a piece of hardware meets the commonly accepted definition of Open Source Hardware. This includes such points as the ease of access to the documentation, licensing, and others. All of these items are related to keeping the hardware as accessible as possible for others to recreate it themselves, modify, or even use parts to create their own unique piece of work.

Mach 30 was invited to participate in a closed trial of the process to certify that a piece of hardware should receive the OSHWA Certified Open Source Hardware badge, and as such we were privileged enough to receive one of the first serial numbers, US000006. If you’d like to learn more about the Shepard Test Stand, you can find out more on the project’s page on Open Design Engine.

Shepard Rocket Motor Test Stand | Apogee III | Mach 30

Shepard Rocket Motor Test Stand

There were 60 separate projects registered, from 9 different countries from around the world. For more information about these first projects, check out the post on oshwa.org. If you’d like to learn more about the registration process, that link also contains a link to the registration form.

About Ground Sphere: Past, Present, and Future

Mach 30 is currently building Ground Sphere. This is a ground station that will allow us (and you!) the ability to listen to satellites cheaply and easily. We’ve been working on Ground Sphere for some years, starting in 2013. Below is an abbreviated history of the project, although more details are available at Ground Sphere’s History Page on Open Design Engine.

Ground Sphere Satellite Ground Station Mission Patch

What is a ground station?

Ground stations are basically radio stations, except that they let people communicate with satellites by sending and receiving radio signals to and from Space. Sending signals requires a license, so Ground Sphere is designed to only receive signals from Space. Mach 30 is in the process of creating Ground Sphere MK3. It is an open-source ground station project, documented on our Open Design Engine. Ground Sphere’s ultimate goal is to allow those that use it to listen to the International Space Station as it travels above the Earth.

What kind of signals can you receive with Ground Sphere?

The various incarnations of Ground Sphere have had several capabilities, from listening to a specific satellite, to receiving Ham radio signals. There’s a wide range of frequencies that the Ground Sphere design can be tuned to, and we’re asking anyone interested to help us determine the best frequency to tune it to. You can tell us your thoughts in our minute long survey.

The history of Ground Sphere:

  • MK1 was our proof of concept. Its mission was to receive signals from Ham Radio Satellites, and when it made its on-screen appearance at Yuri’s Night in 2013 in Colorado, it was able to receive signals from as far away as California and Tennessee.
  • MK2 was the companion to SkyCube , and its mission was to receive “Tweets” from SkyCube, a Kickstarter CubeSat project from Southern Stars. Unfortunately, SkyCube had gotten essentially lost in space.

Current Ground Sphere MK3 development

  1. First, we wanted to review other maker ground stations, such as the SDR software evaluation based on “listening to satellites for $30”.  This software’s goal was to listen to signals, and allow them to be recorded. Unfortunately, we found that this article did not entirely allow for the reader to listen to the ISS for $30.
  2. Next, we want to make sure that the math of satellite communications from the ground is well documented, which we’ve started in a video by Mach 30 volunteer Aaron Harper. You can see that video below. Needless to say, there is a LOT of math here. It is important that our math be checked, and documented, so that others are able to recreate our findings and research.
  3. Beyond the basics of construction and documentation, we want to see what people might be most interested in using Ground Sphere for, and that means researching other possible uses. Examples include downloading images from weather satellites, but there might be more; tell us if you’ve got one in mind!
  4. Step four is to build the new prototype for a to-be-determined frequency. It could be weather satellites, Ham radio satellites, or something else entirely.

As Ground Sphere progresses, we will update our readers about how we’re able to grow and use the project.

Remember, you can be a part of projects like Ground Sphere by joining our weekly IPT Standup meetings, held on Google hangouts. You can join us on Tuesday evenings at 8:30pm Eastern Time by clicking here. We are always interested in meeting people who are interested in being a part of our mission to help all of Humanity reach Outer Space. To find out more about how you can become a Mach 30 Catalyst, please click here.

You can also follow GroundSphere on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ground_sphere.

What would you be interested in using Ground Sphere for? Let us know in the comments!

 

Come See Apogee III, Aug 6 at TechShop in Arlington, VA

We are fast approaching our third annual Apogee conference, and this year it is going to be bigger and better than ever! Thanks to our venue sponsor, the DC-Arlington TechShop, we have a wonderful space to host Apogee. When you come by to check us out, you’ll find TechShop filled with all the open source and maker space projects you can handle, and on top of that a load of presentations about space and spaceflight hardware.

techshop_logo

The presentations range from Mach 30’s 2016 project, Ground Sphere, to what it was like to participate in a simulated mission to Mars. The exhibit space also includes desktop satellite simulators, high powered model rocketry, live demos of the Shepard Test Stand. We even have a presentation on how to make rocket fuel from household ingredients (don’t try this at home!). See the Apogee III page for the full list of presentations and exhibits.

Apogee runs 10am – 4pm, Saturday Aug 6, 2016.  Tickets are on sale now at Eventbrite. Hurry, early bird registration (20% off admission) ends July 31.

We hope to see you there!

Mach 30 Needs Makers

Saturn V Documentation | Mach 30 Needs Makers

Saturn V Documentation

Mach 30 wants to publish the best documentation for open source hardware projects in the world. In fact, we must do this to achieve our mission of hastening the advancement of humanity into a space faring civilization. Why? Because space is hard and we don’t want to make it harder for other makers by providing incomplete or inaccurate documentation.

And you can help us without writing a single page of documentation. How? By making your own copies of Mach 30 projects and providing feedback (in the form of comments on project forums) about what worked, what didn’t work, and what was confusing in the project’s documentation.

Want to take it a step further?  Share pictures and videos of your creation on social media.  Or go all the way and join us for one of our weekly stand up meetings and tell us “in person” how things went. Bonus: you’ll meet other makers who share your passion!

That’s all it takes. You get to make cool things (anything related to space is instantly cool) and we get to find out what we overlooked in our documentation (from a misplaced comma to uncommitted source code to a typo in a part number). Plus, at Mach 30 we firmly believe in giving credit where credit is due. So we make it a point of thanking our friends and volunteers with everything from tweets to t-shirts to mission patches to community awards.

Ready to be part of our community of makers? Great, because the Mach 30 Integrated Product Team for Ground Sphere needs your help.  Right now we are testing out whether you really can download images from space (weather satellite pictures to be exact) for under $30.  Every step of our test is documented so you can dive right in and try things out for yourself.  This is a great opportunity to check out Software Defined Radios (SDRs) and satellite orbits.  And, once we wrap up Apogee III, we will turn our attention to using what we learned to design our third generation ground station, which will mean lots of small and medium sized projects to make and share.  Leave a comment below or on the Ground Sphere v3 forums to get started.

ad astra per civitatem – to the stars through community