prev next

Our Favorite Moments from 2014

For those of you who don’t follow +Mach 30, the Board of Directors and volunteer leaders gather each month for an On Air Hangout to present status updates on our various projects.  These Reports Hangouts are very business focused which can make them “a little dry.”  We are actively discussing how we can address the business need for status updates and reach out to fans (existing and new) to share with them all the great things Mach 30 is doing.  As an experiment in the outreach side of this equation we did something different for the December Reports Hangout.  Instead of going through the list of active projects by “bus”, board members took turns sharing their favorite moments and accomplishments from 2014.  Highlights included hosting Apogee I at Club Cyberia (and how well our new planning rhythm worked: strategic planning in person at Apogee and annual planning online at Perigee), completing the first version of Ground Sphere, and Jeremy’s very awesome contributions to CadQuery (starting us down the path toward a rich and open CAD modeling package).

Thank you again to all of our volunteers and donors, we couldn’t do this without you.

Don’t forget to join in on the conversation.  Post your favorite Mach 30 moment in the comments below.

ad astra per civitatem – to the starts through community

Jones Boys’ Rocketry

As Open Source Spaceflight Hardware (OSSHW) developers, we love to see other people building, modifying, remixing, and using our designs. In fact, we believe that the “Prime Directive” of Open Hardware is that it must be reproducible. That’s why we got so excited when we were contacted through Open Design Engine by John and Christopher from Jones Boys’ Rocketry. Christopher was working on a rocketry project for school, and was attempting to get a copy of our Shepard Test Stand thrust measurement hardware working.

John and Christopher

John and Christopher in February of ’08

Having someone build your Open Hardware has another advantage – you find more bugs and design flaws. The more people build and use your hardware, the better it gets. Our work with Jones Boys on Open Design Engine was no exception. They found a couple of bugs in our software, and their work brought about some operational improvements that we had glossed over because we’re so used to the hardware.

Christopher Testing the Shepard Hardware

After about two weeks of back-and-forth work, John and Christopher were able to get a successful data capture with a live engine.

Jones Boys’ Test Firing

Christopher was able to collect and analyze data from various motor fuel grain configurations and assembled everything into his science fair project display.

Christopher’s Display

Christopher took his display to multiple science fairs, and did extremely well. He was in 9th grade when he competed, and in the regional ISEF Science Fair, took first place in physics for his group. After that he went on to win second place in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics fair, which included a $100 cash award and a 3 day workshop at Goddard (I’m very envious). He also got an honorable mention from the USAF Office of Scientific Research.

Christopher Explaining His Project at the Science Fair

Congratulations to Christopher for doing a great job, and thanks to him for using Mach 30 hardware. We’re always excited to work with people who want to build spaceflight related hardware without starting from scratch. If you’re interested in building a rocket motor test stand or satellite receiving ground station, please feel free to contact us. We’d love to talk with you.

ad astra per civitatem – to the stars through community

Related Links

Testing for Catastrophic Capacitor Failure

Ground Sphere Mk2 PrototypeSometimes what would appear to be a great idea turns out to be not-so-great. I had a concept of bedding the Software Defined Radio (SDR) and pre-amplifier for the Ground Sphere Ground Station in Greatstuff foam to make it more resilient to shipping and other mishandling, similar to the way delicate equipment is shipped in a two piece conformal foam mold.

Jeremy Wright asked a very simple question that I had not considered… what would happen if something electronic fried? That’s not entirely true… I did think of that, and so I selected Greatstuff Fireblock. Then he asked “Did ya test it?” The simple answer is no, I had not.
(more…)

ODE Project Spotlight: Photosynq

Back in March, we had our first Open Design Engine (ODE) Project Spotlight, a Google+ Hangout where we talked with the guys behind Photosynq. The project is aimed at bringing data collection about the health and growth conditions of plants out of a few greenhouses and into the hands of crowd-sourced researchers everywhere.  In our hangout, we not only talked about what Photosynq is, but also how the project developers are using ODE and other tools to manage the project. You can watch the video of the hangout through YouTube:

We got a lot out of speaking with Greg and Robert.  It was great to learn how others are using the tools available in ODE, but we were especially excited to learn about some of the technologies they were leveraging.  Jeremy and I found the data analysis tools they’ve developed, with some 3rd party libraries, something great that we might be able to leverage for the Shepard Test Stand.

We hope to have other Project Spotlights with other projects hosted on ODE in the future.  If there’s one in particular you’d like to vote for, please leave a comment! Thanks again to the guys at Photosynq for spending the time to hang out with us and talk about their project.  You can learn more about Photosynq on opendesignengine.net

The Front Range Open Source Hardware Symposium

Front Range Open Hardware Symposium FlyerAfter a successful “hail mary” push to get the satellite simulator working, software installed into the borrowed Windows 7 laptop, and testing the Ground Sphere Mk2 prototype, we left Walsenburg around 10am on Thursday, heading to Boulder for the Front Range Open Source Hardware Symposium.  Attending as presenters rather than just attendees, We got the opportunity to show folks what we think open hardware is all about.  Congressman Jared Polis was  there as well as some of the companies that do Open Source Hardware (OSHW), such as SparkFun ElectronicsLulzBot.com and others.  This was too good of an opportunity to pass up showcasing Ground Sphere, the Cubesat ground station receiver that we’ve been working on for months as a collaboration between Southern Stars and Mach 30. (more…)