Category Archives: OSHW

June 2015 Reports Hangout

This month, we continue our new round table discussion about what’s going on with Mach 30, as well as Space, Open Source Hardware, and the Maker Community. Mach 30 positions itself in the middle of these 3 communities, and this month we definitely talked about all of them. There’s space news, open source hardware community developments, and of course details about our ongoing efforts to make mankind a spacefairing civilization.

One of the big topics is the Yavin cold gas thruster, Mach 30’s Open Source Hardware project focused around the development of a number of tools and technologies that will enable not just greater projects here at Mach 30, but also in the Maker and OSHW communities at large. Another big topic is our upcoming Apogee II conference, our second yearly conference were we engage with the community about what we’re doing, what our plans are, and the community’s input and participation in that, from Space Enthusiast to Maker to Open Source Hardware fan. One particular point of note is our plans for doing a bake off of user interface development tools for projects, which are designed specifically with the maker community in mind.

There’s plenty more, so check out the ~30 minute video for more!

Many of these topics from this month will have periodic updates. Naturally they will be covered in the new and improved monthly reports hangouts at Mach 30, so subscribe to our YouTube channel to STAY TUNED!

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.

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

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 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…)

Open Source Development: From Software to Space

OSHW Logo - credit the Open Source Hardware Association

OSHW Logo – credit the Open Source Hardware Association

It should come as no surprise that Mach 30 board members and volunteers have spent countless hours researching and discussing the value of open source in spaceflight.  After all, open source development is one of Mach 30’s core values.  It shows up in our mission statement and even has its own dedicated resource page on our website.    

Open source spaceflight is also one of the key ways new volunteers come to find Mach 30.  Such is the case with Matt Maier, an active voice in the Open Source Hardware movement.  Matt first approached Mach 30 during his graduate studies in space operations having found us courtesy of Google.  Matt’s research focus was on the potential for open source development to reduce the cost of space hardware as it has in other technical fields.  For months Matt, Greg Moran (Mach 30’s vice president), and I emailed back and forth about open source spaceflight.  And, this past spring Matt and I got to meet in person at the Open Source Hardware Doc Jam.  Since then, Matt has joined Mach 30’s Export Control Task Force where he has made invaluable contributions.

Last month Matt was gracious enough to share the results of his graduate research with Mach 30 at an On Air Hangout on November 14, 2013.  His presentation brought up a number of new and existing lines of discussion and is a great example of how important it is to bring fresh perspectives to the table.  Check out the Hangout’s video below (jump to 5:10 for the start of Matt’s presentation or to 12:10 for the discussion after) or review the slides and his report linked at the bottom of the post.

Thanks, Matt for an excellent presentation and for all of your contributions to Mach 30!

ad astra per civitatem – to the stars through community

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