This class has been tasked with designing, constructing and launching a remote sensing platform into near space and finding applications for the imagery acquired. The project is continually evolving and this blog will be a forum to publish our progress.


A Special Announcement from the Camera Team

 bigjay & littlejay
 olympus unpacking
 ryan displays the E-5
 olympus included an additional lens for the E-PL2
 vijay & ryan can't hold in their excitement
ryan approves
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For the project, we need a camera that is rugged and reliable enough to stand the extremities of near space. Also, we will be doing some serious 'pixel peeping' in the post analysis, so excellent image quality and ability to resolve detail is a high priority. In search of cameras, the E-5 really stood out by fitting our criteria well.

A few weeks ago, we contacted Olympus and told them about our project in hopes they could help us.  They graciously agreed to help us out by sending an E-5 and some other accessories including the 12-60mm Zuiko lens, an E-PL2 to document the project, a battery grip, extra batteries, and a remote shutter. We could not be any more thankful to Olympus!!!

Much to the excitement of the image group, these items arrived in the mail today.  It was nice to actually get a feel for the equipment in which we will be working with. Our initial impressions of the E-5 are very positive. The build quality feels like it could survive being run over by a parade of semi-trucks. We are excited to continue testing and getting a feel for this instrument.

The next item on our agenda is to test image resolution at varying elevations. This will require an airplane and some careful planning. We will keep you updated.

 ryan callihan - camera team

Schematics Presentations

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brandon mans the board
lisa describes the picavet mechanism
 sketch of launch parts
 working in teams
 brandon explains the pendulum issue related to cord length
 rough list of weights
 just a few people missing from this photo
 the cooler is too large
photos by ryan callihan
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Today we presented where each team was at with their component part schematics.  The issue of geo-tagging the images was a concern.  The use of a GPS logging device was discussed.  This involves synching the time stamps of the camera and the GPS logger, then after retrieval of the unit it will be merged with the image time stamps and the images will be geo-tagged.  Again the issue of the off-nadir camera came up.  A cell-phone is our next concern and addition that is not part of our current schematic.  Also, the cooler for the project is too large.  Robbie will try to get another few sizes of coolers that will be more appropriate for the mission. But perhaps it will come in handy for the celebration after our first launch.
-robert anderson


Weight of Electronics

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Michael, Jared and Robert borrowed a scale in the soils lab of Lindley Hall to weigh individual component parts of the electronics.  Upon reflection, batteries which will be present during flight were not weighed.  What type of batteries to be used is still undecided. There might also be some additions to the electronics parts: a motion sensor (piezo-electric), a secondary GPS beacon to aide recovery, and some form of data synchronization device.
- robert anderson : electronics team -

Potential Launch Sites

image by adam shanko
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April weather in Kansas is, to say the least, unpredictable.  On launch day we may be facing wind from pretty much any point on the compass, so no matter what Mother Nature throws at us, we need to have a location that will send out balloon over Lawrence.  Fortunately, Lawrence is surrounded by state parks that would be great launch locations – public land means no complicated permissions from private landowners.  We’ll be picking our final launch site at the last minute (perhaps even on the day of the launch!).

-adam shanko