Analysing the mission

Overall, the flight went exceedingly well. Over the course of the next few weeks, we will go through some of results/measurements.

We sum up in this Post what went well and what didn’t go so well.

Quick Analysis

  • The radio communications link went well between the groundstation and the payload. At no time did we lose communications, except when the payload descended below the hill to its landing spot. The temperature of the payload box also remained at a healthy temperature and the radio modem temperature in the payload did not get very hot as was expected! Which was surprising.
  • The photo stills taken by the Linksprite lived up to our expectations. We got about 20 photos. While the colour in them doesn’t seem as “rich” as one would expect, I’m still very happy with the. We were able to download two of them with no issues during the flight.
  • The temperature sensors didn’t drop down to the cold temperature I was expecting. Perhaps this is because the temperature sensor was partially encased in Areldite glue to stop short-circuiting if there was any moisture. Not too sure.
  • The tracking software worked, but there were TOO many GPS data points and the text at each data point overlapped other points. This I think slowed down the Beaglebone Black which made it almost impossible to ‘zoom’ in and view the way points of the flight. Some method of thinning them out is required…and a different method/approach of showing GPS information at each way point. Perhaps something like the Spot Messenger public facing page.
  • The GPS worked well, right up to 28.1km! This is fantastic. The original GPS module we had in the payload was one that could only work up to 18km. So it was great that this new GPS (which is supposed to work up to 50km) did work so well.
  • The “approximate” altitude calculation (based on air pressure) seemed to be way off! It is possible that this was outputting in feet (not metres) and hence the inflated approximate altitude values.
  • The Video camera using the HackHD was very disappointing. I _had_ noticed some issue with very over-exposure (too bright/white) during some testing, but failed to resolve this. As a result, most of the flight video was extremely white. It appears HackHD does not have an AutoWhite balance control.
  • The deployment/launch of the balloon was a stunning success. Everyone knew what they had to do and there were no problems with the cylinder.
  • Because the balloon was recovered a week after the launch and the onboard siren battery only lasts 27hrs, we could not depend upon this to assist with recovery. We are thinking of having one that is on for 30 seconds then off for 5 minutes, then on again..etc. This could extend the battery life significantly and make recovery a LOT easier.
  • The last code update to allow the ground controller to disable/enable picture download was a fantastic feature that helped significantly. We would have had a lot less photos taken (because the payload would have spent more time sending photos and not taking them). This control also enabled us to focus on the tracking as opposed to the photos side, which is not as important.

From these observations, we will determine what improvements can be made for future flights (should we conduct future missions).





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