Monday, April 16, 2018

I'm not dead! Updates and teasers.

Radio breaking squelch Is this thing on? Oh good!
It's been a LONG time since the last update and that's my fault, apologies for the delays in posts but oh the things that have happened since the last one have been AWESOME.

New generation precision suntracker, printed variant
To start off, I have passed a year at the new job and it has been a whole freaking year of awesome times, some frustration with part of the program and then elation when finally it all worked together as intended. Developing a new high precision solar tracker from the ground up has been a massive challenge due to difficulties with getting the most critical part, the imaging Multi Object Tracking sensor that is also found in modern Wiimotes, working from just a datasheet and my admittedly terrible coding skills. Getting the driver working correctly really allowed the power and incredible value of a logic analyzer for debugging a system. On the plus side, once that was working the rest was not too much harder and I have obtained permission from PXI to open source my library once that is working so anyone can unlock the power of this wonderful sensor. Another happening here was my first field campaign with my system, destination Arizona State University to do final debugging and training of the team that will be taking it to the Amazon rain forest.

Rocket friends
Aside from that, I recently had Joe Barnard of Barnard Propulsion Systems over for rocket shenanigans! It was nice to catch up in person after two years, give him the grand tour of the workshop and CAD station, then go on to muck about with some rocketry shenanigans including static testing of the infamous Estes E motors that are so prone to CATO(but didn't this time) and building really bad rockets.

CNC suntracker(on tripod) in Arizona doing comparisons with an AERONET photometer

Later in February I took my new precision suntracker design from a 3D print and had it machined in aluminum. That in of itself was an adventure in learning how to prepare and document something for a machine shop in addition to design for manufacture and tolerances.
Deployment CNC tracker (now in the Amazon rainforest)
Tuning in the tracker in the warm Arizona sun
And then to boot, I bought a small CNC for making my own rapid prototype PCBs same day in-house for far faster turnaround and idea testing. I got spoiled on the Othermill we have in the development lab at work so I decided I'd get in on that too. In addition to milling PCBs, I can cut fins and laser etch parts with additional attachments.
3018 CNC mill for PCBs and lasering
Then a group of friends and I decided to make the informal rocketry, science and general tinkering bants chat team into a proper team and thus The Flame Trench was formed. We've got a broad range of skills on the team and there are some really cool projects around rocketry and the bleeding edge of development coming very soon.

Signal generator
More test equipment has been purchased in the form of a 60Mhz arbitrary waveform function generator from FeelTech. As I'm starting to do more with image sensors I have a need for a variable clock source and at just over a hundred dollars, this was a good starter purchase.

Shiny new hardware 
 On the topic of test equipment, the crew over at IKALOGIC sent over both their Ikascope and a SQ50 scanaquad logic analyzer for me to test out. Coming soon is a review of them versus my Rigol oscilloscope and Saleae logic analyzer. It should be interesting to see how it fares going toe to toe with the competition.

Source Image
Replication with my own build
I also finally printed out and painted the SPIKE F2M2 airframe replica and attempted to replicate the original shot that I derived the build from to moderate success. Next up is a few tweaks and some other work before shifting this into the completed projects area. Do not ask for the CAD files or STLs because I am not distributing these either.

Looking towards the back of the room

Manufacturing corner

Reorganized workbench and tinkering area
And lastly, the lab space has been refitted with several upgrades. I had a new 20A dedicated circuit run down to power the more hungry equipment like the hot air station, 3D printer and soldering irons. Another addition was three additional double T8 LED overhead lights to further brighten the space. All that extra light would have been wasted if the yawning chasms of exposed rafters in the unfinised basement ate all the reflected light, I decided to install wall and ceiling panels that are later painted white to be more reflective.

For those wondering about the status of the rocket stabilization system, I've shot a new channel trailer and there are hints about it hidden around the images in this post.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Upcoming appearance at DEFCON 25 in Vegas

You read that right, this year I'm going to be at the one and only DEFCON in Las Vegas!!!! Since this year I'd had a mutual friend of W1NST0N and I's offer some space in his penthouse suite, we ran budget estimates for flight and food, found it was well within reason and decided to go for it. I've been watching the DEFCON talks on YouTube for YEARS and have learned a TON from them, and now I can ask questions and talk to the presenters in addition to a wide range of hardware and software hackers. Another bonus is I'll be able to meet more of my readers and put faces to the handles of quite a few of the people that I've been interacting with over the years across various platforms. If you find me, I'll have the normal 3D printed rings and some swanky new business cards to give you. Over the course of the event I'll be regularly tweeting my whereabouts and meetup spots, so come say hi, I don't bite and am more than happy to answer any questions you have!

Remember: What I do release ends up under BeerWare licensing so this is a good opportunity to get those beers in! Cheers and see you in Vegas!

"THE BEER-WARE LICENSE" (Revision 42): Arsenio Dev wrote this file. As long as you retain this notice you can do whatever you want with this stuff. If we meet some day, and you think this stuff is worth it, you can buy me a beer in return.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Q1 2017 Rocket active stabilization system update; Finally have working PID for positional control of a DC motor! New gear, livestreams and the first program sponsor!

After nearly 4 and a half months of late nights, caffeine fueled jam sessions, one livestream(more on that later!) and more frustration than anticipated I FINALLY figured out implementation of PID for positional control of a DC motor with an encoder. More details after the break including a breakdown of problems I ran into, some shiny response graphs and most importantly; SOURCE CODE!?!?!
Motor control testbed using TB6612FNG motor driver

Monday, January 30, 2017

Prograde burn; I quit my day job to work at NASA

Yes you read that right, as of January 30th I am working at NASA Goddard as a student researcher in the earth sciences wing, specifically on the 4U Laser Hetrodyne Radiometer cubesat as a hardware/software engineering intern.

First official day on the job!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Holiday season 2016 general update and MAGFest panel announcement

Happy Hackerdays readers! Since the last update I've been absolutely slammed between life and projects which had a drastic balance change that took more time and energy away from the blog than I'd have liked but thanks to a few alterations it is looking like I'll be back on track to get updates out more frequently and have an increase in project progress.
Hackertree 2016, with even better gear and Wi-Fi LEDs!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Q3 2016 Rocket active stabilization system update, complete hardware redesign of fin drive system with bonus sketches and a needed disclaimer

The old and new designs, massive improvements to the overall design
Update time has rolled around again now that a good chunk of progress is completed on the Arduino based rocket stabilization system. This has taken a while since I've been busy with not only work but also getting the A+ certification in computer repair and completely reworking my current workstation. After much discussion with several other rocket tinkerers, the conclusion was reached that stresses on the servo spline itself would be quite considerable and may result in damage or inoperability. Based on force distribution I surmised that flanged bearings embedded in the system shroud tube would function as not only supports but also as smooth rotation points. With the challenge of a new fin drive train in mind, I set to brainstorming. My first thought was to use linkages connecting the servo to the actuation shaft, though it would increase the diameter of the system unless the servos were staggered which would also increase the overall height of the system. Stepper motors were considered, however as I was unable to find suitably sized units and the common 28byj-48 had too low precision and torque this too was eliminated from consideration. After those two ideas were discarded, it was relegated to the back burner while I had work. The breakthrough was about a week later, while browsing patents looking at missile fin drives I noticed an old Raytheon control segment used bevel gears to transfer the motion and that became the seed for the new design. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Side projects update: Optical/radio telescopes, CAD, new rigs and custom sensor breakouts

Apologies for the radio silence on this blog, work has been continually crazy and some projects have been sidelined for temporary holds due to funding reallocation, however the backlog of completed short term projects has been full for a while and I thought I'd get some posted to tide you over until the next flagship update (Coming soon! Major redesign underway). Details on projects after the break, with a teaser for the flagship redesign at the end. 
8 inch Dobsonian telescope with craptastic eyepiece