Preparing for Flight

Our original plan was to perform our first drop test of the parachute system on the 20th of December.  The three failures of the parachute system print jobs (more about this here) used up much of our time, but we still had one more week before this deadline. To achieve this goal, we had many tasks to complete.

The new filament arrived on December 13th and we once again began to print the parachute system.  By reducing the resolution of the print, we cut the time needed to print down to 1 day 6 hours.  Once again, we started the print.  

It worked.  After many delays, the print was finally done. We then started the print of the second part of the parachute system.

Originally, we planned to use the camera already mounted on the FTS (Flight Test System) to record the drop from above, but with more research, we decided it would be more feasible to use a second raspberry pi camera (more about the cameras here).  While the second part of the parachute system was printing, we assembled the two camera control circuits that were needed for the two cameras.

One of the two camera control circuits

The next step was to assemble the payload itself. We chose to use foam board to build the payload due to its low cost, ease of use and strength. Over the next few days, we assembled the payload and its skeleton, camera enclosure, and parachutes. We also ordered the springs for the parachute system and set up the transmitter and receiver for the test payload.

On Thursday the 20th, we were almost ready to fly. We had yet to test the parachute system and as long as it passed, we where confidant we could be ready on time. The first problem occurred during the set up of the test payloads transmitter and receiver. These components are used to control the payload form the ground and are essential to the flight. The receiver would not remain powered on and intermittently shut down. If it did this in flight, we would be unable to deploy the parachutes. During troubleshooting of the problem, we discovered the second problem. The servo motors that we use to deploy the parachutes did not move as far as expected and as such, were not capable of launching the parachutes. These two problems meant we would not be able to launch. We were out of time.

We will be taking a few weeks off during the holidays and will return in early January.

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