SUFO-2 successfully completed its flight to near space and back on 9/14/2013 and broke my goal altitude of 100,000 ft. Here’s a recap of the flight and some interesting stats.
|Launch Date||September 14, 2013|
|Launch Time||12:47:09 CDT|
|Launch Point||39.244444, -92.228056 (View on Google Maps)|
|Landing Time||02:28:13 CDT|
|Landing Point||39.112500, -92.106111 (View on Google Maps)|
|Distance Traveled||11.2 miles|
|Flight Duration||1 hour 41 minutes 4 seconds|
|Payload weight||3.23 lbs|
|Balloon lift||3 lbs of free lift (1400 fpm average ascent rate)|
|Highest Altitude||101,233 feet (19.17 miles)|
|Maximum Velocity||143.2 mph|
|Pictures||655 total (511 during flight)|
|Video||1:29:21 total @ 720p (1:03:31 during flight)|
|Sensors||Temperature, Absolute Pressure, Relative Humidity, 3-Axis Acceleration|
|Sensor Readings||82,784 total (42,040 during flight)|
|GPS Readings||11,990 total (6,065 during flight)|
|Furthest Antenna Reached||NX0P in Glenville, Minnesota (382 miles)|
View the full flight trajectory on Google Earth: SUFO-1 Trajectory.kmz
This flight was very similar to SUFO-1. The only difference in the payload was a new cutdown module, a video camera, and a heavier balloon. I used the Cambridge University Spaceflight Landing Predictor to select a launch location. Around 11am the chase crew headed up to the launch location, setup the capsule, filled the balloon, and prepared for launch. The balloon lifted off around 12:50pm. The predicted flight path is shown below. As you can see, it is very similar to the actual flight path, except that the balloon was overfilled slightly and the balloon rose quicker than expected.
We learned from the last launch and only used cellphones to track the balloon while in the car. We had the APRS.fi website up and could track the balloon that way. Once the capsule came back down under 8000 feet that stopped working (as expected). At that point we drove as close as we could, got out of the car, and started walking to the last known location. My laptop was then used to get a direct signal from the capsule. Once we got pretty close the laptop picked up the signal and we were able to walk right to it. The whole area was surrounded by corn fields, but luckily it landed in a bean field so it was easier to walk through.
The first thing we noticed was that the balloon was still attached. The last balloon did the same thing because a wire broke loose and the cutdown module couldn't operate. This time I found that I forgot to plug in the 9V battery that powers the cutdown module. Idiot! Oh well. The capsule wasn't damaged so I can't be too upset. I reviewed the logs and it looks like the software worked correctly, but with no power the cutdown couldn't happen. Maybe next time I'll get it right.
Overall this was another successful high altitude balloon launch. I still didn't get the cutdown to work right, but we did learn from last time and selected a better landing location. This made it very easy to to find. Thanks again to my chase crew!
Here are some pictures from the flight. View my flickr set for more pictures.
Raw data log from capsule: SUFO-2 Raw Data Log.zip
Flight Analysis (data & graphs): SUFO-2 Flight Analysis.zip
Google Earth flight trajectory: SUFO-2 Trajectory.kmz
Launch, flight & recovery pictures: SUFO-2 flickr sets
Feel free to post any comments or questions about the flight. I'd be happy to share anything you feel I missed.
The second SUFO flight will occur tomorrow, Septempber 14th, around 10am CDT. Final preparations are being made tonight for the morning launch. Follow KD0OYK-11 on APRS.fi to track the SUFO-2 flight in real time. The capsule will take pictures and video the entire flight as well as lots of atmospheric readings. Hopefully it will be as successful as SUFO-1.
I have always wanted to create a custom heads up display for my Z. Something along the lines of a tablet running software that talks to my car and displays various information, gauges, etc. in real time. I started searching around and found a few products you can purchase, but none of them seemed to be exactly what I wanted. So then I started looking for ways to do this myself. The first step is figuring out how to talk to the car. OBD2 ports are standard on cars (located under the driver side dash) and offer a way for service techs to hook up and grab information from your car. How much information? A lot. Here's a list of standard OBD2 information that can be read from a car. But is there more?
It turns out newer cars use a Controller Area Network (CAN) to connect all of the various control modules so they can exchange information. This network only uses two wires, CAN-H and CAN-L, so it greatly reduces wiring. This network is also wired to the standard OBD2 port on pins 6 and 14. This makes the network available to anyone without modifying the car. What's cool about this is that the information flying around on the CAN is what your car uses to function. So spying on this is like getting a sneak peak behind the scenes of how your car really works. I found a similar project here that got me off to a fast start.
I purchased a CANUSB module and an OBD2-to-serial cable to interface with my laptop. I had to modify the OBD2-to-serial cable because the wiring was slightly off. I just cut it in half and soldered the following wires together:
CAN-L: Serial brown - OBD2 gray
Ground: Serial purple - OBD2 brown
CAN-H: Serial white - OBD2 purple
I left all of the other wires disconnected to keep it simple.
I created a computer program to talk to the CANUSB and log the information that it receives. The screenshot below shows the logger program running and filtering out only messages with ID 180. The messages are shown on the right as they come in.
It turns out that the 370Z network only has 30 IDs (or messages) that it uses during normal operation. However, those 30 messages contain a lot of information. Each message may contain up to 8 bytes of data that may represent all sorts of data. One byte may be the gas pedal position, two bytes combined may be the vehicle speed, one byte may be a bitfield that shows the status of 8 different status lights, etc. Sorting through all of this information is daunting, especially since Nissan barely mentions it in their service manual. So I created another program to visualize the data stored by my logging program. Below is screenshot of the program displaying information from a short drive.
Top: vehicle speed, Top-middle: engine RPM and gas pedal position, Bottom-middle: big spikes show brake light status, Bottom: little spikes show clutch pedal status
The above data is completely unfiltered and no calculations can be performed yet. However, it makes sorting through and comparing data much easier. Next I will add the ability to pull the OBD2 standard information along with the data I already capture. This will allow me to compare known information with the data flying around the CAN. I'll update my progress on this spreadsheet, which shows what I've decoded so far. More to come soon.
A few months ago I totaled my '03 Nissan 350Z. After about a month I started missing it and decided to replace it. I upgraded to a '13 370Z Nismo Edition. I love everything about it so far, except that the Nismo edition doesn't come with a lot of electronic entertainment bells and whistles. I started looking around and came across the Kenwood DDX790 receiver. It's a double DIN receiver with Bluetooth, aux input, DVD playback, backup camera input, SiriusXM ready, and other features that I wanted.
My old 350Z had a HomeLink mirror that opened my garage door for me and also powered my radar detector. I wanted these features back so I decided to add them in as I installed the stereo as well. Here are some pictures of the install and the ways I integrated the whole system into my car.
Here's the stock stereo on the left and the new Kenwood on the right. Notice the radar detector cable running up the side is gone in the photo on the right.
Part of the install included mounting the bluetooth microphone and the SiriusXM receiver. The microphone came with the Kenwood receiver, but the satellite radio did not. I used the SiriusXM SXV200v1 satellite radio tuner for my install. I mounted the microphone at the top of the driver's side A pillar (left photo) and the radio antenna on the driver's side dash (right photo). The wire is tight enough that the antenna stays put without any adhesive. It was easy to install both of these because they took almost the exact same path.
The steering wheel radio controls need a special adapter to make them work with aftermarket radios. I chose the Metra ASWC-1 universal steering wheel control interface. I had a hell of a time getting this to program correctly. I found out later there is a special setting you have to enable on the Kenwood receiver to allow remote inputs. After finding that setting it went smoothly, but I did have to use the manual programming mode on the Metra because it didn't recognize all of my buttons automatically.
Next, I wanted to make the Kenwood rear auxiliary input and USB input easily accessible. I decided to add them to the center console next to the 12V power plug. The picture on the left shows two custom cables I made from a USB cable and an audio cable. I terminated the USB cable with this plug and the audio cable with this plug. I made a template and cut out the openings in my center console. The picture on the right shows the final product.
Then I bought a direct wire kit for my radar detector and ran it from the 12V outlet in my center console to the rear view mirror. I spliced it in to the 12V outlet and mounted the radar detector using a Z Mount.
The final touch was making use of the blank buttons on my center console. They used to be blank pieces of plastic that weren't actually buttons. I found some switches online that fit and installed three of them to make it uniform. The far left one I wired to one button on a universal garage door opener. Now I don't have a garage door opener on my visor and at least one of the buttons has a purpose. Now to think of something for the other two...
I meant to take more pictures of the dash disassembled and the paths of the all the wires, but I didn't feel like stopping once everything was taken apart. Let me know if you have any questions about the specifics of the install in the comments below.
I finally got around to building some new workbenches in my computer room. Now I have a complete "U" of desks wrapping around the room. I was tired of the clutter and no empty desk space. Once I got everything organized using the new desks I moved on to organizing all of my miscellaneous electronics parts. I dug them out of every nook and cranny and pretty much filled the entire floor. Something had to be done, but how the hell do you organize thousands of tiny Digikey bags of parts?
I searched around and found a simple, genius idea. Just a 3-ring binder, baseball card holder pages, and some 2.5" x 3" ziplock bags. I found the ziplock bags on Amazon along with the baseball card pages. The bags are 4 mil thickness so they're very strong and not likely to be punctured. They fit perfectly inside the card pouches. I just took a magic marker and labeled the bags as I filled them. Then it was just a matter of organizing them in the binder.
Everything fit into a single 4" binder (although it's pretty stuffed). And it sits right on my desk ready to be flipped through any time I need a part.
Now I can get back to work!