email@example.com with questions not explained below.
It’s basically got two bits: us trying to convince you that CUSF is awesome and you want to be involved, including the kind of thing we do; and three projects we reckon that are both interesting and accessible.
Emails about the first meeting of term for each project will go out to the team mailing list, hopefully in the (Cambridge) week of 16th Oct. Being a member of the “team” mailing list is the closest thing we have to “membership”; that is, if you want to join, you should ensure you're on it.
Our projects mainly centre around high altitude ballooning and rocketry.
Crudely put, HAB is attaching a payload (custom electronics: GPS tracker & radio) to a meteorological balloon and letting go of it. The pressure drops, the balloon bursts, and it drops back down under parachute—having taken lots of photos.
Under the banner of rocketry, we’ve
We’ve also tested parachutes for the European Space Agency by dropping them from a balloon and deploying them at Mach 1, among a laundry list of other projects stretching back to 2006.
We design and build everything ourselves. This means lots of opportunities for custom electronics, software, machining, etc. While our lab is in the engineering department (basement!), and we're predominantly engineers, you certainly needn't be one in order to get involved (indeed, I'm not).
Our structure is quite informal and flat: we work on a range of projects simultaneously, typically in small teams, with each team sorting out when and how they want to meet/work amongst themselves. Meeting up once a week would be representative. You could take on large year-long projects, or shorter things in smaller teams.
Long story short, we have money to spend on our projects. There's no membership subscription or anything like that. If you need something, email the team list with information.
We have two mailing lists, -interest and -team. The former only receives one or two emails a year - typically the invitation to the Freshers' Squash - and the latter gets the day-to-day society emails, teams, meetups, etc.
Being a member of the “team” mailing list is the closest thing we have to “membership”; that is, if you want to join, you should ensure you're on it.
If you gave me your CRSID at the freshers' squash, or have otherwise asked to be added, I have subscribed you to the 'team' mailing list. You will have received an email notifying you that you've been subscribed. If you haven't, or you don't know whether you're subscribed, go to the above link and and “subscribe by filling out the form”. If you're already on the list, it'll send you a harmless warning email. Emails about first meetings etc. will go to “team”.
To mail the team list send your email to
Don't be afraid to use
firstname.lastname@example.org for both general Spaceflight mail and project-specific stuff. It keeps everyone in the loop, and if this gets too noisy we might look into some other solution.
You can un-subscribe from either list by clicking the link above and finding the relevant section. Having joined the list, you can read through the archives if you'd like.
Some of us hang out on
#cusf. You can find a quick start for using IRC here.
email@example.com an email …
Lab: info in the internal section of the wiki. If you're not an engineer, we can arrange for your University card to be added to the front door so that you can get at weekends etc.
To quote the email from a few years ago written by Ed (who created Snippets):
It is designed to make it easier for CUSF members to quickly find out what work is currently being done across a variety of different projects in the society, and also by individuals too. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here's a screenshot from a while back.
It's been quiet over the summer, but would be great to see it busy again. It can be found at http://snippets.cusf.co.uk/, where you'll need to sign in with a Google Account and request access. More information about the tool can be found on the wiki: snippets.
Projects: Each project has several parts to it. In the glider & EARS project there could feasibly be a electronics & programming sub group. If you’re interested and think you could help out with just part of it, do get involved! If you know you want to do something spaceflight, but can’t work out what, just send us an email with the kind of thing you’re interested in.
Below you'll find a little blurb on our current projects and some links to more information. In all cases, the team will end up a mix of existing and new members—so it doesn't matter if you don't really know what you're doing: we can teach you how to pretend (that's all we do anyway).
Each project has a person you can talk to about it next to it. However, if you're reading this post-squash, you should expect an email to the team mailing list in the (Cambridge) week of the 16th Oct with details of the first meeting anyway.
We only let go of balloons when we’re fairly confident that they’re not going in the sea. This limits when we can launch, and even then we have to chase it in a car and retrieve it.
This project is to try and design a payload that will ‘glide’ back to Cambridge after the balloon bursts. The general idea is to build some sort of steerable (by servos or shifting mass) parachute (Rogallo wing?). On the electronics/software side, we have plenty of experience with GPS and tracking, but figuring out how to have it fly back in the right direction is a new problem: we’re very likely to have the wind against us.
The first challenge will be coming up with some ideas and prototypes, and then throwing them off the roof of the engineering department to test them. After that, we can start dropping them from balloons at increasing altitude…
Talk to Daniel Richman
Most of our rockets so far have been off-the-shelf solid fuel rocket motors; this is a project to build our own hybrid rocket motor (Sugar and Nitrous) from scratch.
We’re looking for people keen to work on the third iteration. The first iteration used plastic instead of sugar and failed to ignite, probably not due to the plastic. The second used some of the parts from the first but with a new nozzle,injector and feed system. We used two valves to provide a low flow of oxidiser with the intention of easing ignition. We also added pressure transducers. This version did ignite but the burn time was very short (half a second maybe) which is in no way long enough, we would like something in the region of 10s. For the third iteration we intend to improve in the following areas:
This project will involve some thermofluid calculations, CAD, machining, casting fuel grains, data acquisition, plumbing and most importantly setting fire to things in fields…
Talk to David Walker
There is a nearby launch site, EARS, for high powered rocketry. Launch days are typically the first Sunday of the month, most months. The altitude cap is in theory 10kft though more usually around 6kft is practical. This tends to mean 38/54mm motors in I or J are about as large as you would go, and G or H are more common.
We've launched a lot of rockets at EARS before but they are usually fairly low-tech cardboard affairs. We'd like to try something a bit more technical this year. We've still got a lot of fibreglass left over from Martlet 2, so an entirely fibreglass design would be fun and interesting. A more novel deployment system than black powder charges would be nice, for example CO2 or electronically actuated mechanisms. Making our own flight computer could be a good electronics experience, and we could put a lot of nice features such as telemetry downlink, an app for configuring, GPS for recovery, etc. There's also the possibility of trying active control, e.g. via servo-actuated canards on the body of the rocket.
What exactly we put into the rocket will depend on how many people are interested in it, and what areas people want to work on. We'd hope to have something ready to launch at the final EARS meeting of the year, on Sunday 7 December.
Talk to Jack Brewster
As mentioned we’re going back to BRD next year to launch Martlet 2. We’re thinking of taking an other rocket (two stage NN?) with us (since we're going there anyway…). This project may not be very accessible if you haven’t done much rocketry before, but if you have experience with this sort of thing, let us know!
Talk to Jack Brewster
We'd love to start new projects if you have a great idea or are interested in doing something vaguely Spaceflight related!
I would personally suggest mailing the team list to see who else is interested, but if you'd prefer you can ask Daniel Richman