RaccoonKit

Nearly done soldering up this very prototype-y payload for the rocket on Sunday. It’s got a GPS (FSA03) being transmitted over an XBee (Series 2B, pro, 50mW) while at the same time an ADXL345 accelerometer is logged to an SD card on the OpenLog. All powered by a tiny little LiPo battery.

It’s pretty neat! Not entirely done yet (need to add a last-minute 3v3 regulator and reprogram the openlog) but should be in working order by Sunday.

Rocket Painting

The latest rocket is all painted! We’ve gone for a metallic blue on the fins and nosecone and matt black for the body. This should be launching on Sunday from EARS — our first rocket launch in quite a while!

Stay tuned for details on an experimental telemetry payload we’re putting together as fast as we can solder…

Team Meeting

We have some new members working on new Arduino trackers, following in the footsteps of the very successful Weasel project last year.

In the vein of ramping up work on rockets this year, some have been ordered! We’re getting a LOC Precision ISIS, a LOC Precision Caliber ISP and a LOC Precision Bruiser EXP. Hopefully the ISIS will arrive in time to get playing as soon as possible, while the Bruiser should be big enough to start testing a lot of electronics.

The Weasel Arduino Tracker launched on Nova 19
The Weasel Arduino Tracker launched on Nova 19

Introduction to the Comet Project

Admin note: originally a page published 27/09/2011

The aim of the Comet Project is to develop a small sounding rocket system that will be launched from a helium balloon at around 30km altitude. The rocket will have a maximum apogee of around 150km, taking it past the official boundary boundary of space that is set at 100km. Launching at this altitude is much more efficient as air density is only around 1% of its value at ground level, so much less energy is wasted by the rocket in drag. The reduced pressure of the environment also allows further expansion through the nozzle of the rocket motor, increasing the thrust from a given motor. For small rockets, the increased difficulty of launching from a balloon is outweighed by these benefits and provides great potential for payload carrying at minimum fuel cost.

Advanced computer modelling and prototyping has begun and our current concept is two-stage, powered by two commercially available L-class motors. The casing will be constructed by the team with carbon-fibre prepreg by using an industrial standard autoclave and precision moulds.

Prototype Mould Created

A prototype mould of the nosecone and frontal body section has already been manufactured by Cambridge Precision, one of our Platinum Sponsors. The mould was hand finished and polished to an almost mirror sheen before being chemically coated in a layer of teflon using Freekote 44. Prototype rocket body sections will now be constructed and tested with different composite laminations before a full carbon-fibre rocket will be built for a ground launch.

Certification

To test launch high-power rockets from UKRA (united Kingdom Rocketry Association) rocketry sites certification exams must be passed for the appropriate motor power of the rocket. We have embarked on achieving UKRA certification with a small test rocket, “Racing Blue”. The inset video shows its maiden flight at Big EARS 2008, when it passed the Level 1 Certification exam. It reached an altitude of roughly 960m and accelerated to around 380 mph in 1.8 seconds. On its next flight, it should pass Level 2 certification and allow us to fly rockets up to L-Class motors. However, this second launch has been delayed by bad weather several times.