Spring 2017 Spaceport America

Spaceport America and STEM+C bring you

an Aerospace STEM Event.......

The Students of STEM+C receiving special recognition with IL rep Barbara Wheeler

and IL sen rep Pam Althoff.

recap video link

107.200 wavier tracking number 107W-2016-00416
Exemption request ID : FAA-2016-3324-0001

Project Blackbird Schedule (All times local mst time)

Tuesday, April 25

Exemption Authorization Issued

Federal Register Notice

Wed, April 26 

Travel day to Truth or Consequences from Chicago Midway or Milwaukee.  

Fly into either El Paso or Albuquerque, I'll arrange everyone's flights.  

Alternate travel day will be Thursday April 27, and Friday April 28

Pick up U-Haul 9' Cargo Van (Uhaul Moving and Storage of Gilbert)

Pick up Helium tanks (Phoenix Welding Supply)

Thursday, April 27 

Travel day.  

Exemption Authorization has been received!

Exemption Authorization

9:00am : Paul, Andrew and Gerrit drive to Spaceport

5:30pm : Paul, Andrew, and Gerrit arrive at Holiday Inn

  The inspection will take place on Friday, April 28.  

6:00pm : Thursday evening briefing, start our pre-launch checklist, 

prepare for FAA inspection of the 3 RvJets,

6:45 : head out for dinner/talk about launch scedule

7:00pm : dinner at La Cocina, across the street from the Holiday Inn

Friday, April 28

7:00am until 9:00am : Conference room is reserved.

8:00am : FAA inspection at the Holiday Inn conducted by Scott Moore.  

Set up control stations and RvJets for inspection and issuance of the experimental aircraft certificates.

10:00am : Meet at Spaceport, Spaceport tour/safety briefing.

11:15am : photo shoot

11:30am : BBQ with the firemen

12:00pm : set up at Spaceport (High Bay), make last minute adjustments

Execute the "Day before launch checklist" for RvJet003, RvJet001

Execute "Day before launch Risk analysis checklist" RvJet003, RvJet001

Simulated launch in the afternoon 

Pre-fill out information for our "Launch Day Checklist"

2:00pm : Make our way back to Truth or Consequences

3:00pm-6:00pm : Students finish build, sticker up and tape seams on RvJets, build camera platform

6:00pm : Meet for dinner at Point Blanc Winery and Tap

Saturday April 29

NOTAM : number 04/004

5:00am meet at Spaceport

5:30am : Execute "Pre-Launch Checklist" for RvJet003

6:30am : Start helium fill for RvJet003

6:50am : Execute "Launch Checklist"

7:00am ....Launch RvJet003 (100,000ft mission objective)

K-3000 balloon, Helium needed 333cuft., planned climb out 6m/s or 1432ft/min, 

time to climb to 100,000ft = 67 minutes

8:07am Release RvJet003 at 100,000ft

Flight time back to Spaceport = about 90 minutes

8:30am Lunch, BBQ with the Firemen

9:37am RvJet 003 lands at Spaceport

Flight plan for other RvJet's TBD

head back to Truth or Consequences relax/dinner

6:30 pm : meet for dinner at Latitude 33

Project Recap

Full FPV video for Guinness

FAA certification of the 3 RvJets ....




Guiness Book of World Record Attempt, " Highest altitude RC aircraft flight"
Launch Date : Saturday, April 29, 2017
Launch Time : 06:50am mst Time, 12:50z
Launch Location : Spaceport America
Google APRS tracking : KC9YMN-10 position report every 120 seconds
Video Stream available on 1.3ghz, RvJet003
Planned release point from 3000g weather balloon : 30,480m, or 100,000 ft above sea level
need to beat 9,000m or 29,527ft (Guiness Record)
Ascent time to 30,480 : about 67 minutes
Descent time from 30,480 m : about 90 minutes
Predicted furthest distance away from launch : 27km
RvJet Airplane Weight : 2400g/used 2300g for the burst calcs
Neck Lift : 6700g

Flight data
Launch Time ... 06:50 mst
Launch Altitude or Spaceport Field Elevation ... 4596ft msl
Our maximum reported altitude was ... 70,438ft above sea level at  07:31mst
The image below shows a barometric alt of 60,347ft.

Time to climb from 4,596ft msl to 70,438 msl was 40:52 minutes
Total altitude gain during the 40:52 minute climb out ... 65,842ft
Average climb rate .... 1605ft/min
Extremely close with our planned calculations!!!
Planned climb rate .... 1415ft/minute, 431m/minute, or 7.18m/sec 

Power supply info
12volt, 5.1 milli amp hour battery (mAh)
The 12v battery powers the Vector OSD, and motor.
The vector OSD powers the camera, the OSD info, the transmitter, the dragonlink Tx.
The nichrome wire gets its power directly from the 12v battery
Nichrome wire length = 5"
Kept the battery warm with a 2 hand warmers, packed next to the battery.
current draw when power up .... .4 to .5mAh
with this arrangement we had about 12 hours and 45 minutes worth of power
5.1amps / .4 ampH = 12hours  and 45minutes of available power
We power the system up at approximately 06:35am, so 15 minutes of power was used on the ground prior to launch, that left us with approximately 12 hours 30 minutes of battery power for the flight.
Our power supply was exhausted at landing.  Battery voltage was observed to be 10.21v.  We consumed 5251mA (milli amps) not bad considering we had a 5100mAh battery. 

Weather balloon and helium data
Weather balloon ... Kaymont 3000g balloon
RvJet003, harness, and hand warmers ... 2400g/used 2300g for burst calc
Milk Jug Weight (neck lift) ... 6700g
Positive buoyancy used ...  1300g(extra lift)
Total Helium used (2 tanks) ... 338cuft of helium

My thoughts.
The first mistake that I have to own up for was not letting the APRS tracker initialize out at Spaceport.  We should have done this the day before.  We inflated the balloon inside the SOC (Firedepartment), and the GPS antenna could not get a good lock to initialize the GPS.  When we walked the balloon out, my attention turned to the gusty winds.  I completely forgot to let the APRS GPS initialize.

Winds at the launch location may have contributed as well.  Winds were gusty at he time of the fill and launch (estimated 8 to 10 mph with gust of 12mph out of the north/northwest).    

The climb out was turbulent, we had an upper level low situated over southern Colorado (see wind video below).  The wind gradients were very tight and compacted near Spaceport.  We hit extreme turbulence above 60,000ft which caused the RvJet to swing up and penetrate the balloon with the pitot tube.

Battery Telemetry

The 12v 5100mAh battery was installed as below.  
Battery bay Temp at launch ... 69'f
Battery bay Temp at release (approximately 70,000ft)... 43'f
Temp got as low as 10'f passing through 23,000ft, stayed at 10'f until passing 14,000ft, then began to warm up.  Need to seal any air intrusions better.  Also the camera in the nose of the airplane could have been sealed better.  There were tiny air gaps on both sides of the camera.  We used 2 hand warmers in the payload bay, my want to increase that to 3 hand warmers.  Battery voltage was maintained even in the extremely cold temperatures.  The battery showed no signs of crashing.

The camera and Video Tx
The RMRC 700tvl camera performed well.  One problem with the camera.  The camera image became distorted.  At this time we believe the distortion was due to moisture condensing inside the camera.  The distortion started at 60,217ft.  There were small air gaps along side the camera.  We need to fill those air gaps with hot glue.

The camera image cleared up at 10,273 ft.

The 1.3ghz 1watt transmitters do not seem to work very well with the vector flight controller. 
When power is applied to the RvJet motor, the image becomes distored with lines in the x axis of the monitor image.  We swapped out the 1watt Tx for 800mw transmitters and that seems to have solved the problem. 

Other Flight Problems

The Vector OSD
The first recognizable problem was the GPS altitude readout from the Vector OSD.  
The absolute GPS altitude (Above seal level) only read correctly until 65,532ft and then it re-set to 3,151ft.
The Vector software version was 12.55, firmware version 12.6
The altitude ladder quit working at 10,000ft, but we knew that would happen.
Need to have Vector address this issue before our next flight.
The Vector utilizes the G.Top010 GPS chip...

 Bill Browns (wb8elk) APRS tracker
Bill Browns products always work.  The APRS tracking was my fault.  I did not let the GPS initialize at Spaceport.  We setup inside the SOC and the GPS receiver was inside the building without a clear view of the sky.  I should have let the GPS initialized the day before.
Bill Brown Post Flight Analysis
Start the APRS tracker up before anything else.  Let the Tracker get a GPS fix and make sure it is sending a signal.  Possibly move the tracker away from the video TX antenna (the video Tx may be causing RF interference with the GPS antenna on the tracker.)  
 The distorted video from the RVjet looks like the camera perhaps had some cold temperature issues or the transmitter frequency drifted due to the temperature....looks like a video or video modulation problem of some sort.

Dragonlink Tx and Dragonlink Receiver
This is the repeater station.  

The kids use the Spectrum DX-9 transmitter at the control station.  The transmitter sends it signal to the Spektrum receiver at the repeater box located outside on the SOC.  The Spektrum receiver then sends the ppm stream to the DragonLink Tx.  The Dragonlink Tx then send its signal to the Dragonlink receiver in the RvJet.

The DragonLink V3 worked perfectly as always.  Thank you Mike for your continued development of the dragonLink products.  We used the stock dragon link antennas and the DL tx was set to "High" for the flight. The DL Tx was power by external 12v power.
Maximum ground track distance from the school 27 nautical miles
At 27 miles away we were at approximately 65,000ft above ground level.
Slant range line of sight distance = 30 miles.
RSSI at 30 miles = 100%

Dragon link performed perfectly again.  The DL maintained communication with the Dragon link Tx through out the entire flight.  

Video Equipment and Video Aerial Systems antennas.
Worked as well as to be expected.  Typical problems associated with having the directional antennas pointed at the Tx antenna (Mad Mushroom) on the RvJet.  Ground based antennas used.
Gatling 1.3ghz antenna
Pepper Box 1.3ghz antenna
Mad mushroom 1.3 ghz antenna
Gatling Antenna and MadMushroom feed into the Eagle Tree diversity receiver.
Pepper Box antenna feed its own TV monitor.
We never lost video signal through out the flight.  
Both the Gatling and the Pepperbox antennas worked perfectly. 

Weather and Upper Level Wind Data from Don Day



It is my conclusion that we did not make the projected altitude because of the turbulent air we encountered above 60,000ft.  The turbulent air caused the RvJet to swing into the balloon.  It appears the pitot tube punctured the balloon, which led us to release the RvJet from the harness.  This could be mitigated by installing a lenght of line between the harness and the wx balloon. The flight back to Spaceport also encountered some problems.  The biggest problem was the loss of our primary GPS system through the Vector flight computer.  It did come back to life intermittently through out the flight.  Also the APRS was not initialized.  Need to initialize the APRS the day before we conduct our next launch.  

Check out our Facebook page ... 

Conceptual Project Video

FAA demonstration test video

YouTube Video


Dragon Link info, binding and calibration links......

Dragonlink support

Dragonlink YouTube calibration and binding

Dragonlink initial setup and update files

Vector setup

Dragonlink v3 setup

RvJet info

https://sites.google.com/site/rftstars7/spring-2016-event/robfairman.png https://sites.google.com/site/rftstars7/spring-2016-event/range%20video.jpg