We were glued to our screens last month as NASA successfully landed the InSight module on Mars. (Bet you were, too.) What an amazing sight a Martian sunrise turns out to be! Now, we’ve got the bug. The bigtime Space Bug. Accordingly, our final Humble Bundle ebook deal of […]
Posts with «space» label
The cost of getting a piece of hardware into space is now cheaper than ever, thanks in no small part to the rapid progress that’s been made by commercial launch providers such as SpaceX. In the near future, as more low-cost providers come online, it should get even cheaper. Within a few years, we could be seeing per kilogram costs to low Earth orbit that are 1/10th what they were on the Space Shuttle. To be sure, this is a very exciting time to be in the business of designing and building spacecraft.
But no matter how cheap launches to orbit get, it’ll never be cheaper than simply emailing some source code up to the International Space Station (ISS). With that in mind, there are several programs which offer students the closest thing to booking passage on a Falcon 9: the chance to develop software that can be run aboard the Station. At the 2018 World Maker Faire in New York we got a chance to get up close and personal with functional replicas of the hardware that’s already on orbit, known in space parlance as “ground units”.
On display was a replica of one of the SPHERES free-flying satellites that have been on the ISS since 2006. They are roughly the size of a soccer ball and utilize CO2 thrusters and ultrasonic sensors to move around inside of the Station. Designed by MIT as a way to study spaceflight techniques such as docking and navigation without the expense and risk of using a full scale vehicle, the SPHERES satellites are perhaps the only operational spacecraft to have never been exposed to space itself.
MIT now runs the annual “Zero Robotics” competition, which tasks middle and high school students with solving a specific challenge using the SPHERES satellites. Competitors run their programs on simulators until the finals, which are conducted using the real hardware on the ISS and live-streamed to schools.
We also saw hardware from “Quest for Space”, which is a company offering curricula for elementary through high school students which include not only the ground units, but training and technical support when and if the school decides to send the code to the matching hardware on the Station. For an additional fee, they will even work with the school to design, launch, and recover a custom hardware experiment.
Their standard hardware is based on off-the-shelf platforms such as Arduino and LEGO Mindstorms EV3, which makes for an easy transition for school’s existing STEM programs. The current hardware in orbit is setup for experiments dealing with heat absorption, humidity, and convection, but “Quest for Space” notes they change out the hardware every two years to provide different experiment opportunities.
Projects such as these, along with previous efforts such as the ArduSat, offer a unique way for the masses to connect with space in ways which would have been unthinkable before the turn of the 21st century. It’s still up for debate if anyone reading Hackaday in 2018 will personally get a chance to slip Earth’s surly bonds, but at least you can rest easy knowing your software bugs can hitch a ride off the planet.
[gocivici] threatened us with a tutorial on positional astronomy when we started reading his tutorial on a Arduino Powered Star Pointer and he delivered. We’d pick him to help us take the One Ring to Mordor; we’d never get lost and his threat-delivery-rate makes him less likely to pull a Boromir.
As we mentioned he starts off with a really succinct and well written tutorial on celestial coordinates that antiquity would have killed to have. If we were writing a bit of code to do our own positional astronomy system, this is the tab we’d have open. Incidentally, that’s exactly what he encourages those who have followed the tutorial to do.
The star pointer itself is a high powered green laser pointer (battery powered), 3D printed parts, and an amalgam of fourteen dollars of Chinese tech cruft. The project uses two Arduino clones to process serial commands and manage two 28byj-48 stepper motors. The 2nd Arduino clone was purely to supplement the digital pins of the first; we paused a bit at that, but then we realized that import arduinos have gotten so cheap they probably are more affordable than an I2C breakout board or stepper driver these days. The body was designed with a mixture of Tinkercad and something we’d not heard of, OpenJsCAD.
Once it’s all assembled and tested the only thing left to do is go outside with your contraption. After making sure that you’ve followed all the local regulations for not pointing lasers at airplanes, point the laser at the north star. After that you can plug in any star coordinate and the laser will swing towards it and track its location in the sky. Pretty cool.
Filed under: Arduino Hacks, cnc hacks, news, solar hacks
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The project Emanuel Bombasaro submitted to the Arduino blog is about a high altitude balloon he launched on August 21st over Denmark. The balloon, called Titan 1, is made of a helium-filled latex balloon, a payload box holding the flight computer, sensors and a parachute (36” diameter). A GoPRO camcorder mounted inside the payload box and capturing an image every second.
The flight computer is an Arduino Mega which logs position (GPS), pressure, temperature, humidity, luminosity, earth magnetic field, acceleration and spin, measured by a variety of sensors:
At 1:10 we jump from cloud level (~3200m) towards reaching the peak altitude of 35393m. Immediately the moon appears on the right and is visibile again and again. 2:05 the fragments of the bursted balloon can be seen and up it goes back to earth. 3:00 we drop down to cloud level (~3200m) and soon after hit the ground.
This is the list of modules and sensors connected to the Arduino Mega:
- MTX2 Radiometrix
- MTX2 434 MHz Radio Module.
- HX1 VHF Narrow Band FM 300 mW Transmitter, 144.800 MHz, used for APRS.
- MAX-M8 GPS module used for position (longitude, latitude and altitude) and time acquisition.
- DS18B20 Temperature sensor on HABuino showing the temperature of the flight computer compartment. This temperature should remain most near to 20 ” C. Any temperature variation will e?ect the transmission frequency of the radio module.
- MCP9808 Maximum accuracy digital temperature sensor measuring air temperature.
- HTU21DF Temperature and humidity sensor measuring air temperature and relative humidity of the air.
- MPL3115A2 Precision altimeter mainly used for measuring atmospheric pressure, but also temperature and altitude is detected.
- TSL2561 Light to digital converter BST-BMP180 Pressure sensor mainly used for measuring atmospheric pressure, but also temperature and altitude is detected.
- L3GD20 3D gyroscope
- LSM303DLHC 3D accelerometer and 3D magnetometer module
- LSH20 Saft LSH 20 battery used as power supply with 3.6 V and 13.0 A h. The power feeds into the low input voltage synchronous boost converter TPS61201 on the HABuino shield.
Check the detailed documentation with Flight Computer Software sketch on this Design Mission PDF document.
You can also explore the Flight Data Report showing the collected mission data graphically on this PDF.
Last July 7 at Wallops Flight Facility, NASA launched Black Brant IX , a suborbital sounding rocket to test “wireless-in-space” with XBee and Arduino :
Onboard the rocket was an experiment testing Exo-Brake technology. XBee was used to collect sensor data including temperature, air pressure, and 3-axis acceleration parameters. NASA is considering Exo-brakes as a possible solution for returning cargo from the International Space Station (ISS), orbiting platforms or as possible landing mechanisms in low-density atmospheres. This was one of many tests used to analyze its effectiveness, but the first to incorporate an XBee connected sensor network. If you would like to read more about the Exo-brake, check out this article.
Wireless sensor technology allows measuring important parameters such as aerodynamic pressure and temperature at the apex of the Exo-Brake during re-entry. It is very difficult to instrument a deployable parachute like the Exo-Brake, and wireless sensor modules provide the means for this type of measurement where it is difficult to run wires,” said Rick Alena, computer engineer at NASA Ames.
The NASA team constructed a gateway using an Arduino Mega, XBee, and Iridium module. The Arduino Mega was used to manage communications between the local XBee wireless network and the long-range Iridium satellite uplink. It was chosen as part of a NASA initiative to use commercial off-the-shelf components where possible, and to employ rapid prototyping tools to efficiently explore new ideas.
See the diagram below to get a detailed view into how the network was configured.
The U of M Satellite project started in 2010 as a student group at the University of Manitoba with the goal of building a nano satellite (10 x 10 x 34 cm) and make space accessible to the public. We got in touch with Ahmed Byagowi, co-founder of the project, who teaches robotics in the same university. Ahmed told us that U of M Satellite became soon very popular, in fact more than 300 students joined the group. In the first iteration the satellite’s goal was studying a micro animal (about 1 mm) called tardigrades and see its behaviour in space. The second iteration started in 2012, the same year of the launch of the Arduino Due and that’s why they designed everything based on it.
We had a nice talk with Ahmed and asked a bit more about the project.
Why is space so important for research, and why it would be cool if more people could have access to it?
Space research is important because it challenges us to solve problems and find solutions which can translate to everyday life here on Earth. The products of space research and space technology are all around us today. From the ballpoint pen, all the way to GPS, special composite materials, special surgical equipment and satellite communication.
For a while, only government and military had access to space. However, over the past decade there has been a rapid increase in commercial and public access to space. Private companies can take risks that the government and military can not, which leads to even bolder and newer technologies being developed.
For the general public, there are many creative and dynamic thinkers in the world who may not be able to share their ideas through a government agency or company. Public access to space allows more people to innovate on their own terms, and with 7 billion people on this planet, surely there are a great deal of innovation to be found.
With more people involved in researching space technologies, even more ideas can reach fruition, which can hopefully lead to technologies that will benefit life here on Earth even more.
There are other open source projects going to space (i.e. Ardusat), how’s U of M Student Satellite different or similar to others?
Ardusat is using Arduino as its payload (in fact, 16 of them) to run certain experiments in space and its main controller system is based on other processors and software. On the other hand, UMSATS’ satellite is going to be based on the Arduino Due architecture (the main controller) aided by the Arduino Zero and Arduino Uno’s design for payload and other controllers such as attitude determination and control system (ADCS) and power management as well as onboard image processing.
In which way open source is making exploration of space possible?
Open source makes things more accessible and helps a community work together to solve problems. If more open source platforms become available that can aid in space exploration, people can focus their efforts more on the next big problem using tools already developed, instead of resolving the same problems over and over again (reinventing the wheel). Plus, learning from watching other people’s work is a great way to learn things and apparently for some people like me or Massimo, this is best way to learn programming (based on Massimo’s TED talk).
Could you give us a bit more details on how you are using Arduino DUE ?
Our main Command and Data Handling (CDH) controller is based on the SAM3X8E and we are using Arduino Due’s bootloader and IDE for the software development. We added some more software layers as well as a scheduler and we aim to open source the entire software and hardware as soon as possible. In the picture of our motherboard below, you can clearly see the SAM3X8E and on the top right, there is a SMD version of the ATMEGA328P running and Arduino Uno core and acts as the beacon transmitter. This board encompasses the CDH, ADCS, Power and Communication of 2 meter and 70 cm bands (144.390MHz and 435MHz ham radio bands).
A famous quote of Massimo’s Banzi says: “You don’t need anyone’s permission to make something great” and in your TED talk you start saying “You can make big things using small tools”, what’s the relations between the two?
There is no formula for greatness. We live in a time where anything is truly possible, and the way to achieve your goals is numerous. Nobody said we couldn’t do something big with our small satellite, and we didn’t ask if we could either. Instead, we try to do big things with small tools that are accessible to us.
Kerbal Space Program is a space simulation game. You design spacecraft for a fictional race called Kerbals, then blast those brave Kerbals into space. Sometimes they don’t make it home.
If controlling spacecraft with your WASD keys isn’t immersive enough for you, [marzubus] has created a fully featured KSP control console. It sports a joystick, multiple displays, and an array of buttons and switches for all your flight control needs. The console was built using a modular approach, so different controls can be swapped in and out as needed.
Under the hood, three Arduinos provide the interface between the game and the controls. One Arduino Mega runs HoodLoader2 to provide joystick data over HID. A second Mega uses KSPSerialIO to communicate with the game over a standard COM port interface. Finally, a Due interfaces with the displays, which provide information on the current status of your spacecraft.
All of the parts are housed in an off the shelf enclosure, which has a certain Apollo Mission Control feel to it. All [marzubus] needs now is a white vest with a Kerbal badge on it.
Filed under: Arduino Hacks