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Gadget Freak Case #223: Rocket Records Its Own Flight
8/10/2012

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Doug uses a launch pressure of 45psi for the flights, which typically last 7.1-7.4 seconds.
Doug uses a launch pressure of 45psi for the flights, which typically last 7.1-7.4 seconds.

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Beth Stackpole
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Blogger
Panoramic views
Beth Stackpole   8/10/2012 8:11:11 AM
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Definitely adds a new level of fun and excitement to launching rockets. No doubt today's super small and portable video cameras are prime for doing something like this. Just hope your shock absorber materials can hold up--would hate to see a nice camera shattered. That would definitely impede the number of times you could launch.

naperlou
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More sensors
naperlou   8/10/2012 8:59:37 AM
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Doug, now that you have mastered the camera, you need to add more sensors.  How about an accelerometer and a magnetometer?  Then you need to record the readings.  If you really want to get crazy, you could also add real time telemetry.  How big do these rockets get?

Nancy Golden
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Platinum
Awesome Project
Nancy Golden   8/10/2012 11:01:00 AM
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What an awesome project! Our family loves model rocketry - we have countless Estes rockets we have built over the years and my son won 2nd place in the regional science fair in seventh grade with his study of aerodynamics using three different rocket configurations. I even used "How to Launch a Model Rocket" as a topic for my college speech class and we had the class outside so we could launch the rocket. This stuff is GREAT for getting kids excited about science! It's alot of fun to add bells and whistles and I admire the innovation used by Doug - we have done "still shots" in the past with a 110 camera that came as part of a kit, but nothing like Doug's accomplishment. I can't wait to show our boys and get started on this!

gafisher
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Gold
Cost Effective
gafisher   8/10/2012 11:14:30 AM
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With digital cameras dropping to near throwaway prices [example] and a rocket system with almost no per-flight costs, this looks like a great opportunity both for hobbyists and for scouting and other youth groups.

Please post more construction details!

Rob Spiegel
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Re: More sensors
Rob Spiegel   8/10/2012 1:04:26 PM
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Good ideas, Naperlou. I wonder if new sensors -- and a parachute -- could help manage the descent so the camera would be less vulnerable to hard impact.

richnass
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Re: More sensors
richnass   8/10/2012 1:53:16 PM
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That's pretty amazing. You've touched on the hobbyist/astronaut/etc. in a lot of people.

Beth Stackpole
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Blogger
Re: More sensors
Beth Stackpole   8/10/2012 2:22:53 PM
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There's actually so many different types of cameras available now that enable people to record experiences in much the same vein. I just saw a news clip on my local news this week in fact, where a video camera recorded a small plane crashing--the entire experience. Of course, it was inadvertent and only exciting because luckily, no one on board was hurt.

armorris
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Platinum
Re: Cost Effective
armorris   8/10/2012 3:15:49 PM
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I just ordered one of those cameras. You are right! They are almost throw-away devices. $21, free shipping, one day only price. $31 at Amazon. I had no idea they were so cheap. Thanks for pointing this out!

Charles Murray
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Re: Panoramic views
Charles Murray   8/10/2012 4:48:34 PM
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Great video. Looks like something the "rocket boys" could have used in the movie, October Sky.

dconner
User Rank
Iron
Re: More sensors
dconner   8/10/2012 6:20:32 PM
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Hi Naperiou,

I've already got a 3-axis accelerometer, a 2 axis rate gyro, and a barometric pressure sensor I'm testing. All these sensors are very small and light. The weight does climb some when you start adding the microcontroller, an acutator, and a power source capable of driving the actuator. The actuator is the power problem, the rest of the electronics requires very little power.

Right now I'm working on putting a recovery system in the rocket that uses an acutator to deploy a parachute based on a set time from the launch. This is simple and doesn't require even a microcontroller. It does add more weight that I had hoped, about 20  grams. To keep the weight down I really should be implementing everything with surface mount devices but it's a lot easier to assemble through-hole prototypes (at least for me).

Once I get a reliable recovery system I'll consider adding more complex electronics.

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