Thanks for your comments. I have published dozens of article in Gadget Freaks, EDN's Design Ideas, Test and Measurement and in Electronic Design. All were solid and interesting applications. While nobody makes a bunch of money in articles, I have found them to be challenging and fun. I am delighted this one got so many comments. I have already started the next one which I hope you will see in a future issue.
You right on the money. When I was lecturing computer science I saw that students could write any code but no concept of how it all comes to life. I was able to introduce some small lab experiments to build basic adders with gates and LEDs. You should have seen their eyes. The moment they saw that some assortment of wires and some crazy black chips can do that, many other subjects just became clear.
I can just imagine what such a nice practical project can do. It may take them a month to complete, but the educational gain and practice is unmeasurable.
Absolutely brilliant! I can see this quickly becoming a large enough project that could keep students, or hobbyists, busy for some time.
Another additional modification that could be made would be a tracker and height logger that would allow locating the rocket should the wind blow it off course, and overal height acheived of the rocket's flight.
This of course is more for in the rocket and thus ventures off of the main point of the article, but woul d be good additions!
You are correct. With such a simple design it is easy to add many capabilities. Display with countdown is a great idea. It is possible also to add a tilt sensor to monitor the pre-launch angle and display it on the screen. Another item is a small camera to save the video from behind. I would just get a small camera with flash card and save it all by sichronizing with the launch.
In one project students can learn micros, sensors, , display, camera use, memory and communication. Super project, and very practical.
@sensor pro: Yes, it is a simple, and elegant solution to an issue that I know I have fought with for a long time with the model rocket field.
For anyone who decides to build this, why not add a bit more complexity to the project? *After* you have a working one that is! Why not extend the use of the PIC to include a display that will countdown to the launch? Or adding an audible countdown? These will require a bit more knowledge about the PIC's programming and LCD's if you do the display option, but it would be a great High School technology project or Science Fair project.
@Grill: You should start talking to the model rocket manufacturers and see about getting this incorporated into their launchers!
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