Australian Weather Balloon Sales

Totex 100 gram Red BalloonWeather Balloon Sales Opening Soon in Australia

We will be setting up an online shop and selling weather balloons, balloon equipment, radio systems and much more for those interested in flying High altitude weather balloons. We will also be selling general comms equipment from time to time and HAM radio equipment to verified HAM radio operators. Keep watching!

This is all about fund raising for Project ThunderStruck. Some of the uses out balloons had been put to include High Altitude flights (of course); projection media (screen); giant tennis balls, Line of site objects for radio towers, internal organs in a giant horror setting; art shapes in an installation; floating sign holders in indoor displays, camera tethers over lakes to measure algae bloom growth and so much more. It seems that you can do almost anything that you want with balloons and we are happy to sell you these latex balloons for any reason.

Note that we are located in Australia and the shop is for the convenience of Australians who may not be able to wait for a delivery from overseas. We will not be the cheapest, but we will be the best and keep only very fresh stock unless otherwise declared and discounted.

Right now I have ample stock of 100 gram Totex Red Balloons ($20 each). Postage is $15 for each 4 balloons delivered in Australia +GST

In 4 weeks, we take delivery of many boxes of brand new Totex weather balloons. If you want an Australian source of weather balloons in small quantities, we are now taking pre-orders for the balloons. Do not wait until they arrive as some sizes may be sold out.

On aIMG_5039bout 24th May 2015 we should have the following beige weather balloons in stock:
500 gram $80 + $20 Australian delivery + GST
800 gram $120 + $20 Australian delivery + GST
1,500 gram $190 + $30 Australian delivery + GST

All are brand new Totex. Our new shop will be:

http://habworx.com

Overseas orders are exempt from GST, but will have an additional handling fee and a higher delivery fee. No details yet as I am focusing on the Australian market. If you have a need for bigger quantities than 3, we can start to discount. We have great prices for orders of 12 with 4 weeks lead time.

Call 0448881101 for details

I also have 2 x 3kg weather balloons. These 3Kg balloons are well over their expiry date (maybe about 3 years old – good for displays ($150 each). If you want any of these you will need to contact me on 0448 881 101.

I will calculate postage by Australia post depending on what you order. eg 500 gram express post bag can handle 4 X 100 gram balloons + bubble wrap and costs $15. The same to New Zealand will be $20 postage; to the US $25 postage and to anywhere else $30 postage.

Balloon specs here: http://www.esands.com/pdf/Meteorology/Totex_TA_Balloons_070213_web.pdf for Totex

We will be supplying NEW Totex weather balloons, although we may have the odd balloon from another supplier for time to time. I can also organise large orders if needed.

At this stage, payment will be via a bank deposit. If you wish to chose PayPal, we will need to charge extra for the sees that they extract! Please call 0448 881 101 for sales. It is essential that you leave a 10 second message with “balloons” as the first word.

We will soon be able to RENT: Helium bottles, (E), regulators, tracking systems including HAM radio APRS transmitters, HAM radio APRS enables handhelds, Filling tubes, Cable ties, hose, bubble wrap, tapes and much more mostly for pickup from Sydney. Shipping can be arranged, but not for the gas bottles.

Totex 100 gram Red Weather Balloon Box

ThunderStruck News

ThunderStruck News from Around the World.

It has been an amazing ride lately as word of Thunderstruck and our X2’s October light gets in the news around the world. Here are a few good samples of what is happening.

conversations Richard FidlerWant to listen to me live? I am booked for an Interview on an ABC radio program called “Conversations” with Richard Fidler.

DATE:              MON 20 APRIL 2015
ADDRESS:      SOUTH BRISBANE 4101
TIME:              (ON AIR 1105-1200)

The interview will go all over Australia and will be half about Space and half about my early life, probably concentrating on Computer Hacking in the early days. You can listen live on the ABC radio’s streaming links. One is below, but it will be the wrong program if you click now. They will also podcast the program so you will not miss anything. I will post a link after the show. it will be a fun interview.

http://www.abc.net.au/local/sites/conversations/

Below are three links to media – one TV interview, one on-line Newspaper and one audio interview.

Channel 7 Interview

This one was great. Essentially correct, except the X2 flight is scheduled for October 2015 and the spacecraft that will eventually be built to return from space, will look like a mini Dream Chaser. After all we will be carrying only 50kg of payload, not people. We also have a real team of about 10 people – not just a father and son team. None the less the graphics are good. They are based on the orginal 3D files of the craft, made by team member Ben Hockley.

 

 

The UK Register

A great article, but focused on the October 2015 supersonic flight.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/01/22/thunderstruck_spaceplane/

UK Register Story

Mars Pirate Radio

“Tonight, Episode XCVI of Mars Pirate Radio will feature an interview with Australian aerospace designer and entrepreneur Robert Brand.”

Doug Turnbull produces this show and it aimed at Science Fiction and Science Fact.

The site is here: http://dougturnbull.podbean.com/e/episode-xcvi/

Part two is not on the website until tomorrow!

You can listen to Part 1 NOW:

Renaming ThunderStruck’s Models

NASA X-15ThunderStruck’s Models Renamed to Avoid Confusion

It should have been clear from the start. We would have too many models of each craft to keep track of them. It is getting confusing for us and for you. So here is the deal, in honour of those that flew the early flights in NASA’s X flight series (image right), we will do the same. The ThunderStruck “X” series will be all test designs and test flights with experimental craft. Some will fly in space, where the X1 and X2 will be supersonic test design and test flight craft.

So the first bird in our list is:

ThunderStruck X1 – a Flightless Bird

Is was a flightless bird designed to give us a bench mark to start the design refinement process. It had a lot of what we wanted such as landing stability (wide wheel area); a large fuselage that would be more like a required in spacecraft with wings and symmetrical wings to keep it in a supersonic dive. Since we had models made and it appeared on TV, we have given it the name of the X1

Thunderstruck2

This is the model that was seen in Channel 7’s interview about ThunderStruck. In the end it was too fat and needed more wing area. Making the fuselage small effectively helped with the wing area! The X1 is a key design as aside from a few changes, it appears to be a capable design. What is not shown was that it was to have Pop-out canards for subsonic flight. The later craft should not need canards.

Roger WeissThe Roger Weiss

We are naming the X1 craft that started it all, the Roger Weiss. It is named after a very inspirational Facebook friend that is an inspiration and mentor to so many, my long time Facebook friend, Roger Weiss. Roger excites so many about the joys of space and he is prolific too. Roger lives the dream too. He lives in Houston Texas in the USA and has the job title of “International Space Station Program’s Research Integration Office, Technical Integration Lead, Barrios Technology at NASA Johnson Space Center. That is a mouth full. Hey Roger I will be in Houston in June 2016 and I will knock on your door!! Although this bird never got off the ground, like you Roger, inspiring others, it has been a truly key craft in getting us into space one day.

ThunderStruck X2

This bird is destined to fly fast. The fastest amateur craft in the sky. Set to break Mach 1 and expected to reach Mach 1.5, this bird will be the evolution of the X1. It is sleek and will break the sound barrier even if dropped from 40km. A good altitude for Plan B if things don’t go our way during the flight.

A bigger wing area and more wing forward compared to the X1. The rudders will be at the rear and tapered. there will be a tapered design for the fuselage.
X2 MainBody_Front_Perspective

Ann LornieThe Ann Lornie.

The craft that breaks the sound barrier officially will be called the Ann Lornie after a dear friend that was so encouraging when i first joined Facebook. She was inspiring and a lovely friend and I just discovered that she has cancer and about 3-6 months to live. This is named in honour of her and her friendship that underpins where I am today. She has not been well for many years, but this is new and I am devastated to hear this news. The Ann Lornie will go into the record books in October this year and I would love Ann to be still on this planet to witness this and her name going into our space flight history. Hang in there Ann, this one is for you! Ann Lives in Rusper, West Sussex, in the United Kingdom.

Since publishing this page, Ann passed on and the comments below reflect on that. She was very popular and very supportive of this project.

45km Free Fall Spreadsheet

ThunderStruck Phase 1 Version 2Fine Tuning ThunderStruck’s 45km Free Fall

By Robert Brand and Todd Hampson

This post will examine a drop from 45km. Todd has done an amazing job on this interactive Excel spreadsheet. We can change a few variable and see the change effects. It has done an amazing job in letting us see what changes produce the greatest “bang for the buck”.

The first thing was changing the diameter of the craft creates a great difference in drag. We have decided that we need to make the fuselage 300mm in diameter (down from 600) as it have a huge effect on when the craft stops accelerating. It adds Mach 0.3 to the top speed. from a 45km drop. We also noticed that if we get the craft the right dimensions  and mass, the need to get the balloon to 45km is reduced. We can still break the sound barrier with a release from 40km altitude. At 45km we get a top speed of Mach 1.54 and at 40km we get Mach 1.36. This is also with a mass of 15kg rather than 10kg as we previously had though would be sufficient. We do not want to release much lower as things change rapidly with the thicker air.

Thunderstruck Drop Test Simulator

Thunderstruck Drop Test Simulator

Above is the top part of Todd’s spreadsheet, the coloured cells to the left allow different inputs and the cells on the right are the snap summary. The model that we have made only just got us over Mach 1 with little to spare. Changing the diameter and elongating the nose (a smaller 1/2 vertex angle of the cone) made a huge difference and making the mass 15km means a huge leeway. As mentioned on TV recently, we are aiming for Mach 1.5 and now we have the maths to prove that we can reach that speed. One interesting aspect of the reaching Mach 1.5 is that the deceleration by the thickening atmosphere is about 1.3G. Barely more than standing on the ground. It is a really gentle load and it is mainly on the nose cone of the craft. The wing and tail assembly will keep the craft oriented in the denser air and we will rely on the ballast in the front of the craft to keep it nose down.  The ballast is likely to be antifreeze and we can shift it or eject it for a more stable and slower level flight.

We hope to have the fully interactive spreadsheet available on the site for those interested, but until then let’s have a snapshot of the curves that count. That is a free fall from 45km.
Thunderstruck Drop Test Simulator Max Speed

At sea level, mach 1 is about 340m/s. I say “about” because air pressure has little to do with the speed of sound. It is mainly air temperature. From the graph we should reach 530m/s and that is Mach 1.56.

Before we streamlined the craft to punch through the thickening atmosphere, the wider bodied version of ThunderStruck slowed down really fast and took some stronger G force on the nose (mainly). The version 2 craft slows almost at the same rate that it accelerates. This gives a very gentle change as can be seen below.

Thunderstruck Drop Test Simulator Deceleration

From the graph above it is clear that at 45km, as the speed increases, the air resistance has a greater effect. At that height air density is about 0.025 10-1 kg/m3 compared to air density at sea level which is about 12.25 10-1 kg/m3 (plus or minus about 5%).

This means that our air density at 45km as a percentage of air density at sea level is about 0.284% that of sea level and it increases as we go lower. The effects also increase with ThunderStruck’s speed as the drag has a greater effect with both speed and increasing density.

With the calculated drag of the craft, we find that all acceleration stops at 26 km and as we fall into denser atmosphere, we begin to slow. The graph above is calculated in metres per second per second (known as m/s/s or m/s2) and that can be directly converted in to G force. Since 1 g = 9.80665 m/s2 a simple rule of thumb conversion to remember is 10m/s/s = 1G.

Now for many the next part of this may be hard to grasp, but at free fall at 45km we have what is loosely termed 0G where, if we were in a craft also falling at the same rate, we would float inside the craft. Once we reach terminal velocity at 26km altitude ( I will ignore the lag in deceleration here), we have 1G acting on the craft. If we were inside that craft we could walk around the interior and feel the same as on the earth’s surface (again small variations in gravity, etc excluded). A skydiver that has reached terminal velocity has the air flow stabilising his speed and that air flow has a force of 1G on his body. G force real is only noticeable when there is change – ie a change in direction or acceleration or deceleration.

The “vomit comet” aircraft that simulates zero G does so by moving steadily in a straight line while accelerating towards the ground at 9.8m/s2.  If they just dipped the nose and began that arc, but stopped accelerating towards the ground we would all feel an initial 0Gs but then would be back on the floor when the rate of change returned to zero and we would be back at 1G. So, with ThunderStruck, it is the rate of change that determines G force and at 26km altitude, the G force is 1G on the overall craft, but since the greatest drag is caused by the nose, the 1G force is felt here. Other parts of the craft would be happy to continue accelerating! So at 26km, the structural form of the craft must allow the nose to hold the craft by the nose vertically – good to know, but it does not stop there.

The craft continues to slow and decelerate with the denser air and we have to slow way more. That now takes us into the realm of more than 1G. In fact at 17km we experience the greatest rate of deceleration or change and that is an additional 1.25G for a total of 2.25G on the nose of the vertical craft.  That is the base amount of structural integrity we will need in the nose assembly. If the craft weighs 15kg, then the nose assembly has to support 33.75 and then an amount that we required to ensure it is strong enough. My design had better look to supporting 50kg on the nose when the craft is stood vertically at least.

It seems that what you gain, you have to give back. The higher the speed and the longer the period in low Gs, then the the higher the Gs or the longer in negative Gs you need to complete the flight back to a complete vertical stop. I have not analyses the areas on either side of the 0m/s/s on the chart above, but I would not be surprised if they where equal. As we say here – swings and roundabouts. What you gain on the swings, you will lose on the roundabouts.

Mathematics is a wonderful tool for designers. From a few simple facts in a spreadsheet, we have calculated the speed at all points in the flight (vertical dive perspective) and also the internal forces on the craft at many points. ie the winglet tips will be a point of high drag so they will need to handle more than 1G vertically. The same with other leading edges and that also goes for surfaces affected by shock waves. All of which can be determined by design and software. You don’t have to be a maths genius, but you do need to know maths enough to ensure that you can use them in day to day work. Unless you visualise what is happening, you will have an unhealthy reliance on software for everything you do. That often denies the genius of innovation. It is also why a novice can invent something a seasoned engineer fails to see.

By manipulating the graph by fine tuning the inputs we found that our craft accelerated longer or you could say “the rate of deceleration was slower” by:

  • Making the nose cone pointier
  • Making the fuselage (and the nose cone) a a smaller diameter
  • Increasing the weight of the vehicle

In fact with the new design we have found that we can still break the sound barrier at a starting altitude of 40km. that is our plan B if the weather or winds in the atmosphere go against us. ie, we can launch early if the winds are taking our balloon out of range of our communications systems.

So what does our new design look like?

This is an early look as there are a few bits at the rear that still need adjusting.
ThunderStruck Phase 1 Version 2

We also took the opportunity to correct a few other aspects of the craft:

  • Bigger wing Area with a larger area ahead of the main wing
  • Longer spikes on the winglets (the winglets are not as high due to the smaller fuselage). This is to move the supersonic shock waves away from the control surfaces on the rear of the wing.
  • Twin rudders trailing the craft (there are some wing tabs in the drawing that need to be removed.
  • A tapered tail to stop high drag behind  the craft (we also need to remove some wing tags in the model above.
  • Tapered rudders on the bottom to stop it hitting the ground on landing (not shown)
  • Tapered rudders on the top for symmetry to ensure that it has little differential in forces on the craft to make it pull out of the dive.
Bruce Boler and Jason Brand with ThunderStruck Phase One 1/6 Model

Bruce Boler and Jason Brand with ThunderStruck Phase One 1/6 Model

So there you have the new design based on maths and simulations on a home computer. It seems that building a supersonic aircraft is child’s play as Jason (12) is jointly working on this design. This morning I asked him what G force is at work on a skydiver at terminal velocity and he confidently answered “1G”. Good one grasshopper. He then went on to clearly say that g force was related to change in acceleration (relating to a skydiver). I love it when he talks maths. He needs to know as he will be the remote control pilot for this Mach 1.5 aircraft.

Calculating Maximum Speed in Free Fall

100km accelerationFree Fall Speeds

by Robert Brand and Todd Hampson

Oddly enough, there is very little information on the web for calculating the maximum speed that a craft will fall from a specific height. It is a complex calculation requiring knowledge of the shape of a craft, the size of the craft, the amount of gravitational attraction at each height, the thickness of the atmosphere and the mass of the vehicle.

Todd Hampson has done some great work in getting the information together although he has not found a simple formula for calculating atmospheric density. He has temprarily used look-up tables and that has caused some rather “jerky” graphs. He will work on embedding a formula into the equations and removing the problematic look-up tables. None the less, this is a story of our travels and thus our problems too. Eventually it will be our triumphs too, but a bumpy chart is not a major worry to me, especially as we already know the solution. Now for the fun stuff.

Calculations, Calculations and More Calculations

Getting something “just right” the first time is near impossible and this is no different. Lots of complex data and no simple formula for air density, simply because it is not linear and non anything else. Tomorrow we will add the formula into the data and smooth out the bumps.

Today let us look at the graph that is all important, but first let’s look at an version of ThunderStruck falling from 100km. We will need to do this for Phase 2 with a different craft, but let’s look at the maths.

Todd says:
– For mass of the vehicle I used 10kg.
– For the Area of the object in direction of motion (vertically downwards I am assuming for the high speed part of the fall) I calculated the cross sectional area of the cone ie: a circle using the diameter of 600mm as per the current drawings.
– For the Drag Co-efficinet there was a URL on the VUId page that pointed to an aerospace.org page discussing different drag co-coefficients. For a 3D cone the Cd is calculated using a formula that needs a half-vertex angle. From your drawings (cone depth 450mm, cone diameter 600mm) half-vertex angle is 33.7 degrees.

100km release; max speed

max speed for an aircraft released from 100km – from a sounding rocket apogee of 100km

In the graph above, the first part of the flight was a little more difficult than I thought as lots of things are changing as it falls ie: gravity, air density, drag etc but I’ve got there now.

The first model I have done is the 100km drop test. I need to clean up the data below 18000m but the show is well and truly over by then anyway, but I will get it right so the graph is correct (I need to be more accurate with the air density below 18km).

This says a lot. Thanks Todd. This shows that tourist flights to space at just over 100km altitude at apogee will reach a top speed of Mach 3 on their return – that is about 1,050m/s. Then without any further intervention, they will slow to a fall of about 50m/s near the ground. This shows that the Virgin Galactic trick of feathering the craft is all about stability and not speed. There is nothing that will prevent the craft from reaching this speed since there is not enough air to interfere with the acceleration. The “chunky” graph below shows that clearly. Please assume that the peaks to the left in the deceleration part of the graph are correct.

Acceleration from 100km fall and then deceleration

Acceleration from 100km fall and then deceleration

Free Fall Speeds

From the above, you can see the acceleration is flat and continuous until the craft reaches an altitude of 60km and the acceleration starts to slow. It crosses the zero point of a stable speed at about 47km and then begins to decelerate quite rapidly until it reaches 33km altitude. At this point the deceleration slows down and at 20km altitude the deceleration is slowing in the thick air. You may notice that the maximum deceleration is 38m/s/s and since we accelerate at nearly 10m/s/s when we jump from a platform, simply put every 10m/s/s equates (rule of thumb) to 1G. This means that any craft headed straight down will experience a maximum G force of about 4G. Nothing too harsh. Slowing from orbit is very different and we will eventually cover this in future posts about re-entry.

The first thing to notice is that we will never reach Mach 3 from a release at around 45km. We will achieve over Mach 1. There are a few things that we will need to play with to reach the desired Mach 1.5 and we will cover that in a future post as we look at the graph for a drop from 45km and another from 35km.

GPS and Supersonic Speeds

NovAtel OEM615Most GPS and Supersonic Speeds Don’t Mix

As if the cost of the zero pressure balloons is not enough, we have a real burden in using a GPS system that works at supersonic speeds and also one that worked above 60,000 feet. Yes, we want to do both so a standard GPS system will not work.

So Why the Limits?

It is not such a big issue these days as technology has moved on, but 10 to 15 years ago, this was a major deterrent to anyone wanting to use them in a missile. Unfortunately today, that is less of a deterrent as most people could easily source someone capable of updating the GPS firmware. None the less it is still a better and safer path to pay the manufacturer for a GPS system that has the limits removed. There are many manufacturers that can provide the product and some are harder to work through than others. This is often the result of a country’s regulations regarding export licenses. For instance, buying from Canada is simpler than buying from the US. It still takes a couple of weeks, but the opportunity to get a limited version for testing will allow us to swap out the limited version for the unlimited version prior to flight. As the system that we wish to use is available in Australia from a local distributor, it is very likely that we will buy from a company called NovAtel. Their product is the Receivers OEM615, although they have more expensive products that would do much more for us.

What are the Limits on Regular GPS Engines?

This from Wikipedia: CoCom is an acronym for Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls. CoCom was established by Western bloc powers in the first five years after the end of World War II, during the Cold War, to put an arms embargo on COMECON countries. CoCom ceased to function on March 31, 1994, and the then-current control list of embargoed goods was retained by the member nations until the successor, the Wassenaar Arrangement, was established.

In GPS technology, the phrasing “COCOM Limits” is also used to refer to a limit placed to GPS tracking devices that should disable tracking when the device realizes itself to be moving faster than 1,000 knots (1,900 km/h; 1,200 mph) at an altitude higher than 60,000 feet (18,000 m). This was intended to avoid the use of GPS in intercontinental ballistic missile-like applications. Some manufacturers apply this limit when both speed and altitude limits are reached, while other manufacturers disable tracking when only a single limit is reached. In the latter case, this causes some devices to refuse to operate in very high altitude balloons.

Can we get a Single Limited GPS Engine?

It is hard, but it is not impossible. If it was not for the manufacturers implementing an “or” function instead of an “and” function we could possibly manage to use a unit that would measure our speed and display GPS co-ordinates at over 60,000 feet (18km provided that our speed was under 1,900kph / 1,200mph). This is difficult as we may go over that speed limit. At that point the GPS output is usually nulled.  We need data at all times and do not want a blackout on our data. It will also let us say that we broke the sound barrier, but not by exactly how much. Thus we want a a fully unlimited module for the flight.

Other Factors

Ideally we would like to store our flight measurements. We will have telemetry and can store everything that is down-linked, but there is a risk in doing that. If we use a more expensive unit, then we can have “on-board ” storage. This is mission critical if the telemetry link malfunctions. The aircraft will still fly itself to the runway on auto navigation and we can try again if we have the gas and a second balloon.

Another issue is the rate of poling of the GPS data. We need more than once a second or we could miss our top speed by hundreds of kilometers and hour. This means simply poling of maybe 20 times a second. This rate is easily supported by our telemetry so we will get an instant top speed on the ground before it lands. Something that a basic unit will not be configured to do.

Specifications for the NovAtel Unit.

This is not the one that records, nor is it the top of the vibration resistant unit, but it is very well placed to do the job, after all, we can record the data on other equipment before it is sent to the telemetry system. The cost of the export License is probably $5K and the cost of the unit will be another $5K making a grand total of $10K. The Export License checks your usage of the device and makes sure that you are not a group building a missile for nefarious reasons.

The following from NovAtel’s documentation:

The dual-frequency OEM615 offers future ready, precise positioning for space constrained applications. Backward compatible with NovAtel’s popular OEMV-1 form factor, the OEM615 provides the most efficient way to bring powerful Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) capable products to market quickly.

Features

  • Increased satellite availability with GLONASS tracking
  • L1, L2, L2C, B1 and E1 signal tracking
  • GLIDE smoothing algorithm
  • RT-2®, ALIGN and RAIM firmware options
  • SPAN® INS functionality

Benefits

  • Proven NovAtel technology
  • Easy to integrate
  • Low power consumption
  • API reduces hardware requirements and system complexity

Attributes

System Type

Board

General Info

Length (mm)

71.00
Width/Diameter (mm)

46.00
Height (mm)

11.00
Weight (g)

24.00
Typical Power Consumption (W)

1.00

Constellation

GPS
GLONASS
Galileo
BeiDou

Tracking

Max Num of Frequency

Dual
SBAS
QZSS

Number of Com Ports

CAN Bus  2
LVTTL  3
USB Device  1

Performance

Accuracy (RMS)
Single Point L1 1.5m
Single Point L1/L2 1.2m
SBAS 0.6m
DGPS 0.4m
NovAtel CORRECT™
RT-2® 1 cm + 1 ppm

Designed with Performance and the Future In Mind

The OEM615 tracks all current and upcoming GNSS constellations and satellite signals including GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, BeiDou and QZSS. It features configurable channels to optimize satellite availability in any condition, no matter how challenging. The OEM615 is software upgradable to track future signals as they become available. Maximizing satellite availability and optimizing GNSS signal usage now, and in the future, ensures consistent, high performance GNSS positioning.

– See more at: http://www.novatel.com/products/gnss-receivers/oem-receiver-boards/oem6-receivers/oem615/#sthash.caG8JrgA.dpuf

Dimensions 46 × 71 × 11 mm
Weight <24 g
Power
Input voltage +3.3 VDC ±5%
Power Consumption11
GPS L1/L2 <1.0 W
GPS/GLONASS L1/L2 1.1 W
all on 1.2 W
Antenna LNA Power
Input voltage 6 VDC-12 VDC
Output voltage 5.0 VDC
Max output current 100 mA

NovAtel OEM615COMMUNICATION PORTS
3 LVTTL up to 921,600 bps
2 CAN Bus12 1 Mbps
1 USB 12 Mbps
Pulse Per Second (PPS) output
ENVIRONMENTAL
Temperature
Operating -40°C to +85°C
Storage -55°C to +95°C
Humidity 95% non-condensing
Vibration
Random MIL-STD 810G
(Cat 24, 7.7 g RMS)
Sinusoidal IEC 60068-2-6
Bump ISO 9022-31-06 (25 g)
Shock MIL-STD-810G (40 g)
Survival (75 g)

ThunderStruck Models Set the Scene

1/15 model from 3D Printer using Grey Stock

1/15 model from 3D Printer using Grey Stock

ThunderStruck Models Make it Clear to Everyone

by Robert Brand

This is the week the world’s press get to actually see what the Phase One test vehicle will look like. we now have 2 models nearing completion – just waiting for the paint to dry. We have a a 1/15 model and 1/6 model. The 1/15 model is printed directly from a printer in 3 parts. The 1/6 model is made from a 100mm diameter sewage pipe and wooden wings. They are not the right thickness and they are not razor sharp, but it will allow TV cameras to get up close and personal.

Bruce Boler and Jason Brand with ThunderStruck Phase One 1/6 Model

Bruce Boler and Jason Brand with ThunderStruck Phase One 1/6 Model

Unfortunately the paint is still drying and we cannot get the detail on the outside, so it will be pure white for the moment. The image to the left shows Bruce Boler and Jason Brand with the 1/6 model under construction. Bruce is the engineering genius and his model is immaculate and very strong. Now we have something to show the media when they arrive and one TV station arrives tomorrow so we are meeting the deadline.

It has been a real team effort. I have drawn the plans, Ben Hockley has printed the Nose Cone and Bruce has put it together. As I type this, the finished model is drying the last coat of paint on Bruce’s work bench.

Bruce Boler Spray Painting the Phase One model

Bruce Boler Spray Painting the Phase One model

At this time, we only have a white top coat and no trim, but it is a thing of beauty. We will not have time to add any trim before the major TV interview tomorrow at 4pm. The interview will take time to assemble and so it may not make it to air for a week or so and also they are making an animation video of he flight path. We are hoping that all of this will inspire others to either get involved or get behind what we are doing.

20150224_164828

That is me on the left. I really wanted to pick the model up, but it was covered in wet paint. The only question left for us and it is a major one: What colour should we make the aircraft. White is not a great colour if you want to see it in the skies with the naked eye, but it looks great with the right tri20150224_164901m colours and it does not conflict with any logos, names and other stick-ons.

That is Jason on the right with a wide grin. For him this is really coming together with a rush this week. Jason is still in his school uniform. A concept that will be strange to many countries. It was sports afternoon and Jason does rock climbing, so shorts and a tee-shirt. It is summer here in Sydney.

Phase One Thunderstruck 1/6 nosecone

Phase One Thunderstruck 1/6 nosecone

The nose cone on the left is the new design. A little longer and a little curved on the transition to the fuselage. I have not put the full set of measurements in the diagram, but Ben turned it into a thing of beauty with his 3D printer and it now sits on top of the large model.

Prototypes will mean change, but it will be only minor changes from this basic design. The craft will have a camera in the nosecone for the forward view for the remote control pilot. We will also add a camera into the rudder area on one side so that we can get a better view in flight of the craft. Jason will control the camera switching from his remote control unit. The new image will still be overlaid with the On Screen Display of the flight instruments. Below is the model drying for its first display on National TV tomorrow.

ThunderStruck Phase One 1/6 model

ThunderStruck Phase One 1/6 model

3D Files and ThunderStruck Phase One

Thunderstruck Half Scale3D Files, Printers, simulations and More

by Robert brand

In the past we used wind tunnels and that was fine for subsonic flights. ThunderStruck does have access to wind tunnels at a number of establishments, but it is unlikely that we will need them. In part because supersonic wind tunnels are rare and because subsonic tests do not translate to supersonic conditions. Why wont we need them? Simply because computer modelling allows us to test most things extremely accurately without  the need for wind tunnels. The first part of the equation is to “make” a 3D model of the airframe and from that the options are extraordinary. Simulations of wind tunnels are just one option. What else can you do with the computer files of your model? well, we are not doing everything possible, but here are a few things:

  • Produced images of the ThunderStruck craft in solid form (we use Solidworks)
  • Rendered the surface to appear metallic
  • Added the ThunderStruck Logo and artwork
  • Animated the control surfaces on the craft
  • Sent it to a TV animator who will use the flight profile to simulate the mission
  • Made 3D models of the craft with a 3D printer.
  • Made a scaled nose cone for the 1/6th size model for demonstrations. Nose cones are immensely hard to create, but so easy with a 3D printer
  • And finally (so far) carried out Mach 2 flight simulations
Thunderstruck Phase One plans and view

Thunderstruck Phase One plans and view 1/2 scale

These simulations show up any problems and thus they have already resulted in small changes to the Phase One craft design. The biggest change will be a longer and more slender nose. You will see why in a moment.

One the right are the original plans from three sides. The software automatically creates the view (top right of image). The 3D files are then produced and it is often that simple. Everything flows from the files. The extension for the files is STL. A printer may break the files up to print an object in two, three or more parts. It depends on the size of object a printer can handle.  we wanted a 22cm model of thunderstruck and that was printed in three parts as it was too wide and two high. The parts were simply joined with acetate. It melts the material slightly and the pieces are then welded together without glue.

The solid image looks like this with a little bit of shadow and a plain surface. A “light source” is placed where needed to create essential shadows for the right feel and look.
Thunderstruck1

The image above has been created to appear to sit on a grey surface. Remove that surface and add a metallic texture and a background image and you get this:

Thunderstruck Phase One Craft in Flight

Thunderstruck Phase One Craft in Flight. Credit Ben Hockley (ThunderStruck) and NASA (clouds and Moon)

The video below shows an animation for the control surfaces. Nothing much to see other than we are working on getting the smaller bits right for the big animations. You can also see our logo on the side so this is a two in one demonstration

Below is a rough picture of the printed 22cm model and the Nose Cone needed for our TV interview on Wednesday with Channel 7 (The Seven Network, Australia). It will be painted. If you look closely you will see the nose cone join and similarly you will see the join on the 3D model.

22cm ThunderStruck Phase One model and the nose cone on the right

22cm ThunderStruck Phase One model and the nose cone on the right

Below is the plan for the nosecone and it is simple to reproduce. Notice the curved area near the base of the nose cone. This is to ease the airflow over the surface and prevent the delamination of the airflow.

Phase One Thunderstruck 1.6 nosecone

Finally we can do simulations. I will explain what you are looking at below in the next post but wow this stuff is impressive. This si not the top end software, but just a basic system and it is more than adequate for our needs:

Airflow_temperature

Most of the work on this page has been provided by Team Member Ben Hockley of Brisbane. I am grateful that we have a person with his skills in the team.

 

2022 Mars Delta-V Requirements

Navigation – Earth to Mars Delta V

by Tim Blaxland – Introduction by Robert Brand

I have not yet introduced you to our Navigation chief Tim Blaxland and I will do that soon enough. Let us just say that he knows his stuff. When I was requested to make Mars the destination of the first shakedown flight of the ion engine equipped ThunderStruck craft in 2022, here was his initial response. This may go over a few heads, but it may be important for you to know that we have the ability to actually do the work required. What we don’t know about building and operating a spacecraft will be firmly supported by the right staff with the right experience and credentials – when the time comes. Until then, please understand that we are a capable team and soon to become a space sector company. I hope that you find this email interesting. I will post some orbital pictures when we have them ready for publication in a week or so..

The importance of this work was to ensure that 2022 provided a window of opportunity to leave for Mars. Here is Tim’s email:

Robert,

These graphs show the arrival, departure and total delta-V requirements for Hohmann-type Earth-Mars transfers. Delta-V is displayed by colour, the horizontal axis is departure date (range Jan 2020 to Feb 2025) and the vertical axis is flight time (range 100 days to 500 days).

I know these aren’t what you were looking for, but they are relatively easy to produce and are moderately interesting. They are based on a simplified calculation method using instantaneous changes in velocity for Earth escape and Mars capture and do not consider things like ion engines which can be used to lower the departure and capture delta-Vs.

At least they give you a useful ballpark approximation of when the available launch windows are.

You’ll notice that there are two lobes to each patch. The lower lobe is the one typically used for conventional chemical rockets because they give a much lower flight time (7-9 months) without too much delta-V penalty. The associated transfer orbit does however have a relatively high eccentricity. They top lobes have longer transfer times but lower eccentricity and I believe they will give us greater opportunity to maximise the use of the ion engines but I need to do more research in this area.

Earth to Mars Delta V:

Arrival delta-V (the cross-hairs are on the minimum for 2022 – 29th July 2022 with a flight time of 321 days)

Arrival delta-V (the cross-hairs are on the minimum for 2022 – 29th July 2022 with a flight time of 321 days)

Departure delta-V (the cross-hairs are on the minimum for 2022 – 17th September 2022 with a flight time of 387 days)

Departure delta-V (the cross-hairs are on the minimum for 2022 – 17th September 2022 with a flight time of 387 days)

Total delta-V (the cross-hairs are on the minimum for 2022 – 28th August 2022 with a flight time of 347 days)

Total delta-V (the cross-hairs are on the minimum for 2022 – 28th August 2022 with a flight time of 347 days)

Tim will be giving me a better breakdown of the navigation profiles, but 2022 is such a long way and we may slip or gain over the years, so it will be little more than an exercise to ensure we understand the time taken with an ion engine and the problems that may arise. I look forward to more detail soon and I will share it with you.

The ThunderStruck Evolution

ThunderStruck Phase 1

ThunderStruck Phase 1

ThunderStruck Evolution is Essential.

by Robert Brand

Over the couple of months since officially announcing Project ThunderStruck, I have received lots of comments about the craft and not having detailed drawing. I made it very clear that in the early days, my son Jason had to earn his keep and create the art work for the craft. He tried his best, but the only tools that he had were not CAD 3D tools, but he did have Kerbal Space Program (KSP)and he used that to crate the craft details that he was looking for. So let’s have a look at his first drawing.

Jason's CAD picture of ThunderStruck above the earth

Jason’s CAD picture of ThunderStruck above the earth

Well, everything is wrong about this craft, but he was stuck with fixed sizes and it got our website up and running. Fuselage too thin, wings are simply wrong and much more. We did add a supersonic spike, but that was actual dueling as a radio antenna and may end up on the final craft too.

We ended up agreeing that we needed wheels and that there was no way to fit them to this craft. This started the move to the current craft. Jason again resorted to using KSP. The results were closer to the current craft.

Now people really gave us a hard time over KSP and they did not really understand that we had given the responsibility for much of the work to Jason and he simply resorted to the tools at hand and KSP really did do more than I expected. It was a reasonable attempt at making a model close to the final product.

Below is the second evolution of the transonic ThunderStruck.

ThunderStruck mk2 closeup

ThunderStruck Design and 1-2 size measurementsSince then we brought in the big guns and I created the plans for the craft. Mind you the published file had an error. The length of the nosecone was 200mm too short!  That is now fixed in the later plans.

Well from the plans, Ben Hockley created a view using SolidWorks software. From the plan came a rendered image that been added to a cloud image as seen at the top of page.  Here are Ben’s plans and view:

Thunderstruck plans

Thunderstruck plans

Below the composite image showing the craft in the transition from the dive to horizontal flight:

Thunderstruck Phase One Craft in Flight

Thunderstruck Phase One Craft in Flight. Credit Ben Hockley (ThunderStruck) and NASA (clouds and Moon)

I know that this is a long time coming, but if we hit you with too much to soon, you would probably think we were cheating. We may change the odd thing or two before the flight, but this is essentially the craft that will go into the record books.