Archive for the ‘Test Runs’ Category

Test #1 – What we got, what we learned

Friday, September 17th, 2010

Today was out first un-tethered, “REAL” test run of the Yavin IV Low Orbit Space Exploration project. Everything went off without a hitch, we were up and flying by 12:10pm CST and our fear of losing our payload was squelched when we received contact from our device at approximately 1:42pm CST.

We went up and down in just under two hours, as per our estimates. Our destination couldn’t have been any closer to our estimates as well. We landed just southeast of Eau Claire (seen here: in a small rural residential neighborhood. We quickly found our payload about 15 feet off the east side of a lovely home’s driveway nestled about 5 feet into the woods. We were easily within 30 feet of landing on their roof (yikes)!

So from start to finish things went as well as to be expected. We didn’t get as high as we’d liked, we had some fog on the plexiglass sealing the holes we’d cut for the cameras, but we have solutions for all of that going into next week’s official launch.

So, here’s what we got and here’s what we learned.

– Some pretty good photos, not great (we didn’t send up the GOOD cameras this time anyway), despite the fog:

– Some pretty good video from the flip cam:
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– We got some great media coverage:
Pioneer Press:
Your Tech Weblog:
TPT Almanac:

– We over-inflated our balloon. We need to decrease the amount of helium we fill into the balloon to ensure it flies higher before bursting.

– We need to seal the top of the cooler after loading the gear and prior to launch. The fog we saw on the plexi was due to an issue of the hand warmers inside and the cooler air seeping in. We’ll get better photos if we seal the lid tighter.

– We need to try and find a way to reduce the amount of spinning. Our parachute lines were all twisted and a majority of the video is high pace spin… enough to make you nauseous.

– We need to make the view holes larger to avoid any “cropping” if that cameras shift at all due to abrupt wind changes, etc.

– Our GPS solution worked perfectly. Our biggest fear was that relying on cell signal and an app would yield shotty results. However, we were pleasantly surprised that it worked without a hitch.

– Our estimation of travel time and distance were dead one. We will however need to take into consideration that the next payload SHOULD travel higher, which will of course alter both time and distance.

So that’s what we got out of this. We couldn’t have asked for a better test run… aside from maybe not such an overcast day. Outside of that, perfect!

See you next Friday for the second launch in the Yavin IV experiment.

Launching Today, Press Coverage

Friday, September 17th, 2010

Not only is our first “real” launch today, but we’ve managed to garner the attention of the local Not only did we make the cut, but we made the FRONT PAGE! Wow, we’re quite honored.

Everyone go check it out!

Test #1 – Sept 17th

Monday, September 13th, 2010

As the supplies roll in one UPS visit at a time, Friday’s test launch grows nearer and nearer. This test is simply to evaluate the Droid Eris GPS tracking capabilities (and Verizon’s claim of amazing coverage even in central Wisconsin) and will be launched from the Sodbusters RC field in Lake Elmo, MN.

So this Friday, September 17th, we’ll be sending up our first payload carrying a Droid Eris for GPS tracking and an iPhone 3Gs for photos, since we’re going up un-tethered we might as well snap some shots, right?

Our kit will consist of one 8′ weather balloon, one 4′ high-altitude recovery parachute (for the ride back down), one Playmate Mini Cooler, one Knog Boomer LED Bike light (as a tracking beacon in case it gets darker out), one Grabberâ„¢ Sleeping Bag warmer, one Droid Eris for GPS tracking via Loopt and one iPhone 3Gs to take photos via Time Lapse.

So, check back this weekend for (fingers crossed) photos of the trip up/down as well as a full report of the days activities. You can also follow @Yavin_IV on Twitter for Real Time updates from the launch.

More Photos from Saturday

Monday, August 16th, 2010

We sent up a tethered test approximately 2,400 ft above Mantorville, MN. Here’s some video and more photos.

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From Up Above

Monday, August 16th, 2010

So we ran a tethered test this weekend and I wanted to get a couple cool shots up sooner than later. We’ve got plenty of photos and 2 hours of video to share with you soon… probably Monday. But for now, here’s a couple cool shots, pulled from one of the videos, showing the distance we could see on our lovely day outdoors.

Here you can clearly see both Byron, MN and Rochester, MN. Byron is approximately 6 miles away and Rochester around 25 miles. Click to see the image larger.

In this shot you can see all of Kasson and the road over to Mantorville. Never got a clear view of Mantoville, but Kasson is approximately 4 miles from where we were. Again, click to see this larger.

First Test – This Weekend

Friday, August 13th, 2010

This weekend we’ll be performing the first test run of the Yavin IV project. It will be conducted outside of the lovely Mantoville, MN sometime in the afternoon. We’ll be collecting video for sure, maybe photos. Anything captured will be posted back here probably on Sunday.