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Current Experiments


Joseph Lutgen

Micro loggers are used to collect three analog voltage signals at approximately 5 Hz. These loggers use an ATtiny24 microprocessor to collect data and store it to flash memory. The memory can easily be collected using a UART device and hyperterminal. These loggers are useful for temperature, humidity, pressure, accelerometers, and more.

Cosmic Rays

Marianne Addison & Ginny Price

Cosmic rays vary with altitude in the atmosphere, showing a "shower" effect. Radiation in the atmosphere will be measured with a Geiger counter and compared to altitude to determine the radiation profile above the Earth. In the future, two Geiger counters will be mounted on top of each other to detect incidence radiation to rule out background radiation from materials on Earth and in the atmosphere.

Weather Station

Sam Sorensen

Weather station is an altitude-aware data logger. Using an on-board GPS receiver, the weather station is able to record time, position, altitude, and other GPS info simultaneous to recording data from the atmospheric sensors.

Environmental Chamber

Jason Bishop

The construction of temperature controlled vacuum chamber is an ongoing project with the goal of acquiring the ability to simulate conditions at altitude in the lab. The need for this capability has been repeatedly demonstrated through experiments failing during flight after working without issue on the ground. The chamber will be pressure controlled utilizing a vacuum pump, heated using incandescent light bulbs, and cooled with liquid nitrogen circulation.

Timer-Based Cutdown

David Riesland

The timer-based cutdown system is used as a last-resort system to ensure payload separation occurs after a certain amount of time. It consists of a HCS08 microprocessor that sends a control signal to a MOSFET controlled high current nichrome wire circuit.

Speed of Sound

David Riesland

The speed of sound measurement system is designed to measure the speed of sound as a function of temperature, which is a characteristic of the atmospheric layer. This specific experiment uses ultrasonic transducers/receivers a known distance apart. The difference in time between the two signals is then used to find the speed of sound.

Kingfisher Imaging System

Randy Plummer

The Kingfisher Aerostat balloon will fly the Infrared & Red cameras so we can research the health of rivers and vegetation surrounding waterways.

Radio-Controlled Cutdown

George Council

Radio-controlled cutdown is a system to terminate a high-altitude balloon flight through a user-initiated command sequence transmitted via a radio link to control circuitry mounted on the balloon payload. The cutting mechanism, a switching circuit based around heating a segment of wire to a high-enough temperature to server a lead line connecting the latex balloon and dangling payload, is triggered by the control circuitry when the proper command sequence is sent from a user at any point during the flight, and successfully decoded on-board the payload. Given the modular system design, the radio-control system can be used to interface with other on-board experiments on the payload besides cutdown, allowing active control of the payload, as well as provide a data link with the ground.

High-Altitude Student Project Instrument Orientation Control System

George Council

The HASP payload, a student balloon platform, requires a system to orient an instrument, likely optical in nature, in a particular direction. Given the unstable nature of the balloon platform, the instrument needs to be actively controlled to compensate for movement of the payload without disrupting the status of the controlled device. With an accuracy of one arc-second required for a platform demonstrating significant movement and rotation, the active-control system is of sufficient complexity to have evolved into a senior design project.

Madison River Imaging

Charlene Weatherwax

I will be using aerial photographs, standard digital and specialized infrared cameras to study a known "Cultural Sensitive Site" by the Madison River. This site was chosen because there is evidence of a tipi ring site obtained in the 1950's.

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