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Sound Test. Testing and Integration of a Rocket-Launched Video Imaging Platform. IniTech Engineering. Apoorva Bhopale Susan Schmidt Rob Wingo Brian Love. 1 May 2002. Project Background. Project is sponsored by Applied Research Labs Main Objective:

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Testing and integration of a rocket launched video imaging platform

Testing and Integration of a Rocket-Launched Video Imaging Platform

IniTech Engineering

Apoorva Bhopale Susan Schmidt Rob Wingo Brian Love

1 May 2002

Project background
Project Background Platform

  • Project is sponsored by Applied Research Labs

  • Main Objective:

    • Prove the validity of a rocket launched balloon as a telecommunications platform

  • Possible uses, disaster relief, drug interdiction, inexpensive “throwaway” satellites

  • Rocket is to be launched this summer

Overview of the presentation
Overview of the Presentation Platform

  • Goals to accomplish

    • Description of each goal

    • Work completed for each goal

  • Future work

  • Questions

Semester goals
Semester Goals Platform

  • Design and build payload canister with mountings for electronics

  • Size and build drogue chute

  • Test balloon buoyancy

  • Test Electronics

  • Test balloon deployment

Flight profile
Flight Profile Platform

Chute sizing

Chute Sizing Platform

Brian Love

Drogue chute
Drogue Chute Platform

  • Required to deploy balloon after ejection

  • Will be used to slow descent after operations


Previous work concluded that a small chute will deploy the balloon

Limiting factors for design are descent constraints


Weight of payload


Allowable impact velocity



D = drag force balloon

W = weight

ρ = air density

Cd = coefficient of drag

A = area

Vt = terminal velocity

r = chute radius

d = chute diameter

m = mass

g = gravitational



Calculations balloon

Standard Atmosphere

Chute design
Chute Design balloon



Weight: 14.2 oz.

Balloon tilt
Balloon Tilt balloon

  • Weight drop of 11 oz. from 25 to 14 oz.

  • Balloon used was ~1/4 scale

Calculations balloon

Need mass air inside balloon

4kg less than the STP value

for neutral buoyancy

Considerations balloon

  • Absorbed solar energy

  • Air circulation inside balloon

  • Descent rate of inflated balloon vs. chute

  • Thermal updrafts

  • Need experimental data to prove theoretical

  • Testing difficult on ground

Payload canister

Payload Canister balloon

Susan Schmidt

Initial avionics canister design

Initial Avionics Canister balloonDesign

Canister made of 4.25 inch

PVC pipe

Covered in carbon fiber

Electronic components

secured with bubble wrap

Plexiglas bottom

for camera

Previous canister design changes
Previous Canister Design Changes balloon

  • Components hit canister walls and each other

  • Bubble wrap was not sufficient vibration control

  • Foam was then used to secure items

Issues with past designs
Issues with Past Designs balloon

  • Carbon fiber blocks radio waves

  • Electrical components not secure

  • Plexiglas fogs at higher altitude

  • Plexiglas cracks easily

  • Component constraints cannot handle temperatures of high altitudes

Requirements for the avionics canister

Requirements for the Avionics Canister balloon

Structural integrity

Limit component vibration

Airtight seal

Temperature control

Structural integrity external material options
Structural Integrity balloonExternal Material Options

  • Metals

    • Possible Shrapnel

    • Weight

  • Porous materials, i.e. wood

    • Airtight seal

  • Plexiglas

    • Cracks easily

  • Lexan

    • High cost

    • Availability

      And the winner is…

PVC balloon

  • Weather Resistant

  • High strength to weight ratio

  • Corrosion Resistant

  • Good thermal insulator

  • Self-extinguishing

  • Low cost!!

Internal structure

High impact resistance balloon

Used to stabilize internal components

Used for the camera viewing area

Internal Structure

Limit component vibration
Limit Component Vibration balloon

  • Two 0.09” thick Lexan perpendicular


  • Secured components with nuts and bolts

  • Ends capped with hobby plywood

Airtight seal
Airtight Seal balloon

  • Change in pressure from sea level to higher altitudes cause fogging on the Lexan

  • Seal end of canister with Teflon Tape

  • Teflon tape for extruding connections

  • Pump in Nitrogen through a gas fitting

  • Inert gas replaces the water vapor

Temperature control
Temperature Control balloon

  • Camera’s operating range:

    -1.1°C to 37.77°C

  • Above 8,000 feet the temperature drops below this operating range

  • The rocket test in summer will not reach this altitude

  • The temperature limits of the components must be evaluated for higher flights


Electronics balloon

Rob Wingo

Electronic components
Electronic Components balloon

  • Accelerometer board

  • GPS/Video Overlay board

  • GPS receiver

  • Video camera

  • Telemetry system

  • Batteries

Semester objectives
Semester Objectives balloon

  • Connect all of components and make work

  • Range test telemetry system

  • Find problem with power source

  • Determine how to use accelerometer board as an event trigger

  • Mount electronics in canister

Component connectivity
Component Connectivity balloon

  • Successfully connected all components

Range test first try
Range Test: First try balloon

  • Unsuccessful

  • Assumed power problem

Range test second try
Range Test: Second try balloon

  • Made adjustments to power supply and connectivity board

  • Still unsuccessful

Range test third try
Range Test: Third try balloon

  • Re-soldered connectivity board

  • Still unsuccessful

  • Contacted transmitter manufacturer

  • Discovered range can be drastically reduced by ground effects

Ground effect problem
Ground Effect Problem balloon

  • Transmitter designed for aerial use only

  • Will not be able to accomplish range test on ground

Balloon deployment

Balloon Deployment balloon

Apoorva Bhopale

Balloon deployment1
Balloon Deployment balloon

  • Objectives

    • Determine a method to pack the balloon

    • Determine an adequate amount of black powder to eject the canister

Balloon size
Balloon Size balloon

Pyrotechnic ejection
Pyrotechnic Ejection balloon

  • Advantages

    • Reliable

    • Lightweight

    • Used extensively

Possible failure modes of the ejection
Possible Failure Modes of the Ejection balloon

  • Too Little Black Powder

    • Does not clear ejection tube

      • Inhibits the rockets main chute deployment

      • Payload crashes with the rocket

  • Too much Black Powder

    • Rocket tube explodes

    • Drogue chute rips from balloon

    • Burnt drogue chute or balloon

Theory of pyrotechnic ejection
Theory of Pyrotechnic Ejection balloon

  • Wp =Weight of Black Powder (lbs)

  • dP = Ejection Charge Pressure in Psi

  • V = Free volume in cubic inches

  • R = Combustion gas constant 22.16 ft- lbf/lbm-R

  • T = Combustion gas temperature, 3307 degrees R

Test footage
Test Footage balloon

Conclusions from test
Conclusions From Test balloon

  • Place Canister closest to the ejection charge

  • Use 7 grams of Black Powder

Conclusion balloon

  • Design and build payload canister with mountings for electronics

  • Size and build drogue chute

  • Test balloon buoyancy

  • Test Electronics

  • Test balloon deployment

Future work
Future Work balloon

  • Verify range of the transmitter another way

    • Possibly send it back to manufacturer

  • Test the deployment method in a rocket

  • Determine a way to sever connection between balloon and canister

  • Neutral Buoyancy test

  • Setup accelerometer board to be used as event trigger


Dr. Ronald Stearman balloon

Dr. Martin Barlett

Dr. Jennifer Lehman

Danny Linehan

Daniel Parcher

Rick VanVoorhis

Lixin Gong


Questions balloon