Members

shutt026@umn.edu.

Members - Jack Troshinsky, Alex Wolseth, Brendon Taukkanen

Members - Jacob Brown, Piper Christenson, Nick Collin, Joseph Moynihan, Alejandro Leon, Finn Gundersen

Members - Joel Nielson, Nick Knudsen, Owen Roszkowski, Leyla Soykan

Members - Chris Babbert, Emma Bernard

Members - Meredith 🚢

Project

The Advanced Aerostat project is a student run research project at the University of Minnesota under Tesla Works. Our main mission is to have fun and learn by building things ourselves! Our current focus is on latex weather balloons where we are working on a cheap reusable long term balloon system designed to reduce the cost of near space research. We are doing this by building a system to achieve a balance between the lifting force and the gravitational force on the balloon at a specific altitude autonomously. This is the first step in a long term plan to create a ultra-long term launch platform reusable that will outperform the current options available to scientists. We build most of our systems from scratch with a hands on prototype driven approach with a diverse group of majors.

If you wish to learn more or join the group please feel free to contact us at pm@aerostatumn.org

VB 1

The first in our VB flight platform, VB 1 looked to improve upon our previously successful EQT platform while making major overhals in the physical construction and implimentation of electrical hardwear and software.

The differentiating factor of the VB series is the addition of a valve controlled ballast system. A ballast system allows for the ability to release payload weight effectively gaining buoyancy, allowing the balloon to gain positive velocity and altitude which compensates the event our system vents out to much helium from the main balloon.

This launch also saw the implementation of launch simulation system, consisting of a secondary external system that feed in live data into our launch platform running the flight controller. Doing this allowed us to test and tune our flight software against many different scenarios and conditions that we may experience in a launch, reducing costs and development time.

Launched: Plymouth, MN - 11/3/18

Recovered: Crystal Falls, MI - 11/4/18

EQT 2

EQT 2 looked to make small changes and update the venting algorithms for a longer duration of the balloon in air. Only two short weeks after the launch of EQT 1, EQT 2 launched from the Minneapolis metro on 13 May 2018. Where it then ascended to around 18,000 meters while decreasing its velocity according to the planned venting algorithm. Shown below is a graph of the velocity vs altitude that shows just how well the balloon performed during the venting period.

However as seen above the balloon did over vent and reduce its velocity to 0 a little earlier than planned. Nevertheless it did stay in air for over 7 hours and below is the graph of altitude over time.

EQT 2 was a huge success and paves the way for future work moving to ballast and helium re-entry. Our next ballons with take all the venting data of the past into account to build a better balloon as we look to build a balloon that will last even longer in air!

EQT 1

EQT 1 was the first major milestone in the long term launch platform and marked a major leap in the groups ability to achieve cheap near space testing. In the span of about a month the team worked building on the lessons from launch one and building and testing new system from scratch. The antenna system was incorporated into the heart of the payload, extending radially outward from the center of the payload to ensure it would remain intact. A venting system was also made and finalized after a series of prototypes. This approach saw a custom 3d printed plunger seal the hole in the venting tube to control the helium leaving the balloon. The mechanical team also devised a new filling procedure to ensure the optimal amount of helium entered the balloon. A control algorithm was also created to vent the helium and achieve altitude equilibrium. Other upgrades were made to the launch platform such as thermal controls designed to more efficiently use limited energy resources to heat the payload. All of these systems along with upgraded communications systems that sent venting and other new data down to the ground team built on the lessons from the first launch and drastically the teams capability

When EQT 1 was launched from Saint Michael East Middle school a few small problems maured the great progress. Frist an oversight on the connection of the venting tube to the payload caused it to snap while preparing for launch. With the balloon already filled there was little the launch team could do expect mend it with duct tape and hope. This leak caused the balloon to be moving at a incredibly slow velocity when the first test vent was triggered. This vent soon sent EQT 1 gliding down to New Richmond, Wisconsin where it was recovered.

While EQT 1’s flight was shorter than desired the team obtained venting data to improve the venting algorithms. The team learned that better payload layout design was required for a launch of this complexity.

Launch 1

Flight One was clearly the first launch of the project. It’s goals were to test our launch procedures, tracking system, and to gain further insight into the problems that our project would face. It was launched from Clearwater, Minnesota and rose to 81,572 feet while capturing breathtaking photos. During its flight it travel 170 miles to Bristol, Iowa where it was recovered. During the flight the main communications channel that proved long distance radio communication system failed. This was due to the its attachment to the main payload via the transmission cable. The cable was not rated for the freezing temperatures and most likely snapped.

This launch gave us further insight into how to improve out paload design and launch procedures before launching a more complex payload.

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