|OK, I'm a little bit proud of this... and, mostly, amazed that it functioned at|
all. I was selected to participate in the HALE (High Altitude LEGO Extravaganza)
after submitted two proposals in the hopes one would make it... and instead,
both were accepted. Well, today was the day - both payloads flew:
One was a camera platform, (based on an earlier robot I posted on NXTlog called
"Nadar"), named "Gypsy". Besides using an NXT to control the platform pitch and
an off-the-shelf camera for video & still photography, it had three sensors
(pressure/temperature, sound, and 3-axis accelometer) as well as a HiTechnic
protoboard (I love that thing) that networked two more temperature sensors, a
light sensor (CDS cell), and could be used to turn a separate heater system on
and off. The biggest unknown on this one was actually it's support system -
using LEGO turntables and studless beams (no glue, no metal, no reinforcing with
non-LEGO components) to support the whole payload. That might be tough, when you
consider the exterior of the payload where this LEGO was exposed ended up around
-60° C, and was almost certainly shock-loaded to at least 2-3 G's during
The Hardware description:
(I particularly had fun dressing the minifigs for the mission, of course)
And the Software description:
(probably the most complex NXT-G program I've put together)
The really cool thing? _The_LEGO_Didn't_Break_. The payload seems to have worked
OK (I'll know more later when I look at the data), but the fact that the ABS
actually handled the load under those very extreme conditions (bitter cold and
near vacuum) really amazed me.
The other payload was even riskier: Lil' Joe was cut free from the main payload
at 80,000', and had to deploy its own parachute under control of the NXT...
after waiting for some time in a high-altitude free-fall in imitation of Col.
Joe Kittinger. Anything went wrong, and it was DOOMED:
Well... something did go wrong. BADLY wrong. While my program seems to have
worked flawlessly, and the deployment of the parachute functioned, there was no
way I could test the dynamics of a parachute being deployed from behind a foam
block at a speed of several hundred miles per hour in an incredibly thin
airstream (evidently driving around like a fool holding the payload outside my
car window at 35 mph isn't the same thing). On the way down, at some point, the
parachute and the tailfin became hopelessly tangled and the parachute must have
collapsed. I've no idea yet how fast it hit the desert floor, but it must have
been HARD. The guys who found it said the NXT and SPOT transmitter that were
inside the inch-thick-plus styrofoam shell punched straight through it upon
impact (I'm still waiting for pictures).
The amazing thing? _The_LEGO_Didn't_Break_. OK, there may have been pieces
deformed or bent (I've not seen the payload yet), but when the ground team
picked it up, the NXT was still running the program, logging data, even after
that horrendous impact. Absolutely amazing. I was worried that the NXT might not
survive a "normal" impact, which would have taken place at a speed in excess of
1000'/min, let alone one where the parachute collapses leading to something 2-3
(or more) times as fast (30 mph or more likely far faster). Simply unbelievable.
I can't wait to get the data back, but I've got to say this is BY FAR the
riskiest thing I've ever done with my LEGO... AND IT HANDLED IT!!
Brickshelf gallery of the payloads before they left on the mission:
I'll put up post-mission details when I get them.
Message has 5 Replies:
| ||HALE (High Altitude LEGO Extravaganza)|| Claude Baumann|
|It certainly was the most exciting robot project which we participated in. Many thanks: 1. to the organizers : Dr. Eric Wang and his team at Nevada University. Great job guys !!! 2. to the sponsors : Nevada Space Grant, LEGO Company, Energizer, (...) (5 years ago, 30-Jul-08, to lugnet.robotics) |
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