Project Horus High altitude balloon project


Deliveries, code more

Yesterday saw a few packages arrive. My Radiometrix NTX2 came, as did the primary camera and a bunch of heatshrink I'd ordered off ebay.

I had a mess around with the NTX2 & potential dividers, & after much tweaking came up with a solution that worked. Testing code on the other hand was problematic - eventually with some help from fergusnoble over at #highaltitude on freenode, I realised that the delayMicroSeconds() call wasn't working with a value as large as 20,000 (20ms = 1/50th sec) - a few adjustments later, and transmission was working perfectly, so I built up the module on a board.В  So far I haven't tested with any antennas, but it seems to cover the distance across the room just fine.

The camera seems great - and the seller was good enough to give me a discount due to the delay in shipping! External triggering will likely by more tricky than the Kodak, given that it has a half-press button for focusing, which the Kodak does not.

I've also written most of the code to handle the GPS side of things, which I'll post shortly.

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External trigger

I rigged up the Kodak camera to have an external trigger today - so that the Arduino can control it.

The main camera still hasn't arrived, nor has the NTX2 transmitter :( .

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More deliveries

Another visit from the postman today - this time with my ICOM 706 Transceiver! :)

Didn't have much time to play with it, but powered it up and had a quick poke around & whipped up a power cable for it - the seller didn't have the regular power cable, but was good enough to include a suitable plug and pins. My cable still needs fuses, which I'll sort out tomorrow. Transceiver seems to run OK on a 12AH 12V SLA battery which I can put in a backpack to take it mobile when we recover the payload, though unsure what the battery life will be on this battery.

Also got hold of an SD card for the Kodak camera - I bought a 2GB card, but it turns out the camera doesn't support any larger than 1GB. Swapped the card with a friend & the camera seems to be working fine. Movie mode only manages to record ~1 hour of film on the 1GB card, so continuous filming throughout the flight is a no go. Will probably have it capture a minute of video every few minutes.

Here's a fullsize photo snapped by the Kodak, not as bad as I had expected for about $15.

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Got a visit from the postman and Fedex this morning.

My order from Sparkfun for a Lassen IQ GPS module, antenna & mating header arrived, as well as the Kodak camera I bought on eBay (that was pretty quick).

The Lassen IQ header is seriously tiny - but once soldered onto the GPS shield, everything was working.

The camera doesn't have a memory card & I don't have the proprietary cable needed to download photos from the internal memory, so I'm still unsure of what the quality is like. I've never seen such a simplistic camera, this thing feels like a toy - it weighs less than the batteries which go inside it. It does seem to have a continuous video recording mode though, so using it for video may be a possibility.

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Transmitter module ordered

I've placed an order with RFMA for a Radiometrix NTX2H - the high power (25mW) version of the NTX2. This is the radio module which will be used for RTTY on Horus, at 50 baud. Previous launches with the 10mW NTX2 have achieved ranges of 100-300km, so the 25mW module should provide excellent range, coupled with a sensitive receiver & antenna.

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Transceiver cameras ordered

After much looking around and research (thanks #highaltitude!), I've ordered the transceiver which will be used to track Horus. The transceiver is an ICOM 706 MKIIG which I picked up on eBay.

I also picked up 2 cameras on eBay cheaply - a Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ2 & a Kodak Easyshare C310. The Lumix is a 5MP image stabilized point and shoot - this will be used as the primary camera. The Kodak is a 3MP ultra-simple point and shoot, with no optical zoom. It might get mounted externally, or oriented downwards, not sure at this stage.

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Welcome to the official project log of Horus! For more information, please check out the about page.

This log is somewhat belated - many components & tools have already been sourced & some design has already been done. I'll keep this updated as the project progresses - at this stage, I am hoping to launch in December, 2009.

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