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News - 2012-04-16

The STARS Project is up and running again!

Over the winter, whilst the days have been too short for launches, we've been looking at a number of pieces of alternative hardware.

Firstly, the cameras.  We found that the Traveler XS 4000 stills cameras were simply too fragile and unreliable.  One of them suffered a broken LCD panel soon after testing started, from mild pressure from a book laid on top!  Now, a broken LCD isn't a big deal, since there will be nothing alive to watch the screens in temperatures low enough to freeze carbon dioxide, but we have discovered that the sliding lens covers have problems too, and tend to stick partially closed when they should be opening.

We struck lucky with Amazon's pre-Christmas sale, though.  We've obtained two Chilli Technology Action Cam #3s.  These are lightweight, at only 64 grams, and designed to survive almost anything - on the ground.  As to space?  Let's find out.  Their resolution's only VGA, but they offer an operating time up to 3..5hrs (it'll be less when exposed to low temperatures, of course) on their own power,  We'll soon test to find out if they'll run off our central power supply, but we're not expecting them to, given past experience.

We are still expecting to use the mBed NXP LPC1768 unit as our Command and Control processor, but we're also considering the newer (and smaller, and less power-hungry) mBed NXP LPC11U24 unit too, now.  It doesn't have as many useful interfaces as the '1768, but we might be able to manage within what it provides.

We're also looking forward, to the STARS-2 and STARS-3 launch manifests.  These won't be finalised until STARS-1 has launched, and we've had a chance to evaluate the sensors we installed, but we're thinking about using a rather more powerful (at least in computing terms) processor somewhere in the package to do in-situ processing of mission data, so that we can downlink much smaller amounts of pre-processed information.  We're also thinking about new downlink types, including satellite relay.  We'll only equip them if we can do so legally, of course: we've found that in-flight RF transmission is a tricky thing to get legally right.

Last Updated (Sunday, 13 January 2013 23:40)