LaACES Student Ballooning Course
Welcome to the Louisiana Space Grant Consortium’s Louisiana Aerospace Catalyst Experiences for Students (LaACES) Program.
Part I – Basic Skills Building and Introduction to Basic Components
Part I of the LaACES SBC will introduce the participant to all the technical skills required to complete the LaACES MegaSAT program. In addition to the technical skills building, this section will also introduce the participant to analytical analysis, documentation and public presentations.
This session with provide all introductory materials to introduce you to the course.
This session is devoted to introducing basic electronic concepts and components to the student. This session also includes an activity designed to introduce the students to basic electrical measurements and instrumentation.
This session will introduce the student to the world of electrical schematics, prototyping an electrical layout, and soldering electrical components. This session has 2 activities associated with it.
Resource 03.01: Reading Circuit Diagrams Part I (PDF)
Resource 03.02: Reading Circuit Diagrams Part 2 (PDF)
Resource 03.03: Reading Schematic Diagrams (PDF)
In this unit students will assemble and solder a working instrument using the provided materials. When completed they will have a circuit that measures temperature and light and outputs these in the form of an auditory signal (beeps).
Resource 04.01: SkeeterSat Schematic (PDF)
Resource 04.02: SkeeterSat Partslist (PDF)
Resource 04.03: SkeeterSAT P8105 Photosensor Technote (PDF)
Resource 04.04: SkeeterSAT PCB Layout (PDF)
Resource 04.05: SkeeterSat PCB Layout with traces(PDF)
Resource 04.06: SkeeterSat Gerber Files (ZIP)
In this unit students will perform a calibration of their SkeeterSats by exposing their temperature probe to temperature standard (water bath) and recording the output of their instrument(beeps). They will then generate a report of the results of their calibration in the form of a written document or oral presentation.
Resource 05.01: SkeeterSat Calibration Report Guidelines (PDF)
Resource 05.02: Propagation of Errors Calculation (PDF)
Resource 05.03: Gehrels: Confidence Limits for Small Numbers (PDF)
Resource 05.04: TLC556 Dual Timer Datasheet (PDF)
Resource 05.05: Thermistor Datasheet (PDF)
Resource 05.06: Thermistor Temperature vs Resistance Curves (PDF)
Example 05.01: Sample SkeeterSat Report (PDF)
Software 05.01: Spectrogram Software (ZIP)
This unit is the first of multiple documents that are required during the course. All students must document their process and detail the results of their work with the Skeetersat and its calibrations. Advisors should review and provide comments to the students.
Students are introduced to the Arduino Mega 2560, the microcontroller used for the remainder of the course. They will also install the Arduino Interactive Developer Environment(IDE) and perform their first simple programming activities.
Resource 07.01: Activity Sample Code (ZIP)
Students are introduced to simple single digital inputs and outputs and related concepts such as logic levels.
Resource 08.01: Activity Sample Code (ZIP)
Students are introduced to time varying signals both analog and digital. Students are also introduced to the use of oscilloscopes for signal analysis.
Students are introduced to the protocols of digital device to device communication. They will also be introduced to implementing these protocols on the Arduino platform.
Students are introduced to the Global Positioning System(GPS), typical outputs GPS units, and interfacing the Arduino with Adafruit GPS used in the course.
Resource 14.01: NMEA Reference Document (PDF)
Resource 14.02: GPS_Code (ZIP)
Students are introduced to SD cards as storage devices and the use of Adafruit SD shield.
Resource 15.01: SD Logging Code (ZIP)
Resource Link: SD Card Format Utility
Combining the lessons learned in previous units students will create circuits that measure and amplify signals. They will then calibrate and record these signals to storage device in the form of a data record.
Activity 16.02: Capstone Report : Sensors Interface and Calibration Report (PDF)
Resource 16.01: Sensors and Signal Conditionings Computations Table (PDF)
Resource 16.02: Sensor and Signal Conditioning Schematics (ZIP)
Resource 16.03: ICS1210 Datasheet (PDF)
Resource 16.04: AD820 Op Amp Datasheet (PDF)
This is the final report of the semester that the students must provide to instructors. This report documents the testing procedures, operation and results of the "Sensors and Signal Conditioning" activity. The final version of this report will be turned in to and reviewed by LaSPACE management.
Part II – Developing a Payload
Part II of this course will focus on developing the actual flight payload. This section will not only focus on physically designing, building, testing and flying the payload but will also devote a considerable amount of time on team management, project management, and documenting and defending the complete payload.
Students are introduced to techniques for creating presentations. Both oral and visual communications skills are addressed with the intention that students apply these techniques to present the data logging system they created in the previous unit.
The LaACES MegaSAT system is designed to allow additional experiments to be added to the flight system. This Unit provides a basic introduction to the MegaSAT board, the flight requirements that all payloads are mandated to follow and some possible ideas for additional areas of study. First time groups are encouraged to work with the basic MegaSAT system and not add additional complexity to their first payload. This document was also created for the LSU group timeline so some dates may change.
Estimated Unit Completion Time: 1 hour
This unit will introduce to the participants how working as a team is vital for developing a successful scientific payload. The attached activity will require the group to create a Team Contract to govern the team's actions during their work developing the payload.
Activity 20.01: Developing the Team Contract (PDF)
This is the first review of Part II. The advisors review and critique the Team Contract created by the flight teams. Once the contract is deemed acceptable by advisors, then all members should sign the contract.
This unit will be the first of several units covering how to properly manage a project. This unit will cover lifecycle management and required documentation for the payload program.
This project management unit will cover methods of determining and documenting project requirements.
Resource 22.01: Writing Good Requirements (PDF)
This project management unit will discuss task management and cost analysis needed to properly manage a project. The participant will learn how to create a timeline, manage task assignments and develop a cost estimate for the program.
Flowcharts charts are a vital tool in developing the operational process flow of a payload and a complete software design. This unit will introduce and present basic flowchart techniques and tools.
Resource 25.01: Sample Flowchart and subroutine (ZIP)
The Pre-PDR document details the initial investigative steps for the design of the project. This document focuses on the payload mission goal, science background, objectives, and requirements and technical background, objectives, and requirements. Successful completion of this document will demonstrate the team’s understanding and knowledge of their scientific area of study and significantly improve the chances of a successful payload development effort by the student team later in the academic year.
During a normal flight cycle, this document is normally due at the end of January.
Link to Document: LaACES Document Center
This unit introduces the MegaSAT Development board and its assembly manual. In addition, there is an activity for training in SMD soldering which will be required for the construction of the the MegaSAT board.
This unit introduces the various components that are integrated into the MegaSAT board. The associated activity will demonstrate the serial communication between the MegaSAT and components with the Arduino Mega.
This unit will discuss designing and building the payload external structure.
Activity 29.01: Constructing a Structure with XPS foam (PDF)
This unit will introduce the students to simple power systems and then move into greater detail on the power systems that can be used with the Arduino Mega and the MegaSAT system.
Activity 30.01: Power Systems and Budgets (PDF)
The PDR includes all the results of the preliminary design phase of the project. The PDR should present a basic understanding of the goals and objectives of the project, the science background and requirements, a Preliminary System design, conceptual hardware and software designs, preliminary task list and work schedule including information on resources and long-lead items, and a preliminary risk assessment and management plan.
During a normal flight cycle, the document and associated presentation is normally due during the middle of February.
Link to Document: LaACES Document Center
The CDR represents the end of the critical design phase of the project. The CDR is a continuation of the documentation provided in the PDR. As such, all comments provided in the PDR reviews must be addressed. In addition, the CDR should present the final designs of the project through analysis, breadboarding, prototyping, and testing. The CDR should also include finalized task lists, schedule, testing and calibration procedures, budgets, pre- and post- flight operations, and updated risk assessment and management plans.
During a normal flight cycle, the document and associated presentation is normally due at the end of March or the beginning of April.
Link to Document: LaACES Document Center
LaACES Flight teams are usually invited to the LSU campus to undergo a full thermal (-50C to 50C) and vacuum test (10mbar) to simulate the extreme flight environment that payloads will experience during the flight. This is a full day of testing. After the test is complete, attending groups will present their results to LaACES staff. Thermal vacuum testing is required for a successful Flight Readiness Review. Thermal vacuum testing at LSU is usually scheduled for the middle of April during a normal flight schedule.
The FRR represents the end of the system testing phase of the project and the group should have a flight ready payload. The FRR is a continuation of the documentation provided in the PDR and CDR. As such, all comments provided in the CDR reviews must be addressed. The FRR should present a payload that has survived all system testing (teams will be invited to participate in a thermal vac test at LSU for a full day in April OR they can conduct their own tests, if facilities and equipment are available on their own campuses) and is ready to be connected to the flight string. This document must include documentation and results of all testing and calibrations, provide evidence that the payload is safe and will perform properly, describe procedures for checkout, integration with flight vehicle, and mission operations, and identify any outstanding issues that need to be addressed prior to flight. All sections of the template should now be completed.
During a normal flight cycle, the document is normally due at the beginning of May and the FRR presentation is due at the beginning of the flight trip.
This last unit goes over all flight operations planning for the LaACES balloon launches. This will usually detail all launch week activities, including presentation schedules, integration and launch day planning, and recovery operations.