BESPIN-III – We’re back!

Well its been a few weeks folks, but we’re back in the game here at BESPIN Mission Control. We’ve been thinking a LOT about the design of our craft, reducing the fogging issues we’ve been having, eliminating the “hang” issues we’ve been having at 100,000+ ft as well as coming up with a solution for the brain melting sway from the video at high altitude. After much research, talking with others who do this, and just plain old “seat of our pants science,” we’ve rebuilt the whole thing from the ground up.

We started by getting an even smaller payload box. Something about half the size of what we’re already using. So considering how light we already are, we’re even lighter now. We then got our hands on a hot foam cutter. Little bendable wire so we could custom cut inserts for the cameras into the payload walls (saving us both on space internally while allowing us to eliminate the separate between the lens and the outside of the payload, which should help reduce the fogging issues. We also essentially removed the UV filters, or I should say, we’ve extended them out beyond the payload walls, so we won’t have the issue of warm air inside, cold air outside, all separated by a piece of glass for easy fogging. Lastly, and this is the really big one, after over a year and eight full missions, we’ve retired the SharkFinTail™ technology. It was designed to reduce spin in the payload as we rose, but now understanding a little more about upper oscillatory winds, we realize its not doing us anything whatsoever and maybe causing half the spin problems when we get that high. So we added a new design element we’re calling SpaceArms™. SpaceArms™ act as inertia rods, similar to the bar a tightrope walker holds, to help resist the change in rotational speed. Our new friends over at the EOSS (Edge of Space Sciences) have been doing exactly this and its been working great. I want to also thank Robert Harrison of the Icarus Project, Keith Kaiser from ARHAB, Marshall Dias over at the iHab Project and of course, Rick Erickson (my Dad the engineer) for all their valuable input as I rebuilt this thing.

So, now on to the pics. Here’s some shots of what we’re working with now. We’re streamlined a bit and are going with JUST the essentials. Camera, Camcorder, Big Red Bee, SPOT tracker, Batter Backup, Pilot & BeepX (in the lid). Its still a chunk of equipment, but its a tiny little payload, approximately 6.5″x 8″ with an internal space of 4.5″ x 6″.


From the Top Down. You can see the BeepX

Everything nestled nice & cozy.

You can see the pockets we’ve cut to nestle the cameras.

So there it is. Don’t forget to follow along on Saturday evening via Twitter. We’ll share live updates as well as link out to the APRS Tracking page.