A Look Inside

With the progression of the BESPIN craft progressing swiftly (now that the snow is gone) and the Kickstarter campaign winding down, I wanted to take a second and share what’s going on inside this little thing. Since so many folks have expressed interest in what and how we’re doing this, I figured I’d let you see all the new pieces that make this possible.

The list below correlates with the image above:

A – Kodak PlayTouch HD Camcorder. Last year we used a Flip cam, but that had a hard 2 hr recording limit, this one does not, therefore if we fly longer, we get more video.

B – Energizer USB Battery Backup. This helps keep that camcorder running longer. If you’ve ever shot video with one of these things, continuously, you’ll notice the battery life drops fast. This unit should keep it powered for at least 6-8 hours. We may wind up going with a smaller unit, but this is what we have for now.

CBig Red Bee BLGPS 2M HP. This is one of our fun new components. This little guy has a built in GPS to track our location and spits it out via APRS (Automatic Packet Reporting System) on the 144.39 amateur radio frequency and can be tracked via the APRS.fi website using our call sign/SSID of KD0NGV-11. This is just one of two new tracking methods we’re using this year.

D – Dr. Dave Bowman. The brains behind the operation once we’re air born, Dr. Bowman will keep all systems operational and maintain regular communications with mission command on the ground.

E – Canon PowerShot sd1400is. Thanks to the CHDK and some rouge developers creating their own beta for this particular model, we’ve got this guy running a time lapse script, snapping beautiful 14mp shots every 45 seconds and disengaging the screen between shots, making battery life somewhere in the 4+ hour mark. Again, much higher lifespan than last year’s iPhone’s.

FAltus Metrum TeleMetrum GPS. Another fun new tracking component. Similar to the Big Red Bee, this is a GPS tracking unit, however, this unit communicates directly with an antenna/computer unit we’ll have on the ground. Using a mag mount antenna placed on the back of the chase car, connected to a laptop inside running the AltOS software, we can track the unit in real time as it sails overhead. Both tracking units essentially provide the same information, they just serve as backup units to one another, and we’ll use the APRS.fi on our phones to track when we’re recovering after landing.

GBeepX. This will be, hands down, the most annoying component included in the payload, but in a very good way. After a 25 minute launch grace period, this little guy sends out an ear splitting beep every 5 seconds, making it virtually impossible to not find once we get within a half to quarter mile of its location. Hoping this doesn’t piss off whoever’s lawn we land on!

So that’s the makeup of the payload to date. We’re coming in at exactly 3.0lbs, down a whopping 2.5lbs from last year’s payload. If we reduce the size of that battery backup and switch the substance the GPS units are mounted to, we may be able to come down another half pound. But we’ll see.

Below is a shot of the entire thing assembled inside the payload itself. Kinda fun to see how it’ll all look inside.