Twitter: lvl1hackerspace

White Star Balloon Valve Vacuum Test Video

We have been fairly quiet publicly, but many subsystems are coming to completion rapidly, including the  helium gas overflow vent valve.  Completion of anything flying on a ballon means it’s time to do some science!  Tests must be done, data must be noted, hypotheses checked.  Gary Flispart and I put together a detailed technical video explanation of the vacuum leak test system we’ve made.

ZP Balloon Vent: Testing for Leaks

Stay tuned for more updates at http://whitestarballoon.org , we are on track to launch in the next month or two!

Dan Bowen
@SteamFire
White Star Team Lead

Spitball-1 Burst Launch Live Interactive Stream

Join us on VOKLE.com to view the live stream of spitball-1′s first launch. You can ask questions and talk directly to the launch control team!

Thank you Maker Faire

This past weekend LVL1 traveled north en masse to The Henry Ford for 2011′s Maker Faire: Detroit. LVL1 would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to all the staff and organizers who made this event possible. Great work!

We’d like to thank OmniCorp Detroit and i3 Detroit for their hospitality. Your members put in a lot of work to welcome spacers from all over the Midwest. A thousand thanks and in case you are wondering, we burned those pants.

Thank you to all the other spaces that we met and hung out with. Our spacer community is strong and is overflowing with goodwill. We love you all. If you find yourself in Louisville, our door is open and we’ll keep a soldering iron warmed up for you.

This was our first time there as a hackerspace (we’re only a year old), but we were well represented. LVL1 managed to spread ourselves out to 4 different exhibition areas!  There was the LVL1 table with ongoing hackerspace projects. White Star Balloon, our Pow-Pow-Powerwheels car “Steve” and Butterscotch: the fire-breathing robotic pony.

LVL1 was honored with the Maker Faire Editors Choice Awards for 3 entries.

White Star Balloon: It’s the little robotic balloon taking flight for a record-setting voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. Talk with this team for 5 minutes and your jaw will drop in awe when you hear how ambitious this project is. These intrepid hackers have worked tirelessly to overcome the challenges of an unmanned flight through the upper reaches of the jet stream. Automated ballast systems, cryogenic chambers, weather simulations, satellite communications, Mission Control, FAA comms and the list goes on and on. The team gets special props for designing a new dry ballast system from scratch, with only a week’s notice! Good hustle people! White Star Balloon is a triumph of citizen science, dogged engineering and flow charts. Congratulations, and we’ll see you on the other side of the Atlantic. Edit: WSB won 2 Editor’s Choice Awards.

Plasma Arc Speaker: It’s a speaker with a spark gap tweeter and it’s name is Thor. There’s nothing quite like the fidelity of a 6000V arc of plasma. Paul performed a tremendous week-long rush to get a new speaker housing built with upgraded contacts and high-voltage transformer. It was more trigonometry than he signed up for, but he pushed it through. Many visitors to the LVL1 table came by to rock out, see how it works and burn paper in the plasma arc. They had no idea how much danger they were in.

Butterscotch:  20% macabre skinned robotic pony child’s toy, 10% Wii nunchuck I2C debugging, 10% flame-thrower, and 60% safety afterthoughts. Your video was posted on BoingBoing with a representative sample of LVL1 membership. It deserves a Venn diagram of utilikilts, mohawks, and pink attire. Overlord Butterscotch is a fire-breathing pony who captured the hearts of thousands of makers, but only singed a few. Better luck next year! Edit: Butterscotch also received 2 Editor’s Choice Awards.

Again, thank you to everyone that made Detroit Maker Faire possible. See you in 2012!

How to Build the World’s Lightest Quadrifilar Helix Antenna

Another day, another repost from another project I’m working on. This time, from White Star Balloons, the world’s lightest quad helix antenna.

After the scrub on the launch pad for flight attempt A, we went back to the books, to try and figure out what we could do to improve our odds the next time around. One of our biggest setbacks was the inability make an antenna suitable for our use: We needed an antenna tuned for 149 MHz, not needing a ground plane, weighing as little as possible.

After 4 tries, and some expensive test equipment, the end result was a Quadrifilar Helix antenna weighing only 80 grams!

Our ground test antenna was a 5/8ths wave whip antenna, which works well, but unfortunately needs a ground plane. Tests with both a quarter-wave dipole and a J-pole antenna were lackluster. Documentation from our satellite service provider implied that a quadrifilar helix antenna would provide the best coverage at all. While these antennas are pretty, their design and construction was voodoo magic at first.

Thanks to some design documentation here: http://jcoppens.com/ant/qfh/index.en.php and some help from the balloon community, we had some baselines for creating such an antenna. We still went through *quite* a few revisions.  We went through 3 revisions that didn’t work, and one which works pretty darn well!

Here are the antennas which didn’t work:

Read the rest of this entry »

LVL1 Tuesday Super Meeting

Yuri's Night

This Tuesday is shaping up to be a Super Tuesday!  Tuesdays at 8:00pm are our regular meeting times, but this Tuesday, 4/12/11, we’re throwing in a Sumo-bot throw-down, and a Yuri’s Night  Celebration.

What: LVL1 Tuesday Meeting, Yuri’s Night Celebration, and Sumo-bot throw-down!

When: Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Where: The LVL1 Hackerspace, 814 East Broadway, Entrance on the rear alley

For visitors, our regular meetings usually consist of 30 minutes of talking about LVL1 business, events, and miscellany, followed by building, hacking, making and general mayhem, extending well into the night.  This Tuesday, however, we’ll be celebrating Yuri’s Night, a world-wide party commemorating the 50th anniversary of mankind first slipping the surly bonds of earth, and extending our reach into space.

LVL1 will be hosting members of the Louisville Astronomical Society for some urban star gazing, and we’ll be trying to listen for the ARRISat, an amateur radio satellite currently attached to the International Space Station, transmitting just for Yuri’s Night, before it becomes fully armed and operational later this year.

In addition, almost a dozen members of the LVL1 community have been working on Sumo-bots for the upcoming tournament at Hive13, Cincinnati’s hackerspace.  We’ve got enough bots running around here for our own tournament, so we’ll be doing exposition matches all evening, building, testing and tweaking our sumos!

Come one, come all to LVL1 this Tuesday at 8:00pm.  Anyone and everyone is always welcome.

3D Pictures of Speedball-1 Launch Attempt

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ndKaEpXnnmY

Here are some anaglyph photos of LVL1′s White Star Balloon Team recent launch attempt of Speedball-1. You see LVL1 transformed into White Star Mission Control, balloon construction areas, unpacking Speedball-1 at the Spaceport Indiana launch site. ALL IN 3D! Courtesy of Gary!

Breaking News: SpeedBall-1 heading to Europe ASAP!

Latest post from http://www.whitestarballoon.com:

Change of plans everyone! SpeedBall-1 is going to be launched *very* soon. By soon, I mean that we’re planning to launch within the next week or two. Why? There are several reasons:

One, we’re basically done with SpeedBall-1 and are just working on finishing the last of cryo tests to fix any remaining bugs related to operating in such cold temperatures.

Two, we don’t have much time left to catch the jet stream this season. The jet stream changes according to the seasons, and according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) data models we’ve calculated, we’re running out of time to catch the particular stream we need to hopefully hitch a ride to Europe, but possibly North Africa instead, since it’s impossible to predict the actual path the balloon will take in the jet stream. Also because of the limited time and amazing progress we’re made in putting everything together, SpeedBall-1 will be a full, trans-Atlantic flight, and not just a test of systems like previously planned.

Third, and something we realized after deciding to make the full, trans-Atlantic flight, we found out we have some tough competition! Cornell University has had a multi-year project to do basically what we’re doing — set the record for having the first amateur trans-Atlantic balloon crossing, and possibly farther. The difference? They started back in 2008, and have a huge, multi-disciplinary team of graduate students working on this full-time with full financial backing (from Lockheed-Martin, no less). Given that we’re a small hackerspace with limited time and resources, and started from scratch August 2010, what we’ve accomplished so far is nothing short of astounding. They’re planning to launch on Feb. 21st, so we don’t have much time left!

Support LVL1

Laser

By using the donate button below you will be taken to Paypal to make a donation to the laser cutter fund. When you use this button the donation is earmarked for the laser cutter fund, not the general fund.


 

 

White Star Balloon

Click here to lend your support to: The White Star Balloon Project and make a donation at www.pledgie.com !

White Star Balloon Project – official site

 

 

Monthly Donation

Help LVL1 with a small monthly recurring donation of $13.37!

 

 

LVL1 Makership

We’re raising money for a Makership fund. A makership is similar to a scholarship, but the focus is on a creating something. We are using this fund to support an aspiring maker in financial need. The fund includes all LVL1 membership dues for 1 year, plus $400 to fund their proposed makership project.

For more information, see LVL1 Makership

Click here to lend your support to: LVL1 Makership and make a donation at www.pledgie.com !

Balloon Package Retrieved by Robert Rollins of Greenhaven Tree Care

As many on the google group know, Galen Powers and I drove a good buddy of mine, Robert Rollins to retrieve the package that was about 80 feet up in the tree. Robert owns the Louisville based business, Greenhaven Tree Care and is an arborist and expert tree climber.

Robert made it look easy, but it was a lot of work, and we appreciate all of his hard work and personal risk to get the package(s) out of the tree.

Galen took the time to document the event and put it in a slick video:

Also, thanks to Joe and Tim for finding it the first time and giving us clues to its location, and the folks from Bloomington Hackerspace for their attempts.

The Apples in Stereo Benefit Concert

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