Sunday, October 21, 2007

Bryan's New Blog

My son Bryan has started a new blog for this year's Science Fair project. This year he is building a GPS tracking device! Wow! You can follow along at his new blog address:

He calls his new blog "Brianz Scienz"!

Friday, August 31, 2007

It's Done

Hank Kaul (KH6HAK) is my hero! He has wedged a 1 watt ATV transmitter into our ATV rocket bay, and included an improved antenna and a battery that will run for over 4 hours! We have 10x the power of our last project! Looks great Hank! Jesse, when we gonna go flying?

Friday, May 18, 2007

Successful Endurance Test

Hank did a battery endurance test today that went very well. He transmitted into a dummy load for 4 hours straight and the battery was still going. For a rocket flight we don't need more that an few minutes of run time, but if the transmitter is on anyway, we can use it as a radio source to find the rocket if it is lost or blown far away. We'll use a directional antenna to zero in on the transmitter and may even have a visual clue of where it is we looking at the video.

We'll do an actual range test sometime next week.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Work Continues....

Work continues on the rocket. There have been some difficulties with the fin assembly, and Justin has decided to add a piston to the top of the rocket to ensure that the parachute is deployed. A piston pushes the parachute out of the body tube.

Our ATV project is still active but on the back burner. When a launch date is set, no doubt work will begin in earnest.

Monday, April 23, 2007

A Better Battery

Our better battery arrived! It's a Lithium Polymer battery and it fits nicely and really helps us conserve weight. We just have to make sure it doesn't explode when being charged! (Kinda joking and kinda not.)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

"The Knack"

I hope you enjoy this hilarious Dilbert cartoon!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Still waiting on a battery!

We had a battery come in that would work, but it is very heavy and just barely fits. After we ordered it, we found a better one and we are waiting for it to arrive. Better weight and shape.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

It Works!

Hurray, the 1w transmitter is functional. We didn't know because it had been in a box in a closet for a very long time. We now have to find the right power source and fit it all in the rocket pod.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

1 Watt Transmitter Will Just Fit!

Hank brought in his transmitter project and we did a test fit into the rocket payload bay. It BARELY fits. Now we have to find the right battery.

This transmitter should give us 10 times the range! 3000ft maybe.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Launch Day

Got a call from Jesse the night before and the shipment still hasn't come in. The rocket will not fly until maybe May.

Secretly, I am somewhat relieved. That will give Hank and I time to build a more powerful transmitter. Hank showed me a 1 watt transmitter he dug up out of an old closet. We are going to convert it to rocket duty!

I went to the event anyway and it was great fun. The whole school came out to watch and Jesse sent up probably 20 rockets to my 3. He even flew an F powered one capable of supersonic flight, and a big G-engined one. KITV even came out and did a story on it!

This whole thing has gotten me interested in High Power Rocketry. I would like to get more involved and qualified for the big ones.

Back to the drawing board for now.


Rich "Rocket" Fewell

Range Testing

Friday Hank and I went to Ala Moana Beach Park to test our range at lunch time. He set up all the receiving gear and I got the transmitter ready. I started marching off but very quickly we realized we were not getting the performance we needed. We had a solid signal to 300 feet and then the signal got snowy to 500 feet when it was lost all together. The rocket is expected to go to 2000 feet or more! Very disappointing. We tried a few other variations but it didn't seem to matter. The transmitter was just too week. We would need more power to do the expected altitude, but the launch was in a week. This flight will have to go as planned.

I informed Jesse of the results and he wasn't too bothered. I delivered the payload and all the parts he had lent me back to him on Saturday night. I also learned Jesse was expecting the shipment of parts (especially fins) on Monday. He also had not yet secured the I-engine needed for the flight.

T minus 6 days and counting!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The project changes course...Going UP!

Hi Everyone,

This starts the second chapter of Bryan's project. Bry and I have always wanted to put his project in a rocket. It was too much to do for this science fair, but now that that is done and we have this equipment, it is a great time to start.

Bryan and I found ourselves in Pearlridge at we wandered into the Hobby Company to see what we might convert to a video carrying rocket. We started talking with the young employee there and discovered he was very into rocketry. Turns out he is building a large High Power Rocket of a custom design and was looking for a video payload. PERFECT! We decided to collaborate and that is how I was introduced to Jesse Bradley, 16, of Waialua High School.

Jesse is a remarkable young man. He has a passion for the hobby of rocketry and has been the force behind the Waialua Rocketry club and getting a bunch of people involved in the sport. He also started the Rocket Extravaganza event at his school, where he runs a demo of 20 some rockets being launched in front of the entire school assembly. He was amazingly organized and was effectively delegating responsibility to teams for the event. Pretty cool.

For the video payload, I disassembled Bryan's science fair project (with permission) and built a basic cardboard and straw prototype. That helped be figure out where everything was going to go and how much it might weigh.

I took that prototype down to see Jesse and he gave me a bunch of components of the rocket that I could build the project with. Over the next two weeks I built the payload bay, installed the components and wired it all up.

I also started talking to my friend Hank (KH6HAK) about it and he got involved building the ground station, with some speciallized antennas and amplifiers. It was great fun to be involved with the prototyping of the device, and I was hoping with Hank's gear to get better results than we got with the science fair format.

That's all for now,...more later.


District Science Fair

Bryan submitted his ATV project to the district level competition. It was amazing to see what some of the kids were doing. He got a certificate for participating but was not selected to go on to the state level competition. Trey Tirpak (in red) has won both last year's and this year's Hanalani science fairs and was the only one from Hanalani selected to go on to the state level. Congratulations Trey!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Dave Barry on Science Fairs

You gotta read this Dave Barry article on the Science Fair process!

Dave Barry on Science Fairs

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Next step? District Science Fair

Hanalani says that Bryan can now enter his science fair project into the District Science Fair if he wants to. We think he should do it, just for the experience of it. He's not so sure and it means more work. He has to submit a 5 page literature review if he wants to participate. He is intimidated by that, so we are researching it to understand what it is better.

What do you think? Should he take his display to the District?

Placed in the top 5 of 48!

The winners were announced last night at Parent's Night at Hanalani Schools and Bryan placed in the top 5 of 48 entries in his age group! His ribbon says Honorable Mention. This is the second year in a row that Bryan has placed in the top 5! Congratulation's Bryan!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Bryan will turn in his science fair project on Amateur Television tomorrow.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The Final Test

Today we did a lot of testing. We got to borrow two yagi antennas from Hank (kh6hak) and Chuck(nh7xl). We found a stretch of road along the way to Haleiwa that goes a mile, so we tested there. We set up a transmitting station at N 21º 33.862 W 158º 04.423. The manual we looked at said that with 2 yagi directional antennas we should be able to have a good signal for 8 miles. So I got all set up and we started to test. The first test was at point blank range, the signal quality for that test was video:10 audio:10. Then my dad drove away 1\10 of a mile, and the quality there was video:6, audio:9. Then he drove to 3\10 of a mile , and the signal quality there was video:3, audio:7. Then my dad tried to recalibrate the receiver. Afterwards,we could only receive video. So we did another round of testing.

The first test was at point blank range and the video quality was 10. Then we went to 150 feet, and the video quality was 8. Then we tested at 350 feet away, and the video quality there was a 7. Then we went to 375 feet apart and the quality there was 6. Then we went to 440 feet and the signal quality was 3. After that its was uncopyable.

I think we had difficulty because of our very low power, and cheap receiver.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Fixing minor problems

Yesterday I cut out holes for the batteries so they don't rattle. I also drilled a hole for the antenna connecter to come out of.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Yesterday we did some testing. We discovered that it has to be line of sight to get a clear signal. We also discovered that everything in the box rattles and makes a lot of noise, so I'm going have to fix it today. Also the camera rotates so i have to secure that to.

More Photos

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Arrow Antenna

Today Dad brought home a Yagi directional antenna from Hank (kh6hak) which I get to borrow. A Yagi antenna is a directional beam antenna. There are three parts to a Yagi antenna, the reflector, radiator, and directors. The more directional parts there are on the antenna the more powerful it is in that direction, but less powerful in any other direction. This antenna will hopefully maximize my range for my project.