I've just returned from a 1950km (1211 mile) road trip up to central New South Wales for Lydia's graduation at the Charles Sturt University. Since we were in the neighbourhood, I thought a visit to the Parkes Radio Telescope was in order :)
The Parkes Radio Telescope was built in 1961, It's a 64 meter antenna, making it the second largest radio telescope in the Southern Hemisphere. (The largest is the 70 meter antenna at Tidbinbilla near Canberra) It's known locally as "The Dish"
When Buzz Aldrin switched on the TV camera on the Apollo 11 Lunar Module, three tracking antennas received the signals simultaneously. They were the 64 metre Goldstone antenna in California, the 26 metre antenna at Honeysuckle Creek near Canberra in Australia, and the 64 metre dish at Parkes.
In the first few minutes of the broadcast, NASA alternated between the signals being received from its two stations at Goldstone and Honeysuckle Creek, searching for the best quality picture.
A little under nine minutes into the broadcast, the TV was switched to the Parkes signal. The quality of the TV pictures from Parkes was so superior that NASA stayed with Parkes as the source of the TV for the remainder of the 2.5 hour broadcast.
How could I not take the opportunity to visit this piece of space history!
Here's some photos I took of the dish.
(Click to embiggen)
More after the jump.... (or see the full set on Flickr)
I've always loved the simplicity of Art Applewhite's saucer rockets, so I thought I would have a go at building one of my own design. I picked the humble traffic cone to model it on. I have designed and built two versions, both unfortunately unstable :(
I will revisit these designs at some time and see if I can get something stable to fly.
About 2 years ago I came across a 4' length of 6" cardboard tube, an old post pack, in the recycling pile out the front of a local shop. I didn't actually see it as a cardboard tube, instead I saw it as the beginnings of a rocket.
I sat the tube in the corner and pondered what I could do with it. At the time I had only just started thinking about building and flying my Level 1 project, a Binder Design Excel.
Now, with my L1 under my belt, I thought it was time I started to work towards my L2. At the end of December 2010 I started work on "Freefall". Once I had everything worked out in Rocksim, I was able to start work. The nose cone came first.
The nose cone was built up using a central core of dowel, with foam rings slid down over it and glued into place to give the basic shape. I purchased a tin of builders filler (2-part bog) from a local hardware supplier and layered that over the foam. Once dry, the bog was easy enough to sand to the final shape with a belt sander. A final layer of fiberglass was applied over the top to hold everything together.
The motor mount consists of a 54mm motor tube held in place by 3 centering rings. Through the wall fins complete the back end of the rocket. Internal fillets were applied to the fins and the root edge was bonded to the motor tube by strips of fiberglass tape.
I am waiting on delivery of a 70" parachute and motor hardware. Recovery will be handeled by a medium delay on a J275 and the predicted alititude is just over 2,000'.
The finished rocket stands about 6'2" and weighs in at 4.5kg without parachute or motor.
Back a while, Dick posted on his blog an article about the Raygun Gothic Rocketship. It's big & pretty and I very much wanted one! However lacking large sums of money, the skills to fabricate a 38' tall steel and aluminium rocket and nowhere to store it even if I did build one, I was left to sit and stare longingly at the picutres on the web.
A few nights ago, while again looking at photos of the Rocketship, one of the few bulbs that haven't yet burned out went on - an idea! I could lasercut one of these! Make a little one that would fit in my loungeroom, to sit upon my bookshelf!
A good old-fashoned Googling turned up lots of photos and the one thing that I was hoping to find - a good structural drawing :) I was set!!
I vectorised the artwork and dropped it into CorelDraw. Two evenings later (and three goes cutting it out) I have this!
A while back I made up a rocket stand using Balsa. And while it served it's purpose just fine, I thought that I'd have a crack at creating one with the laser.
Click to Embiggen
I created the design in Corel Draw and cut it from 3mm acrylic. I used a heat gun to soften the area of each bend (There's a small notch to indicate where the bend should be). Once formed into shape, it only took a moment for the acrylic to go hard again.
Click to Embiggen
I have uploaded the file onto Thingiverse if you want to make one yourself :)
The 24th of October was the final fly day for TRAAU & we couldn't have asked for a better day! There was a little wind but nothing that would rule out launching. The launch on the 3rd was originally going to be the final launch for the year but the land owner was very supportive and allowed us to launch once more!
Clear skies made for a perfect day and lots of low and mid power rockets got off the pads.
I put up my Binder Design 'Spike' on a G64. Recovery was on a single 12" 'chute about 50m from the launch pad.
Click to Embiggen
The 2nd flight for one of my rockets was my scratch-built down-scale Estes 'Mean Machine' on a C6. It's had a good life and survived a core sample with only a few repairs some time back. This launch was to be it's last. Weighing only 20 grams, the C6 pushed the rocket to some ridiculous altitude, to the amazement of the spectators. The 12" Mylar 'chute popped at apogee and with the light breeze of the day, the rocket floated for ages and was eaten by the waist-high grass.