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Space Science Technology

Qu8k Rockets Above the Balloons 153

darkjohnson writes "Lately we've been inundated with 100k' balloon flights and amazing video footage from space — the flights usually taking better than an hour to achieve apogee. Derek Deville took a shortcut to 121k' using a 'home made' Q rocket motor and a ton of engineering genius. On September 30, 2011 at 11:08am, Qu8k (pronounced 'Quake') launched from the Black Rock Desert in Nevada to an altitude of 121,000' in 92 seconds before returning safely to earth.This small documentary on the flight is probably one of the most brilliant Amateur Rocket videos out there right now." The launch was an attempt to claim the Carmack Prize. (And Deville evidently likes to launch another kind of rocket, too.)
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Qu8k Rockets Above the Balloons

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  • by wisebabo ( 638845 ) on Sunday October 09, 2011 @01:20PM (#37654946) Journal

    Geez, I hope the poor guy doesn't get kidnapped by the Iranians! (Or the Palestinians).

    I wonder if he'll be allowed to leave the country (I know someone who works for the NSA who needs to give the State Dept. 3 months prior notice before leaving the U.S. Not sure if this includes Canada). Ok, maybe this rocket isn't state of the art rocketry. And not sure how guided it was. Still 112,000 ft.!

    So, is this basically the design of a "Katushka?". Or even earlier the rockets launched by the Soviets in the launchers called "Stalin's Organ"?

    Has he tried staging? Is it legal for a private American citizen to put something in orbit? (I guess I'm just kidding, while 112k is a good height, orbit requires a very high horizontal velocity of 5 miles a sec.)

    What about launching FROM a balloon? (Although it might be more fun to launch AT a balloon).

    Ok, these comments are kinda non-sensical, I just woke up from a nap.

  • by EdZ ( 755139 ) on Sunday October 09, 2011 @01:43PM (#37655056)

    One other interesting pointlet is that most of the PCBs seem to be COTS prototyping boards.

    And importantly, almost entirely SMT boards. You may think that through-hole components are more robust, but SMT can survive much greater G-loads for the twin reasons of being generally much lower mass, and having a big flat plane of attachment rather than long legs with unattached sections free to bend and fatigue.This has important implications for gun-type space launches: very heavy and very, very expensive monolithic resin electronics blocks are unnecessary, properly mounted SMT boards are sufficient.

  • Re:Impressive (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Grog6 ( 85859 ) on Sunday October 09, 2011 @01:48PM (#37655074)


    This is nice. I wonder what it cost to do...

    Seeing the epoxy cover over the camera melt off was interesting too; good thing it came off evenly. :)

  • Re:Impressive (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 09, 2011 @06:47PM (#37657064)

    This is nice. I wonder what it cost to do...

    I happened to be hanging out last night with one of the camera men who filmed this launch from the ground. Needless to say it is very surprising to see this on Slashdot, it's like having my private life show up here, very weird. Anyway, the answer to your question is "I'm not gonna say" but it was more than $10 thousand.

    If you've seen the rocket launch from '08 where Team Numb fired a keg of beer to about 6000 feet, that was a good launch too. I have weird friends.

  • by subreality ( 157447 ) on Sunday October 09, 2011 @08:48PM (#37657976)

    The initial learning curve is harder, and you'll want a good soldering iron, but once you've cleared those hurdles hand soldering SMD is a piece of cake.

    Reflow soldering is completely hobbyist-accessible too: I use a syringe of solder paste [] to put little dots on all the pads, tweezers to place all the components, and then I lay it in a bare aluminum (NO TEFLON!) frying pan. Throw it on the stove for five minutes and pluck the board out with a pair of needle nose pliers (the pan cools too slowly) after all the solder melts.

    The surface tension of the melted solder pulls all the components into alignment, so you don't have to place them perfectly. A few pins usually get messed up since I'm not as precise with the syringe as I would be with a stencil, but I just inspect with a cheap loupe and clean up any mistakes manually. Other people use toaster ovens with much success, but I've found the frying pan works great for single-sided boards.

    Honestly I find it's much less tedious than through-hole soldering, and I love having access to all the cool SMD ICs that you just can't get in DIP packages. The only problem is that prototyping is a bitch. If you want to breadboard a SMD IC you have to make a SMD to DIP adapter board first. But I usually don't bother: I just design my board, get one made [], manually kludge around any mistakes by lifting pins and soldering in fine wires until I get it working (usually only one or two wires per board), and then get a final one made.

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