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Old 11-06-2022, 12:07 AM
Bob Austin Bob Austin is offline
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Default Arduino Launch Control System Release Candidate Version

Just a quick note to let everyone know that the Arduino Launch Control System (LCS) software has reached 0.9.0 Release Candidate version. In addition to cleaning up the code, the package now includes a 163 page instruction booklet.

The majority of the booklet is spent reviewing the code and providing instruction on program development. The booklet also includes a section on updates and improvements you might consider making to this version of the LCS. It includes a breadboard diagram of the project as well as a schematic drawing. The complete code is included as well as a parts listing and pin diagram for the Uno and Nano boards. A section is included that describes how a toolbox was converted in the LCS.

If you are new to using electronics in model rocketry, the Arduino LCS makes a great first project. The associated booklet provides instructions and insight into why the project is made in the way presented. As it is our first true electronic project outside of the starter kit mini-projects, I include comments on what I felt I did right, what I messed up, and how I can improve the next project.

The software and instruction booklet are available as a single ZIP file at our SourceForge repository. You can download it as well as earlier versions of the code at https://sourceforge.net/projects/ar...-control-system.
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Old 11-07-2022, 10:16 AM
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tbzep tbzep is offline
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Back around 1980, my cousin built me a launch controller for his senior electrical engineering project. Once he got his grade, he gave it to me. It has a couple things that would be cool to integrate into your project in the future.

Adjustable countdown: It uses a dual 8 segment LED which shows the countdown. I am able to set the countdown anywhere between 1 and 99 seconds with a small dip switch (4 position, iirc). I used to have it at 60 seconds, but I now use 30 seconds. That gives me time to put the controller down, position myself, and ready my camera. The ability to choose and set it something other than 10 second countdown would be nice.

Audio for last 10 seconds: Your diagram shows a buzzer. I don't know if it is for continuity or signals the countdown. My controller beeps on each of the last 10 seconds so that I know the launch is imminent.

An option for clusters: My launch relay is at the pad instead of in the controller. This allows high current at the pad and minimal wire between it and the controller. It uses standard 4 conductor telephone extension cable, cheap and flexible. It can fire off big clusters with a little 12v gel cell or power tool battery.

Automatic launch: The last and most important, my controller launches automatically at zero. I can pause or stop the launch at any time easily by pulling the safety key, which is a 1/8" phono plug with streamer (looks like a "remove before flight" tag) or by hitting the start/stop countdown button. This is the best thing in the world for someone who likes to photograph launches, especially when flying alone or in small numbers with recovery team (your kids) downrange, or if everyone wants to video or photograph the launches. It can also be set to launch traditionally by toggling auto/manual, initiating the safety key, and pressing the launch button.

Probably the coolest thing about my controller is that he designed and built it from parts available in the mid 70's at Radio Shack. I think the closest thing I ever saw to what I have was the short lived custom launch systems from CNA Systems , and those things were very expensive! I think I paid him about $35 for parts, including the project boxes and a cool looking General Electric (probably mil surplus) wet cell 12v battery that had never been activated before I got it. I didn't pay labor because it was a school project that he was going to build anyway.

Even though I have what I think is the coolest retro launch controller on the planet, I plan to build the Arduino at some point when I've caught up other projects.
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Old 11-07-2022, 02:27 PM
Bob Austin Bob Austin is offline
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That sounds like a really cool project - especially for back in 1980. The Arduino does seem to help make some things a bit easier to do - provided you prefer programming to doing stuff with pure electronics.

This project was my equivalent of an Estes Alpha. I knew very little about electronics, but kept seeing the Arduino and Raspberry Pi popping up in various articles. Started with the Arduino and have really enjoyed it.

I am hoping to come back to the project later and expand it. One of the things I would like to do is integrate it with a Raspberry Pi to develop a dashboard. I am hoping to create an electronic payload using low power radio and both the launch pad and the payload would be displayed on the computer screen. I would also like to build a portable weather station that would integrate with the system as well. And everything displayed on a dashboard. I know some of this can be purchased ready-made, but for me the enjoyment is in learning about how it all works.

If I get to that point, things like the adjustable countdown should be easy to implement. Also like the idea of power at the pad and the system activated via wireless - no wires to stretch out and trip over.

There are a bunch of things I hope to do, but as the old saying goes - you have to crawl before you walk, and walk before you run. I'm still in the crawling stage, but can't wait to run!
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Old 11-08-2022, 10:26 AM
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tbzep tbzep is offline
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I've got a couple Raspberry Pi's. You can't beat a $35 (when I bought them) computer! I run a NAS on one and just play around with the other one. My buddy bought some 2 way mirror glass and made a smart mirror for his bathroom. Now he gets weather and news feeds, TV, etc. while he's brushing his teeth. lol

Looking forward to seeing your projects. Keep them coming!
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