Ground Telescope

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Project Overview

1.1. Project Description Far Horizons High Altitude Balloon (HAB) missions routinely reach altitudes of 30km (100,000ft). Presently, the data from flight experiments are only obtained after the successful recovery of the payload. Live telemetry and 2-way communications is an ultimate goal for our missions. As a step in that direction, we plan to design and build a remote observing system to monitor flights in real time using telescopes based at the Adler that will observing the flights. This system will be the foundation of a ground-based communications system for future HAB and CubeSat missions.

1.2. Target Goals The system will be able to automatically maintain a visual lock on the balloon throughout a typical FH HAB mission with a degree of accuracy of ±1° over the duration of the flight visible above the horizon from a remote location (ex., from the Adler)

1.3. Interests and Skill Sets Engineering, electronics, microprocessors, programming and atmospheric science

1.4. Team Participants

1.4.1 Project Lead Andrew
1.4.2 System Programmer Duncan
1.4.3 Mechanical Designer TBD

Project Sub Goals

  • Control of Telescope from laptop running Processing
    • installing Processing
    • understanding Processing
    • simple GUI coding
    • learning the serial port library
    • making a serial connection cable for the telescope
    • writing simple library of telescope control commands for Processing
  • Interpretation of APRS packets from radio by laptop running Processing
    • radio set up
    • understanding the APRS protocol
    • implementing serial port read and parsing
  • Calculation of relative pointing from telescope to balloon
    • spherical vector/trigonometry
    • non-spherical earth correction
      • understanding the GPS coordinate system (WGS84)
    • refraction correction
    • extrapolation of position


YouTube video showing real-time telescope tracking of a NWS sounding balloon over Kansas

Serial port protocol for controlling a Meade telescope

Comprehensive resource for using and customizing the Meade AutoStar drive system

Progress Reports

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