The next co-learning session on DIY Orientation Thruster #5 is coming up fast (next Saturday) - we better get going with blogging up on the last one! We are looking forward to working better with you on sharing the lessons more widely - oh yes, there has been some filming going on in DIY Orientation Thruster #4, we're looking forward to video blogging volunteering efforts. We have also been taking feedback in the meantime and have noticed that it "Orientation Thruster" might not be clear, so we have renamed the forward going sessions to "DIY Spacecraft Controls" - it is the same series but hopefully a more self explanatory name. Keep the feedback coming!
Now, so you said, tell me what happened in DIY Spacecraft Controls #4 already. It had a clash of date with Maker Faire which had made it a tough choice for our usual makers, despite of that we had some new faces and new slides - a flying start! As we go on in the series, makers are getting more comfortable coming in and getting going before the presentation, we love seeing that ad-hoc-ness in ways of working. Yes, things in life does not always have a restart or a proper start, why should learning be, go citizens!
We have been gearing up new makers, people who have no programming experience at all, in this sessions. Hats off to Faraz for being a great co-learner (we would strongly recommend that you go to his Arduino nights too) - thank you Faraz. One wonders why he is not yet a professor in Arduino by now! It is amazing to see Lukas too, our GPS expert going from no experience in Arduino/Github to a regular contributor to the code base.
It's not all electronics and software like we have always stressed, if you can name your role, you have it! Great progress on the mechanical harness from design to prototyping on materials has been made by Rich, using the laser cutter at Create Space London:
So what's missing? Some design element perhaps on data visualisation/ simulation/ control interfaces? Is that you?
If you missed the previous one(s), don't miss this class! In fact, class might even sound too formal, see it for yourselves:
PS: bring laptop, tablet, sketchbook, etc whatever helps you to research and learn on your own after co-learners has giving you the tips ;)
Third time lucky - there's no challenge to getting here this time. No marching horses and bands, no adverse weather - just our determination to pursue discovery based learning, hands on, towards a DIY orientation thruster.
Coming through the W gate into CreateSpace, starting the day with a cup of tea and simple breakfast, pain au chocolate if you're early! We started, as usual, with a brief introduction from Ray at Tranquility Aerospace on the design and the driver behind the rocket. This time we have mostly familiar faces, so we adjusted to the flow and discussed all the savvy technical details of the orientation thrusters and space hardware design in general. But if you are not technical savvy, read on, we've got industrial design (mechanical harness) and UX design and graphics design (much needed) in the mix!
Although we always seem to start with a familar presentation, it seems like we always manage to have a different conversation, which is great. And it is a great refresher for Steph and Rory, the facilitators, too as they usually only catch parts of the talk and of course, great introduction for new faces and refresher for you if you haven't been for a while.
We'd like to point out that this is done with Create Space's new projector at the lounge area - new facilities shows up all the time, definitely impressed with the speed Rory drives CreateSpace at!
We bashed away independently at times and work together too, whatever is more natural to make things work together and each time, it might be different. Here are some group activities we do: (including Tranquility Aerospace sponsored pizza, thanks!)
But of course, we need to move fire the solenoid in a controlled manner if it were to be a real orientation thruster, so whilst it's not as easy to visualize, the radio communication link between the Arduino on harness and the Arduino that receives all the sensor input is just as important for this project and once again Rob has got things going (github) ! We are one step closer to integration. And even then, if we don't understand what input we are getting, we cannot use it to control, so we also worked on getting parameters for a user interface for mission control!
But it doesn't stop there, Steph thinks we need a way to explain rockets in a more visual way, so graphics designers, you are wanted!
We are always looking to try something new or do things differently, we are always listening, just speak to us or drop us a line if you think we can make this more useful/fun for you - spending a moment on our survey (https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/NCWS59H) would really help us to make it a super day out for you (Steph just cannot speak to each of your enough).
Finally, please don't forget to bring your sketchbook, laptop, Arduino and sensors if you have one (can't hurt to have more) to the next one - whatever you planned to do! Otherwise just bring yourself if you do not have a specific plan but are willing to learn, on the 25th April:
Remember, you don't have to be in the previous days to join this upcoming one. This is under our co-learning scheme and we would like to make the learning work for all levels regardless of where your joining point or background are (Steph will a whirlwind version of Arduino 101 if there's a need for it) - only you are holding yourself back!
If you are a video person and think there's no place for you - we NEED you! Get in touch.
And of course, feel free to blog about your experience with us - we've love to hear it first if it's something we can address!
We've moved from East London's Fab Lab London to West London's Create Space London, not only that we are learning about building orientation thruster hands on, we are also showcasing maker spaces while we are at it. We are definitely on a trip of exploration!
Create Space (to be precise, Wembly Point) has quite an entrance, we can easily imagine it being the entrance to some hi-tech organisation with eccentric scientist and engineers in the building. Get the lighting right, we could be in a sci-fi movie! That aside... It turns out, it's not an evil enterprise but the most multidisciplinary maker space we have seen so far. Everything ranging from printmaking, ceremics (with 4 kilns!), woodworking, lazer cutting, electronics to everything else including tenants making Robots, 3D printing lampshades...
We started off with Ray Bainbridge from Tranquility Aerospace giving us an overview of Devon one, a proposed single-stage reusable vertical take-off vertical landing vehicle with a kerosene/HTP engine and a 30-40kg payload and sharing some system diagram. Ray also cover wider topics on how he has started from a non-space background for additional inspiration.
This room might look small but this is one of the 10+ rooms in Create Space and it certainly had everything we need. We had a few Arduino Mega but everyone was great and many has brought along their own kit. There was no lack of Arduino Uno, Yun and Adafruit's Trinket look-alike-s on the table that emerged from their bags and boxes in the electronics workshop in Create Space. As the day went on, there was even a tank of pressurised gas when we needed it for air flow test. Carl has been extremely entrepreneurial and made great use of the lift for testing the pressure sensor code he was writing (we were at the 11th floor, we planned it, oh no we haven't)!
And here we are firing the solenoid valves, with a modified version of Arduino's blink script:
Just before you think everyone is Arduino pro, and worry that you won't fit into the next class... The point of co-learning is we help each other out, so Steph ran an Arduino 101 at the beginning to help those who have not been exposed to Arduino and Robert has been chipping in too! It's a really friendly atmosphere and everyone tries to contribute and share what they know and help making things work. We've got to thank Faraz, the Create Space Arduino pro for helping us out - you know what, we thought if you need extra Arduino after-class, check their open night out! I'm sure you'll meet Rich there too, he'd make a very good mechanical engineer, and a very helpful one!
Hats off to Lucaz who has been getting up at 4-ish in the morning making his way from Nottingham in a mildly snowy day! In the UK, this translates to a very adventurous travel arrangement for the train can easily fail at times like this... He definitely showed that it is possible to go from attending Arduino 101 to programming the GPS module and has even continued on after everyone has packed up! It has been an amazing effort and the code base has grown significantly in this one day! There's even a new repo on radio comms, thanks Robert. https://github.com/TranquilityAerospace
Finally, we owe Rory a lot for him generously giving us the space when we called out to the community for help. Go, community spirit!
Ah, did we forget to mention the breakfast Steph brought in and the Pizza sponsored by Tranquility Aerospace? Well, we were too focused on taking notes on the Orientation Thruster... well, next time we will try to remember taking photo of the energy sources too. Till then.
Did we all spot a wine box there? Oh yes, it does hold something as pleasurable as wine. Electronics!
Earlier this month, we had our launch of the co-learning initiative by actually running the first learning "moudule" - learning about orientation thruster, hands on. It was not a high profile launch, unlike the main Space Town Hall (our mothership!) launch, but we felt it was important to let action speak for itself. And so it did: It happens to be the Lord Mayor Show in London and despite it said the show will start at Mansion House, it occurred to be rather close to FabLab London, our venue, at Bank! And so, we began our new learning initiative with test #1, unannounced - participants was challenged to cross the paths of marching horses and carriages in wind and rain, showing dedication, determination and intelligence (to work round traffic and reroute rearrangement) to reach the destination.
The tutor/lead of this module is Ray Bainbridge from Tranquility Aerospace. Ray provided an overview of the way Tranquility Aerospace works with communities and universities to develop projects, explained the basics of the orientation thruster and moved on to walk through the system diagram of the design:
After Ray explained the basics, we took the Arduino, sensor and electronics out from the box and split into 2 working groups. One of the sensor and one on controlling the actuator (solenoid valves). Afterall we have such strong focus on being hands on, it just natural that much of the day was tinkering with electronics and software (hang in there, non-technical types, we have something for you). It was kind of like a hack day but with minimal theory to supplementing the learning and unlimited scope to go down rabbit holes! The greatest thing is we co-learned (more about co-learning here) - we helped each other to learn about building stuff, right from the beginning of installing the Arduino IDE. Had we have more designer type, no doubt we would also have another working group for designing conceptual interfaces (hint hint, come to our next one, design types). This module will continue as long as the group wants to and we are ear-marking the next one in Jan 2015.
A few words must be said about our venue sponsor which we are very excited about! FabLab London is one of the 400+ Fab Labs around the world, everything you'd expect from a Fab Lab is there - lazer cutter, 3D printer... And we are so lucky, thanks to Jana for the tip, to be hosted at Fab Lab London shortly after it opened its doors to the public. Andy at Fab Lab London has been amazing at helping to make this happen - coffee, soldering iron, you name it, he has it. A big thank you! Not to forget to mention, everything has been run on volunteer's effort, yes, tutor included! Thank you, Ray. What can you do to help? How about start by joining us and co-learn space technology and exploration, come and help teach each other a skill/topic while picking up another.
Remember, don't worry about what you don't know or don't think is relevant, come and find a way to join the dots! Check out our "crew wanted" - We are hoping to run more modules in the future, but we rely on you to help. Tip us, do you know a space buff around you? Point them at us! The co-learning model is not about one authoritative all-knowing figure, it's about sharing what you already know and seeing it complimented by someone else in the "lesson" to help each other accelerate and solve problems/bounce ideas.
Ray from Tranquility Aerospace has announced this project at the launch of Space Town Hall and we are getting going with it sharpish. We've been sold out on our very first co-learning initiative and a few spaces has been release, so if you are looking for some exciting space DIY fun to do on 8 Nov 2014, RSVP to [Learn] DIY orientation thruster.
On top of exchanging ideas with regards to space technology development and exploration, we really would like to emphasis our focus on doing things hands on. So after having a 30 minutes talk on Orientation Thurster at Tranquility Aerospace, you can now join us to get hands on with making one and learn as you do. The day will not be made up of any major chunks of theory session, because we believe in just in time learning it's driven by practical sessions. Think of this as part of a series of hack days that eventually builds up to a working orientation thruster and the learning of theories happens as you need to read about them.
What to bring?
In order to share the joy of writing lines of code, doing researches and modelling and rendering visualisations, we strongly recommend bringing a laptop. But if you are one of those walking encyclopaedia or is very good at computing without laptop, you probably don't need to bring one anyways!
Did we say we are all about diversity?
Did we say stop worrying about what you don't have?
Indeed, if you don't have a laptop and is not a walking computer, we still need you. Come and help create some concepts and ideas for the controlling interface! We'd love to see creatives and techies in the mix creating the next amazing vision together while the engineers learn and carry out the amazing implementations but then again there's no reason why you cannot be a real mix of the two and do more than one thing at a time!
Whatever you choose to do, have loads of fun! Hopefully we will see you there.
PS: we are really excited about checking out @fablablondon - a brand new Fab Lab in London, our generous sponsor for venue!
PPS: Here are some of the toys that will be around for the day, with their datasheets, of course!