ALTDuino stands for Altimeter Arduino.
The goal is to build a homemade altimeter specifically for model rockets that features low weight and must fit in an Estes BT-20 body tube (18mm dia).It must also be able to record a complete flight profil and have dual deployment recovery capabilities.
Also, since I do not have the possibility of making my own PCB's all items need to be available on the market and at low cost.
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
I wrote the "ALTDuino Data Analyser" program to setup and optimize the firmware parameters for my ALTDuino altimeter.
The "ALTDuino Unit Interface" is used to setup the ALTDuino and plot the recorded flight to screen. The above example is a simulated flight done by hand motion.
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
My Estes Icarus ready for launch.
The Icarus and it's payload after the flight with the ALTDuino blinking out the recorded altitude (apogee).
The above graph shows the result of the successful logged flight. Apogee occurred at a little over 108 meters while the simulated drogue ejection was triggered at apox. 106 meters.
Friday, July 27, 2012
The rocket pictured before launch. On the left my ALTDuino and on the right an Adrel Altimeter.
Unfortunately the flight started out in a disaster but with an extremely lucky outcome. While the rocket was under full thrust the ejection charge prematurely set off. Due to the high forces the payload contents (ALTDuino and Adrel Altimeter) broke free and were scattered all over the erea!
After a thorough search I was very very lucky to find both altimeters in the fields! The nose cone is still missing but I will look for it later.
Saturday, July 28, 2012
The "Altimax!" powered by a homemade rocket motor (class H) ready for takeoff.
The flight was almost perfect. Main chute deployment failed due to the parachute having got stuck inside the body tube.
Above is the profil of the flight logged by my ALTDuino.
As you can imagine I was ecstatic after loading the data on to my laptop and seeing the beautiful flight presented on the screen. Everything went perfectly and to add to my delight, my ALTDuino and Louis's Altmax Simply measured the exact same altitude of 361 meters! The Adrel measured 366 meters. I'm a very happy camper to say the least.
Sunday, July 29, 2012
Because the high powered flight test was such a success I proceeded in the next step by adding a dual MOSFET device to the ALTDuino. It will take care of apogee and main chute recovery duties.
A dual MOSFET switch plus two 10k smd resisters were soldered onto a small PCB. That intern was placed over the EEPROM chip to make for a compact a size as possible.
Sunday, August 5, 2012
The ALTDuino UI now supports velocity data ploted as graph.
Monday, August 6, 2012
Project ALTDuino can now be found under it's own domain - www.ALTDuino.de.
Thursday, August 9, 2012
Liftoff was perfect with the powered flight being straight as an arrow and the rocket only landing several meters from the launch pad.
The only problem occurred when the second parachute got tangled at deployment and didn't open. The ALTDuino ejected the main parachute making this test flight a complete success.
Again another beautiful flight profil was captured by the ALTDuino.
Because of todays successful test I felt it was time to protect the ALTDuino with shrink tubing. The finished ALTDuino as pictured above weighs 4.9 grams. The dimensions are 40mm x 18mm x 10mm. The altimeter has leads for 2 pyro charges and 1 lead for connecting to an external mounted LED.
Friday, August 10, 2012
And that is exactly what happened! After liftoff the Mongoose rose to a height of just under 72 meters (236 feet) with the first deployment charge occuring just after apogee.
The rocket then tumbled down until it had reached 40 meters (131 feet) where the second charge occurred deploying the main parachute.
Some 8 seconds later the Estes Mongoose with it's valuable payload had safely returned back to earth.
Saturday, August 11, 2012
As with the flight from Friday everything went as it was suppose to. Drogue ejection went off just after apogee and main chute deployment at 40 meters (131 feet).
The only unfortunate event was that the parachute got tangled in the shroud lines and never could open. However there was no damage to the rocket or the electronics.
Sunday, August 12, 2012
It occurred to me having made 2 flights that it would be a nice feature to overlap the graphs in the ALTDuino UI program so they could be compared. This will be my next program update.
Monday, August 13, 2012
The flight went very well. Separation of the rocket at apogee was spot on which indicates the improved modifications to the firmware worked as hoped.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
The ALTDuino UI tool now has a "Compare" function making it possible to display and compare 2 flight profils.
First via the "COMXX" or "Load" button you import the main flight profil. Then the "Compare" button is shown where a second flight profil can be imported into the UI (green graphs).
Monday, August 20, 2012
In the above graphs you can see one flight with a perfect rocket launch sequence. The first pyro charge went off at apogee and the second pyro charge went off at 40 meters with the parachute deploying bringing the rocket and it's cargo safely back to earth.
Saturday, August 25, 2012
As you may notice in the below picture I was forced to modify the ALTDuino:
I therefore had to look for a simple solution to resolve the issue. The problem was solved by adding an electrolytic capacitor and a resister to the circuit.
However, I did come run across a major error on my part. I was looking for a pin on the pro mini where I could grab direct voltage (+) from the lipo. I came across a pin called "RAW" and as it turned out it was what I was looking for. Since my lipo is hooked up to the same pins as with the FTDI board (VCC + GND) I measured VCC and RAW to be sure I had the correct pin. To my surprise this was not the case and then it hit me. To verify my fear I quickly checked the schematics of the Sparkfun Pro Mini which confirmed my big mistake. On the Sparkfun "raw" is the input (+) coming directly from the battery. This can be between 3.3V up to 12V whereas "VCC" input gets 3.3V only which bypasses the onboard voltage regulator. I then realized when using an external power source I had been powering my ALTDuino with unregulated voltage, in my case a fully charged lipo (4.10V)! Suffice to say I was extremely lucky that the components tolerated this and I was more than fortunate that my flight tests had worked under the conditions. In a nutshell I have to say I had more luck than sense!
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
I finished the electronic bay for the ALTDuino one day before leaving for the States in preparation of Freedom Launch 2012 in South Carolina, USA.
I built another altimeter and call it "ALTDuino Logger". I designed this altimeter version for logging purposes only.
Friday, August 31, 2012
I'm in the USA right now and just finished the Estes Mongoose which is ready to be launched at Freedom Launch 2012 in South Carolina, USA.
Saturday, September 8, 2012
Flight #14 - 1 Sept. 2012
Here an onboard video of the complete flight:
For those interested, I'm using a key chain camera #16 HD with 120 degree lense taped to the rocket. The camera can be purchased on ebay. It's a fantastic little device!
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
At the Freedom Launch 2012 event in South Carolina I had the privilage of accompanying Jon on his level 3 certification attempt. I had asked Jon if my ALTDuino Logger could be aboard his rocket for the flight. He agreed.
The ALTDuino Logger performed perfectly.
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
While on vacation in the USA I ordered Sparkfun's new Pro Micro - 3.3V/8MHz development board based on the ATmega32U4. This will be the next evolution and will be called ALTDuino II.
The main advantages of this board compared to the Pro Mini is that you do not need an external FTDI board to connect to the computer. It will also make my life a bit easier concerning USB recognition status when communicating with the ALTDuino DA and UI programs.
However converting the present firmware to this board will be a bit more intense than I had thought and hoped. Another little challenge I guess :-)
Monday, September 24, 2012
Flight #18 - 23 Sept. 2012
The test flight took place in the morning under cold, cloudy and very damp conditions.
Thursday, September 27, 2012
Sunday, September 30, 2012
Flight #19 - 30 Sept. 2012
As you look at the status LED you can observe that the thrust cutoff sequence was detected correctly.
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Flight #21 - 3 Oct. 2012
In accordance with the changes to the ALTDuino firmware it was necessary to add the changes to the Unit Interface (UI) as well.
The first thing was to incorporate the engine Thrust/Non-Thrust phases into the program. Also the red line (thrust) in the graph now ends at the point of engine cut-off and the yellow line taking over until the point of the first ejection charge is reached.
Saturday, October 6, 2012
Flight #22 - 6 Oct. 2012
The flight profile was perfect and everything worked as it was suppose to.
I am now building an appropriate booster stage with recovery capabilities and will use the Estes Mongoose as sustainer for the next test phases.
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Flight #23 - 13 Oct. 2012
Saturday, October 27, 2012
I have been doing some more work on the UI. New features include a zoom function by clicking the mouse on the graph. This will show a 3 second time frame at sample resolution.
I have also added the feature to read and write configuration settings between the ALTDuino and the UI. For example it is now possible to easily set the altitude for main deployment.
Monday, November 12, 2012
I have written a setup window so that the altimeter can now be conveniently configured from within the UI.
The following options have been implemented:
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
More options were added to the pyro configuration settings:
It is now possible to select a delay time for Apogee and Main deployment. Options are from 0 to 5 seconds with 1 second increments.
Delayed sustainer ignition is now selectable by choosing a prefered velocity value. Options are 25 - 1000 meters/second at 25 m/s increments or 82 - 3280 feet/second at 82 ft/s increments.
If the delay is set to "Max" then sustainer ignition will occur at maximum flight velocity upon booster thrust end.
Playing around with these new delay options should prove very interesting and fun.
Saturday, December 8, 2012
I've changed the altitude read out from apogee to maximum recorded altitude. This change was needed because of the new delay option in the firmware.
Sunday, December 16, 2012
The Estes Mongoose has been a fantastic altimeter carrier throughout this project! Either as single or multi stage it has performed flawlessly.
Saturday, December 29, 2012
I have now placed decals on the rocket and have updated my post from Sunday, December 16, 2012 with an updated picture to show the result.
Sunday, December 30, 2012
I have been playing around with a liquid display. My intention is for it to be used at the field to readout additional information concerning setup and flight status figures.
Saturday, January 12, 2013
Flight #25 - 12 Jan. 2013
Saturday, January 19, 2013
Flight #26 - 19 Jan. 2013
Sunday, February 10, 2013
Flight #27 - 10 Feb. 2013
Sunday, February 24, 2013
Flight #28 - 24 Feb. 2013
Outside temperature was -1.5° Celsius (29.3° Fahrenheit). The flight was straight and the rocket landed in soft snow just a couple of meters from the launch pad.
Sunday, March 3, 2013
Flight #29 - 3 Mar. 2013
Monday, April 1, 2013
Flight #31 - 1 Apr. 2013
Thursday, May 9, 2013
Flight #32 - 5 May 2013
Sunday, May 19, 2013
Flight #34 - 8 May 2013
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Flight #36 - 28 May 2013
Monday, June 17, 2013
Flight #37 - 16 June 2013
Text to follow...
Monday, August 19, 2013
Flight #39 - 13 July 2013
Sadly on flight #41 the model rocket was lost in a South Carolinian cornfield. The simulated altitude was calculated at 550 meters (1804 feet). Everyone at the field lost sight of the rocket. Only at the last moment did one person get a glance of the rocket while it went in to the cornfield under it's parachute. After 2 hours searching we gave up looking.
Monday, August 26, 2013
Flight #42 - 3 August 2013
Text to follow...
Saturday, September 4, 2013
Flight #47 - 31 August 2013
Text to follow...
Sunday, September 8, 2013
Flight #51 - 7 September 2013
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Flight #54 - 24 September 2013
Text to follow...
Thursday, September 26, 2013
Flight #56 - 25 September 2013
Tuesday, September 29, 2013
Flight #57 - 28 September 2013
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Flight #58 - 1 October 2013
Wednesday, October 8, 2013
Flight #59 - 7 October 2013
This essentially was another flight with the booster add-on to test the rocket for stability.
Monday, October 21, 2013
Flight #60 - 13 October 2013
Sunday, October 27, 2013
Flight #64 - 24 October 2013
I was asked to test a flight logger for a model rocket company. The logger is made by RC Logger.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Flight #65 - 12 November 2013
The firmware has a new function to allow staging ignition. This flight was to test the functionality of the firmware without actually having a staging event. The flight was perfect. All defined sequences occurred as programed.
However, after downloading the flight data I got a small shock. Some data was missing at the end of the flight. Fortunately I quickly found the error in the code. I had mistakenly commented out the line that saves the altitude data after parachute deployment. I can't figure out how that happened but I'll make sure it won't happen again.
Tuesday, November 27, 2013
Flight #66 - 27 November 2013
Todays flight was to confirm the code fix is working fine and to test my new GPS transmitter that was mounted on the rocket.
Sunday, December 1, 2013
Flight #67 - 1 December 2013
I wasn't totally happy with the GPS data from the last flight and I had issues trying to configure the device. My suspicions was that the blue tooth module I soldered on the receiver was causing interference. I therefore decided to remove the blue tooth module for this flight.
My suspicions were confirmed as no interference was present this time round.
As a bonus though you can now hear the rocket coming down due to the noise flutter of the streamer.
Saturday, December 14, 2013
Flight #68 - 14 December 2013
Lost in a rocket eating tree... More to follow in detail...
Update: The rocket with both altimeters and a camera was recovered on the 14.03.2014.
Saturday, March 1, 2014
Flight #69 - 1 March 2014
I did some major changes to the firmware concerning data filtering. I am no longer using a Kalman filter. Although all flights were successful more work needs to be done on the new filter algorithm.
These flights were also done to test composite engine staging with limited success.
Friday, March 7, 2014
Flight #72 - 7 March 2013
Modifications to the data filtering section of the firmware have been improved since the last flights.
Saturday, March 8, 2014
Flight #73 - 8 March 2013
More firmware tests.
Sunday, March 9, 2014
Flight #74 - 9 March 2014
Here is something that doesn't happen every day. 2 completely different flights ending up having the same maximum altitudes.
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Flight #75 - 12 March 2014
Todays flight was to further test an idea for staging composite rocket engines. My trusted Estes Mongoose was again used and powered by a Klima C6-0 in the booster and an A4-P in the sustainer.
After 74 successful flights with my ALTDuino altimeter this one would bring me back to reality due to my carelessness.
Liftoff and stage ignition was completely successful so the objective was achieved. The flight continued. However I lost sight of the rocket because I concentrated on tracking the falling booster. After the booster hit the ground I tried to locate the falling sustainer in the sky but was unsuccessful.
After a short period I finally heard a "pop" and then saw the parachute deploy. However the sustainer was not hanging under the chute. This meant the shock must have tore off.
After retrieving the parachute and nose cone I proceeded in finding the rest of the rocket. About 10 min later I was successful. It had landed in an asparagus field:
When the rocket reached apogee the pyro to deploy break-away recovery did not set off. The rocket came in ballistic and when it reached the preset altitude of 60 meters the second pyro to deploy the parachute set off. The shock cord tore as the parachute opened up at a very high decent rate.
The cause was easily found after I had determined that the altimeter had performed perfectly and the wires leading to the igniter were intact. It turned out that I had poorly assembled the pyro igniter by shorting the lead wires inside the pyro capsule. That was very careless on my part!
Saturday, April 5, 2014
Flight #76 - 29 March 2014
I've been very busy successfully testing an ignition device for composite motor staging with my Estes Mongoose :-)
More to come...
Sunday, April 13, 2014
Flight #85 - 13 April 2014
Two successful flights on a very windy day.
More to come...
Monday, April 21, 2014
Flight #87 - 20 April 2014
On an extremely windy day two successful flights and one that went completely array... but not because of the altimeter.
More to come...
Sunday, May 4, 2014
Flight #90 - 4 May 2014
My "ALTDuino-Rocks! 2" has finally touched the skies again. It has to do with the launch that occurred on 14 December 2013.
More to come...
Friday, May 30, 2014
Flight #91 - 17 May 2014
I certified NAR Level 1 in Orangeburg South Carolina, USA (flight #92). I used an Estes Nike Smoke and a CTI H-163 motor. Of course my altimeter was onboard.
More to come...
Saturday, July 05, 2014
Flight #94 - 3 July 2014
In preparation for my first 2-stage launch using the ALTDuino for in flight ignition I did optimizations to the firmware code. To play it safe I uploaded the modified firmware to my logger and used the proven firmware with my main altimeter. The test was configured for single flight.
Both graphs are practically the same which means all is well. Next step is to simulate a 2-stage flight to test the rest of the optimized code.
Saturday, August 02, 2014
Flight #95 - 2 August 2014
A couple of months back I had a "CATO" with the Estes Mongoose. I had to replace the complete yellow fin can and engine mount.
Today was it's successful flight after the repairs and the Mongoose's 43rd flight in total.
Sunday, August 03, 2014
Flight #96 - 3 August 2014
Todays flights were to test simulated 2 stage routine with the ALTDuino.
They turned out to be quit successful and it's always cool to see 2 stage rockets in flight.
Sunday, August 10, 2014
Flight #98 - 9 August 2014
I've done more improvements to the filtering algorithms. Yesterdays flight (#98) was to test the firmware in actual flight and I'm very happy with the results.
Todays flight was the last 2 stage simulation test. I am now satisfied that stage ignition can be safely accomplished using the ALTDuino altimeter.
Friday, August 15, 2014
Flight #100 - 11 August 2014
On Monday I hit the 100th successful flight mark using my homemade altimeter. For the first time the second stage was ignited by means of the altimeter and it worked like a charm.
The Estes Mongoose seen in the video below had it's 48th flight.
At sustainer ignition the hot gases leaked through the two holes where the wires were going through the motor casings causing a hole in the booster stage.
It was windy and the rocket weather-cocked quiet badly. However it was a good test for the altimeter. The rocket only reached 219 meters and landed further away than I would have wished for.
Sunday, August 17, 2014
Flight #101 - 17 August 2014
This morning I decided to do another 2 stage test which was completely successful. I'm now confident in using this feature in high power 2 stage rockets.
I also decided to fly my smallest ALTDuino rocket. I used a Klima C6-P motor which in previous flights sent the rocket over 300 meters high. Although the winds were light at ground level I did not realize they were very much stronger higher up.
Monday, August 25, 2014
Flight #103 - 22 August 2014
Data to come....
Saturday, August 30, 2014
Flight #106 - 30 August 2014
Data to come....
Monday, September 22, 2014
Flight #107 - 20 September 2014
My smallest ALTDuino-Rocks! rocket flew again on a Klima C6-P to a nice altitude of 320 meters (1050 feet).
The BT-55 based ALTDuino rocket flew on a Klima D9-P and had a video cam on-board.
This is the first flight using the combo of a Klima D9-P motor and my Estes Mongoose. The rocket flew a new personal altitude record of 444.45 meters (1457 feet) on a single stage.
Sunday, November 23, 2014
Flight #110 - 8 November 2014
First flight of the weekend using my ALTDuino altimeter was with my Estes Mongoose. As always a picture perfect flight.
I purchased 3 Estes Ascender kits and made a 2-stage rocket out of them. I also built an elektronics bay to house my altimeter for 2" diameter body tubes.
The rocket was flown as a single stage to test all the functions before attempting the maiden 2-stage flight.
On the second day of the weekend I flew my Estes Mongoose twice. Both flight were identical in setup and weight. Yet the achieved altitudes were far apart.
Looking at the data it seems that the Estes engine in the upper stage on the first flight was on steroids :-)
This flight was the absolute highlight of the weekend for me. I think my most nervous time flying any model rocket to date.
I had previously done 2-stage tests with my altimeter on the Estes Mongoose successfully. It was time to try my setup on a much larger 2-stage rocket.
It was a wonderful flight and everything went out perfectly. The flight was a crowd-pleaser as well.
Here a video of both flights:
|Tuesday, February 17th, 2015 - 22:02 CET|
Hi Leo, can you give us all programs please ?
I'm sorry but my work is not open source.
Maybe this can help you further: Bear Altimeters
|Thursday, September 25th, 2014 - 21:25 CET|
how do I acquire one of these data logging units?
I'm sorry but these are not available on market.
|Sunday, September 21st, 2014 - 11:50 CET|
Very well documented progress. Have you considered internalizing the HD camera body? Also, please post details of the pyro used for the chute deployments as I am very interested in creating same.
I have considered it often and have actually made some prototypes. Maybe I'll look back into it some time in the future. For now I'll simply stick the cam on the outside.
I'll do a write-up on the pyro some time and let you know when it's done.
|Thursday, September 04th, 2014 - 20:21 CET|
Where can I buy shrink tube and magnet wire?
I get the items at my local electronics store Conrad. Of course eBay is also a good source.
|Sunday, February 02nd, 2014 - 07:17 CET|
May I ask what software you used to developed your UI? Very clean and well thought out.
Thank you. I'm using Processing 2 for the UI.
|Monday, January 13th, 2014 - 00:49 CET|
Did you have plans or board for sales ,or the instructions to build ?
Thank you. I have no plans to open source this project.
|Sunday, January 05th, 2014 - 09:54 CET|
one more question
is 16kb enough to store the flight data?
that completely depends on what you want to store as values to the device.
|Saturday, January 04th, 2014 - 22:15 CET|
Why did you chose the pro mini and not the micro?
the wanted to use a system with 3.3 volts. The micro is only avaliable with 5 volts.
|Wednesday, December 04th, 2013 - 21:25 CET|
Awesome! Which sensor do you use?
I'm using a MS5611-01BA01 sensor. I have also tried the BMP085 sensor with very good results. It is less expensive than the MS5611.
|Tuesday, October 15th, 2013 - 06:44 CET|
Love your work. I just scanned your page. Lots to read. Are you planning to release schematics and program for your ALTDuino. The size of it is what I love. thanks for your work in the field. It will be helpful to those of use with less programming experience.
Thank you. I have no plans to opensource this project.
|Wednesday, July 17th, 2013 - 15:23 CET|
I'm trying to create something similar to your altduino. I was wondering if you could help me? I would love to buy the instructions to build my own!
I've been using the sparkfun pro micro, but I would like to know if you would share with me your arduino code and possibly a wiring diagram?
|Friday, May 31st, 2013 - 01:14 CET|
If you are not planning on selling the device could you supply the plans and shopping list so that I might build one of my own? I will credit your name and only use it for my Son and I. We have progressed into the High Power class now with the Sumo being our first High Power launch and I would love to get some electronics in all of our rockets but the systems that are "sold" online are just way too expensive.
Scott and Austin
Big Daddy D,E,F,G
Estes V2 D,E,F,G
Have a look at this nice altimeter which only costs $40!
I think a great deal and you can build it yourself.
|Wednesday, January 16th, 2013 - 22:00 CET|
Awesome piece of tech, and I want one! Here, take my hard earned cash, TAKE IT.
Thanks and I'd love to take your money but I'm afraid nothing is for sale. Sorry.
|Wednesday, October 24th, 2012 - 22:03 CET|
I wrote some simple code for apogee detection for my own dual altimeter and I will be quite happy to share it with you if you send me your email.
I am still waitting for the Arduino board that I have ordered but the code compile and the idea should be there.
I have added my email address at the bottom of this web site.
|Monday, October 08th, 2012 - 23:16 CET|
I got myself an Arduino board and a pressure Sensor (BMP085) and I was wondering if you could share your code so that I have something to play with.
Obviousely this will have to be modified because I am using a different pressure sensor but I think that your code could be a good starting point.
Boris, thanks for stopping by.
I don't have any plans on releasing any of my codes in the foreseeable future.
|Thursday, September 27th, 2012 - 22:37 CET|
How did you calculate the velocity?
Did you use any filtering (moving average, kalman filter, etc.)?
The velocity is measured from each sample by using the Kalman filtered altitude readings. It's a bit crude and will need improvements and tweaks but it serves my purposes well for now.
|Tuesday, August 28th, 2012 - 21:00 CET|
thanks for the links, the example code was new to me.
Well, I will try to port it to the arduino...(not an easy task for me but I will try)
The spi seems to be quite nice... ! ;-)
|Monday, August 27th, 2012 - 13:23 CET|
I found your homepage through the arduino forum...
Your resolution using the MS5611 is great!
Would you mind giving more details about your sample rate and the code used to interface the MS5611 ?
Mike, here are 2 links:
Data sheet: link...
Example code: link...
I am using OSR=4096 for the resolution at a sample rate of 20 measurements per second.
|Saturday, August 11th, 2012 - 22:40 CET|
Leo, Wow very nice job. I just started messing around with ARDUINO stuff. I have a lot to learn. Electronic payloads in rockets are what I love messing with. Right now messing around flying the Telemetrum and Telemini. Would love to learn how to design my own some day. Doug
Thanks Doug! The Arduino is a great plattform to learn and make stuff like this.
|Saturday, August 11th, 2012 - 16:31 CET|
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