Treecat in Near Space Project
Groups: The Royal Manticorian Navy and North Carolina Near Space
This project is to launch a plush animal toy into near space. The recovered “treecat” and the camera/images will be used as part of a charity fund raising effort for Big Cat Rescue.
Images: http://ncnearspace.org/files/NSL-9/ Liftoff was late due to delays in ground prep. The SPOT took a long while to get a fix and transmit a position. Then we did not have a big enough adjustable wrench for the cylinder fittings. this was remedied by a quick trip to the nearest hardware store (Home Depot) Final lift off was at 11:05 am from Horseshoe Park. I calculated it afterward at @ 4m/s and with winds of @8mph at ground level it was a somewhat more horizontal than vertical launch. The track was SE until it rose above the surface winds and then it tracked back NW on almost a direct reciprocal of its flight path. We were able to sight and get pictures of it around 25k ft from a mile or so from the launch site. It continued NW to near Emporia Va were it reached peak altitude of just over 86K ft.
Descent was quick and the package landed just east of Emporia in a stand of 50-60ft pines. With a 32ft ladder and 30 extendable painters pole we were able to recover the capsule just before darkness at around 6pm.
Other than the ascent rate the predictions from Totex Balloon Burst Estimator – by Steve Randall were accurate and I feel like it was a lack of helium from the 110 cylinder. Since this is a “consumer” cylinder we may be seeing some dilution of the helium or a fill based on a fixed price rather than quantity. This is not an issue for flights that are well under the 4lb limit but for flights that are trying to achieve maximum altitude or are closer to our 3,5 lb weight they may want to consider a industrial cylinder.
Video: We flew a Vivitar dvr480 helmet cam. It ran on 2 AAA batteries and we got 3hr39 min of video using Energizer Ultimate Lithium batteries. It was a longer flight than planned so we did not get it to burst altitude but I figure it was still filming at 80k ft. It was on an arm outside the capsule so it was as cold as any camera will get at that altitude.
Still camera: I think the still pictures gathered are more interesting, but part of that is a factor of camera angle. Not much changes quickly at higher altitude so 30 secs between pics seems to be a good rule of thumb. We ran a Canon PowerShot A1000 IS off 2 AA Energizer Ultimate Lithium batteries and it was still taking pictures after we recovered it…with flash on auto.(oops!) It ran the a1000-100a-1.1.0-2091_ALPHA CHDK release and ult_intrvl.bas script both needed tweaks to make them work with this camera. We had 719 still pictures.
Treecats In Near Space project - Specs and sources