While my first near-space adventure was completely successful and educational, I noticed it was fairly routine when compared against projects of similar caliber. Me and a friend began exploring how we could take this technology to the next level and were inspired by a YouTube video of a remote control glider attached to a weather balloon with a disconnect mechanism. The mission goal was to attach the glider to a balloon and when it reached maximum radio range, it would jettison the balloon and be remotely piloted back to the launch site through a live video stream.
Brewing is just drinkable science. No matter if it’s coffee, or something a bit stronger, it all boils down to controlling temperatures, and chemical reactions. When brewing a drink of the stiffer variety, the two most important metrics regarding the reaction are temperature and specific gravity. At the beginning of fermentation, the liquid is dense with sugars from grains or juices. When the yeast is added, they begin to the consume sugar, converting it to CO2 and C2H5OH. This reduces the overall specific gravity which is typically measured using a fragile, glass hydrometer.
This was the first large scale project I organized back in 2013. At the time, near space balloon endeavors were just becoming more accessible with the advent of cheaper high-resolution action cameras and user-friendly radio technology.
This project was just for fun, pure and simple. Before I transferred to Saint Martin’s University, I was concerned about the long walk between the parking lot and classes, so I used it as an excuse to design and build an electric longboard. This was back in Summer 2015 before I had any CAD or machining experience, but the end product was functional and would make Marty McFly proud!
At the heart of the board was an Arduino Nano microcontroller and powered by a six cell, 22.2V LiPo battery running a 240Kv brushless motor. To control the board, I used a Bluetooth Wii remote interfaced to the Arduino which provided continuous, and incremental speed control, forward/reverse, braking, and cruise control. I also included a battery voltage sensor to make sure I didn’t run out of juice while cruising and a skill level selector to reduce top speed for inexperience riders.
To save money, I made the deck from old hardwood flooring and purchased used trucks. The most difficult component to manufacture was the motor mount which was machined from scrap aluminum. Fortunately, an old friend and professor was willing to lend a hand and taught me the basics of milling.
As the engineering club grew at Centralia College, we had the resources to take on larger endeavors. The science department approached us and asked if we could build a submersible ROV to study the bottom of lakes and take samples for geological and biological study. The project was split into teams and I headed up the controls, communication, and software cohort. Working with the other teams, we were able to design and build a functioning prototype but I graduated before the project was completely finished.