Fly A Pi On Your Next Model Rocket

From time to time, we see electronics projects for model rocket instrumentation. Those who have been involved in the hobby for many years may remember when 8-bit microcontrollers like the PIC16F84 were the kind of hardware you might fly on a mission. These days, however, there’s little reason not to send a high-powered processor. This is exactly what [Mohamed Elhariry] has done with his PiX project, which turns a Raspberry Pi Zero W into a neat little flight data recorder.

The hardware has what you might expect from a flight recorder, including accelerometer, gyroscope, and pressure sensor. In addition, it carries temperature and humidity sensors, and of course, a camera. A 64 GB microSD card provides the storage, while a LiPo SHIM board allows the whole thing to run from a 150 mAh battery. All of the components are off-the-shelf breakouts, which makes assembly as easy as soldering a few connections and securing the modules with a little tape.

The project is in GitHub, including python code, schematics for the hardware, and detailed instructions. If you ever wanted to get started with instrumenting a model rocket, this looks like a great resource. Also in the repo is a captured video from an actual flight [34 MB GIF] if you just want to see the view from one launch.

Using commercial modules seems pretty convenient, but if custom hardware is more your thing, check out these 22 mm round PCBs designed to fit inside rockets.

6 thoughts on “Fly A Pi On Your Next Model Rocket

  1. I have been Thinking about doing this but also having the Pi perform stabilization and hopefully even controlled flight into terrain! I think it would be great to throw in some opencv and teach it to go where you want.

        1. I agree with the sentiment, but go ahead and continue trying to quote the Founding Fathers at the top of your lungs as the jackboots drag you away, and see just how far that gets you. Or, keep your nose pointed pretty much vertical, per NAR safety rules and common sense. Your choice, really — good luck with that!

      1. “Note that some free countries become less free when guided missiles are involved.”

        Exactly. When you dig just a little below the surface you can discover the real reason “drones” have such ridiculous regulations placed upon them despite the complete lack of incidents which would justify that level of regulation. Don’t do the same for model rocketry.

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