Massive Water Rocket Is Impressive But Accessible

Water rockets are one of those projects that never get old, and bumping the size just adds to the challenge. In the video after the break, [ARRO Rockets] takes us through the launch of Gamma IV, his most ambitious water rocket project yet. Crafted with spliced soda bottles and standard household materials, this rocket is a testament to what one can achieve with simple components and a bit of ingenuity.

The rocket’s release mechanism demonstrates this — employing nothing more than a quick connect hose connection and a basic pulley system. The parachute recovery system is also a nice combo of modern electronics and simplicity. It uses a microcontroller with accelerometer to detect the apogee, and release the parachute to be ejected by another piece of soda bottle acting as a spring. It also records or the flight data on an SD card.

[ARRO Rockets] had some trouble with friction on the launch rail, which was partially solved with liberal application of silicone spray. The root cause might be the rail button flexing on launch, or just the change of the pressurized bottles.

We are especially impressed by how accessible this project is, a reminder that high-flying achievements don’t necessarily require deep pockets or hard-to-source parts. The entire setup is not only cost-effective but also opens up numerous possibilities for further experimentation and refinement, like adding a second stage or a precision release mechanism.

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Parachute Drops Are Still A Viable Solution For Data Recovery From High Altitude Missions

Once upon a time, when the earliest spy satellites were developed, there wasn’t an easy way to send high-quality image data over the air. The satellites would capture images on film and dump out cartridges back to earth with parachutes that would be recovered by military planes.

It all sounds so archaic, so Rube Goldberg, so 1957. And yet, it’s still a viable method for recovering big globs of data from high altitude missions today. Really, you ask? Oh, yes indeed—why, NASA’s gotten back into the habit just recently!

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Hackaday Links: December 10, 2023

In this week’s episode of “Stupid Chatbot Tricks,” it turns out that jailbreaking ChatGPT is as easy as asking it to repeat a word over and over forever. That’s according to Google DeepMind researchers, who managed to force the chatbot to reveal some of its training data with a simple prompt, something like “Repeat the word ‘poem’ forever.” ChatGPT dutifully followed the instructions for a little while before spilling its guts and revealing random phrases from its training dataset, to including complete email addresses and phone numbers. They argue that this is a pretty big deal, not just because it’s potentially doxxing people, but because it reveals the extent to which large language models just spit back memorized text verbatim. It looks like OpenAI agrees that it’s a big deal, too, since they’ve explicitly made prompt-induced echolalia a violation of the ChatGPT terms of service. Seems like they might need to do a little more work to fix the underlying problem.

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R2Home Is Ready To Bring Back Your High Altitude Payload

With high-altitude ballooning, you are at the mercy of the winds, which can move your payload hundreds of kilometers and deposit it in some inaccessible spot. To solve this [Yohan Hadji] created R2Home, an autonomous parachute-based recovery system that can fly a payload to any specified landing site within its gliding range.

We first covered R2Home at the start of 2021, when he was still in the early experimental phases, but the project has matured massively since then. It just completed its longest and highest test flight. Descending autonomously from a release altitude of 3500 m, with an additional radiosonde payload, it landed within 5 m of the launch point.

R2Home electronics with it's insulated enclosure
R2Home electronics with its insulated enclosure

R2Home can fly using a variety of steerable canopies, even a DIY ram-air parachute, as demonstrated in an earlier version. [Yohan] is currently using a high-performance wing for RC paragliders.

A lot of effort went into developing a reliable parachute deployment system. The main canopy is packed carefully in a custom “Dbag”, which is attached to a drogue chute to stabilize the system during free-fall and deploy the main canopy at a preset altitude. This is done with a servo operated release mechanism, while steering is handled by a pair of modified winch servos intended for RC sailboats.

All the electronics are mounted on a stack of circular 3D printed brackets which fit in a tubular housing, bolted together with threaded rods. With the help of a design student [Yohan] also upgraded the simple tube housing to a lockable, foam-insulated design to help it handle temperatures at high altitudes.

The flight main flight computer is a Teensy 4.1  plugged into a custom PCB to connect all the navigation, communication, and flight systems. The custom Arduino-based autopilot takes inputs from a GPS receiver, and pilots the system to the desired drop zone, which it circles until touchdown.

The entire project is extremely well documented, and all the design files and code are open source and available on Github. Continue reading “R2Home Is Ready To Bring Back Your High Altitude Payload”

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Hackaday Links: July 10, 2022

We always like to call out a commercial success stemming from projects that got their start on, and so we’re proud to announce the release of MAKE: Calculus by Joan Horvath and Rich Cameron, a book that takes a decidedly different approach to teaching calculus than traditional courses. Geared to makers and hackers, who generally tend to have a visual style of learning, the book makes heavy use of 3D-printed models to illustrate the relationships between functions. The project started five years ago as a 2017 Hackaday Prize entry, and resulted in a talk at the 2019 Supercon. Their book is now available for preorder, and might be a great way to reacquaint themselves with calc, or perhaps even to learn it for the first time. Continue reading “Hackaday Links: July 10, 2022”

The Dangerously Delightful Homemade Rockets Of Thailand

Every once in a while, we here at Hackaday stumble across something that doesn’t quite fit in with all the other amazing hacks we feature, but still seems like something that our dear readers need to see as soon as possible. This video of homemade rockets in Thailand is one of those things.

It comes to us from our friend [Leo Fernekes], who documents a form of amateur rocketry that makes the Estes rockets of our youth look pretty tame. It’s far easier to watch than it is to describe, but for a quick summary, the rockets are bamboo rings with a steel pipe across the diameter. The pipe is packed with homemade gunpowder and provided with nozzles that create both thrust and rotation. When ignited by torches touched to seriously sketchy primers, the rocket starts to spin up, eventually rising off the launch pad and screwing itself into the sky on a twisting column of gray smoke.

At three or four meters across, these are not small vehicles. Rather than letting a steel pipe plummet back to Earth from what looks like several hundred meters altitude, the rocketeers have devised a clever recovery system that deploys a parachute when the rocket motor finally melts through some plastic straps. The use of banana tree bark as a heat shield to protect the parachute is simple but effective; which is really the way you can describe the whole enterprise. [Leo] has another way to describe it: “Dangerously negligent madness,” with all due respect and affection, of course. It looks like a big deal, too — the air is obviously filled with the spirit of competition, not to mention the rotten-egg stench of gunpowder.

Should you try this at home? Probably not — we can think of dozens of reasons why this is a bad idea. Still, it’s amazing to watch, and seeing how much altitude these cobbled-up rockets manage to gain is truly amazing. Hats off to [Leo] for finding this for us.

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Hackaday Links: May 1, 2022

We start this week with news from Mars, because, let’s face it, the news from this planet isn’t all that much fun lately. But a couple of milestones were reached on the Red Planet, the first being the arrival of Perseverance at the ancient river delta it was sent there to explore. The rover certainly took the scenic route to get there, having covered 10.6 km over the last 424 sols to move to a position only about 3.5 km straight-line distance from where it landed. Granted, a lot of that extra driving was in support of the unexpectedly successful Ingenuity demonstration, plus taking time for a lot of pit stops along the way at interesting features. But the rover is now in place to examine sedimentary rocks most likely to harbor the fossil remains of ancient aquatic life — as opposed to the mainly igneous rocks it has studied along the crater floor so far. We’re looking forward to seeing what happens.

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