Courtney noted tonight that I haven’t said anything here in a while, and though I had noticed I hadn’t really resolved to say anything.
Now I am resolved.
Let us begin.
So, Christmas was fun. The week before even more fun. I threw a big bash at my place to get everyone together before Adam and JoLynn went out of town and everyone else ran off to spend time with family. We had a great time and barely anyone threw up and passed out. I played some music video DVDs to break in my new home theater system which was cool.
Adam and JoLynn got me this awesome radio controlled flying saucer thing that I haven’t stopped playing with yet. In fact, it was so cool I ended up getting one for two other people on my shopping list.
Speaking of that; When Ryan moved out (did I tell you Ryan moved out? I live alone again) he of course took his TV, entertainment center and surround sound system with him. This left me with a huge totally empty living room that I just had to fill.
I ended up with a 51″ Sony rear projection wide screen HDTV and a 1000 watt midrange Sony 6.1 home theater system to replace it all. I don’t have a HDTV tuner, or cable or satellite so I have no idea if the HDTV actually works, but the TV sure looks great with DVDs. I’ve been renting them non-stop since I got it. Catching up on a lot of movies I didn’t see over the past few years, and watching some old favorites just to see how nice they looked.
So anyway, Christmas. Christmas was quiet and nice. Courtney and Keaton came over since they didn’t have any plans and I made stromboli for them. We had a bagga salad to go with it and they brought a chocolate creme pie and a coconut cream pie. We watched a few movies and then ventured off to the movie theater to try to catch The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Everyone (Courtney, Keaton, me, Scott, Ryan and Tricia) to find out that because of all the snow the movie had not made it to the theater. We went home in defeat.
New Years Eve was another little party at my place. Courtney, Keaton, Jonathan, Elena, Scott, Christine, Charles and Andrea came over for some fun. We rang in the new year with Conan and did Pop Rocks experiments provided by Jonathan and Elena. The Pop Rocks thing was pretty sweet. You get some pop rocks, a test tube and two “secret ingredients” in a little package. Mix it all up with some water and it foams up all over the place and tastes absolutly terrible. Fun though.
I started dieting again. Trying to shape up. It’s going well so far. I’ve lost about 18-20 lbs. I’m just doing low calories (about 1200 a day) and low fat. I’m also going to start working out as soon as I can drag my ass to the gym and get a membership. On that note, I noticed Bryan talking about doing situps on his blog the other day so tonight I decided that was a pretty good idea and something I could do at home to further my goals. About 30 minutes ago I lay down on my floor, hook my toes under my bed and start sitting up. A 25 count later my stomach spasmed and I about died. Gonna have to start small. Baby steps, baby steps.
Speaking of things that died, how about an update on my love life?
Kelly and I broke up back in November. I can’t remember if I mentioned that on this site or not, and I’m too lazy to go back and check. It was amicable and we’re still friends. I’m not going to bother with details here. Suffice to say that it was time and the right choice. If you just have to know it all, buy me a beer 🙂
The balloon project is going well. We’ve got pretty much all the gear we’ll need and have started stringing things together. Last Thursday we met at my place and got a lot done. Fixed a big problen with our data radio (it was transmitting at partial power 100% of the time), built our voltage regulator, worked on the software and got some handy stuff set up on the Gumstix. Tonight I attempted to run a battery test to see if our chosen batteries will last as long as they need to for the flight but it failed after about 45 minutes. I think the voltage regulator overheated and shut itself down. We’re going to need to come up with a new design for that.
The batteries we got, if you are interested, are 2 cell 7.2v 2400mAh lithium-ion packs. We got two of them and we’re running them in series for 16.8v 2400mAh total. From that we need 13.8v for the radio and TNC and 5v (or less) for the computer and GPS. We’re just running the radio and TNC at 16.8v, straight from the batteries and it works fine, but the cheap 5v regulator I used for the 5v supply can’t handle all the extra juice.
Aside from that, Jono is working on the flight software which includes all the stuff like setting up the hardware, monitoring the GPS and all on board sensors and transmitting it all back to us. I’m working on the hardware side of that. Tonight I spent time trying to get our I/O breakout working. That’s going to be an AVR that speaks to the Gumstix via I2C (or maybe just RS-232) and will talk to all our temperature and voltage sensors and handle relays for powering things on and off.
We’re planning to launch in about a month if things go well. We’ll be blasting our data out at 145.010 MHz for all you hams out there. It’ll be 1200 baud packet format and you’ll probably be able to pick us up pretty much anywhere in the western half of Missouri. We’ll publish the data format later on, but it’ll probably be APRS + a little bit of custom telemetry.
That’s about it for now. There’s more that’s happened that I should write about, but this entry is long and boring enough. Maybe tomorrow 🙂