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NM Space Grant Materials

Page history last edited by James Dunn 5 years, 2 months ago




Bernalillo High School first launch of Independently funded Rocket inspired by NMSGC


Bernalillo High School physics science teacher launches first rocket as stepping stone to build and launch payload locally. Will be teaching Arduino coding later this semester. Loose plans to build sensor package and launch.

This is not related to the NMSGC grant, but is being implemented as "a good way of attracting new students into the physics class".

Physics teacher interested in participating, but sustainable funding is planned from other sources.



Geiger Tube Function related to Arduino Detecting CPM


I'm not sure about the Geiger Board schematic (it's in my office and I'm not there). But geiger counters generally work by creating pulses of electrical current when a gamma ray ionizes a gas atom. The large potential across the tube keeps a cascade going and this forms one event; or one click.


The Geiger Board electronics count the number of events per period. If that period is one second, then counts per second, or, per minute, then counts per minute. Generally, counts over small amounts of time are scaled to be what would be detectable over a minute (cpm).

If the signal from the Geiger Tube is available as pulses, then potentially some simple code could read the Geiger Board output signal and read whenever there is a change in Arduino pin voltage; i.e. if high and then goes low that is one count. If low and then goes high the count event is ignored and the trip detection is reset.

The counts would be counted within the scan limits of the microprocessor, and if no change in voltage counts are ignored. After every 0.05 seconds, the number of counts is stored in a local buffer. After 0.2 seconds, the buffers are uploaded to the SD card. In this way the slow SD card write times can be compensated for.

Just a thought



Geiger Tubes and Gamma Radiation plus other Radiation Types


There are 5 general radiation types, and several theoretical radiation typs that are not yet able to be produced in a laboratory. The five common types are;

Alpha (He+), Beta (e-), Gamma (photon-like), Neutron (naturally occurs with high energy), and Thermal Neutron (usually only detected near nuclear reactors).

There are also lesser know very specialized detectors like the ones the Large Hadron Collider uses to detect what they believe to be sub-atomic particles, and cosmic ray (very high energy gamma).

Some radiation "particles" are theoretical like the tacheon (only exists faster than the speed of light).

Side note: The speed of light is actually very slow, when compared with common distances in space. For instance, it takes between 13 and 24 minutes for radio waves to travel from Mars to Earth depending upon Mars and Earth orbital positions.


While it takes billions of years for light to travel across the universe. Tap your finger quickly twice, and that is about how long it takes light to travel around the Earth; and, over 8 minutes for light to travel to Earth from the Sun.


Click here for an interactive presentation of how scale and scientific/engineering math notation relates to the size of everything, to include the smallest theoretical particles, to the entire universe.  At the extremes the concepts are not accurately described due to other systems of dominant influence, but this provides students with a tactile feel for how everything they do fits in and can potentially influence things greater and smaller than themselves.


Scale of the Universe (click Skip Ad on lower right to bypass advertisement)



Careers in Microsystems are routinely available.  While careers in Macro Systems almost always use Microsystems.


There are influences in physics that are instantaneous and one such influence is quantum entanglement.  Theoretically, everything is quantum entangled with other things.  Instantaneous means not related to speed; either not related to space, or not related to time, or not related to space and also not related to time.  So three entities, one in the center of the Universe that is entangled with an entity on the outer fringe of the Universe, can theoretically experience influence at the same moment as a third entangled entity sitting next to one of the other entities.


Build your own Quantum Entanglement experiment at home

Click Here

A gamma detector is tuned to a range of gamma ray energies. No one Geiger counter gamma ray detector detects all ranges of energies simultaneously.

Iodine-136 is unstable and will decay with a particular energy level, while other radioactive isotopes decay with different energy levels. So a gamma detector tuned for one energy level may not at all detect another range of energy levels.
Just some background information


Another Teacher Library of Knowledge Assessment

You may need to have to sign up and login to be able to see the content. The flow of data entry seems to be more natural than Snapshot. But I have not explored the features in detail yet.

'PicTag" allows the teacher to upload any picture, and then position "Tags" over the picture. The students are then asked to drag and drop each of a list of tags on the picture to verify their uptake of related associations.


The First SIPI payload is to be launched in near future; maybe next week. No firm commitment yet by teachers that are going to launch (3 different teachers). Students have almost finished their sensor payloads. Students have presentations to present their work on December 11th. But the launch will likely occur afterwards. I am campaigning to launch before finals and broadcast the event on campus to attract more students into the ENGR 105 (Introduction to Engineering) course for next semester.

Side note: The Fall Semester has been the largest ENGR 105 class at...

Show Full Post



I have asked the teachers for an estimate on when they will launch, but they are diligently working to have students finish their sensor payloads before finals. Flights might occur before, or after, or even at the beginning of the next semester. No commitments yet.
I would like to advertise and launch before finals, and again at the beginning of next semester; to advertise the engineering program and related career pathways.



Mr. Rush said Dec 5, 2014

That is great. That would have to be a Pat/Kristi question.


Can someone zip and email me the SensoPlex software (i.e. sounding board software install)?

My disk is corrupted.

Thank you,



Potential Spaceport Event Annual Scenario to raise funds to self support the NMSGC programs.

Spring Rocket Launch Motorcycle Rally & Poker Run

Each club could have their own name for their chosen road trip towns, that shares a mutual day in which they participate in the Spaceport event.

There are motorcycle clubs that are made up of doctors, lawyers, businesspersons, and others that have no record of ever being involved with crimes. Just weekend riders that band together to share a social connection. Those clubs invited would be checked out with the local police before sending them an RSVP flyer, so that the type of attendees is controlled. Only those that provide for community service are invited.

An attendance fee would be paid up front, to be used in part to pay for liability insurance, cleanup after the event, on-site security (if not covered by State), portable toilets, portable generator, and all initial purchases to support the event. And most importantly, to pay for an experienced Event Planner to organize the event for-profit (10% of the total NET profits made, which translates to 9 times as much money for the NMSGC programs).

An event website is set up with an active "contributions" spreadsheet. Physicians that can donate their time to support the medical tent, police and prior/active Navy Seals / special forces personnel that can donate their time to patrol, businesses that can donate something that they control (heavy equipment to level and compact a tent area for instance). In return, everyone that donates is provided something useful for them in return proportional to the significance of the donations as compared with others. For instance, letting them put up signage in a designated location to support their business or public program, their logo/function/website linked from the event website.

Making online grant application tutorials available to donors from a Donor password protected section of the website to educate donors about how they might build business capacity and/or growth through available grants/programs. This is low cost to Event Planning with future returns of greater donations from more profitable local businesses. Making this information available to donors creates an exclusive club perception. People more likely to be dedicated to the next event, and that are more likely to collaborate with each other. During the second year with funds from the first year, actively identify mutual collaborating donors to help them identify and write grant applications that benefit their businesses, and local schools (internships, school programs like the STEM Guardians ... NMSGC programs.

A tent site and resources to include sponsored evening workshops for kids (teachers) would be set up for families (children) collocated near the medical tent and security sub-station. At some distance away a tent site would be set up for participants without children with sponsored evening workshops for adults (motorcycle maintenance and repair stations for example; coordinated effort with clubs).

Bathing, drinking water, and electrical power set up. A gas truck provided next to the police sub-station near the Riders-without-Children tent site. Some motorcycles do not have good range for the size of their gas tanks and this is another method of generating revenue for education based charity.

Clubs involved with supporting community events are accustomed to contributing effort and money to a good cause. By inviting groups with a history of community service, there seems to be a greater likelihood of participation.

For New Mexico based clubs, the NMSGC can solicit clubs to engage their high schools to become involved with the NMSGC programs and related developed lesson plans.

I'm currently working on developing a Common Core NexGen Science lesson plan related to 9th grade / computer programming & rocketry.

An initial effort would be to collect information from clubs in this region to see if they have an interest in participating in a poker run where each leg has an event to participate in.

Flare would launch a series of large rockets (about 20 feet ?) and send it's video and sensor information back to the base station until the rocket is recovered. The video & instrumentation is televised so it can be watched on everyone's cell phone as it happens. Which means setting up a cell phone repeater at Spaceport (a possible donation in support of future annual rental). This is the Final Event of the Poker Run and held at dusk where the fire of the rocket can be observed and the Sun lights up the rocket as it's altitude increases; and the camera can capture high altitude pictures.

Launches would be repeated at Sunrise, Noon Landscape, and Sunset.

These events would only last about an hour, just long enough for most everyone to show up, launch it, and track it.

Potential PR Note: Have one rocket intentionally crash down range? A rocket damaged from a previous launch for instance. A target set up and odds figured out and posted for everyone to see on their cell phone. Charity betting set up to help fund school programs. This being a "new event" to promote the event in the following year. A similar major new event is planned in advance for the following 5 years. Examples might be like: rocket mass ascension, steerable glider smoke sky writing, student competitions that include their children (online competition package made available for purchase)...

A donation page set up for each club to purchase competition supplies for their member's children... and to donate/volunteer for NMSGC program efforts.

The second event after vendor served breakfast is to meet, and launch a high altitude balloon with a glider and its video feed that would go up to about 20 miles before it was released and it would fly itself to the next destination to a landing point. The odds on how far and in which direction the glider would come to rest of a target would be posted. Clubs would set up prizes for their group; a percentage of the betting would be collected automatically to support the event and school programs. Clubs would ride to the target observation area (mesa overlooking a target area) while the balloon rises. The glider would have a GPS and Arduino with servo to guide the glider to the landing area target. Video and onboard instrumentation can be sent to the cell phones for viewing as the glider rises, is released, dives, glides, and lands. Timing would need to be planned. The total cost a glider and control system is about $500. The video transmitter needs to be worked out because of the range; but satellite microwave is less then 5 watts so this should not be much of an issue. The expected radius of landing is about 20 meters because of the turn radius of the glider.

A vending event is the third destination for everyone to be refreshed and a ride around Elephant Butte.

Surrounding activities are identified for anyone wanting to be side tracked. Local restaurants, shops, motorcycle shops, a visitor booth set up to guide everyone...

At the next destination, holding a rocket with parachute target contest for different classes of participants. Located by the TorC High School by the race track. Kids of different ages, clubs, adults just there by themselves...

Small rockets would be made available to launch by individuals or groups to hit a down wind target. The trick is compensating for the wind when the parachute opens. Each group would have prizes set up for their participants. Part of the betting proceeds goes to charity. Betting done through a NMSGC cell phone app and Paypal.

The last event is back at the Spaceport. A large collection of local bands and vendors playing Rock, Jazz, Country spread out over a large area intended to be filled with bikes and their riders. Vendors (paying for booth space) provide for the needs of the visitors.

The final Dusk launch captures the Sunset.

The event website provides local businesses with memorabilia, photograph and framing, purchases for all highlight pictures captured; a percentage goes to charity to support school programs and the next year's events.

All participating vendors provide an approved linked logo on their webpages. The NMSGC event website posts the results of all competitions, the funding generated by individual competitions, the costs of the event (transparency), and the amount generated for school programs.

As funds are used, the CUFF account is published so that all participants do not wonder what happened to the money they donated.

Flyers (pdf) are made available online so that clubs can advertise the event over the next year to a larger portion of their membership.

The focus is on building excess under utilized resources (growth); not break even (dying from entropy)





Potential tools to make low cost reusable platform for satellite payload

(regardless of actual spacecraft when launched):

$15 Datalogger and programmable actuator controls: use to teach simple programming, or just install provided code and use as datalogger.


The entire data-logger, arduino, battery, and common sensors/actuators will fit in most Estes 3" diameter rockets using a G80 engine.

Code here has been verified to work without modification with specified parts:

Picture of Prototype board plugged on top of Arduino UNO

Dimensions of Arduino UNO

Examples of projects built with Arduino UNO


Each datalogger can monitor and/or control multiple sensors and devices (motors, lights, camera...)

Will fit inside Estes Laviathan Rocket with G80 engine and launch to about 1200 feet

Opensource Rocket Design and Flight Simulator

Up to 6 of these dataloggers will fit in the payload section of the actual launch footprint; though unnecessary.

Sampling one sensor every 15 milliseconds, the datalogger with $4 8 Gbyte SD memory can continuously record data for over 90 years. Unit analysis problem for students.

This means that regardless of the launch window, the experiment can be started and stopped in the high school. So pilot won't have to do anything unless there are perishable aspects related to the experiment. An experiment will need to be done with each individual payload to see how long an onboard battery will last to power the experiment; i.e. set it up and see how long it lasts. When the battery looses power, the SD Memory retains its memory. Undock the SD card, plug it into an SD adapter, and plug it into a computer. Read the SD card like you do any file on your computer. Open it in Excel, select the area of interest, plot the data in graphs.

Prototype boards can be stacked to potentially fly everyone's class project using one controller. Probably not this year while learning, but next year,

============== cost considerations =============

The cost is low enough that most businesses can sponsor the program from one year to the next, and to potentially sustain the NMSG after NASA has a change in funding priorities.

If the school has computers, the total initial cost is about $150 per instructor initially. Because of the reusable components, recurring costs are about $50 a year per instructor. This does not include other rockets for physics demonstrations.

The initial cost is an additional $15 for each additional student that learns how to program their datalogger to build a payload.

At ~$6 per Arduino, for students that have access to a computer at home, it is a low risk significant return to check an Arduino out to a student to take home to practice programming (comes with USB cable).

$20 for a G80 engine, $3 for a pre-flight D engine to detect wind direction and speed, $10 for chosen sensors, $7 in miscellaneous parts, and $10 to accumulate to pay for repairs/replacement when eventually there is a crash.

Clip on prototype boards are about $4 each. This is where the students mount their sensors. So the microcontroller can be reused for many years. Unless students do something destructive like stepping on it :.)

The Leviathan Rocket is optional, and used only to provide a pre-flight test environment. The cost to build a launch payload initially can be as little as $30 initially, with a recurring cost of about $10 per student team. If the local launch of the Laviathan rocket is not necessary.


Advertising for STEM Classes


Just initial thoughts:

The Leviathan rocket is large enough (about 4 feet) to be worthy of a public event to advertise STEM program participation. Perhaps a BBQ outing with area vendors. This would be carefully set up and launched by the instructor to ensure a landing near the landing zone target.


Smaller 1/4A engine rockets can be used by students in a competition to hit a parachute landing zone target ( a sheet a known distance and direction from launch point). The students must do the math and physics to more accurately aim their rocket. All students can individually compete as a grade level. A similar rocket is launched to determine the uncompensated wind speed and direction and displayed for the students to use.

Each parent pays for their own kids rockets. Bought in bulk these 1/4A-3 rockets can be inexpensive. And, possibly kept in the bedrooms of students to be reused from one year to the next. A continuous reminder about the importance of STEM courses.

Optionally, a donation drive can be done to raise funds to collectively buy rockets and engines for all students.

Baseballs are often hit into the bleachers. Having a small rocket that weighs a fraction as much and traveling much more slowly, to come down on spectators just adds to the excitement. As long as there is at least 5 degrees of incline away from occupied bleachers it will travel away from spectators when there is no parachute deployed.

The small rockets can be launched on the football field.

Older students don't want younger students to do better than themselves, so there is incentive to take STEM courses (math and science courses) to do better in the competition.

Coupled with an Essay based on technical writing (English Classes), potentially internships with local industry could be offered to the winners. An alternative to selling drugs to make money as a teenager. Industry building a stronger local workforce.

Concessions can be provided to help pay for the next year's event. This might be combined with an invitation to colleges to set up booths to provide career information. Showing how STEM courses are stepping stones to getting employment. Every year, every grade level is exposed to the importance of college.


At the community college, our students need to finish their projects before the end of this semester (just how classes are set up). Am I correct that your students will continue working on this project until the Spring launch?



Using Carbon Composite Mirrors and Plant in Space Mission

For your first payload that uses carbon composite mirrors to house a plant to analyze the effects of space on plant health.

What are you thinking of detecting/monitoring? I know very little about biology.

Likely, the launch won't be long enough to detect observable plant growth, or related health. But maybe the food source can be monitored for changes. Indirectly monitoring for plant health. Does the plant absorb or release components into the soil as a result of zero G? And, does a mirror versus plain black surface influence these plant ball characteristics?

I don't know if this will work. But you might be able to monitor a change in the types of elements/compounds that become mobile during a change in gravity by using chromatography paper strips (~$6). I'm just guessing that the mobility of elements in a moist environment (soil) are significantly different because stratification of elements due to a constant force created by gravity; during space flight changes.

Also, the plant system characteristics work in part because of the influence of gravity. So what might the plant nutritional systems do in response to zero G?

Cut the chromatography paper into strips. Use transparent tape sandwiching the paper completely except the same amount (~1/8") on each end. This protects the reading part of the strip. Different exposed amounts will probably give different results, and this might be useful.

Cut up different widths and uncover different lengths at the end and put them in a pan of uniform dirt and moisture on a lab table to watch for beneficial properties of the strips and soil. The moisture content probably is important for the strip visual properties.

An Earth based test might be to create 2 identical dense plant balls sealed in 2 separate cans with an LED in the lid to provide sufficient energy to support plant growth. Students can build the electrical assembly to support the LED and related battery. Check on frequency needs of the plant; I don't know much about biology but I'm guessing a small white LED might work better.

Each ball should be the same weight, the same soil, and same moisture content (electrical resistance). Adding water changes weight, so I'm guessing first get a uniform moisture content before adding/subtracting soil to get the same weight.

The balance can be made with a coat hanger cut to create a straight section. Use thread and slide it back and forth to find the center of the balance. Bend the rod in the center to roughly about 135 degrees. This creates a stablizing action so the rod does not drift so much. Make sure the beam remains balanced. Put a drop of superglue on thread at rod to hold thread in position. Connect the other end of the thread to a stick/pen/ring... to provide a convenient way to lift the apparatus. Create 2 hooks with straight pins. Use thread and tie hooks to and near the ends of the hanger rod; let them dangle several inches. The longer the rod, the more sensitive the balance (I.e. torque, and potential subject). Superglue drop on thread to secure to near rod ends.

After a week of settling, open both cans and insert a chromatography strip into each ball. Leave one can right side up, and turn the other one upside down (reversing the stratification process of one can).


In 6 hours come back and open the cans to retrieve the chromatography strips. I'm "guessing" that will be about the time needed to mimic the space flight being talked about and getting access to the cans.

Remove the strips and store them in a Ziploc bag. Keep loose dirt from contaminating your strips.

Compare the color distributions. If they are the same, it won't be as useful as a space mission; unless the space mission gives a different result. If they are different than additional study might reveal what each of the colors represent.

Example related to chlorophyll

This would be repeated in parallel with mirrors in one container set, and black walls of a different container set. One mirror and one black container with strips would remain on Earth as a control group. One mirror and one black container would be launched with strips.

This is just a shot in the dark. I'm not at all sure it will work.

James Dunn


Using Solar Cells and LED's to detect connection integrity during rocket launch


Regarding project number 2, most satellites use solar cells. Are the students thinking of some other aspect?

Student Interest Article: Japan building $21 Billion space based solar energy system to provide power for ~300,000 families


Half of Germany now powered by solar

Google Search: "half of germany is now powered by solar energy"


Since the solar cells will be inside a closed container, perhaps using 3 of the same white LED and 3 solar cells being monitored at the same time. Each solar cell in a different coordinate axis.
An Arduino dataloger (~$15) monitors the voltage from each solar cell. This datalogger will fit inside an Estes Laviathan Rocket and launch with a G80 engine (total rocket setup is about $100) for an altitude of about 1200 feet; which translates to a wind corrected safety radius of about 300 feet around the downwind target landing area.

Launching a smaller rocket first to determine wind direction and speed at altitude.

Optionally, an instructor can either just buy the parts and upload the provided program and use as-is with minor changes for pins being monitored, or teach coding and do whatever you want with the signals. For example in the first proposal for working with plants. The Arduino can be set up to monitor galvanic reaction of plant leaves.


But in general the Arduino can be set up for a datalogger to detect a variety of signals, and to cause motors to run and cause other influences.


Common thinking would be that each solar cell would produce a constant voltage unaffected by space flight. But does it remain stable and why?

Potential influences include: vibration, ambient radiation, traveling at high speed through ionosphere, ship electrical systems...

James Dunn



Practice Soldering Boards (where to purchase for about $2 or less)


Kit includes small parts and board


Current price $1.78 with free shipping (10/30/14); but watch where you buy from because it can take up to 4 weeks when coming from China.

A shorter shipping time version is available here, but it costs a little more.


Google Search: "practice soldering board"
(including quotations)



Payload Form Factor


Does anyone have the payload Form Factor for the launch? Also, a checklist for payload requirements?

If the launch vehicle has not yet been selected, then the form factor and checklist for each of the vehicles. So that we can try to configure our payload to fit in any of the vehicles.

What portion of the payload are we (SIPI) going to occupy? My understanding is that several schools will share one compartment. So I need to limit the size and shape of our package so that it does not interfere with other school's payloads, in the same compartment.


Result; 4" between the plates provided in the Geiger Board experiment.


Thank you, that was easy. I was expecting a complex shape considering the description of each compartment.


Thanks Fergie and Tyson, the perpetual help is appreciated.



Compensating for Parachute Drift

Correlating math to the physics of flight


Safety Note:  When compensating for parachute drift and aiming upwind, do not "directly" point rocket into the wind or it may come back and land on your head.  Point the rocket on the safer side of left or right from directly into the wind, so the rocket will tend to land next to you, not on you.


Related: $15 data-logger rocket payload

Measure the decent rate for a particular rocket. Use the parachute and tie on an equivalent weight for a rocket, payload, and empty engine.

Tie a string around the center of a yard stick with the thin side facing up. String should be positioned so yard stick balances. Tie the string tight around the center of the yard stick so it won't shift during measurement. Tie the rocket assembled with payload and empty engine to the far end of one end of the yard stick. Tie a sock to the other end of the yard stick. Add sand to the sock until the yard stick balances. The sock with sand now weighs as much as the rocket when it drifts hanging from the parachute.

After the sock is tied off and the yard stick is balanced, what happens if you move the sock to 1/2 the distance toward the center of the yard stick?

[rocket end of yard stick moves toward the floor]

This demonstrates the effect of levers and torque. 1.5 foot-pounds of torque is greater than 3/4 foot-pounds of torque; and rotation results.

The sock is then separately attached to the parachute of the rocket and the package folded up so that two edges of the parachute wrap around the sock. Use the clothes pin to hold the parachute closed until the clothes pin is pulled off by the attached string.

Use a stopwatch and toss the package up above a known height. Clothes pin handle glued to a known length of string. When the string runs out the force will release the parachute. Time the decent and divide height by time to obtain the decent velocity (Vdecent).

The max altitude can be roughly calculated, I'll do that calculation in another post. But if you used the Estes Apogee tool for a similar rocket and know the expected altitude, use this number.

When ready to launch, obtain the Wind speed and direction above obstacles. Local weather report.

Ymax / Vdecent = Time Falling

Expected drift distance = Vwind * Time Falling

Use a compass and tip the launch rod into the wind by the wind drift angle.

Angle of Wind Drift Compensation = arcsin ( Expected Drift Distance / Ymax)

This should provide for rockets to come approximately back to launch point.

Use a carpenters' torpedo level and orient the launch rod straight up as viewed in both North/South and East/West directions

Use a long straight stick with a compass and protractor to provide a reference angle for the launch rod. Have one person hold the stick steady with the other end touching the ground while the top 12" of launch rod are aligned with the stick.

Weight the legs so the launch pad won't tip over. 3 old tube socks filled with sand.

Introducing the concept of Risk Analysis

There are some variables; so the actual landing will be different than predicted. This introduces the students to the concepts of Risk Analysis and predicting consequences.

Ask the students to list some reasons why the rocket might land different than anticipated. Have the students take turns and work in groups of 3 (sharing respect with each other) to list ways of controlling each of the variables that they listed (problem solving).

Here are a few variables the teacher can put in their pocket

Things causing the rocket to land early:
Launch rod bending due to tipping and effects of gravity
A rocket engine parachute delay
Parachute malfunction
Rocket wind-vaning; rocket with nose heavy payload tends to fly into the wind
Wind speed different than reported by weather service
The lower wind speed near the ground
Smaller rocket engine size
Adding a heavier payload

Things causing the rocket to land late:
Making the rocket more aerodynamic
Larger engine size
Adding a lighter payload
The engine is ejected unintentionally when charge deploys parachute
Asymmetric fin orientation
Launch rod deflection during rocket leaving launcher
Center of Gravity of rocket towards down-wind w/o fins causing rotation

Influences I'm not sure how it affects rocket flight:
Increased Humidity (increases friction during launch, increases drag of parachute)
Increased Temperature (decreases friction during launch, decreases drag of parachute)
i.e. humidity and temperature are inversely related
Rocket body dents, dings, tape, and modifications that make the rocket asymmetrical

Trig Triangle: For students that want an easy reference for basic trig relationships
Step by Step math to solve for launch angle


Mr. Rush • Aug 19, 2014
Thank you for posting the parachute drift info, this should help everyone keep their rockets on location. Another great source for height and flight path is OpenRocket. It is an open source rocket simulator with most of the rocket engines available. Tyson


Edmodo has user features disabled


Can Edmodo user configuration be changed so that we can add pictures and files to our posts "after" we initially create the post. Presently, the only time I am allowed to create a post with additional files is when I first create the post, and then adding files is blocked/ not available. So I have to copy my original post & other member comments, create a new post, paste the copied information, add the new files, save the new post, and then delete the original post.

I'm trying to build modules here that address present Common Core and Next Gen requirements. I don't think of everything at first, so I keep adding to the post to provide the detail to make it useful in class.

Step by step math
Pictures of related interest
Webpage page capture of Monster.com related employment
- emphasis on education and skills required
- wage offered
Webpage link or page capture of related college course of study (NMSU if offered)
Common Core references


2014 NMSG Summer Institute Teacher Participation


I want to thank everyone for their willingness to provide information. I learned more from everyone involved than what I was able to individually share.

Areas important to me in my present efforts:
1) Secondary School Teacher perspectives
2) Potential resources that can be offered to Secondary Teachers
3) Methods of interacting with school administrators
4) The value parents place upon hands-on opportunities for their children
5) Resources for engaging fund raising to support sustainable programs

This training trip was the most fun I've had in the dozens of seminars and workshops I've participated in, over my entire career of 40 years.



Low-cost lightweight rechargeable battery pack


UPDATE (Dec 1, 2014): A small lightweight 4.8v alternative


Battery technology has changed. To obtain higher energy densities in batteries, manufacturers have mostly stopped using AAAA batteries connected in series in their 9v batteries. Instead, they are making batteries that are stacked and fit the profile of a 9v battery and is encasing them in epoxy. Unless a manufacturer can be found that still uses AAAA batteries to make 9v batteries, the following is no longer applicable.


If you want a low-cost and light weight NiMH battery for 4.4 to 4.8 volt circuit operations, you can dissect a NiMH 9v battery (about $5). They are composed of 8 AAAA batteries in series; smaller than AAA. Each of the charged batteries are 1.2 volts and the voltage of each battery adds when connected in series.

To charge them, connect the 2 split packs in series to create a compatible pack for charging purposes. Using the 9 volt battery connectors, they clip together in series.

NiMH batteries are NOT charged by a constant current source like that of NiCd batteries. A NiMH charger is required to prolong battery life.

Wear safety glasses. If charged battery packs accidentally get connected together to create a short circuit, the batteries could get hot and split open. I've never done that, so maybe this is a needed test using long remote cables and a switch with the batteries under a garbage can outside, to see if a fire or small explosion results. But better for teachers to do it in a controlled environment with safety goggles/face-shield and a fire extinguisher, then students during an uncontrolled accidental event.

I mention this as a concern for dissected batteries because the metal can is no longer present to act as a deformable shield.

To open the 9 volt battery, use electrical tape and put a couple of wraps around the battery terminals to prevent accidental shorting during battery dissection. Be careful not to puncture or cut the sides of the batteries during dissection. Use side cutter pliers and carefully peel open the metal seam starting at the terminal end of the battery. The batteries have a non-conductive sheet wrapped around them that help hold them together inside the metal package. After the metal can is removed, gently cut the sleeve to release the batteries. Batteries are welded together with a flat strip of metal between each terminal. The batteries are all connected in series.

This method of harvesting smaller rechargeable batteries can provide rechargeable batteries for the Geiger Board and significantly reduce the cost of purchasing separate NiMH batteries. An additional advantage is that the batteries are already welded together; i.e. no battery holder required. Heavy wire cutters easily cut the connecting metal strips.

Try to leave a flat metal strip welded to each battery terminal, and solder to the metal strips. A flux is required to get the solder to stick. After the metal is cleaned apply a small amount of flux. Then use an Exacto knife to scrap the steel surface beneath and submerged under the flux. This removes additional oxidation that prevents solder bonding. Then with iron on high, solder a wire to the metal strip. Try to avoid heating the battery terminal excessively. You can clip on an alligator clip to help dissipate heat if having to work at getting the solder to stick.

If advantageous, the batteries can be laid out end to end to lay out in the form of a pencil to facilitate alternate space and weight distribution considerations.

A NiMH battery can replace about 800 Alkaline Batteries of the same size if charged carefully.


To see how long a fully charged battery set will last when operating a Geiger Board:

1) charge the batteries
2) check the split pack battery voltage is less than 5.4 volts before connecting it to prevent damage to Geiger Board
3) hook up Geiger Board and start a stop watch
4) when the battery voltage drops to 4.2 volts, stop the stop watch and record the time.

Roughly, expect the time to run the Geiger Board with these split battery packs to be around 1 day with fresh batteries, and progressively shorter times as batteries are recharged many times.

9.6 volts at 200 mA-hrs with 8 batteries, has 1/2 the discharge time "at the same current" as 4.8 volts with 4 batteries. The Geiger Board pulls about 2 mA during operation (as presented), so 100/2 is 50 hours. We are not intending to completely discharge the batteries. 4.4 volt represents about 95% of the battery being discharged. 3.6 volts is the absolute minimum that the batteries should ever be discharged or the batteries can be permanently damaged. The Geiger Board I believe had a minimum voltage stated of 4.2 volts so that is well above the voltage that would damage the batteries. But below 4.4 volts the loss of battery voltage increases exponentially and monitoring is more demanding. Given a design margin of 2 related to battery variance, charging methods, actual Geiger Board needed current ..., that is 25 hours expected discharge time; or roughly 1 day.




Sounding Board axi orientation for accelerometers (enclosed)






Plot accelerometer versus time and find apogee. Why is the curve of acceleration different before apogee versus after apogee?

Synchronize Sounding instrument with local time to include seconds. Mount the sounding board on a robot and have the robot engage a mission scenario. Video tape the mission. Display the video and at the same time display a playback of the sounding board data. Show correlation between visible robot physical events like tipping to one side when climbing across a rock.




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