For the UCAR project, we have an infrared camera to record thermal images of the ground as we fly. Synchronizing these images with our radar system required us to design a small, robust controller. Using a Teensy USB development board, I am able to watch for voltage changes from our radar system, and output the required PWM signal to trigger the camera. This is an incredibly simple solution – exactly what we needed! It will connect in with our radar on one side, the FLIR camera with the other, and has a small micro USB port to power the controller. Beauty in simplicity! Attached is a memo explaining the process.
Another Remote Sensing Center project! UCAR, or University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, is a National Science Foundation project tied closely with over 115 universities, dedicated to research of our Atmosphere. We are currently working on a ground penetrating radar design to fly over the mountains in western Colorado. The goal is to measure the depth of snowfall atop these remote mountains. This will provide the NOAA and several state agencies the chance to prepare for the water runoff from the snow melting in the spring. This radar will be attached to a DHC-6 Twin Otter. I have been working on several aspects of this project, including a Flight Director to provide high-accuracy flight paths, and a control module to synchronize our infrared camera with the radar system.
I have been working closely with a colleague of mine to build a functioning turbojet out of an old turbocharger that we reclaimed from a junkyard. This project has helped us expand our visions of a long term project, and given us an understanding of the work required to design a product like this. We are currently in the process of adding a generator to the project to be able to capture some of the mechanical energy and convert it to electricity to power the fuel and oil pumps. This will allow the project to be fully self-sufficient. Click here to view our website on the project!
Posted on October 10, 2018
In a joint project with the Norwegian Polar Institute, we created a portable Vivaldi-style radar antenna. This project was shipped to Antarctica as a supplemental radar assembly.
This project was very interesting, and presented a unique challenge, based on its radar transparency. We normally work with fiberglass, as it is the strongest, most versatile material that is also radar transparent. The green structure seen in the photos below is an extruded, pre-made fiberglass material that we used for our radar mount. We tested this structure multiple times for radar transparency during our design phase.
On the day before shipment, about 10 minutes after close of business, we noticed that the fiberglass was causing some major radar interference. It turns out that this batch of fiberglass had other materials in it! we could not get our radar to function properly. With hours before shipment, we needed to come up with another design! Luckily, we were able to fix the mount with this fiberglass material by mounting only on the edges. While this was an all night project, we were able to ship on time the next morning.
Lesson learned! No matter how much you test your materials, test the final batch that you are using, and do so well in advance of your deadline!
The Mills Cross project was the first major project that I worked on at the Remote Sensing Center. This project was a ground radar built to measure ice thickness. We built a 20m x 18m cross out of many layers of fiberglass and insulation foam, which encased radar antenna elements. The project was flown to Northern Greenland at the EastGrip camp in August of 2018, and was operated by one of my colleges, Chris Simpson. Below, check out some images of our project from fabrication to deployment!