TuCAN rocket is the biggest rocket developed by Rocketry Division of Students' Space Association so far. Main goal of TuCAN project is to construct a launch vehicle appropriate for a CanSat experiment competition. The rocket can take 8 or 12 CanSats (depending on jettisoning system configuration) to altitude of around 4km.
First version of the rocket (TuCAN-1a) was launched on 29.10.2016. Second, fully successful, launch was performed on 02.12.2017.
DescriptionSince I'm mostly involved in electronics-side of this project, I will focus on on-board computers and cameras systems in this description.
- Length: 2135mm
- Diameter: 170mm
- Mass: 28.6kg (TuCAN-1a)
- Altitude: approx. 4000m
- Max speed: approx. 410m/s (Ma=1.2)
- Max acceleration: approx. 12g (120m/s^2)
- Propellant mass: 6.4kg (TuCAN-1a)
- Thrust: up to 3500N
- Total impulse: 13200Ns
Flight computer & telemetry
TeleMega (TM for short) from Altus Metrum was used as main flight computer. It's main task is firing pyro charges in defined momements (such as apogee, passing 500m during descend etc.). Second task performed by TM is providing telemetry link during flight, so that in case of recovery systems failure (as it happened in TuCAN-1a) no precious flight data is lost.
Secondary telemetry device, called 'Rocket Tracker' or (more often) RTTY, was developed by befriended radio guru, SQ5RWU. It provides slower telemetry link (using RTTY mode) with greater range than TeleMega. RTTY sends raw data containing acceleration in z axis, pressure and GPS location.
Live video stream
Live video transmission provides low quality image that is sent to base station during flight. This ensures that in case of rocket crash we still have obtain some footage. This idea proved to be useful, as the only on-board video that we got from TuCAN-1a is the one from live streaming.
I used 5.8GHz 600mW transmitter with omnidirectional cloverleaf antenna (circular polarisation) and helical antenna on receiver side.
Raspberry Pi cameras
Another camera system that was used was based on Raspberry Pi and 'HD G' camera with wide-angle lens. Two sets (RPi + camera) were mounted in the rocket. This system can provide high-quality image, but the rocket has to survive the flight in order to recover video from memory card.
One problem that had to be solved in this system was connecting the camera to RPi. Cameras were mounted in recovery systems section, which is located in the middle of the rocket, while RPis had to be mounted in rocket's head. Additionally, the connection between cameras and RPis had to be easily uncoupled, as the rocket was transported in two pieces. Flat-flex to ribbon cable adapters were used to create easily separable connection.
Another camera that we put inside the rocket was #808 keychain camera from Ebay. It's pretty small, has built-in battery and provides reasonable image quality. It was mounted in top section of the rocket (below head).
After first semi-successful launch, improved version of TuCAN rocket was designed and built. Launch was performed on 2nd of December 2017 on artillery range in Nowa Deba. The rocket reached an altitude of over 5 kilometers and exceeded the speed of sound. All systems performed well, which resulted in successful rocket recovery. Post-launch video can be viewed on Facebook .
The TuCAN project taught me a lot about rocket engineering and telemetry systems. It was also a great opportunity to improve my collaboration skills, as this rocket was truly a team effort.