Last Thursday I presented my project proposal to the rest of the Computing degree class. I still have a few weeks to write the formal academic proposal, but explaining my aims and presenting my preliminary research to our lecturers and the rest of the class was a good reality check. Quick thoughts:

  • Both lecturers seemed to agree with my research so far, and seemed okay with my aim, objectives and research question.

  • I might need to find more papers relating directly to High-Altitude Balloons – a lot of my literature so far concerns nano-satellites – and papers on testing methods for space things.

  • Some of my classmates made me realise that the final testing round – in the case where we get to fly the payload – will depend on much more than just my work, but also temperature, pressure, weather conditions… I need to make sure that I can evaluate my work and write the dissertation even if a flight is not possible, or does not go well.

I also got confirmation yesterday that Ian Ferguson will be my project supervisor. His advice for the scope concerns is to slice the project in three “levels”: The lower level is the amount of work I should aim for to get a passing grade if everything goes wrong, level three is the best case scenario. What I have so far is:

  1. The radio binary protocol is fully designed and can be demonstrated in a demo environment, the data bus’s software is able to collect data from different payloads and forward them to the transmission software.

  2. The radio link is complete and can be demonstrated on short-to-mid-range distances, the flight software handles the whole data chain (fetches from payloads and transmits through binary radio protocol).

  3. The data bus and radio link prototype is built and can be flown, multiple demonstration payloads are built and can be connected to the bus, a ground-side application can decode packets in real time (command-line or GUI). If funding is sufficient, a demo mission is launched.