Blog

W100 Welcome

W100 Welcome

As Westpac turns 200, they welcome the first 200 scholars into their network, and I am one of those lucky few.

Welcome to UOW

Welcome to UOW

It’s been a few weeks sine I moved to Wollongong. Find out what I’ve been up to and what’s next to come as the uni session starts.

Creating a Website

Creating a Website

I have always wanted to build my own website, who hasn’t wanted to have a website with their name on it? I don’t have a business or anything but that doesn’t stop me – or anyone – running a website. Now I am no expert, but this is my experience with building up this website.

Originally I would play around with HTML, CSS, and Javascript, but when I ended up publishing this site, i rarely did any straight coding. This of course doesn’t mean you can’t, but for my first website it was 10x easier to not have to worry about flaws in code that could jeopardize my site.

First Steps

What were the first steps? Firstly I looked into domain names  and extensions. what domains were available and what extensions I can and can’t use. So domain names are the websites name that you see in the URL bar of your browser, (ie. example.com or in this case AndrewWilkie.me), and the extension is the few letters at the end of the domain name, (ie the .com, .me, .gov ,etc.). I ended up trawling through heaps of domain registrars to find out what they had available and ended up settling on my current domain (AndrewWilkie.me). When choosing your domain name, it’s always best to make it reflect what your website is going to be about. Since mine is about me i named it after myself. Another thing to consider is the memorability of your site. So keep your name short and use keywords, this will allow your name to be remembered when someone tries to search for your site again. There are many other factors to consider when choosing your domain name and you can find plenty of resources by looking up something like “Choosing a Domain Name”.

Hosting

After you have got yourself a domain name, you need to get your domain name to link to your website. There are a few options on how to do this, self-hosting, or a web hosting service(like Digital Ocean and Blue Host).  I went with a web hosting service as they are able to implement a lot more features and control the security and other features on my website without me having to worry about it, but all of these features come at an additional cost. If you just want to test your website without putting it on the internet you can host it yourself through a local hosting program on your PC.

Security

You will want your website secure, even if you never plan on having a massive audience (like myself). If you are using a hosting service this shouldn’t be too much of a worry for you, as the hosting service should have their own protocols in place. You can still do little things to secure your website, including SSL Certificates and HTTPS.

 

 

Appearance

One big thing that matters if you want your website to become big is it’s appearance and usability. You can skip a lot of the hard steps of creating a pretty website by using pre-built templates. Lots of these can be accessed through WordPress if you decide to use that. It’s always easier seeing what other people have done and using that for inspiration and looking at what they did wrong so you can avoid it. When designing you website’s appearance, the overall look depends on your target audience and of course your personal preferences.

Content

You will need content, whether it’s blog posts like I have or products you’re selling or whatever. This is the main reason why people visit your website, so making quality content will be essential to creating an awesome website. So when creating your awesome content and posting it, make sure your content is free of major spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.

Explore

The best way i found out how to do this was exploring. I went around looking at LEGO Explorerwebsites I enjoyed visiting and looking at to see what they had that I could incorporate into my website. Just remember that your first website might not be great, but it is an awesome learning experience – and you can update your website as you get better at using the software and learning more about the audience you’re targeting.

Building a website is a great way to learn about what is happening behind the scenes when you are on the internet. It is also an awesome why to promote your brand and get a lot of content to a lot of people simultaneously. Plus its fun, well for me at least – being the nerd I am.

 

LAUNCH

LAUNCH

We launched our balloon and this is what happened on our journey. And here is how most of the journey went down.

Finished Code

Finished Code

Here is what some of the code looks like, and what the overall software is meant to do during flight.

Data Visualiser

Data Visualiser

Along with the software written to go on the microcontroller we have written some software to visualise the data coming back to the base station from the microcontroller.

The data visualiser has a map, compass, and a few other data displays.

Map

The map will display an area around the balloon payload based on the coordinates provided by the GPS module on the payload. the map images are gathered from Google, using URL image capturing, this essentially means the program will convert the coordinates from the balloon into Google Maps coordinates, create a URL and copy the image from that URL.


ezgif-com-crop-1 Compass 

Magnetometer data is fed into the visualiser from the balloon and is superimposed onto a representation of a compass. This data will provide us with a rough idea of which way the payload is facing. We can’t get a perfect direction due to the fact that magnets and the magnetic fields of the Earth, but even if it isn’t perfect, it still provides us with an idea and looks pretty.

Cube ezgif-com-crop-2

The visualiser has a 3D cube in next to the Compass and this represents the payload. The cube is able to rotate, flip, mimicking the behaviour of the balloon payload.


Numerical Data 

Along with all of the visual interpreted data there is a live data output. all of the data displayed in this section comes directly from the senors. The data includes measurements from the 9DOF and barometer and also has the GPS coordinates. Once all of these values are received they are converted into understandable number – including G’s, metres, and degrees Celsius – if the values aren’t already understandable.

Modes 

The last function the visualiser has is the ability to display data from a saved file or live from a COM port. To read from the serial port the program accesses the ports through the Serial library. the serial library allows python to read, write and manipulate data coming in and out of the COM ports. The other method of displaying data is to come from a file. The only files the visualiser reads are .csv or comma separated values. the reason for this is because of how easily the values are to be read. each value for one frame will be on one line and every components output will be one value in that line.

So all together the visualiser ill look like the image below. It is still in development and has a lot of tweaks to be made, but it is getting there and should have enough functionality for it to be useful during our balloon launch and afterwards during data analysis.

pygame-window-5_10_16-9_51_16-pm

 

Project Update

Project Update

The clock is counting down and here is what we have completed and we still need to do before we can launch this balloon.

Simulator

Simulator

Testing some prototypes can be expensive, so we decided to simulate what the hardware and software would go through to see the effects and find bugs (unexpected features) in the software.

Rocket Launch

Rocket Launch

In preparation for our balloon launch, we built and launched a rocket to test the sensors that will be on our balloon’s payload.

The test rocket awaiting blast-off in a grassy field near Lake Ginninderra. - Lake Ginninderra, ACT (666 ABC Canberra: Louise Maher)
The test rocket awaiting blast-off in a grassy field near Lake Ginninderra. – Lake Ginninderra, ACT (666 ABC Canberra: Louise Maher)

As part of the rocket science unit in our mechatronics course, we learnt about the specific design of a rocket could have such a large impact on the flight, apogee and making sure it doesn’t explode – thankfully, ours didn’t. Who knew that the number and length of the fins could effect the flight so much?
It also gave us the opportunity to use 3D printing software to create the exact rocket design that we desired.

dsc_0073

3D printing most of the components gave us the ability control where everything goes in the rocket as well as how the rocket behaves during its flight. The nose cone was designed to house the payload and also designed to come off to release the parachute. The fins at the bottom contained the rocket motor and lid into the body of the rocket, which was a fancy cardboard tube, and had plenty of room to house the parachute and fit the nose cone payload on the top.

The payload was an opportunity to test almost everything that was going to go up in the balloon. It also allowed us to change, remove and add certain components to figure out the best devices to use in our balloon payload.

DSC_0007

Our payload contained: a micro-controller (Intel® Edison), 9 Degrees of Freedom (9DoF), barometer and an SD card. This payload was the very first prototype of all of the essential electronics, helping us to test some of the logging  software, to understand the type of data we receive and indicated that it all works together.

While an unfortunate break in solder prevented us from saving the data onto the SD card on the first launch, after much probing around with a multimeter and double-checking the code we managed to fix the problem, and successfully got it going on the 2nd launch. Facing challenges like this out on the field was daunting, but ultimately gives us the experience of debugging and solving problems on the fly, and preparing us for similar situations if something were to go wrong at the balloon launch.

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Andrew Wilkie (left) and Jeremy Mann prepare the rocket for launch. – Lake Ginninderra, ACT (666 ABC Canberra: Louise Maher)

We also had the privilege of being interviewed by Louise Maher from the ABC. To listen to the interview or find out more, go here.

After several delays the rocket was launched by student Madeleine Mackey. - Lake Ginninderra, ACT (666 ABC Canberra, Louise Maher)

After several delays the rocket was launched by student Madeleine Mackey. – Lake Ginninderra, ACT (666 ABC Canberra, Louise Maher)
dsc_00982_moment2                            ezgif-com-rotate

The rocket launch gave us a clear picture of the work that still needed to be completed and how tough this project might actually be, especially trying to balance school and work. But we are on track; our logging software complete, steering algorithm basically done and the circuit board being soldered up this week. We will be ready to launch in under 32 days.

YICTE

YICTE

YICTE – Young ICT Explorers. YICTE is a competition run all around Australia getting students who love ICT and anything in general apply their knowledge and abilities to solve real world issues.