The Avionics Team is responsible for all electronics involved in the rocketry program. Our main priority is the creation of the onboard flight hardware that is responsible for recording all data during flight as well as the deployment of the recovery system. In addition to flight hardware, the Avionics team also oversees electronics involved in manufacturing processes such as the ovens used to cure composite materials.
The avionics unit known at the HAMSTER is RPL's in flight data acquisition system, which is built and designed by students. Over the years HAMSTER has evolved from being composed of mostly off-the-shelf products to being full composed of student designed units, with off the shelf components for redundancy.
The current version HAMSTER 2.0 is powered by an Mbed ARM processor. The unit is comprised of several systems ranging from accelerometers to barometers. The data from these devices is synthesized by the Mbed in order to allow us to generate a detailed description of all of the vehicles location and performance through ascent and descent. In addition the Avionics unit also is responsible for the deployment of the recovery system. It does this through electromechanical interactions triggered by the data acquired during flight. All of the components onboard the avionics unit are designed and built by students in lab. Members of the avionics team are trained to use not only machinists equipment such as the mill and lathe but also complete a large portion of the assembly using electronics specific tools such as solder and testbed platforms.
flight ground station
The ground station communicates with the vehicle while it is on the launch pad as well as in flight, allowing the avionics team to receive telemetry from the onboard Hamster system. This telemetry tells us the vehicle's position and speed, so we know how high and fast the vehicle went, as well as where it lands.
static fire ground station
During a static fire of our motors, we use a data acquisition system to record pressure, thrust, temperature, and burn duration. This data helps to characterize our propellant, and provides insight to future flight performance. Each static fire serves as a qualification test, leading to flight components being manufactured as similarly as possible.