Custom U.K. radios take to the Ohio sky in NASA sponsored research - Embedded.com

Custom U.K. radios take to the Ohio sky in NASA sponsored research

LONDON — The Research Involving Student Engineers (RISE) program at Idaho State University is using two custom radio transceivers from Radiometrix Ltd. (Harrow, England) to save weight in research ballon flights.

The pair of customised UHX1 multi-channel radio transceivers tuned to a special VHF frequency (147MHz) were supplied through U.S. distributor, Lemos International (Fairfield, CT).

The research program at Idaho is sponsored by NASA and releases weather balloons with ceilings exceeding 25,000 meters. The balloons have payloads made up of a camera box, an automatic position reporting system for tracking purposes, and a flight computer.

In addition, the balloons can carry various experiments from extremeophile bacteria research to simple egg drop mechanisms.

“Weight is a key concern to comply with Federal Aviation Administration's 12 lb weight limit on these flights so finding a compact, lightweight radio solution was vital to the continued success of the project,” said Professor Tim Frazier, the project's faculty sponsor.

Researchers have been looking at how to miniaturize the multi-channel tracking package, and the Radiometrix module offered a way of achieving this.

“Lemos and Radiometrix have worked with us to choose a suitable transceiver and associated electronics for the project,” explained Ben Estes, program member. “The UHX-1 module from Radiometrix has enabled a transparent serial link between the control station and the flight computer in the balloon once it is airborne. This allows full communication between the balloon and the ground crew allowing them to operate vents, cut-down mechanisms, parachute deployment, and actuate any other mechanisms needed,” added Estes.

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