Update 11/22/2015 – Gobble Gobble Happy Thanksgiving! Learning CAD and Testing Valves

Hi all, and happy Thanksgiving!

Here at LPRD Rocketry, we’ve been super busy making… CAD turkeys. To brush up everyone’s skills in CAD, we had our team members make some Thanksgiving turkeys for this post. Below are the delicious results.

CAD cooked turkey created in Autodesk Inventor

Yummy CAD Turkey!

CAD thanksgiving dinner table created in Autodesk Inventor Cartoon CAD Turkey created in autodesk Inventor

Fun stuffs. In more project-related news, the team has been hard at work to bring the test stand to tip-top shape to get ready to fire the engine again. We’ve done a pair of late-night cold tests of our systems to try to iron out the kinks. They’re not quite gone, but we’re getting close! We haven’t yet set up a date with OrbitalATK, but with any luck, there will be some more fire coming out of our engine pretty soon.

The team will be winding down a little for Thanksgiving, so there might not be a formal update next week. Have a great Thanksgiving, and this Thanksgiving, may you be surrounded by those you love and who love you in return!

David Deng

Member Spotlight – Anna Koene

Partners in Crime
Part 2:
Anna Koene (cane-E)

Anna says she didn’t have a care in the world. She is however truly amazing. Not only does she go to the University of Minnesota to be a mechanical engineer, but also works at a YMCA teaching swim lessons and lifeguarding. In the summer one can find her at Noah’s Ark Waterpark being the employee of the year. She’s a hard worker and is never afraid to do something crazy or get down and dirty. She doesn’t see much for her future but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t dream big. She wants to see the world and make everyone happy. To do so, all she wants is to become an Imagineer for Disney. It pulls all her loves into one dream job. She doesn’t think she can make it, but I know she will. In her spare time she is probably adventuring, swimming, dancing or anything nerdy. Whether it is obsessing over harry potter or geeking out about space, there is never a dull moment with the girl that can’t shut up. She doesn’t believe it yet but her future is a bright one because she is such a good person and my best friend.

Anna’s Partner in Crime
Mischief Managed,
Maddie Moore

More of Anna Koene and Maddie Moore as a pair

Subteam Spotlight: Launch

Here in the Launch subteam, we’ve been incredibly busy over these last four weeks. Our new, faster control valves have come in, but they unexpectedly include a ~2.8 second delay between being powered and moving. This is obviously not ideal for throttling of an engine, and we think we will eventually need to replace them, but for now, we’re making do.

Belimo CCV Characterized Control Valves

Faster…? Control Valves

Just this last week, we actually ran our very first set of tests with the new valves. Below is some relatively candid video of our misting nozzle test. Fair warning, this is at something like 9:40 at night, so we may sound slightly loopy.

We think we’ve figured out the problems behind throttling. We’re pretty confident in our ability to throttle oxygen (at least between the two settings of “kinda-open” and “really-open”), and once we modify the way we use our kerosene control valve, we should be able to throttle that as well. Once all that’s set, we’re ironing down our procedures and are ready to do a dress rehearsal and get firing. Later on, we’re thinking about changing to pneumatic valves (as suggested in the design review), but those cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars. If anyone has any suggestions for easier flow control, let us know in the comments below and save us ~15 tons of headache and late nights!

LPRD team members smiling at camera during wet test while holding fire extinguisher

Anna and Glen holding a device that arguably produces more thrust than our rocket engine

Separately, we’ve also started manufacturing the modifications needed to let our test stand measure force output by the engine. Also as suggested in the design review, we’ve shifted the design so the engine would push directly into the force plate instead of slightly offset.

CAD model of LPRD test stand design with sliding rails to allow for force measurement

Since we don’t have access to a mill at the university, Gary Stroick was kind enough to let us use his mill. He’s a mentor of ours and president of TripoliMN, a local high-powered hobby rocketry club. They don’t do much with launches over the winter, but they’re a cool group that does some really cool stuff and definitely worth checking out.

David Deng

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Update 11/15/2015 – Looking On the Bright Side of Life

Hi all,

As you all probably know by now, Paris, France was the target of a series of attacks claimed by IS militants. When such violent and tragic acts occur, we can become mired in anger or fear of sadness. Space and space launch vehicles are inherently an optimistic endeavor. To even begin to start looking at the stars and beyond this earth, we must first trust that this earth is in good care, and events like the November 13 Paris attacks make that trust difficult. While we wish it weren’t on such dismal news, we are also rolling out the first post of (hopefully) many opinion pieces made irregularly but offering thoughts and musings on (mostly) rocketry current events. The post is much more personal than these updates, but I hope you can find opinions you can relate to.

In regular news: at our general meeting, to counteract the negative sentiment from IS and Paris and terrorism, we spent some time listening to Carl Sagan talking about this pale blue dot we live on and thinking about the positive impact we want to leave on this earth we all inhabit. Below is a snapshot of some of the things we hope to do. With good luck and a lot of work, hopefully we can make some of this happen.

Whiteboard where team members have written the positive impact they would like to make on the world. Most are related to rocketry but some are quite general.

Overall, we’re making decent progress, though I’d always like it to be quicker. We’re thinking about starting a new subteam to design and test a rocket body using solid motors. If we’re successful with our endeavors in lightening the tanks, regenerative cooling, and automatic/telemetry control, flying a rocket by spring 2017 doesn’t sound entirely unreasonable.  Makes sense to start planning for that now, right?

David Deng


Member Spotlight – Maddie Moore

These two weeks, we have something a little special in the member spotlight section. Anna and Maddie, the team’s co-secretaries, are rather two peas in a pod and have decided to write about each other, so we’ll have a two part series, staring with Anna writing about Maddie!

Partners in Crime
Part 1:
Maddie Moore

Maddie Moore is a sophomore as an aerospace major with a computer science minor at the University of Minnesota, and she wants to work for NASA. She joined clubs, including Tesla and LPRD Rocketry in hopes that it would get her closer to her dream. She always works hard and takes on roles to improve such as being the general and launch subteam co-secretary with her best friend. She is a girl always up for an adventure. Being from California, she loves surfing the channels and living on the edge of her bed. When she is not exploring the real world she can be found exploring the world of fiction, whether in a book or on a TV show or movie. She’s always learning and always thinking. She doesn’t always talk, but that makes everything she says even more special. She doesn’t know what the future holds but I know it will be great. She would never admit to being amazingly smart or interesting but she is truly awesome and my best friend.

Mischief Managed,
Maddie’s Partner in Crime,

Anna Koene and Maddie Moore as a pair

(Maddie is also artistic and would prefer to be behind the camera and therefore it is hard to find one of her alone, so the pictures included also have me in the.  Maddie is the brunette and I am the blonde.)

Subteam Spotlight – Sensors

Block diagram of LPRD Rocketry's new control setup which includes telemetry and microcontrollers

This is our improved control system based on the design review we had at the beginning of this month. To avoid system failed we are still using the wire to control the valves for our main control instead of RF telemetry control the valves. However we still want to try learn how to auto control by using microcomputer. This will help us gain more understanding about system feedback.

Waterproof connectors to be used for LPRD Rocketry to reduce wire tangle, multi color and male female

Waterproof Connector

Control board and wired adapter with four switches for LPRD rocketry polymer board with two 3-way and two 2-way switches

In-progress Control Board

This is our new connector we are going to attach on our control panel. This is our prototype of the control panel. On this weekend we are going to wire them and put everything together. Eventually, to reduce the tangled wires, we are going to put our circuit on one PCB board, designed by Gaurav, a draft schematic of which can be found here.

Zicheng Li

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Solidarity Against Fear – Nov 13 Paris Attacks

As you probably have heard by now, Paris was struck last night (their Friday night) by a series of attacks claimed by IS. As of right now, BBC reports that 129 people have lost their lives and more than 350 are injured. This is not related to rocketry, but due to the significance and gravity of this event, I want to make note if it. I think I speak for everyone at LPRD Rocketry when I say that everyone here feels the French peoples’ pain. Thoughts and emotions will not heal wounds, but the importance of a worldwide community standing in solidarity against fear cannot be understated.

We are all one people, and nothing reminds me of that more than Carl Sagan’s interpretation of the pale blue dot picture taken by Voyager 1 from 4 billion miles away. Every single one of us lives for an incredibly short period of time on this incredibly fragile planet. Every country, every company, every individual that has ever lived, breathed, and dreamed is on that tiny speck of 2 pixels by 2 pixels.  Not only that, but every child’s first birthday, every first love, every wedding day, every hello, every goodbye, every shared smile are all on that little speck.

Pale Blue Dot

We all squeeze in tight and huddle together against the endless cold and dark on this little pale blue dot we call home. This is everything we have. In all the black emptiness, we are gifted this tiny opportunity to build and create and live and thrive. Somehow, we can still be so small and petty that we turn against each other and destroy that precious opportunity.

When we stand in solidarity, we fight against the dark side of humanity. We fight against that tendency to descend into self-absorption. We fight against the tendency to forget that we’re all struggling together on this pale blue dot.

– David Deng

Update 11-8-2015: New Social Media Manager, New LPRD

Hi Guys!

My name is Emily Schaefer and I am the new social media manager. I am a marketing major and a retail merchandising minor. I joined LPRD because I want a career in social media and because David made me. He thinks that being a fan of Star Trek, Star Wars, and Doctor Who qualifies me to be the social media manager of a rocketry club. So, cheers. I’ll give it my best shot!

As you guys know, we have some new control valves. This past week, we tested to make sure the team knows how to operate them and that they are fully functional. This week, we re-established contact with Orbital ATK. If they’re willing, we plan to set up a time to test our engine with them and throttle it up all the way for the first time. With any luck, this will be the first amateur built fully functional liquid propellant engine. If this goes well, we can incrementally move closer to flight.

Check out this post here if you want to take a look at our previous test.

Member Spotlight: Glen Smith

My name is Glen Smith, and I am a freshman planning to major in Electrical Engineering. I was hoping to get involved in student groups in college and decided to take a chance with LRPD rocketry and so far I have learned a lot and have really enjoyed working on the team. I am also involved with UMAD, another engineering group on campus. In my free time I enjoy playing a variety of video games as well as tabletop games like Dungeons and Dragons. In the future I am interested in working with renewable energy sources in any way I can and using my skills to create a more sustainable world. I am inspired by efficiency and the betterment of society as a whole. I also have a small passion for stories and really love a good hero/villain dynamic.


Sub-team Spotlight: 

The engine team is making progress towards finalizing our regeneratively cooled engine. Every week we are discovering new aspects of building a rocket engine from scratch that we have yet to address. This week, we are calculating the thermal characteristics. Last friday, David and Riley met with PhD candidate Jung Ahn to discuss the equations behind the thermodynamics of our engine.

LPRD Rocketry Design-Engine Subteam Update
The equations became very messy as we worked them out, but by the end of the meeting, we were excited to adapt our regeneratively cooled design to prevent our engine from certain meltdown. The concepts of thermodynamics are relatively new to most of us in the subteam, but we are ready to learn and overcome this new challenge. Once we adapt our design to fit certain thermal safety margins, we will be much, much closer to finally manufacturing a new engine.

LPRD Rocketry Design-Engine Diagram 1

Speaking of design, we have drawn preliminary design plans for our new engine, which we presented to our mentors and peers last Sunday. We were thankful for all of the feedback we received and we can’t wait to implement our mentor’s suggestions. Our goal is to finish our engine design and be ready to manufacture it by the end of this fall semester. We will be contacting several manufacturers shortly to discuss manufacturing possibilities. That’s all for this update.

Thanks for reading!

Emily Schaefer


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Update 11/1/2015 – Short Update, Happy Halloween

Hey all!

Unfortunately for you guys, we don’t have a sub-team spotlight for you guys this week, because all the sub-teams were super busy preparing for a design review! Presentation here in case you want to look at it. We pulled together some mentors, some alumni, and all got together and took a look at what the team planned to do. We heard a ton of viewpoints that definitely led to new ideas and points of view. Each of the sub-teams will be talking about what they’ve implemented from the design review during their sub-team spotlights in the upcoming weeks. Unfortunately, that mean that this update will be relatively short.

Happy Halloween!

We do have a big update though. Jessica (our social media manager) was offered a position in Duluth, which unfortunately means that she will no longer be able to participate in the LPRD Rocketry project. We’re immensely sad that she’s leaving, but everyone wants good people, and they have money to offer. Jessica, we wish you the best of luck, and you’ll always have a place here with us!

For now, I’m taking over, but next week, we’ll be introducing a new social media manager! Sorry about the lack of updates, and thanks for hanging around with us!

– David Deng


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