Update 10/23/16 – T-t-t-test Staaaaand.

Hi all!

In addition to doing some pre-testing of our new position feedback on our control valves, we just moved our new vertical test stand into Akerman 15 this weekend! Thanks to Dan and Jame for doing such a great job on it. It took quite a bit of cleaning and rearranging to find a place to put it, but we finally got it there in the end.

Unfortunately, no pictures of the test stand (since I forgot the camera in Akerman – oops!), but I’ll make sure to get them uploaded as we begin to assemble the piping and plumbing onto the test stand.

In addition, it looks like it’s going to take longer than expected to make the necessary modifications to valves to run them automatically, so it looks like it’ll be tough to get in a firing with this test stand this semester.  We’ll keep everyone updated though, and hopefully we’ll have this thing up and running lickety split.

Subteam Spotlight: Flight

This past week, the flight subteam has been working on building two experimental rockets which we hope to launch in two weeks.  The first of these rockets is an asymmetric rocket design; it includes an additional nozzle that extends outward from one side of the rocket.  It’s purpose is to provide additional thrust to achieve greater launch speeds.  Although seemingly counterintuitive, this nozzle is located at the center of mass of the rocket, so it will not exert any torque and cause the rocket to rotate in flight.  

LPRD Rocketry asymmetric rocket fin mount

The purpose of the second rocket shown is to test an experimental roll control design.  If successful, we expect this to greatly increase the in flight stability of our rocket, and we could potentially use this design to achieve better flight stability for our main rocket.

LPRD Rocketry roll control avionics bay open


LPRD Rocketry roll control avionics bay


– Aaron Breidenbach, Flight Subteam Secretary

Member Spotlight: Ryan Ichinose

LPRD Rocketry's Ryan Ichinose

My name is Ryan Ichinose, but my baseball team has always called me “Ichi,” and I kind of like it. I think one of the biggest things to know about me is that I love pretty much anything that has anything to do with the sky; helicopters, airplanes, rockets, planets, moons, even the weather is a bit interesting. I definitely want to make a career out of the sky, I don’t really know how, hopefully either flying helicopters or engineering amazing flying things, but I think I’d be satisfied with a lot of different jobs, and who know where the wind will take me. . .

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Update 10/16/2016 – Featuring…Us!

Hi all,

Short update this week (no subteam spotlight or member spotlight), but we do have something we think is pretty exciting. Protolabs’s case study featuring us is now published and can be seen here! For those of you who don’t remember or haven’t been with us that long, Protolabs is the company that graciously 3D printed a regeneratively cooled rocket engine for us! It’s an incredibly cool (in both senses) part, and we’re incredibly grateful they were willing to donate their services to us.

LPRD Rocketry 3D Printed Rocket Engine

LPRD Rocketry member messing around with 3D printed rocket engine


In other news, we are still working on seeing if we can’t recover any video from the firing we just ran. While it would be quite the disappointment if we didn’t get any, we do have some other data which we will be analyzing and hopefully deriving information from.

In the mean time, our subteams are working hard on progressing towards the next problem. With any luck, we will begin testing out our new, bigger engine and test stand in the coming weeks in preparation to run a firing with Orbital ATK to test out our new, 1000 newton engine. Regardless of whether we retrieve the video, the knowledge we gained on igniting the engine will carry over and help make the firing of this next engine all the more successful!

-David Deng

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Update 10/9/16 – Maybe not fire fire fire

Hi all,

Unfortunately some bad news: there’s a possibility the majority of the footage from the firing last week did not get recorded. We’re still looking through to make sure we don’t overlook anything, but there might be lack of video footage from the event, which would be very unfortunate.

LPRD Rocketry Mk1 mark one test stand firing setup with video camera

Pictured: camera from which we may or may not have video footage

However, the firing as a whole went relatively well, but we did run into a few issues.

Glenn Smith of LPRD Rocketry troubleshooting avionics and sensors during engine firing

Pictured: (not) defeated by said issue

Instead of writing it, I’ll let you read directly from the people themselves. Below is a reflection from Glen:

The test was an overall success. Setup was performed in a timely manner, even with some hiccups in the sensors. During tests, procedures were followed very well and no small parts were lost in the process. Tests were performed with purpose and intent, and observational data was recorded to ensure a thoughtful analysis.

Full Report for Sensors Mishap:

The sensors were prepared and the program opened and ran without being attached. The cable was hooked up to the computer, but the USB device was not recognized and no data was received.

The device was un-plugged and plugged back in several times to ensure no hookup failure. The computer was then brought to where the two cables connected in between the operating room and the test stand and plugged in there. Data was received and the sensors were calibrated. Computer was brought back into the control room and the full length of cable gave the same error as before. The cable order was then switched, which did not solve the problem. The computer was then attached at the closer cable, which then still gave the error. The other cable was used in its place and the data was then received.

One of the cables was defective in transferring the data to the computer. The cable was marked as broken and not used during the test.

The other cable was used during the test, attached to the computer which was stationed outside of the operating room. A camera was stationed to monitor the computer. The data was turned on at T-3min during the area clearing stage of the test. An auxiliary countdown clock was used in its place. Data was stored after the 5 minute wait period of the test was over.

And a summary of the firings themselves from Vadim:

Test #1:
No ignition
Cotton ball was shredded and the ignition wires were ripped from their soldering connections. Possibly due to cold/ poor soldering.
From observation, the cotton ball was not ignited and the nichrome wire did not change color which most likely means that the disconnection occurred prior to ignition.
Inside of the engine looked nominal
Test #2
No ignition
The igniter was thrown out of the engine
No burn signs on the cotton ball as well as no change in color of the nichrome wire. Most likely the leads were disconnected before the ignition
Note: Glen and few other people confirmed seeing a sign of fire at the end of the jet flume.
No apparent leaks or damage to the engine itself.
Test #3
Successful ignition and engine burn!!! Yay!!!
We used an e-match this time and ignition worked perfectly compared to the cotton ball igniter
Temperature rose to about 20ish degrees and the thrust output was at about 60 Newtons
More charing on the inside of the combustion chamber and on the injector.
No damage to the engine nor o-ring
No apparent leakage signs
Char built-up at the throat
Fluid had color to it during depressurisation process
Engine burned was stopped prematurely
Igniter was not burned at all
Test #4
Successful ignition and burn of the engine
Thrust output reached 100 N
Igniter leads were not burned
Somewhere in the middle of the engine burn, the flame length decreased and the burn oscillation became significantly noticeable
No leaks have been observed nor any damage to the engine
Same amount of char built up as in the previous firing
The hook on the injector was broken/melted off( might be a reason to the change in the burn characteristics).
Char built up on the injector
During the depressurisation the fluid appeared to be clear
Igniter was slightly burned
Test #5
Successful ignition
Combustion occurred outside of the combustion chamber (flame thrower)
Engine burn was stopped prematurely
Surrounding was burned in small amount
No leaks have been detected
Charring of the injector and the combustion chamber(most likely from previous burn)
The throat appeared melted. The circular diameter of the throat slightly deformed.
Fluid during depressurisation appeared to be clear.

If you want to read all the reflections from the day, feel free to follow this link to the report.

Member Spotlight: Pierre Abillama

Pierre Abillama of LPRD Rocketry

My name is Pierre Abillama and I’m a freshman hoping to major in Computer Engineering. I joined LPRD Rocketry because I’ve been doing some programming for quite some time, but I think LPRD will give me the exposure to hardware and circuits that I’m missing. I enjoy the sense of commitment everyone has to the project and hope to be a part of it. I like to play rock music on my guitar and listen to music, I’m part of the UMN Shotokan Karate Club and I regularly attend Science & Engineering Student Board meetings.

Pierre Abillama the guitarist of LPRD Rocketry

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Update 10/2/16 – Fire Fire Fire Fire

Hi all!

Just got back from a relatively successful day of test firing!

Test location for LPRD rocketry independent engine firings

We’re still in the process of getting all the footage back and processing it, so this will have to be just a little bit of a teaser before the details start flowing in over the next couple weeks!

Subteam Spotlight: Avionics

After a few weeks of calibration given that we had a few new members join us for Fall, we are back in action and have resumed work. Our latest development has been the MK2 test stand which is close to being done as far as machining goes and hence the task has come down to us now to finish the electrical systems and the electronics that facilitate running the engine. We have had a huge order from digikey come in with all the parts that we need to build the electrical system. Here’s the fun stuff:

LPRD Rocketry avionics digi-key order part 1

LPRd Rocketry digi-key order part 2

Aside from the new additions, we are still on task for improving our ignition system for which we are trying out different igniters in a test firing that is coming up on Sunday. Here’s Glen getting all the setup ready for the test:

Glen setting up for test of LPRD rocketry telemetry monitor

Our main goal for this semester is to be able to automate the whole test stand so as to be able to run it from ignition to flame out with the press of a single button. We have started working on this just this week, so check us out again after a few weeks for more updates.

Gaurav Manda

Member Spotlight: Jonathan Liberman

Jonathan Liberman of LPRD Rocketry

I’m Jonathan Liberman, lead for the Nitrous Subteam, and a second year student going into Aerospace Engineering.  Rocketry has always been a passion of mine, so I was quite excited when I was invited to join LPRD.  I was previously involved with a freshman-only team formed for the Midwest High-Power Rocket Competition, and LPRD was the perfect project for a step up in rocketry.  After I graduate, I would like to find a job working on a rocket system and hopefully build a career on developing spacecraft propulsion.

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Update 9/25/16 – Ready Up!

Hi all,

Some big news: we’re planning on doing an engine firing on our own next week! In preparation for that, this week, we spent some time doing some flow tests to help better characterize the timings on our test stand.

LPRD Rocketry flow rate testing

During our last attempt at firing on our own, we realized that the timings for when propellant reached the engine was not quite accurate, since the last time we did tests to characterize it was back in summer 2015 before all the extensive modifications we made to the test stand.

With this new data, we’re in a good place to move forward with confidence that oxygen and kerosene are reaching the combustion chamber at the times we think they are!

Subteam Spotlight: Nitrous

With a new year comes a new subteam.  The Nitrous subteam is the newest part of LPRD, and this semester we will be focusing on enabling the existing Mk1 test stand to handle and deliver nitrous oxide instead of gaseous oxygen.  In addition, we will be designing a Mk1-sized engine to run on nitrous and kerosene.  One of the major issues caused by running on gaseous oxygen, especially for flight, is the low oxidizer density.  This requires larger tanks to hold enough oxidizer for a full burn.  Nitrous oxide can be stored as a liquid, however, which is why nitrous was formed.  Liquid nitrous oxide has a significantly higher oxidizer density that gaseous oxygen, so a rocket fueled by it should have much better performance.  So far this year, we have gotten the team up and off the ground.  We have a total of four members now, and we are working on the preliminary design for converting the Mk1 test stand.

Jonathan Liberman – Nitrous Subteam Lead


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