During a down moment at WAIS, I built and aereal vehicle for my GoPro, with the hopes of getting aerial video of field camp. The WAIS Aerial Camp Photographic Survey Instrument (WACPSI) was made out of foam. Some of its design features:

  • Lightweight, protective, and insulating foam body.
  • Integrated aero-wedge frontal shock-absorbing nosecone.
  • Vertical stabilizer with integrated trim tab and safety tear-away mechanism. The stabilizer counteracted torque from the ground tether and balloon, automatically keeping the vehicle oriented facing into the airflow.
  • Protective and secure instrument bay, including a friction mount gopro attachment, with redundant parachute cord synching.
  • Waterproof, shock resistant camera housing, with emergency pressure release membrane, and visual activity indication lighting.
  • 2.4GHz air-ground command, control, telemetry and TV link, with wireless, battery operated, solar charged handheld ground station.
  • Exothermic Fe-oxidative thermal control system located directly above instrument bay. Provided base thermal management to support battery and camera sensor performance.
  • Interlocking ground tether and balloon tethers, ensuring payload is optimally and ideally positioned along lifting and recovery lines.
  • 300G dual-balloon helium lifting package, including 1 100g and 1 2oog weather balloons. Pre-warmed before filling to ensure structural integrity, filled with gaseous helium-4.
  • UV-stabilized nylon ziptie attachment for balloons, with freeze-proof, wax coated sisal line backup.
  • Hybrid flat-webbing and mil-spec parachute cord recovery and lift line, with backup ground tether and radial-winding recovery winch
  • LMR-based VHF radio system for launch-site personnel communication and safety/launch announcements.


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